It’s quiet in space. Captain Kolchek was quite aware of this, more so in the last three weeks than she had ever realized was possible. She walked barefoot down the corridor of The Odin toward the mess hall. The darkness inside the ship was almost more powerful than what lay outside the beveled windows in the cockpit.
She extended her hand, feeling for the table in the center of the rounded room to help guide her, and gently let her fingers drag across the metal surface. She hit something soft, lifted her hand, and turned forty-five degrees to her right. She had done this enough times to pinpoint where she was.
The cabinet door was open, like always. She stretched her fingers and softly stroked the objects inside until she found the only rounded surface. She silently pulled the container out of its space and set it atop a towel placed on the metal counter below.
She held her breath, listening to the noises that signaled around her. The slow beep of the oxygen monitor down the hall. The chirp of the frog in the aquarium in the med bay. The soft chatter of her teeth. She didn’t hear anything else. Good.
Slowly, she unscrewed the lid of the jar and set it to the side, placing it on the hand towel with precision to muffle the sound. Her tremble-filled fingers compressed together, slid inside the small opening and fished for the remnants of the chocolate chip cookies within. She never knew a human could move so slowly, but fear causes strange things to occur. She was starving; she hadn’t left her room in so long. She was unsure of how many days had gone by. A lack of sun and a working calendar would do that to a person.
Kolchek savored the stale chocolate chips and the rubbery consistency of the dessert. The stock had started to run low. She carefully set her fingers against the lid and lifted it up, mindful of her long nails so as to not tap against the glass and make unwanted sounds. She rotated her body as if she were a cyborg, stiff and mechanical.
As she went to replace it, the greasy smudge of leftover chocolate on her pinky finger caused her grip to falter. The lid toppled and hit the metal floor with a clang.
She shuddered a breath, her hands instinctually went to her mouth. Something moved behind her in the darkness. A familiar, horrid noise. She palmed the countertop for a weapon, for something sharp or heavy. Her fingers hit chilled flesh. It was her second-in-command’s hand, stiff and motionless as it had been for weeks, fingers bent unnaturally against the lip of the sink. She wasn’t sure where the rest of his body had ended up. She apologized quietly and continued down the rounded countertop with haste.
The sound of movement grew louder. She found a metal cup, nearly knocked it over from how frantically she had navigated the space, and grabbed hold of it. In a fluid motion, she tossed it to the far end of the kitchen, hoping she got it close to the hallway through the blinding darkness around her. An unnatural wailing echoed through the once-muted spaceship. Perhaps, if she was lucky enough, the corpse of her wife at the kitchen table who helped her find her bearings on these treacherous trips would distract it long enough.
Captain Kolchek moved to the opposite hall and quietly headed to the cockpit in the darkness. She heard the chittering, pained cries of the anomaly that had mutilated her crew and left her in utter isolation on this Godforsaken ship. She was on the verge of a breakdown; she couldn’t take it any longer. She prayed she could find the comm button. Her eyes had been gouged out days ago by the beast, The Odin no longer flew, the radio had been silent, and the smell of decay lingered in every room. Her entire crew had been slaughtered in a single night. This thing could not make it back home.
She barreled into the cockpit. She heard the momentum of the beast close in—its heavy, quick footfalls sounded like cannon fire, its wails like the cries of the damned. The ship was filled with a sound unlike anything ever put on record or heard by human ears. Amplified by the close quarters and overbearing size it carried. It was miserable.
Falling into the navigation pane, she began blindly pressing every large button she could feel beneath her cold, shaking hands.
“Someone! Anyone! Please!” she cried out in agony.
Someone had to be listening.
If only she could have seen. Her fingers were so close. Two centimeters to the right, the big, red blinking switch beckoned her to freedom.
She felt its hot breath on her neck.
“PLEASE! Can anyone hear-”
It is indeed quiet in space.
A.L. Davidson (she/they) is a writer who specializes in massive space operas and tiny disturbances. She writes stories about ghosts, grief, isolation, space exploration, eco-horror, queerness, and the human condition. They live with their cat Jukebox in Kansas City.