Chapter Four: Purpose
Sorrow toys with the brain and keeps it from functioning as it normally would, but Clint performed his leadership duties with the same diligence and precision as before.
Yet, by the time everybody else had retired for the evening, at 2100 hours, he had not. He sat, staring into the darkness, as minutes and hours ticked by.
A daughter, Maria, that he had never met before, but she was dead. Both his sons and his wife, as well. His children were murdered and the bodies drifting around in space.
The mental image he, all of them, had drawn for when they came back … none of those ideas lasted and remained. More than eight years in space, fulfilling their obligations under service of the ISS … they come home to no more home.
Brad Marconi shuffled into the room, joining Clint. He sat down and stared in the same direction, at the whitened wall.
“You should be resting, Brad,” he said with a strained voice.
“I have radio duty tomorrow, but you are planning to go out there. I am sorry about your wife and children.”
“It’s in the past now … perhaps it was even for the better.”
The older man sighed.
“This was my eighth trip into space…I imagined coming to retire on a sunny island after this last mission. I’ve never regretted not having a wife and children, but I do understand your pain.”
“It would have been better for them,” he continued, “to die knowing how and why. Not murdered, because Addams and Mycrovitch wanted to ensure their own survival.”
Clint rose and flexed his fists.
Brad looked at his captain, glanced away, before standing as well.
“Everything I’ve seen outside of the Star Ride makes me sick. I’m not interested in my sunny island anymore; I just want to return to space and live the rest of my life there...safe and peacefully.”
“You’ve seen it out there, Clint. Zombie after zombie, and we cannot fight them forever. What do you hope to find here on Earth? Don’t we stand a better chance out there in space? Or, at least in less populated areas?”
“Go, Brad. You should be resting. We’ll talk again tomorrow.” He turned, striding to the door.
“Clint…We can’t fight these things and try to exterminate all of them. I’ve been with NASA since I was a teenage kid; it’s been nearly fifty years. I know how to get us from one point to another. That is my life, setting a course with purpose and direction. What is our purpose, staying here?”
There was no reply, as Clint scurried out of the door.
Margo Jessup here, doing a quick report before we head out, a moment outside before dark.
After turning Darryl and Elana from the Star Ride, we retired for the evening. Not surprisingly, I slept well.
This morning, we woke up to a rainy morning, and the zombies all around the Star Ride, waiting for us to exit.
Hordes and hordes of them, row after row. They surrounded the ship, not hitting it or exhibiting physical signs of aggression.
It was their faces that scared me most; eyes very nearly glowing with malicious anticipation. I never knew zombies could sneer or smirk, but these were.
Clint ordered us to stay inside, until the weather changed. Dale and Brad have both been spending the morning trying to convince Clint that we should head back into space.
If there was any fuel and adequate food supplies sitting around, waiting for us to pick up and go, I would have supported that notion.
Jules is determined that we will stay and try to solve the problem here.
Though his knowledge in biology is still lacking, if we consider the scope of the situation, he is determined that we should try to help turn everything around.
He has been studying and observing as much of this virus as possible. Currently, he is studying the early symptoms once somebody has been exposed. Against all odds, let’s hope that never happens to us.
The rain has subsided, and the sun is finally shining again. The army of zombies has retreated for the time being, though it is still unsafe to leave Star Ride.
Margo Jessup, signing off.
He gathered them together. Brad stood with Dale on one side of the room, Clint in the middle, and Margo joined Jules on the other side.
He stood silently, as if in contemplation, for a few moments. Then, clearing his throat, he stepped forward and looked from one side to the other.
“What we expected to find here isn’t the same as what we found. For those of us who had families: they are dead and floating in space. I must ask myself what are we still doing here? Why don’t we come up with a plan to survive out in space, and why don’t we escape this nightmare?”
Another glance from one to the other side.
“What if there are no other humans still alive and hiding somewhere on Earth? What if we are the last ones remaining?” A pause. “I refuse to believe that. Dr. Addams and Miss Mycrovitch survived until we found them. Yes, they had been safe from the chaos on Earth, but they survived.”
“It doesn’t matter what we have seen so far, because we will go on seeing it and soaring over this world, until we find somebody who needs us.”
“And then?” Dale asked, his voice uncertain. “If we find somebody who needs us? What do we do then?”
“One step at a time, Caruthers,” Clint replied formally. “We can work out the second step, after we’ve completed the first. For now, we continue with what we’re doing.”
“What if we are infected?” It was Dale, again.
Silence reigned, for only half a minute.
“One step at a time…For now, we are healthy and well. Let’s look at the positive and what we want to happen. Leave the what ifs of negative situations for until they happen.”
“And if we run out of fuel and supplies?” Brad stepped forward.
“Then we hope that the universe still likes us enough to care about our basic needs.”
Written By: GLD