“Epitaph for Station 5HTP”
By Mike Michelsen
I guess I am compelled to write this account of my life to give it some apparent meaning, as if it actually stood for something. As I reflect on it I can’t help but feel how misguided I was and how I seemed so out-of-place in life in general. Perhaps, then, life has been nothing but a finding-of-place for me. Unfortunately, I have not succeeded. My only success is that I know where I do not belong.
That is all.
I suppose this record can somehow be read by another who has been able to get away from the Station. Perhaps it is to him I actually write this as I am very lonely and I cannot deny that I suffer from homesickness. I do wish to go back, but I can’t. I also wish to let him know that he is not alone and to let him know that yes, there are things bigger than the Station. There are other worlds.
I appear to be the first one to make it out. Away from the Station things may seem bad but it’s not as bad as it seems.
I also want to give an account of what really happened, as I understand it.
I also want to warn of the dangers of the outside. It is treacherous out here.
I was born like all children, or so I thought, 321 years, 6 months, and 9 days after the ‘E-Tragedy’ in birthing room 12-B. At birth they gave me the designation 9QED. The designation we’re given has been traditional for at least 200 years. The station is designated ‘Station 5HTP’ so we are given a number and three letters as our designation, as well. This is in imitation of the station and to honor the station for which we are born. Our number and letters are taken at random from a computer and cannot match either the Stations number or anyone else’s.
I was born with one other boy that year. At the Station we have to keep the population below 340. Two men died recently so two boys were born to fill the gap. If two women died then we’d have two girls born but that’s not what was needed.
Like everyone else I was born by mixing Breed Supply Serum A with Breed Supply Serum B and put in the incubator. I have never seen these serums but I understand one is yellowish and the other greenish. No one knows where the serum’s originated either. Part of the Station lore is that they are kept safely in a refrigerator in the medical quad somewhere. It’s safeguarding is considered one of the most important jobs at the Station. It’s kept an absolute secret. To be involved with it is considered a great honor and given only to the best people.
I don’t recall much of my childhood, I suppose because all childhoods seemed the same. It seems like we all had the same memories. We all did the same thing, were taught the same thing, associated with the same people, and so on. I do know that there has always been this strange sense of what I can only describe as a ‘does-this-seem-right-to-you’ feeling in my childhood. Things just didn’t seem right. This sense, as I found out, would determine my whole life.
What seems to be my first memory of life, oddly enough, is of death. It’s one of those memories that just seems to always be on the back of your mind lurking like some mist. And, what’s worse, is that it has a nightmare quality. Just to think of it makes me cringe. For many years I tried to keep it out of my mind but it always remained lurking like some animal ready to pounce on me.
It seems I was about 5 years old. I was in class listening to the teacher. Then, suddenly, she straightened up with this look of horror on her face. She seemed to gasp as she fell to the floor. We all sat watching her as she writhled on the floor, gasping and making strange noises.
Soon, she was silent and her arms fell limp to the floor.
We all looked at each other. We didn’t know what to make of it.
One of the boys got up the nerve and went up and touched her, then pushed her. He then kicked her and laughed.
She remained silent.
We all got up to look.
She sat silent, eyes staring as if into another world. I’ll never forget that.
The boy kicked her again and laughed.
Not a move!
When I was a teenager this memory bothered me so much I asked several of the kids I was in school with if they could remember it. Those eyes!
They said nothing like that happened.
I wondered if it was another incidence not related to school.
I found no one that could remember an incidence like that.
Did I dream it?
Perhaps my first memory is not a memory at all but a nightmare?
I don’t know. It seems so unreal.
I know that people die but, at the Station, people died in their sleep. One day they never came to work.
I always thought it was weird how no one ever did anything in that dream. We just sat and watched. Then some people from the medical quad came in and took her away. It was done so quietly, almost as if it was nothing. The next day we had a new teacher and we heard the announcement that a new baby girl was going to be born. No one seemed all that curious where she went either. That seems so . . . bazaar.
As a child we saw the old pictures of earth. It was all a part of our schooling. There were hills, mountains, valleys, rivers, trees, and all that. We all looked at it in wonderment and bewilderment. Then we laughed. It made us appreciate the Station even more. Not one straight line, not one flat surface, all the shapes were haphazard and disorganized. Colors flew at you like an explosion. How could anyone endure that? How could anyone live in a place like that? We used to have big long discussions of how horrid it would be to live back then. That made us appreciate even more where we lived. Here everything is ordered and controlled, to allow us to grow. We had no worries or concerns. I ‘m sure people back then were filled with them.
I recall one discussion about a picture which showed some people walking along a trail in this forested area. A big mountain loomed above them in the distance. At the top, as I remember, it said something like, “Zion National Park”. We spent long hours debating what that meant but we’ll never know for sure. The general consensus is that this is where a man named Zion National (an old style name) parked his equipment. The people were probably walking to one of these equipment hidden behind the trees.
But most stunned me was that the trail was not flat at all, nor was it straight. It curved and went up and down. How can people walk in that, I thought? You’d keep falling and hitting the edge of the trail. Unbelievable! For some reason that has always stuck in my mind.
Then there were the trees with all those branches sticking out like some disorganized confusion. A forest always looked to me like a mess that needed cleaning up. I felt filthy just looking at the pictures.
There were also pictures of animals. We always called them ‘pests’. Can you imagine what life would be like having these pests crawling around? They’d probably jump on you and crawl over and into everything. Makes a person cringe . . .
Then there were the pictures of the cities. That’s more like it. You can see that these people were close to creating the genius of the Station but couldn’t quite make it. I remember one girl who despised these people because they were only partially to the Station. “I can’t respect people who only went partially there,” she’d always say. One day she said this and 2BBC, about 25 years old, made a good point. “Maybe,” he said, “we should be thankful for these people? Because of them we have the Station. Because of their efforts we now have what we have. We built on what they created. Despite the fact they weren’t quite to the glories of the Station we still should respect these people as our predecessors.”
The cities seemed dirty and filthy. Some people couldn’t stand to look at some pictures, it made them so sick. There’s also this smoke that is shown in the air. Yuck!
There were many things in these pictures that we couldn’t figure out. We spent many long hours debating what they were. That was fun, I remember. For example, the pictures show huge gaps between the quads (I think they called them buildings or skyscapers). What for? Why not one big huge enclosure like the Station?
Then there were these small things scattered about in between the buildings. If you looked close enough you could see people sitting in them. What were they for? Why were they scattered about? Some pictures show them in a nice row, in others they seem scattered about. A close friend of mine, 4UAD, noticed that on one side everyone is facing one direction and on the other side they are facing in the opposite direction. Everyone of these things, too, is sitting on these black cylindrical things. Usually there were four of them. What was that all about? It’s one of the many things lost to time.
There were pictures of these quads in the air. Why they’d want a quad sitting in the air, we don’t know. They seemed rather solitary out there in space by themselves. We looked and looked in a million pictures and couldn’t see the column to hold them up. Talk about weird. They also had these big flat things sticking out each side. What is that for? Most people thought it was just a form of decoration as they have no practical use. Those people were definitely a different breed.
I could go on forever talking about these discussions. They were fun and were one of the high points of my childhood, as I think about it now.
In the end though, we were all thankful we were here and that the Station saved us from all that misery of those primitive times.
As a child I was all for the Station. Who wasn’t? I worshipped it like everyone else did. That’s what we were taught to do. Our whole life seemed to revolve around that.
There a few times that I won the annual “Glory of the Station” competition. I recall those days where we would all try to come up with something to show the glory of the Station: poems, songs, plays, pictures. The whole Station would be there to see it. A whole week of celebrations. It was like a great festival, a party. It was great. As a child it was one of the highlights of the year.
Naturally, we’d hear about the origins of the Station and how the earth was destroyed. Once there was a planet called earth. It was massive supporting millions of people (hard for any of us to imagine), mostly in horrible primitive conditions. One day the Etragedy took place, the Earth Tragedy. The earth just seemed to be destroyed. No one knows how or why. Luckily, the Station was there to save us from this catastrophe.
There would be the traditional play which we always called “The Homecoming” about the creation of the Station.
Then we’d have the debates between the two schools of thought about the Stations origins. There’d be 4 people from one group on one side and 4 from the other side on the other. Sometimes this can be quite heated, but most of the time it was fascinating and made you think a lot about life.
These schools of thoughts seemed to embody the whole society in the Station as everyone tended to be in one group or the other and there was always discussions and debates between them all the time. I recall people of the same school of thought always congregated together. It was looked down upon if someone did not take one side or the other. You had to belong to one of the groups. That seems funny as I think of it now.
The Bastara group was a school of thought that felt the earth exploded because it got to big and burdensome because the people did not plan or organize enough. As a result, they tend to emphasize control and regulation in life to prevent another repeat. This group tended to be very intellectual-like, thinking about everything, and ultra organized. They tend to believe that the Station triumphed due to organization, planning, and intelligence.
The Alfred group was a school of thought that believed a big rock which they called Azer Ot flew from the sky and crashed into the earth destroying it. They believe it was actually a massive beast of destruction, one that still lurks in the shadows even now. As a child every time we’d hear a creek in the Station or some unusual noise the adults would say, “watch out, it’s Azer Ot!” We were all terrified of him. They believed the Station protected us from him. It was our shield, our savour.
At first I was in the Bastara group but, as I got older I started to side with the Alfred group.
After the debates there’d be more plays.
I remember the line from Joseph in the play “Quads Rising”: “. . . and the Station rose up and excelled. It had overcome the world, it was above it, beyond it, left the natural world in its wake. Glory be to the Station! It is hope everlasting.”
I never tired of hearing that. That was my favorite play.
It embodies the whole idea of life in the Station. Life was one big singing of Glory to the Station. I remember what it said above the door in quad 4. In bold red letters it said, “STATION ENTRY”. We all knew what that meant: The station is entry into life.
My first assignment
The tests showed that I excelled in organization skills (frankly, I couldn’t tell). Because of this they assigned me to the “board”. It’s not an area of the Station not many knew about, as I found out. Here we monitored the electricity, carbon dioxide, water, oxygen, and a lot of other things I can no longer remember. The people who worked there seemed to think they were somehow an elite group since we were, in effect, monitoring the whole station. I must admit that it had its neat points but, after awhile, it was just monotony. I sat watching the lights and dials and had to monitor things through the vision scope. The lights nearly drove me up the wall and the room seemed to be closing in on me at times. Sometimes, I think they gave me a headache.
I really don’t know why they wanted me to monitor the lights and guages because, in all the time I was there, nothing happened. A light would go on, then off, the dial would raise up and then lower. Not a whole lot going on. I mean there were no emergencies or anything for me to change . . . no really. It pretty much did it all by itself.
What would turn out the best thing, and probably the best thing in my life, was meeting the controller, old 3XXB, who has been working there for years. He must have been 40 or 41 . . . pretty old at the Station. I think he was the oldest person at the Station at the time, if I recall right. It seems, though, that I heard of a lady who was 42 but I can’t recall for sure. Most people died about 38 or so. We called him the ‘old timer’. He had reached that age where people feel that it is simply too old to live. People talked behind his back of having people that old put to death as they became a burden on the Station (though they didn’t seem to any more of a burden than anyone else). He knew what was being said. It bothered seem to bother him. He spoke a lot of 8VCP who, about 100 years a go hung himself for reaching the very old age of 46. I was shocked by this as it was unbelievable that a person can live that old.
Because there was nothing to do and we were in the room almost all day, we talked a lot or, rather, he talked. We became more than just friends. It’s hard to describe our relationship. I think he knew his life was nearing its end and he seemed so eager to tell me things. He needed someone to confide in, as I think of it now. As I would soon find out, he harbored a secret that urked him inside. Every so often he would give ‘hints’ of this secret. It’s clear to me now that he only knew some details and his pointing the direction led me to find the secret which is why I’m writing this now.
I’ll never forget the day that I noticed that the water supply is a bit lower than normal. That’s when he really began to reveal what he knew.
He said, as if in a daze, “you know the Station is dying”.
“What?”, I said, “how can the Station be dying, it’s the greatest single invention ever? Don’t we call it he ‘Miracle of Nature’?”
He just looked at me with this glazed look and remained silent.
One day the carbon dioxide level rose about 3 points.
“I bet it’s the carbon dioxide influx valve number 2, it’s always sticking. If we could only get some new seals!”
He took me down into these hallways I’ve never seen before. They had piping running along the ceiling and sides and seemed to go on forever. We walked, it seemed, for several hours (though it couldn’t of been that long), where there was a room with all this gadgetry in it. He took one of the big red wheels and yanked on it several times until it moved. “That’s it”, he said, and began to explain to me how it all worked.
Over the years I began to learn how the Station worked. It was like a big machine really. It basically maintained itself, keeping itself going.
I felt very special, I must admit, that I was able to see, walk, and work in places only a small percentage of the population have ever been. Everyone seemed oblivious about it. When I spoke about it many people didn’t believe me. A general feeling with everyone is that the Station was somehow magical, like some big God that took care of us. It reminded me of when I was a kid and thought the station was the inside of some mother animal. It was like a living beast to me.
While describing how the Station worked he would begin to tell me little facts. I can recall a few that stick in my mind are:
– The Breed Supply Serum is depleting. The population must be steadily decreased as the Station cannot support the number of people it used to. 300 years ago it supported over 650 people. Now it can barely support 350.
– People are dying earlier. 300 years ago people were living into their 60’s and possibly 80’s.
– Power steadily decreases. We never had the output we used to have. The power will steadily decrease until there’s no longer any power one day.
– The clothes and recyclable material were once colorful but have been so recycled that they have turned grey. He took me to a closet in the back room where. In a box, he kept all this old stuff. He called it his ‘secret stash’. He pulled out a uniform. It had this dark blue color like I’ve never seen in cloth before. He said, “you see, this is how our uniforms used to be. This is from about 200 years ago. Even at that age it has more brilliance than any of our current uniforms do.”
– The food has steadily decreased. There used to be a whole selection of food to eat. Now there’s not a whole lot of choice. We have little to choose from now, mostly things grown in the Stations growing nurseries. The Tsekus Cycler still produces the food pills, but not as good as it used to. And what if it breaks down? I was sickened to find out that our food was partially created by the sewage plant. The plants were grown in soil with sewage and the Tsekus Cylcer used sewage and the inedible parts of the plants to create the pills. I never quite ate the food with the relish I used to after I found that out. Again he took me to the ‘secret stash’ and showed me a piece of paper that said ‘Dinner Menu’ on the top. “What’s this?” I said. “This is a menu, a list of the food you could choose for dinner,” he replied, “can you believe it?” The list was long. I bet there were at least twenty items. Most of it I never heard of before. Several struck me as odd sounding, though, something like ‘hambelger’ and ‘fishunstkips’. I still wonder what they were.
– The oxygen level is being depleted. The air is getting dirtier and more stale.
– The items we need to replace from time to time, like the lights, are dwindling. There’s only so many of them. They can’t last for an eternity. What will happen when they’re gone? He figured we had at least another 30 or 40 years at the rate we’re going.
– Everything is wearing down. How do we repair it? It scares him to think what would happen if some things wore out. We don’t have the capabilities to make these things.
In actuality, the Station is slowing down like a wind up toy that goes fast at first but then slows as the springs tension is used up.
This fact haunts him.
Where do we go from here? Now what?
One day he said: “I just see no solution to this. I cannot see any way out of it. It seems inevitable. I feel like I’m watching someone slowly die. None of the Glory of the Station philosophy speaks of this. You can’t speak to anyone about it. No one believes it. If you say anything than people spit on you and call you a coward or something. But I’ve been watching it for years. It stares me in the face every day. This truth makes me so alone”
He showed me the old plan of the Station. He said that what’s weird is that the left half is tore off. He showed me the tear and how it tore right through one of the quads, the Saving Quad.
“What’s on the other half?” he enquired of me . . . as if I knew the answer.
He went on, “and I think there’s more to the name than Station 5HTP. Look!” He showed me how the tear passed on the left side of both words.
“It seems to me that there were words before the Station and 5HTP.” It was as if the words originally went something like:
He showed me the torn edge in front of 5HTP. You could see the black edge of a letter.
“I sometimes think there’s something more to this place, that we’re not being told the complete story,” he said, “and I don’t think anyone knows anymore”.
I didn’t know how to take this. It was too much for me to digest at the time. It contradicted everything I was told and believed.
It was some weeks after this that he did not show up for work. Someone came in later in the day and told us he had expired. That day, he was cremated and his ashes used to fertilize the crops.
Of all the people I know I miss him the most.
Troubled feelings start to come over me
When I was about 25, a strange mood came over me. As I think about it I feel it began after the death of 3XXB. Before, my life was enveloped by the Station. Now that changed. It surprised me to find out I didn’t seem to care anymore. Frankly, it bored me. It was the same rooms, same place, same people, same talk, same theme, same songs over and over again. I seemed very fidgety too. Little things began to annoy me. I began to be filled with contempt about everything.
I became so filled with contempt that I was reported to the Medical Bureau. I still don’t know who reported me but I remember when they came. I was in the cafeteria finishing off my Zolosty drink when two guys came up to me and told me to follow them. Initially, I thought I was being promoted or something great, but when we went to the medical quad I knew otherwise.
They put me in a holding cell with nothing but a bed and a toilet. Every so often they’d take me out and ask me all these weird questions, like how I felt and that. None of it made any sense. I wasn’t allowed to see anyone except the Medical Bureau people for weeks. Personally, I’d much rather remain in my cell than associate with those people.
They diagnosed me as suffering from ‘Negative 3 disease’, a sort of mental problem.
They put me in solitary and gave me some medication.
The solitary room for mental cases was a sort of dirty crème colored room. It was weird. The floor was padded and the walls were padded up to about 6 feet. You could throw yourself at the wall and it wouldn’t hurt too much.
The medication they gave me seemed to only make me tired. I woke up grouchy and with a headache oftentimes. I don’t think it did anything.
Every day this lady would come in and tell me to see the glories of the Station. “Only by seeing the glory will you be cured. To deny it will only prolong the agony. I know it’s hard for some people. Take all the time you need. You’ll be better off for it”.
Every time she left she had a weird saying as she walked out the door: “May the Station be upon you.”
She went on to tell me that they believed that the Station is so great, a miracle in fact, that some people can’t handle it. They just aren’t up to it. Hence, they become negative about it or, in other words, they develop a mental problem. A person is considered more healthy the more he supports the Station.
She said that there are three classes of people:
1. The Positive class. These are people that are passionate about the Station. For some it can almost be a mania, an excitement. Just to mention the Station will put some people into an ecstasy. Some suspect it’s a disease but one “in a good way”. I suspect that I had this as a child as to talk of the Station would make me so happy.
2. The Standard class. These are most of the people. They participate in the Station but don’t become heavily passionate about it nor create problems.
3. The Negative class. These people have a mental disease which is not conducive to the Station life and can disrupt or even harm it, if it gets out of control. There are three gradations, all dependent on the extent of the problem. Negative 1: willing to harm the Station or others. Negative 2: willing to hurt oneself. Negative 3: behaves in a way that disrupts oneself or the station but is not harmful. I was diagnosed with this later one.
Every day she came in and told me things about the greatness of the Station.
I got to the point that I couldn’t stand the way she shuffled, smiled, or rolled her r’s. I actually dreamt once that I strangled her.
I didn’t tell her a thing though! That would of just got me in more trouble.
But, to be frank, being alone in that crème colored room with nothing else to do was mind numbing. I don’t know if it was that or the medication that made the room seem to spin and seem to tilt. Colors changed too. Red . . . orange . . . green. I couldn’t stop it.
I swear there were other people in that room. I heard voices oftentimes. Sometimes I heard so many voices that I thought I was going to scream. I thought, several times, that I was going to be attacked by someone.
I yelled out for help but no one ever came.
Once, I thought the floor fell out from under my feet. I swear I was falling and falling into some sort of eternity.
Another time I thought some beast came out of the wall and attacked me grabbing my arm by its teeth and yanking me around. I showed the lady my wounds, believing they were there, but was surprised that there were none.
Eventually, I calmed down and relaxed. Personally, I think I was just wiped out by it all.
I lost 21 lbs in all in my stay there.
They’d take me to do a walk around the station and I seemed to feel better.
One day, they opened the door and said I could go. They would contact me in a couple of days to give me a job.
Naturally, I left . . . and never want to go back. It was horrifying.
After several days they came to my room and told me they had a job for me. They assigned me to work at the clothing recycle facility. Since I had experience being a controller watching gauges and all, they set me up at the control station. I sat and watched temp gauges, Ph gauges, quantity gauges, etc. At first I didn’t mind it but I could feel myself slowly slipping again.
I didn’t dare tell anyone. I didn’t want to go back to that cell again.
I hated getting up in the morning. Get up to what? The same gringy walled rooms, the same dull people, the same boring job. It all seemed so hopeless.
What I hated most of all was how they all acted so happy all the time, like it was a great honor to live here. That made me sick to my stomach.
I seemed to want to leave. But there’s nowhere to go. Beyond the Station is open space. No one can live there.
During the Saving Day celebrations we all would walk to the Saving Quad, quad 9, and look at the damaged rooms and blocked doorway, proof of the disaster and our saving by the Station. During the standard speeches I looked up at the balcony and it occurred to me there were rooms up there, just like in the other living quads. I recalled the plan that 3XXB showed me . . . that was tore in half. What else is there, I wondered?
The whole area was forbidden and off limits though. A small fence surrounded the area. No one has ever gone beyond the fence. It was like some area reserved for everything but people.
I couldn’t help but think how I’d like to go look in those rooms, to get on the other side of that fence. What would I give?
The thought wouldn’t leave me all day but pestered me like some itch. Later I went back and looked at the area. I knew what I was going to do. I had to do it.
Tonight I’m going to see . . .
My journey to see the rooms in the Saving Quad
We are all required to go to sleep by 9 pm.
At 10 pm I got up and opened the door to my room to a dark corridor. There were some small lights here and there but it was mostly pitch black.
In my entire life I have never looked out the door nor been awake after 9 or 9:30, if I had trouble getting to sleep. It seemed like it was a sin to be up this late and especially to be out in the hallway. Was I committing a crime? I wondered . . . but a part of me didn’t care.
It was so eerily quiet. It seemed like some other world.
I felt different in some way, as if I were a new person.
I turned on my hand lamp and slowly walked out, closing the door behind me.
Slowly I made my way to the Saving Quad. Every so often I heard these noises, a creek, a whuush. It always made me stand still in my tracks.
What if I were found? I had to make special effort not to be found.
Continually, I looked around for signs of people.
Before I knew it I was standing before the fence.
Was I really prepared to do this? No one has ever been passed the fence.
Before I knew what happened I had jumped over the 3 foot fence.
I was in! No one, as far as I know, has stood on this spot for several hundred years at least.
I looked at all the wreckage. Pieces of walls everywhere in a mangled mess. Looking through every crevice I saw an opening that I might be able to squeeze into. I got down and squeezed through.
I went into an open area. It was dark, dingy, and smelled of dust. I took my hand lamp and lifted it up. It was a hallway. I saw doors here and there.
I crept slowly to the first door and tried to open it.
I made my way to the next.
Then the next.
Door was jammed shut.
Then I saw a stairway and walked up.
The first door I found was open.
I walked in.
Dark. Quiet. A musty smell. Dusty.
I moved my hand lamp around.
The rooms are the same as ours. Nothing different, except unused.
I went to the next room.
The same, except that there was some stuff on the bed. There was a large plastic box that was open. It had clothes in it. They were different. I couldn’t make out how they even worked. They had designs in the clothes. Weird. They were so colorful too, much more colorful than ours. Unfortunately, they were so old they tended to break apart as I handled them.
Then I noticed some papers next to the box.
A newspaper. ‘The Romuald County Sentinel’ dated June 16, 2023. Top Headline: Officials Inaugarate the Mars Space Station, probably the greatest technological achievement of mankind. They put the Space Station together in a valley in southern Romuald County. People will live in it for three years to test the integrity of the system. It will then be disassembled and launched into space to be reassembled. It will then fly to mars and the quads rearranged on the surface as required. The Space Station is made up of blocks called quads which are put together like building blocks.
Was this our Station?
I had a hard time believing it.
Other headlines: Governor see’s signs of economic improvement, Wisleaux’s murder trial ending Thursday, Weather hotter than normal, Beestings win fourth game.
Other papers: legal release form, introduction pamphlet for ‘volunteer’.
I could of looked for hours but I had to leave. It will be morning soon.
I went back the next night.
In one room, I found, on the floor of the bathroom something I’ve never seen before. It looked like a person but it was more like a beast. Their skin was this hideous brown and wrinkled, almost like it was dried up. They seemed very skinny, as they had hardly any muscle at all. They had eye sockets but no eyes. I didn’t know what it was. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. Was this how people originally looked? Then it occurred to me that this is not what the peopled looked like in the newspaper and brochures nor in the pictures I’ve seen in the past. Of course, now I know that it was a decomposed body. At the time, I had never seen anything like this. When someone died at the Stations they just took them away . . . I don’t know where. But, at the time, I thought it must be some sort of creature. I thought it was sleeping. I thought it was a weird place to sleep.
What would happen if it woke up?
I don’t know what this thing will do. Maybe it will attack me? A horror filled me I quickly left the room, closing the door so quickly behind me. It made such a loud bang that I panicked someone may of heard me.
But no one did.
I was hesitant to continue. What happens if there is another creature like that in another room and what if it is awake?
I shaked with horror and started to sweat.
Quickly I made my way back to my room and said I was never going back.
For several weeks whenever I passed the Saving Quad I went and looked at it and wondered: are there creatures living there we don’t know about?
I asked people about if they have heard about a mysterious creature in the Station. Most peoples response was like, “What! Not in the Station.”
No one heard anything.
I often dreamt of them creeping on me at night.
Once I had a nightmare where several of them pulled me out of my bed, down the pitch black corridor, through the Saving Quad where there was some sort of door and threw me out the Station into open space.
I think that was the worst nightmare I ever had in my life.
I woke up screaming so loud it waked up the girl in the neighboring room. I was sweating. It was hopeless to get back to sleep after that. I curled up in my head and envisioned these things taking over the Station crawling around like insects.
Oh, it was terrible.
I avoided the Saving Quad after that.
Then, one day, probably one or two months after the nightmare, I couldn’t get to sleep.
9 pm. 10 pm. 11 pm.
I finally got up.
The next thing I knew I had opened my door.
I can’t explain it but I knew where I was going.
Down the hall, down the stairway, down the hall, turn to my left, and down the hall again.
I was there again.
The fence loomed in front of me.
There was something that was itching me.
There was something . . .
As if in a daze, I walked through the fence and up to the next level. I looked at the door where the creature was. It was closed. I turned and went to the next door.
I opened it.
I looked in.
I continued looking from room to room. Quite a few had boxes filled with clothes, all very similar. There were many papers too, many I couldn’t understand or didn’t know what they were about.
My actions are almost discovered
Unfortunately, someone noticed some footprints I had made in the ‘forbidden zone’. Since the area had not been touched in who knows how long the area was dirty. A small layer of dust covered the floors. In the dark I couldn’t see the tracks I was leaving. They were all over the Saving Quad. It made me feel stupid. It was like telling people I was there.
Luckily, they could only follow the tracks into the Living Quads. I was in a panic they’d be able to track it right to my room.
I lucked out. If I was caught I’d go back into solitary again for who knows how long. I’d also be branded as a ‘violator’ for the rest of my life.
This caused quite an outcry in the Station. The whole place seemed to come alive.
There was a search for the ‘zone violator’.
No one confessed. I was suspected due to my shoe size and mental history but no one could prove it.
All sorts of theories abounded and circulated freely. It was funny, as I think about it now, what people came up with. Some people said it was a ghost walking the quad. There has always been a legend of how faint images of people can be found walking the quad at night, of former inhabitants. Other people felt that it was some horrible omen of disaster. Some said it was all a game played by the administration to test our faith. And there are a whole lot more.
In the midst of this, I couldn’t hold my secret any longer and had to tell someone. It was killing me. I decided to tell my friend, 8BHW, who was a year younger than I. We’ve trusted each other since as far as I can remember. I showed him some of the stuff I brought back and told him that I felt there was something else going on, that there was a secret with the Station we don’t know about. I told him about 3XXB and what he told me.
Soon he was with me. I knew he wouldn’t tell.
I asked him if he’d like to sneak into the Saving Quad to see, but he refused. To him, as everyone else, it was taboo, but I knew it intrigued him. He was curious, I could see it in his eye, but it was too much to ask. I told him about the creature, but that only scared him even more.
Because of the scare I didn’t go there any more, though I yearned to.
An Eventful Day
I remember it clearly. Oddly, I can’t recall my age though. I’m going to guess about 33. I was watching the machines shred the old clothes and watching the gauges, as I always do.
I seem to go into a daze. The gauges seemed to blurr together. I couldn’t tell the difference. What did they read? I can’t read it! Is my eyesight going? The lights seemed to buzz. They seemed to blink on and off quickly creating flashes. A headache was developing. I felt like I wanted to destroy these machines. I felt like I was going insane. I couldn’t take it.
8RYP came in, asked me what was wrong.
I turned around and hit him in the face.
Blood gushed out and he screamed.
It occurred to me that I’ve never seen anything like that before. I didn’t expect that reaction.
Now what do I do?
I heard a commotion outside the door.
I panicked. I have to leave.
Opening the door I confronted several guys.
I hit two of them. The others sat there looking at me with dumbfounded looks. They, too, have never seen anything like this. Like me they had no idea what to do.
I ran down the hall. Quickly I ran into the cafeteria and sat down.
People looked at me.
“Are you alright?” one asked me. I had no response.
Then I saw a group of guys running toward the cafeteria. Their activity seemed to energize the place. Everyone was curious what was going on. Never has there been this much excitement that I recall.
I didn’t want to be caught. They’d put me in confinement again, but what I feared most was being branded. It would live with me for the rest of my days.
I just had to get away, at least for a while, just to think.
In the commotion of everyone standing up, talking, and being distracted, I made my escape . . . to the Control Quad, where else?
My thoughts were to go down into the maintenance shafts no one knew about. That’d be a good place to hide, at least for a while. There I could think of what I was going to do.
I quickly ran to the Control Quad.
I went to the main control room.
I forgot . . . there’s always someone there.
“You’re not authorized to be here!” he yelled, as I quickly dashed through the maintenance door.
I grabbed a hand lamp, hardhat, work suit and down I flew down the stairs to the maintenance shaft.
I sat and rested on a pipe. I breathed like I have never breathed before, deeply and fiercely. I noticed water on my forehead. I wondered if there was a leak in the ceiling down here . . . I was sweating with fear.
“What about that guy?” I thought, “you know he is calling security now . . . they’ll be here in no time”.
I knew what I had to do: MOVE!
I took off.
There’s only one way: down the shaft.
As I ran I passed a small side shaft. I recall 3XXB showing me down this small dusty shaft. About 30 feet down there’s a smaller side shaft, so small you had to go through it sideways. I’ve had to go down it once to open reset a valve that closed automatically.
3XXB told me that about 100 feet down it widens a bit and there is what looks like a hatch under some valves. Just walking by you wouldn’t of noticed it. But he happened to drop a tool one day and when he bent down to pick it up, there it was. He said that it was real peculiar as he always had this strange sense that he was meant to find it. But why? He wondered where it went? One day, he pryed the lever open which wasn’t easy. It was practically rust shut. Who knows when it was last opened? He peered in. All that confronted him was darkness and a horrid rusty grease smell. He had not desire going into that. “And that”, he said, “was the last I ever saw of that hatch. If I was meant to find it I don’t know why because I never made any use of it.”
Luckily, I did find a use.
It took me awhile to reach the valves. I bent down and saw the hatch.
It wasn’t very big, maybe 2 feet in diameter.
I had to beat on the lever but I got it open. A strange creepy screech was made by the hinge as I opened it.
I could see what he meant. This odor seemed to pour out the room. To me it smelled like a damp rusty moldy grease smell. I realized this room was going to be dirty and probably messy. Slowly, I put on the maintenance suit. I was glad I picked it up now.
As I put it on I thought: Right leg, “what am I doing?”, left leg, “where am I going?”, right arm, “what’s going to happen to me?”, left arm, “will I ever be able to go back?” and I seemed to stand there hesitating for what seemed like 10 minutes.
And then . . . a noise.
“What was that?”
Another noise . . . rather faint, then there’s another and another growing one upon each other.
Then I heard it . . . voices . . . they’re coming!
Without a thought I bent down and crawled through and then shut the hatch.
When I turned the lever it made a loud ‘thud’.
I wondered if they heard it?
Taking my hand lamp I looked about me.
The floor was coated with a thin layer of what looked like black greasy dust. There seemed to be a dust in the air. I could only see about 5 or 10 feet in front of me with the hand lamp.
After awhile grit was in my mouth . . . tasted like . . . grease.
The stench was so thick I seemed to gasp for air.
It also felt . . . humid.
I crawled slowly, till I confronted a wall. With the lamp I followed it up. I could stand. The ceiling looked about eight feet high. I could see beams and pipes and valves, seemingly everywhere.
I picked a direction and followed the wall.
Slowly I walked, wondering what place this was. I wondered when the last person walked here. I’d be the first in centuries perhaps. In a way, that made me feel proud.
The wall seemed to go on forever, so did the darkness, and the stench.
Then it occurred to me: “If I need to get back to the hatch how will I be able to find my way back?” I stopped dead in my tracks and panicked. I turned around to look back. For the first time in my life I felt . . . lost . . . and alone.
“I got to keep going”, I said to myself.
I turned and continued.
I could see equipment on the other side of the room. Occasionally, there were things strewn on the floor.
After what seemed like 4 hours I confronted a wall in front of me. I turned to my right and followed the wall. After about 10 feet I couldn’t believe my eyes: a stairway up.
I followed the steps. At the top: a door.
I had trouble opening the door, but I managed, and walked through.
Oh the relief! The stench was gone and the humidity. I could finally breath.
Looking around I found myself in a corridor. I was no longer in a maintenance shaft. I was now in a living area, but where?
Dark, musty smell, dusty, similar to what I saw in the Saving Quad.
There was complete silence. In fact, the silence was so silent it seemed loud. It almost seemed to hum. I wondered if it was a machine. No, it’s silence.
I walked along and noticed a side door.
Walking through it I found myself in a large open area of a quad, but it was unlike any I’ve ever been in. In fact, noone has been in here for a long time.
As I lifted my hand lamp up I could see that opposite me and to my left the quad was demolished. It looked like it had been squashed down. It had a resemblance to the damage seen at the Saving Quad.
I wandered around. By one of the corridors I heard these noises almost like a mumbling. Unfortunately, the corridor was blocked by debris. As I got closer it was louder. At one point I felt a slight breeze. It was fresh air . . . at last!
I used my hand to find its source.
Moving some of the debris I could see a faint light. The noise grew louder.
I moved and moved what seems like several hundred pounds of debris til finally, I moved a piece of metal and I couldn’t believe what I saw.
I was looking into the Saving Quad! I was behind some debris in the fenced area.
I could see people talking in groups. They were still searching for me.
One of them looked in my direction.
“Did he see me?” I sneaked a look. He’s just standing talking. No, he didn’t see me.
I sat and thought. I’m in the quad behind the Saving Quad!
A part of me wanted to move away the debris and walk out there for everyone to see. I wanted to tell the secret I now knew.
As I started to move the debris I stopped.
“No, not yet, maybe later. I need to find out what’s going on first”, I said.
I got a piece of metal and covered the gap in the debris. Turning around I continued to look.
There were offices all over. It almost looks like an administrative quad.
I found several more of what I thought were monsters or beasts before. This time, though, they did not scare me. I could see that they were actually people now. This has to be what happens to you after you die, I thought.
I found a number of them in a room, apparently trapped. Someone wrote a note on a piece of paper describing how during the ceremony to open the Mars Space Station, and to test it, a meteor fell and landed near the site killing a lot of people and damaging the station. Many fled into the station for safety.
They naturally activated the station, which is designed for self sufficiency and lived in it for awhile. They couldn’t leave because the dust and radiation were so bad outside. They stayed for several months and then an earthquake happened which further damaged the station and trapped them in this area. They felt they were the only ones that survived.
Is that why the Saving Quad is demolished . . . an earthquake?
It must be.
My mind couldn’t seem to let these facts seep in. I was in such a shock. After all that has happened and after discovering all these facts how is anyone expected to know what to do? Not only that, it conflicts with everything we were taught.
I lay down on the floor, bewildered and tired.
Before I knew it I fell asleep.
Waking up my stomach seemed to automatically gurgle. I could feel that I was hungry. There was only one place to get food though.
Going back and looking into the quad I could see that the day hadn’t started.
Could I make it to the mess hall and steal some food and leave?
I didn’t know.
What time was it anyways?
I ventured out into the open to get a better glimpse of the clock.
I think it was about 6:40. I felt I had time.
Hurriedly, I ran to the mess hall. I knew I had to take whatever was there and as much as I can.
But as I ran there a thought came across me: if I steal food they will know. If they know, they will set a trap for me. I knew, then, that I’d have to come in every night and steal as little as possible, so no one will suspect a thing.
But am I going to do this the rest of my life?
A realization came over me that I was now detached from the Station. I was no longer a part of it. If they catch me I’ll only go back into solitary. But the Station is all there is. What am I going to do? What will life be like from here on out? What have I done?
A feeling of horror came over me.
The next thing I knew I found myself stopped and standing in the open.
What am I going to do?
Then I heard a noise down the hall!
Quickly and quietly I ran to the mess hall and ducked behind the counter.
A man slowly walked by: a guard.
Luckily he didn’t see me.
I watched for him to walk down another hall and took a quick glimpse around.
Carefully, so as to not make any noise, I looked through the cupboards and refrigerator. I took a few things here and there, hopefully not enough for them to notice.
I ended up grabbing a table cloth and putting things in it I grabbed each end and picked it all up.
Looking around carefully, I took off across the open quad back into the Saving Quad.
I distinctly recall that, as I ran, the quad seemed to echo my footsteps. It almost seemed to amplify them, and I was in a panic they’d be heard by the guard.
If he came back I didn’t find out for I quickly ran back behind the Saving Quad.
Have I got to do this every day for the rest of my life? That thought kept racing through my head. The more I thought of it the more the thought scared me. But, after a while, in a way, I resigned myself to this fact. There was no other choice. I was going to have to deal with it.
I don’t know how long I lived like that, sneaking out and stealing food every day. It might have been a few weeks. The rest of the time I wandered around the rooms aimlessly, wondering what to do and make out what happened.
I couldn’t think straight at that time. My life seemed ruined. I often had thoughts of killing myself.
One day, I got some wire I found and tied a loop in it. I even tried to see if it would fit around my head. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Making it outside the Station
One day, I sat down to eat near some ruined area of the Station. There was nothing unusual about it. I’ve done it many times before. But it was different somehow this day.
I kept feeling something on the back of my neck. At first I thought something was crawling on me and I kept reaching back to grab it. Then I stood up and looked around.
Then I felt it . . .
A breeze of fresh air.
“Where’s this breeze coming from,” I thought.
I bent down and tried to find where it was coming from. I began to remove some of the rubble. The more I moved the stronger the breeze.
I noticed that it smelled different too. It was definitely a different type of air. I knew I wanted to see where it was coming from.
I dug and removed rubble for several days. At one point, I removed a piece of rubble and . . . light! A bright light was pouring in the small hole.
I stuck my head through the gap and could feel a wonderful cool sweet smelling breeze coming. It was so nice I decided to lay there for a bit.
As I layed there something caught my ear. A noise. I could barely make it out. What was it? A chirping noise. Very melodic.
I had to get through now. Something was on the other side.
I dug and dug and finally could look out through a hole.
I saw . . . I saw an image similar to what we saw in the pictures of earth.
Is it real?
I was almost in a daze.
Quickly, I squeezed through the hole and could stand up. About me was rubble of the station, but out in front of me . . .
I couldn’t believe it. Is it true?
Slowly, I walked out. Looking up I saw this blue expanse with wisps of white here and there. I was struck by the . . . space. It went on forever.
Out before me was all this land, that seemed to roll up and down here and there. Upon it were areas full of fluffy looking trees.
Then I saw a spec fly through the air. Startled, I recoiled back in a fear.
“What was that?”
I had no idea. I felt a panic, a fear. What else is out here I wondered? What could be lurking there . . . anywhere?
But . . . I had to know.
I walked out further . . . and walked out into open space for the first time in my life.
It was dizzying. I spun around to take it all in.
Everywhere . . . everywhere was space. It seemed to go on forever. After a period of time, it bothered me. The open space made me feel vulnerable. I couldn’t stand it for very long. Every so often, I found myself always having to get under the cover of something . . . wreckage, trees, anything, so that it wouldn’t bother me. There were times I thought the space was going to suck me up into the sky.
I noticed this incredible light in the open space above. It seemed very hot. Was it a light bulb? I don’t know. It was huge. I don’t know. As the day went on I found that this huge light bulb moved across the open space. How it moved I didn’t know.
I was frightened by all the little things out there. Everywhere there were living things. Many were small, like an eighth of an inch long or smaller! I’ve never seen such small living things before. Quite a few I found crawling on me, which gave me quite a start I can tell you. Often, I had this sense as if they were all over me. I’d keep brushing myself to get them off of me but there were none there. I must of imagined it or something. I also was always scratching my head. It seemed like they were always in my hair. I did not know if any of these creatures were dangerous or not. For a while, I was as if in a panic, looking everywhere for them, on me, on the rock before I sat on it, on the ground where I stood (for I had a fear they’d crawl up on me).
These smaller creatures had this weird quality about them, what I’d call a ‘creepy’ quality. Some were worse than others.
Quite of few of them flew around in the air. This was unbelievable to me. How can they suspend themselves in the air. It didn’t take long, though, before I saw these larger animals flying in the air, which stunned me any more. Some of these could get quite large. They’d fly around, often in groups. They seemed to like to land on the branches of trees. There, I could look at them closely. They had this weird fur on them that I’d never seen before. They also had pointed mouths. I was very impressed by their noises. They made such wonderful, almost musical, melodies. I’d lay on the grass under a tree to rest, often, and would be mesmorized by their wonderful melodies (while occasionally checking myself to see if the litter creatures were crawling on me).
Then I saw these small furry creatures, who crawled on 4 legs and had this ‘thing’ that stuck out their back side, at the base of their back. In fact, this ‘thing’ so startled me that when I saw it I spoke the first words I said outside: “what, in the world, is that?” I then chuckled, as it seemed so odd. Then I was practically enchanted by how these litter furry creatures would crawl right up the side of a tree like it was nothing. Then, like the larger flying creatures, it would sit on a branch. Sometimes, they’d jump from one branch to another, often going from one tree to another!
All this fascinated me. There are so many things I saw and thought about that day, that I could go on and on about it. At one moment it suddenly struck me that I wasn’t frightened anymore, as I was petrified at first. Now, I seemed entranced by all this.
I sat and looked at things for hours probably. But, the next thing I knew, it was getting dark. The large light bulb seemed to be going behind a mountain range in the distance. What did this mean? I don’t know.
As it fell it started to get cold. I also couldn’t see where I was going so I made my way back inside and curled up on the floor.
I wondered, “what will tomorrow be like outside? Will it be the same?” Since the large light bulb seemed to move I wondered if it would be working at all. Maybe its falling means it’s gone out? I didn’t know.
I woke up to a gurgling stomach. I got in my bag and got out the food I had brought with me. I didn’t have much left. I knew I was going to have to go later that day or tomorrow morning. But I didn’t want to think about it. I couldn’t help it. I had to go outside.
After a quick munch, I went outside again.
I could see the light – the large light bulb was still working.
I could hear the melodies of the flying furry creatures. It seemed to uplift me. There was no other place that I wanted to be than outside.
Walking out, I saw the space, that big blue space above me. I looked out and could see all the mountain ranges for miles, just like in the old pictures.
Then some small flying creature buzzed by my ear and startled me. Quickly, I moved away but it seemed to follow me. I began to run to get away.
It’s weird: it’s the small things that scared me the most out here.
I wandered around looking at all the trees, rocks, and living things.
After awhile, I found myself turning to where the Station was and looking at it.
It was like large rolling hills with all these green small vegetation on it. Here and there were small tree-like clumps.
Where I came out you could see wreckage and mangled pieces of steel.
I decided to climb the hill, to get a better look.
It was actually quite high. The large light bulb was putting out so much heat it was bothersome. I kept wishing there were trees up here so I could sit under them, as it was cooler, I found, under the trees.
As I looked around, I could see that I was on a small series of rolling hills that seemed to be sticking up out of the ground, which was relatively flat for miles around. There were wooded mountain ranges on two opposite sides of the flat area. In the directions without the mountain ranges I could see it go on for miles. I could see trees here and there on the ground.
I looked downward toward where I came out. I could see that it was only part of the wreckage, actually the edge of it. On one side of it was massive wreckage with pieces of steel, and who knows what else, strewn about on the ground. I could see, some distance from the wreckage of the rolling hills, what looked like a small crater in the ground. It looked almost circular and was maybe 100 or so feet in diameter. It seemed maybe 30 feet deep. There was a lack of vegetation in this crater.
Everywhere else was fairly flat with clumps of trees here and there.
Oh, but it was hot up there. Even though I was hot, I felt as if I was getting wet. There seemed to be water on my forehead and my chest seemed wet. I had this strange sense I wanted to go wash myself. There was an area down below, in the trees, that had water flowing through it, I guess water drained through there or something. I decided to go down there.
The water drainage wasn’t very big, maybe a couple of feet at most. But it was nice and cold. I grabbed it and washed my face and chest. I felt a whole lot better. As I washed my face I couldn’t help but taste it. It tasted good. There was a taste in it I couldn’t fathom. This is unlike the water in the Station which, in comparison, seemed dull and bland. This struck me as odd, as I thought water was water and it would all taste the same. Maybe this wasn’t water? It sure seemed like it though.
After washing myself I sat below some trees and listed to the melody of the flying creatures.
I felt this sense. I can’t describe it. I seemed happy but there was something missing. For some weird reason I began to think of 8BHW. Would he come out here with me? I would like him to be out here with me. I would like someone to be out here with me. It was then that I decided to see if he would.
I will have to go in the dark, when everyone is asleep. I had a feeling I should take a nap so I went into the Station and curled up for a sleep.
Getting some help
I woke up. I had to go get some more food. I also wanted to see if 8BHW would come out with me. I wanted to go and try to coax him to come out and help me. I just seemed so alone out here and I didn’t know what to do.
And so, after sneaking and grabbing food, I snuck in and went into his room. I so startled him when I woke him that he jumped out of his bed and hid underneath it! I realized that none of us has never been woken up by anyone in the middle of the night. How else should he react?
He couldn’t believe it was me. There were rumors that I was killed and lying dead somewhere. Some said I was went mad. Other people said they were keeping me somewhere, locked away. Still, others, said that I was executed, which has never happened at the Station.
“I didn’t think you were alive I really didn’t,” he said, “where have you been?”
“Outside? What are you talking about? There’s no outside?”
“I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. There’s more you know . . . to the Station. We live in a small part of it. There’s more to this place than you can imagine, stuff we were never told. And the outside . . . there’s so much.”
“I don’t believe it.”
It took me awhile but I convinced him to go to the other part of the Station.
Slowly we both sneaked our way to the Saving Quad and through the labyrinth of rooms behind there.
Frightened, 8BHW kept hesitating. “We don’t belong here,” he kept saying. I kept replying, “I’ve already been here.” He looked, wide eyed, at the other part of the Station. He also looked petrified, as if he were violation some sacred law.
“We should go back. I shouldn’t of come here,” he said.
“But you’re here. There’s no way around that. Might as well go through with it,” I’d reply.
After much coaxing and convincing I finally calmed him down enough to keep going.
Finally, I said, “right down there is the way to outside.”
“How can there be an outside? It’s ludicrous,” he kept saying. I continually had to nudge him along. At one point he kept telling me that this proves that I was definitely out of my mind.
But, I will never forget when we got to the opening. I can still remember when he went through the opening to the outside. Wide eyed, he looked up, stunned, and looked at the sky for some time, then he scanned the horizon and landscape.
“What . . . what’s . . . this?” he said bumbling through his words.
“Its outside stupid,” was my reply.
I showed him things outside and he took great interest in it. He acted like a child who had just woken up in the world. I chuckled. But I’m sure I looked no different. Of course, I didn’t have someone there to help me or share it with.
He was very apprehensive of all the creatures and was always looking on him for some creature. Every time he saw a flying creature he’d duck as if it was going to hit him. Looking back on it now, it was sort of comical.
Having him there and his needing support seemed to make me less nervous and less frightened it seemed. In fact, it seemed to give me a confidence that I could handle anything.
I showed him around and some of the things I’ve learned. We climbed the rolling hills and walked all over them. At certain areas you could see, projecting out of the ground, pieces of metal, here and there, along the rolling hills. In some areas there were areas exposed, where it looked like there was a metal wall that was covered up.
We definitely felt that there was a structure buried under the rolling hills. It could only be one thing: the Station.
This was hard to believe as it conflicts with everything we were taught. We always thought the Station was something existing by itself, as if out in a dead space. Life could only live within the Station. But, yet, that’s not what we’re seeing. Not only that, from the inside the Station seemed so massive. Out here, the Station seemed so small. In fact, it seemed like it was almost nothing.
Sitting on the rolling hills we pondered the fact that everyone, and everything we’ve known, is buried under these hills.
It seemed so bizarre.
It seemed so unreal.
What should we do?
8BHW felt we should go back. It was, I think, too much for him. He just wanted to go back and forget it all.
“How can we forget? We know it’s here.” I said.
“We just have to. This isn’t . . . right.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I better get going back. What if they find I’m not there?”
“But what about me? I can’t go back . . . they’ll put me in a cell.”
“But we have to convince them . . . yeah, I’ll talk with 6WER . . . yeah . . . he’ll understand. We’ll talk to him . . . ”
“I’m telling you he’s not going to understand. No, he won’t. I don’t want to risk it.”
“How about if I go tell him? I can talk to him, then, if he agrees, I can tell you. How does that sound?”
“If you’re willing to do it. I guess I’m desperate. I don’t know what to do.”
And so we decide to do this plan.
8BHW goes back in
Waiting behind the wreckage in the Saving Quad I see 8BHW walk out into the darkness. Watching him disappear down the hall made me wonder what’s going to happen. He’s been gone a day. That, alone, means he will be taken to the Medical Quad and have to be evaluated. With what he’s going to say, they’re going to think he’s insane. I didn’t have a good feeling in my gut. I worried for him.
The decision was for me to wait at the Saving Quad until he comes back.
Looking out into the Station it seemed to be dead in some way. Maybe it was just dead to me now. I yearned for the light outside, and the melody of the flying creatures.
Sitting there, I could see that even the air is stale in here. It lacks the ‘freshness’ and ‘cleanliness’ of outside.
Then, movement. The Station is coming alive.
Everyone is getting up to get breakfast and go to their work stations.
I wonder what’s going on with 8BHW?
Looking out, I see the hubbub of commotion I’m used to seeing. The familiar noises, the familiar voices, the familiar faces. I was struck by how I did not care for this anymore. My tendency is to get away now, to flee this place.
But I sat and waited.
I must of dozed off as I was woken up by some commotion in the Station in front of the Saving Quad. I saw a bunch of people. There seemed to be great emotion in this crowd, which is unusual. I could hear yelling and much argument.
Then they all began to walk toward the wreckage . . . toward me. I got myself up, ready to take off if I needed to.
They stop. Someone is talking out loud. Can’t make out who it is or what they’re saying.
Sticking my head out abit more I hear:
” . . . has never happened before. This is sacreligous and a crime against the Station. We cannot . . . this behavior. The only answer is that it is madness.”
“But maybe there’s truth. Should we find out?” someone yells.
“Find out what? We know the truth. Our traditions . . . been here for centuries. Are you implying that they are wrong? Are you implying that all the people who came before us were wrong? Think of what you’re saying. It’s madness. It’s the only answer.”
From the crowd there is a mum of agreement.
“What is this about, I wonder?” I think to myself. I’ve never heard or seen any type of a meeting like this as something insignificant.
I pass it off and lean back to relax.
Casually, I listen to the conversion, somewhat disinterested.
Then I hear “8BHW” and “outside”.
I sit right up. I can’t make out what they’re saying too well. I stick my head out again to hear.
” . . . claims of what he is saying is mad and absurd. How can it be? Not only that, he has passed into the forbidden area of the Saving Quad. This is unprecedented. This is unacceptable. This violates the very principles of the Station and what it represents. We now know who these footprints are. We now know who violated this sanctum.”
“Yes, yes” I here from the crowd.
“This weighs heavily on me. 8BHW has done something so heinous, so hideous, so . . . oh, I cannot bare to think of it. There is a little known law written in the books. Oh, but why must this fall on me? It says that a person who passes through the sacred area can only be mad. Why else would anyone do such a thing? The Station cannot tolerate madness. Yes. Yes. We have no choice. This law says we must rid ourselves of this madness, of this mad person. It says that for a person to commit such a heinous act he must be incurably mad. It also says there is concern that it may be contagious. He must be separated from society, from all people. He must have no more contact with anyone. Placed in a cell, with food given to him through a small door. There he must live out his days. Let the footprints remain to remind us all of this horrid act.”
Then there is a great shout of applause and support.
As the crowd shuffles around I catch a glimpse of 8BHW with this terrible look of doom on his face. I thought I heard him yell, “No! No!” but I seemed to be the only one who heard.
Soon the crowd and commotion go marching down the hall to the Medical Quad to take him to his cell and silence envelopes the Saving Quad.
I sit there, mouth agape, stunned.
“Did that happen?” I thought to myself.
For some time, I sit there. After a period of time, I hear some more the shuffle of feet and voices. Dinnertime.
The conversation was a little more louder this time, no doubt talking about the events earlier. Other than that it was dinner as usual.
I was so stunned I sat there as if petrified. The next thing I knew I was waking up.
It was dark and quiet inside.
I attempt to free 8BHW
Scratching my eyes I wonder if I could free 8BHW from the Medical Quad. I don’t know how though, as the area has always been locked pretty tight, with all the medication, patients and such.
Do I have the time?
Slowly, I sneak out into the open. I look at the clock. 11 o’clock.
I might be able to do it.
As I sneak along I am stunned by how frightened I am. I’m among my own people, who I have lived with and been friends with for years . . . and I’m frightened.
Most certainly, something bad has taken place in my life . . . but what about 8BHW?
I work my way to the Saving Quad, hugging the walls.
It seems like it’s been an eternity since I’ve been here. There, in front of me, I see the Medical Quad.
Going up to the door I avoid the windows so that the nurse at the counter does not see me. Quietly, I try to open the door.
I don’t know what else to do. This is the only way in. I don’t dare try something during the day and I don’t know how to get in at night. I know that there is an alarm button at the nurse’s station, but I don’t know where it’s at.
I head back to the Saving Quad and decide that I will sleep there during the day. Meanwhile, I’ll try to think of what I can do.
After some hours I come up with an idea. I sit for some time running it through my head to see any problems.
Certainly, there are problems and uncertainties. I’m also going to have to do things I’ve never done before, like be violent. One thing’s for sure, I’m going to have to do something I’ve never done or seen before. That scared me the most.
And then, at about 11 o’clock, I get up.
“This is it,” I say to myself.
Reaching the Medical Quad door, I knock on it.
The nurse looks up at me with a bewildered look and slowly gets up. She walks over and opens the door.
“What is this? Can I help you? You shouldn’t be up.”
“I need your help,” I say, as I push open the door.
“You can’t come in here!”
I grab her by the back of her hair, making her reek in pain, and say, “You’re going to take me to 8BHW’s cell and open it for me. Do you understand?”
“No, I’m not . . . ” and I squeeze her hair tightly.
Then I walk pushing her along and said, “which way?”
“This is mad,” she says,
“I know. My advice is to do what I tell you. Something tells me you do not want to see me in my fit of madness.”
She must of agreed as she did everything I told her. I was hoping for that.
Making it to 8BHW’s cell, she opens the door.
I find 8BHW on the floor asleep, in a cell similar to what I was in, with nothing but padding.
“Get up!” I scream. “Get up!”
He moans mumbling, “no . . . no . . . why . . . why”
“Get up! We got to go.”
He opens his eyes and looks at me dumbfounded.
“What? How did you get here? Our plan, it didn’t work.”
“We haven’t the time. Get up. We’re going.”
“I can’t . . . uhh,” he says, and starts to moan.
“Let’s get going!”
“I can’t . . . won’t go.”
“Come on,” I say, as I kick him in the leg.
“I’m not going. Leave me here.”
“You don’t want to spend your life in here. You might as well be dead.”
“Go! Go! Forget me. I cannot live outside. I cannot live without the Station. I’m not like you. I don’t know what to do without it. Better this cell than outside.”
“What? What’s wrong with you. I came all this way for you. I’ve risked a lot.”
“Oh, just go, I need this place. I need this cell. I need it. Better this cell than outside.”
He falls back on the floor.
I am dumbfounded.
“If this is what you want . . . I guess . . . I’ll go.”
“I fear we’ll never see each other again . . .” I said as I turned and walked away pushing the nurse in front of me.
Finding an empty cell I push her in and close the door, locking it.
I then walk to the nurse’s station and slowly walk out the door.
It seemed so quiet out there in the hall. It seems so odd. I knew everyone was in their rooms asleep completely oblivious to what happened.
Making it behind the Saving Quad I sit down to take a rest and reflect on what just happened.
Puzzled, I get up after a while and look toward the Saving Quad. There is a feeling in me that I will never see this place again. As I turn around I feel that this is it: I have turned my back on the Station forever.
A small discovery
After what happened with 8BHW I decided to go up and sit on a hill I always liked because of its wonderful views. It was really high and from its top I could get a good look around for miles. I looked all around, at everything. Looking back on it now I could see that I was really looking for someone . . . something . . . waiting . . . hoping . . . for some answers. Nothing ever came.
After taking a look around I wandered to a side I was never on before. As I climbed up my left foot slid and I fell. Getting up I naturally looked to see what it was and I noticed a shiny surface that was exposed. Something was under the dirt there. I bent down and looked. It was a window. I looked in and couldn’t believe my eyes . . . I could see into the station!
Quickly I got my sleeve and cleaned off the dust from the window and peered in again. I could make out the main area by the Saving Quad. I could barely make out people. I got my hands and put them to the side of my eyes, trying to block out the suns reflection. I saw even better. There were people walking around. I couldn’t believe it.
How does one describe how this feels? To see my old life from the position I now saw it. How does one describe this? I cannot put into words. It seemed surreal, unreal, fantastical. It all seemed as if I was peering into some old dream.
For me, this window, and spot, became like a shrine. Several times a day I would go and peer into it like some devotion, as if to revisit on old friend.
Once I noticed that the sun shone through the window and into the station. I could see that the sun shone down onto the wall making a bright spot. This scared me and I quickly covered the window with an old cloth. I would only look in when I knew they would not see the sun or its reflection.
Can you imagine what would happen if they questioned this bright spot in the ceiling? That could cause quite a ruckus I’m sure. I decided not to chance it.
An excursion into war
I was at a loss as to what to do. I decided to take a walk. I decided to take a walk down the valley a bit. I didn’t intend to walk very far but the next thing I knew I had walked quite a distance. I think I was just mesmorized by all the different things I saw. There were noises I’ve never heard before and strange smells. There were these small creatures that hovered in the air somehow and crawled on the ground and tree trunks. Every so often I’d see this furry thing scurry up a tree.
It was all so new to me.
Then, as I came around a clump of trees I found myself in front of this unusual thing. It was like a big blackish strip that went across the land. It was maybe 30 feet wide. It was all cracked and in pieces in some areas with these small plants coming up through the open areas. I’ve never seen anything like that. It was like made out of all these rocks and was hard.
As I was looking at this I looked up and saw this vertical metal thing sticking up. It had another metal thing mounted on its top. I looked at it and only saw silver so I went to look around the other side and it had some design in it. I couldn’t make it out. It looked like a sign. The sign had what appeared to be green and white on it but they were peeling off. I could barely make something out . . . it looked like “LOS” but I’m not sure.
And so I looked each way, down each direction that this thing went. In one direction it went around a small hill but in the other direction it went into an area that seemed nothing but earth, with hardly a tree. It looked incredibly desolate and hot.
I decided to go the other way.
The problem is that it went into a similar terrain.
I decide to walk a bit. My curiosity was killing me in this new world. I had to do something.
I walked and walked. During the day it got incredibly hot. The sun seemed to eminate this incredible horrible heat. I got thirsty. I noticed that my skin, particularly on my forehead and neck, got red and sore. I became weak and hungry. I realized I had nothing to eat out here.
I decided to head back but it started to get dark. I could barely see where I was going. It got cold. I began to get shivers and was so tired and weak I couldn’t go on anymore.
I stop and sat down.
I reached my hand out and it landed on something . . . cloth?
“What is that I wonder?” I said to myself.
I looked over and saw a small pile of cloth. I rummaged through it and found a jacket that seemed to fit me. It had some strange markings on it I’ve never seen. I also found a large sheet and decided to use it as a blanket and go to sleep. I’ll continue the next day.
I woke up by someone kicking me in my side. When I opened my eyes I found myself staring down a metal rod a man was holding. Around me stood about 5 guys.
“Get ‘im up”, one yelled screamed.
I was yanked upward by my arm so hard it hurt for several hours.
“Of all the nerve . . . what’s your name? Who are you with? Where are you from?” the same man yelled.
“Station . . . uh, at the Station”, I blabbered. I was stumped. This is the first time I’ve seen anyone not at the Station. They looked like us but dirtier and gringier with more expression in their faces. Their faces seem to have these grooves in them, deep and furrowed. They used words I could not understand most of the time.
“The station . . . the command station? Come on, speak up!” he replied.
They kept pointing these rods at me as if it was some horrible thing, like it was supposed to scare me. I sort of chuckled inside.
“All right. Let’s take ‘im back for interrogation.”
I was walked about a mile over the hill.
Interrogation he wears jacket of enemy
As I leaned against the wall in pain I could hear this conversation:
“I’ve never seen anything like him. Look at his clothes. He’s got a weird accent I’ve never heard before. His mannerisms are unusual to say the least”
“Maybe he’s some sort of plant? A spy? Maybe they want us to think this and let him go. He’s seen a lot of our area. He could easily go back and tell them.”
“I don’t know. He doesn’t seem like the enemy to me. He doesn’t seem to recognize names or places.”
“Maybe he found the jacket, just as he said, and is now found himself caught in the middle of the conflict?”
“It could be but I don’t think we should take any chances. It’s best we put him in the POW camp for now. We can’t afford another spy roaming around.”
Then a tall man come in with a black moustache and interrupted the conversation.
“Captain Smith, I think we have a solution. We’ll hit their command station from the east in the morning right as the sun begins to rise. If we do it right their whole command station will be whipped out. They’ll get a surprise they won’t forget. Their whole network will be crippled. This will have to be done on Friday as we feel this is the earliest we can mobilize our forces. Tomorrow is just too early”, he said.
“Sounds like a plan. Make it work!” replied one of my interrogators.
On hearing this I panicked.
Attack the Station?
They have no idea what’s going on out here!
I knew, then, that I had to escape and stop this attack. There was no choice.
And then . . .
“Alright . . . come here you!” and he picked me up and took me back to the cell.
The cell was in a basement of the building. They put in these bars to create cells. There were 14 of us there in separate cells separated only by bars. Our only toilet was a bucket in each cell. I don’t need to tell you the stench that came out of that room.
The first sentence I said to a fellow cellmate, “when’s Friday?”
“Uh . . . that’s in . . . today’s Monday . . . or was it Tuesday . . . no, it’s Monday . . . so it’s in . . . Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Fri . . . 4 days” was his replay
4 days to escape and stop an attack!
How was I going to accomplish this?
I looked around. Concrete walls and metal bars, screwed into the concrete.
I hadn’t a clue. I didn’t even know what was going on out here and didn’t understand half of what they said. All I knew is that I had to do something.
After an hour of desperate deliberation some guards came in and took us all out. The leader made us form a line.
What am I to do? I was at a loss. I was thrown here into a situation I never conceived of in my life and was now expected to save my own home . . . in just a few days.
What was I going to do?
I didn’t dare run. There were people everywhere.
We stood in a line in that blazing sun for I don’t know how long. Maybe it was half the day, I don’t know. I saw several of the guys talking and occasionally pointing at us.
What was going on?
Then I heard a voice, “march these guys out of here!”
Then we were surrounded by a number of guards and the head guy said, “alright prisoners! We’re going to take you to another area. You are to follow us. Anyone try anything and they will be shot. No exceptions!”
To be frank, I didn’t know what he meant by ‘try anything’ or being ‘shot’. I was in a panic that I might be doing something wrong without knowing it. That was the most horrifying walk I ever had in my life. I think my hair started to turn gray that day.
We walked and walked. I developed sores on my feet. I haven’t a clue where we went. I remember buildings, mostly destroyed, and wasteland.
Then I noticed we were walking toward this fenced off area. There were people around there. Many of them were eyeing us all as we walked along.
The main guy we were following yelled to a guy who opened a gate.
We walked in.
Then we were told to stop.
“You’ll be here for a while,” yells the main guy.
Him and the guards then walk out, closing the gate behind them. An eerie feeling came over me. I felt frightened. I looked down and noticed my hand was shaking.
“Well, here’s the new resort boys,” says one of the prisoners.
I looked around and see fence all around, maybe 100 feet square. The fence was rust colored and bent in places. On the top were what like liked rolls of wire with prickly things sticking out of it.
I looked up at the blazing sun.
“God, it’s hot,” I said.
Looking around I didn’t see one shady spot. We were out in the open.
I sat down where I stood. I started to sob.
In the distance I heard someone say, “I hope they give us something to eat, or at least some water . . .”
I looked up at the man. He was about my age. Very rough looking, but he had this looked of practicality. For some reason I got up and went over to him.
“Do you know what they’re going to do with us?” I said.
“What? What? What do you think? They intend to shoot us. That’s what they always do. I can’t figure out why they didn’t kill us before. Why did they bring us here? It’s just not like them.”
“Do you know anything about an attack they intend to do in a few days?”
“They always intend to do an attack in a few days. Where have you been? Who are you anyways?”
“I . . . I don’t belong here. I accidentally came across here and was captured while I was walking. I don’t know what this,” and I gestured to everything around us, “is all about.”
He chuckled and said “really? That’s funny.”
“I got to get out of here.”
“You got a few other guys wanting the same thing mister,” and he walked away.
I went and leaned on the fence.
What was I to do?
For days I glanced around the fenced area.
Can’t go over, can’t go under. I see only two options. Through the fence, either literally, or through the doorway. The doorway has guys posted all the time and they look through everything before it leaves the fenced area.
Leaning up against the fence one day I noticed that it could be moved back and forth on the bottom, but not enough to crawl underneath. I could dig under the fence and shimmy that way underneath. But there’s guards walking all the time around the fence line. Could I at night?
It was worth a try.
When it got dark I quietly started to dig in the ground under the fence. It was not easy. Even though no one could see me, they could still hear me and, it seems, they could sense my movement. Not only did I have to do it so the guards didn’t see me but also the other prisoners.
I dug and dug, as quietly and inconspicuously as I could.
I tried to squeeze underneath.
Still not enough.
After a period of time I knew I wasn’t going to do it this way.
I knew I had to get away but how?
A few days later I had another chance.
They always dump the waste of the prisoners out in a hole outside somewhere. It just so happened I was chosen to help do this one day. I can tell you that it was not a pleasant experience at all. Carting around those barrels of waste was nauseating and sickening. It was this, actually, that gave me the idea. I would feign a nausea and sickness and try to dump it onto someone. This, I hoped, would cause enough commotion to let me escape.
As I walked along we walked beside some trucks. Making myself sick I tipped the drum just enough to dump the waste onto another prisoner and a guard.
The commotion! It was almost funny but I wasn’t going to hang around and find out.
Quickly, I made for the woods, or made it look like that. I doubled back and hid underneath a truck that was parked on the side of the road.
Everything I had to hold onto was filthy or greasy. I, at first, hung there but slowly positioned myself between some pieces of rusted steel so I could rest a bit.
Being in this uncomfortable position I could hear them searching for me. I could see their feet walk by.
Luckily, no one looked under the truck. The general consensus, it seems, was that I had run into the woods.
It seems like I hung there for hours, wedged between the steel, when I heard a big rumble and the truck began to vibrate. Then, suddenly, the ground began to move . . . faster and faster. Soon, it was zipping by. I knew that I had to hang on for my life. Every so often, the wheels would spit up a rock that gave me some of the worst bruises I’ve ever had . . . and, boy, did they ache.
Where the truck was taking me I don’t know. But I had no choice: I had to go where it was going.
After some time the truck stopped. I felt exhausted and wore out. My hands had been holding on so long in the same position, I couldn’t move them.
Looking down on me I was covered with dust and dirt. I could feel it in my mouth too. I would later discover it in my ears, nose and every crevice of my body it seemed.
Patiently and eagerly I waited. I wanted to just let go and lay on the ground . . . if only for a few moments.
Then it went quiet.
Slowly, I poked my head down to take a look around.
I put my leg down, then my other . . . and let go.
I fell with a ‘poof’ . . . and quickly looked around. Did anyone see me?
Luckily, there was no one. I got up and rolled myself to the wheel and leaned up against it. Here I took a breather and looked at my hands. They were as if stuck in the position they were in while holding on. I got them and tried to stretch them but it hurt. I decided to sit and rest a bit. In the meantime I can look around and see where I was at.
This place seemed familiar . . . but why would it?
Could it be?
It was. It was the original place I was at, where they interrogated me.
I was too wipped out to do anything. I quietly crawled to the trees and found a bush and lay underneath it. The next thing I knew I woke up to the noise of the trucks starting up.
It must be the next day. It seemed like morning to me. I must of slept all night.
Looking out I saw numerous people. One, especially, I did recognize. The man who told me about the attack on the station, the tall man with the moustache.
I had to do something.
But have they attacked already? I was so tired, bewildered, and confused I couldn’t say. I had no idea, exactly, what day it was. I know only that I had to do something.
I tried to get up but stumbled . . . and my hands.
After stretching myself and struggling to get up I sneaked over to near the man was at and watched, waiting for the time.
I noticed that he walked into a small building near the trucks. Quietly, I went up to the side of the building. I looked around the corner.
I saw no one.
Slowly, I walk up to the door, turn the knob and slowly opened it. I listened to what was going on inside. I heard a hum . . . a fan?
I opened the door a little more.
And then . . . kreeeeeeek!
I stood motionless.
Behind me I heard, “who are you?”
I turned to face a soldier. He looked at me with this bewildered stunned expression as if to say “what ARE you?”
I had to act.
I lifted my leg and hit between his. He crouched down and I hit him in the face. Falling, he groaned and started to scream. I got my foot and smashed his mouth . . . again . . . and again. I was so terrified I grabbed a rock that was laying nearby and struck him in the head multiple times.
After I was done, I looked down and saw what I did: A man hunched over on his side, with the side of his head bloody and smashed in, his eyes staring out.
What did I do? I’ve never seen this before. What did I do?
But, then, I realized we were in front of the door. I had to get him out of here. I dragged him into the bushes. As I walked back I could see our tracks and a trail of blood. I got my foot I pushed all the sand with blood into the bushes and then moved my foot bag and forth across the area to cover the tracks.
Before I knew it I had walked into the building, almost as if I lived there. And there I confronted the tall man with the moustache.
“What happened to you man?” was his reply.
“You!” I said in reply.
I then went over and hit him in the face. I fell straight back. I then went behind him and grabbed him by the hair and pulled it back.
“Are you planning to destroy the Station?” I yelled.
“Station . . . station . . . you mean the command station . . . the weapons station . . . the medical station . . .” he muttured.
“You know damn well what I mean”
“No . . . no . . . “
“The station to the north of here about 500 miles. Station 5HTP.”
“What . . . what’s that? . . . there is no station north of here . . . our troops are located to the south and south east . . . you know that . . . what are you talking about?”
“Oh . . .oh”, I muttered.
A realization came over me. They weren’t seeking to destroy my station, Station 5HTP. No one knew about it. They didn’t know it was there, nor were there any military operations in that area. I was completely mistaken all this time.
It all made sense now . . . command station . . . weapons station . . . and so on.
It all made sense.
I was mistaken . . . I had misunderstood.
But I had told this man where Station 5HTP was located. I had no choice . . . I had to kill him. I grabbed the largest heavy object I could find and hit him as I did the other man.
I then walked out quietly and went into the woods.
I was devastated.
I loaded up some provisions and headed north, away from this nightmare.
I can’t remember how long it took me to get to the Station. I still don’t quite know how I found my way either. My recollection is that I was completely numb after see all that I had seen. I hardly thought at all. I seemed to only recall and repeat in my head certain scenes and events. At that time, I don’t think I knew how to react to it all.
When I reached the Station it seemed so lonely there. There was this strange sense I felt. The Stations seemed so innocent, so naïve, so simple. As I reflected on this I couldn’t help but chuckle.
I looked around and there was nothing . . . complete silence. Not a soul, not a being it seemed. Then a thought came over me, that this is all an illusion. Behind all this hidden away from sight are thousands of people.
For some reason I found myself saying, “the Station . . . it’s a lie.”
I looked around and peered into the window.
It was weird. I didn’t seem to care. Before, the Station engulfed my life. Now it was a minor detail and, at that time, an insignificant part of my life.
Something told me to go north. The Station seemed to be OK. What was I to do there anyways?
After some walking up the valley I noticed how it spread out into a large open flat area. It was green too, but not with trees. They were all these small bushes in a straight row. It seemed like there were hundreds of them. I’ve never seen anything like that before.
Then I noticed a house in the distance. I thought I saw some people.
I walked toward it. I saw a man and a boy there doing something in the front. When they saw me they seemed stunned, and looked at me like a monster. Later, I found out why . . . I looked a mess.
They came up to me and asked me if I needed help.
What do you think I said?
The farmer, as I found out he was, and his family fed me and clothed me. As time went on started to chores on the farm. We built me a small house nearby and I, too, became a farmer, growing corn, beans, and other vegetables. We also grew fruit and raised some pigs, chickens, and cattle.
I discovered that there were other farmers around the area and we trade food, have feasts and socialize with another. We’ve become like a little community.
It is here, at this farmer’s house, that I write this. For thanks and gratitude for their help I have stayed with them and given them my help. They accepted me into their bossom and, in turn, I have accepted them. They have become my family, my life.
I have reached the unbelievable age of 61. My hair went white, my joints ache, my muscles hurt, and I can’t see things as well. It’s hard to believe I’ve spent more time outside than in the Station. It just doesn’t seem like it. In many ways it is a distant memory but, in other ways, it is as if it was yesterday.
After the turmoil of my early life I find contentment in the farming life. I seem happy here. Most certainly this will be where I will be to the end of my days.
My inquiry as to what happened
Over the years I have gone back to the Station and through the rooms to see if I can find evidence of what happened. I’ve also talked to people about outside.
Basically, it seems that in June 2023 they opened a space station in Romuald county. It was a station intended to go on the surface of another planet, called Mars. It was a completely self sufficient and self maintaining space station. They were going to test it here on earth first, to see how well it functioned, and work out any problems with the system. They would not be able to do these things once it reached Mars.
Its full name was ‘Mars Station, Test 5HTP’, here on earth. On the surface of Mars it was going to be called ‘Mars Station 1’.
They placed it here on this flat plain in Romuald county, a perfect spot. They had a test crew ready to go in to test the station by living in it. Initially, it was going to be for 3 months, then they would do an evaluation. They would put another test crew in there for a year, after which, they’d take it to Mars and set it up there.
The day the test crew was going to be sealed in they were having their ceremonies outside to inaugurate it. Then, out of the sky, a meteor came flying down and landed near the station, destroying part of it. It also killed a number of the people, some of which were the test crew. Many of the people, which included some of the test crew and bystanders went in to the Station for safety.
They tried to come out but couldn’t as the air was so bad and radiation levels were so bad.
Then an earthquake hit, further damaging the Station. It appears the damage collapsed one of the quads, which would be the Saving Quad, sealing it off from the other half. Since the people who were on the other side did not have the life functions, they basically died, which is why I found dead bodies in that area. The rest of them were sealed off in the area I would know as the Station. Since all the living functions are there they basically started it up and started to live in it.
For some reason, someone centuries ago teared the Station plan in half, so that only the area we were living in was shown. When they did this the name was cut in half and we ceased to know of the rest of the Station. This is why ‘Mars Station Test 5HTP’ became ‘Station 5HTP’.
Apparently, over time, there became this idea that the earth had been destroyed and they were saved by the Station. There became a fear of leaving the Station, so everyone began to live in the Station believing that was all that was left. This went on for centuries.
As near as I can tell it is somewhere in the mid 2400’s. Nobody knows for sure as somewhere in the 2300’s a war broke out in the world destroying much of the world and causing great famine. In the Station, we were all oblivious to this. This war has turned humanity, which was a large civilization, into a bunch of small tribes, which often war with one another. I saw one of the conflicts shortly after I left the Station, as described above.
Overall, though, humanity is relatively peaceful and mostly farms the land nowadays.
Interestingly, there are many folk legends around this are that there was some form of self sufficient station out here in the valley. There are rumors that people still lived there. But no one dared to come near this area, as it was supposed to be cursed, with a great radioactive disease. As a result, this area was always bypassed by people. They say no one has walked in this valley for centuries due to the curse. This accounts for why no one ever found it.
At night I clean off the greenhouse windows and solar panels and peer through the window. Several times I have gone back in and walked around the quads in the dark. Seems like an eternity, a lifetime ago. It’s like another world. I am no longer part of that world but yet, somehow, I am.
I have several times, in fact, intended to tell everyone. I snuck in to do so but could never bring myself to do it. They are happy in their delusion just as people are.
In the end, will it help them anyways?
How many times have I stood upon the mound, peered in to see the people in their cave-like existence, then looked out at the endless space, sky, mountain ranges and wondered. Are the people out here any better? Am I any less delusional out here? Am I really better off? Personally, I don’t know.
The problem is that the Station just does not fit my character, I guess. I, as a person, don’t belong there but many of those people do and should be there just as there are people out here who do not belong in there. We all belong somewhere but, for some of us, that somewhere is not easy to find. It seems that we need to be where our character fits us best. It’s like the animals out here. A fish does not belong in a tree and a squirrel does not belong in the lake. Nature has given us each a place.
But I wonder where my place is. I do not belong in the Station, but I was born and raised there. I cannot deny the fact that it is a part of me. In many ways, its home but it’s a home I do not belong in. I do not belong out here, it seems, though it seems more suitable for me. I seem caught between two worlds. I struggle with reconciliation. Perhaps that’s where I belong?
My somewhere seems to be nowhere, caught between two worlds.
About 11 years ago the farmer who helped me passed away. It is the custom, outside, to bury people in the ground after they died. This custom, as you can imagine, was strange to me. We put him in a wooden box and lowered it into a hole in the ground. As we put the soil down it left a mound on the top. There was this strange familiarity with this. It was like I had seen this before, but how could I? It was a weird feeling.
Afterwords, we mounted a board that had his name, year of birth, and year of death on it at the head of the mound.
Some days later I traveled to the Station as I regularly travel there. As I came over the ridge and saw the mounds it occurred to me the similarity between this mound and the one left on the farmers grave. In fact, it looked like a big grave mound. I thought there is great truth to this, in many way, as they are dead to the world.
Knowing this I couldn’t help but get a board and place it on the tallest hill and write on it:
Here lies Station 5HTP (Mars Station Test 5HTP)
Entombed here are hundreds of the living dead
They live their lives, daily, oblivious to the world
Below it I put a container where I will put a copy of my account for anyone who makes it out, as well as directions to our farm.
Perhaps, there will be others . . .
(I originally came up with the idea of this story in the early 90’s. It gradually developed over time. At first, I thought it was an original idea but I discovered that it was very similar to the show “Logans Run”. As a result, I put writing it for years. But I liked the idea so much I began to think closer on the plot til I had one I liked.
This story is really an autobiography of an aspect of my life. It shows my growing awareness of the problems of the modern world and, in particular, the US. The Station, really, represents the modern world and the US. It’s a place where people think their system is so great and wonderful, who glorify it and practically turn it into a god. In the story, we are all told how great it is and everything. Our sitting and looking at old pictures and trying to figure out the meaning of things and then concluding it must of been a terrible world represent my many conversations of Americans who do just that, not only to the rest of the world, but to past history. They look at other countries and the past and see the bad in them. Then they ‘congratulate’ themselves and say, “we should be thankful we live in the US”. All it is is narrow mindedness.
I called it ‘5HTP’ because this is a chemical that is supposed to help with depression. I did go through a depression once, which I ascribed to the modern world and American society, oddly enough. All the artificial undermining way of this society and alienation cut me down to nothing as a person. 5HTP is a natural chemical found in some plants that, when metabolised, is supposed to help replace the seretonin in the brain. This, they say, will help with depression (and other things as well). It represents the dilemma I’ve found with many things nowadays. It’s an artifical solution to a human problem. But, to make it even more deceptive, it is a solution that isn’t all artificial, as it comes from a plant. This makes it a “naturally artificial solution to a human problem”. Isn’t that what the modern world and the US are doing? It’s all an illusion, a deception, that, at first glance, seems to be an answer for the ‘human problems’ but really isn’t.
The main character reflects me finding out that the modern world and the US, really, is a lie and not true at all. It, in a way, describes my discovery of the illusion and deception of the modern world and the US. His having a feeling that ‘something isn’t right’ is a feeling I myself always had too. For me, this actually started my inquiry. His having problems fitting in to the society reflects similar problems I’ve had as well.
His going out into the natural world reflect what I, too, had to do. But while out there I found myself in a whole new set of conflicts reflected in the war. This shows that trying to escape the ‘status quo’ or the current situation only brings in other problems. In the end, he has to learn to accept the situation, and live with what he has, which is based on my experience.
The theme of death is common with this story as it reflects the interior death the modern world creates. The first memory is death and the people in the Station are treated as dead at the end. Even the name is associated with it.
The story, really, is a reflection of the ‘modern dilemma’, of being trapped in a dehumanized world, feeling its lack of humanity, and suffering because of it. It reflects the despair, desperation, and pain it can cause, such as when he ‘snapped’ and was put in a cell. The madness that he suffered there reflects how even the ‘modern solution’, however ingenious, arent’ all the effective necessarily. The story shows the struggle to get out of this dilemma and flee it. The problem is that, though we may find ourselves out of tbe ‘dilemma’ we find ourselves in another that, usually, we are not prepared for. Because of this, it may actually be worse. This is the ‘outside’. His friend that he takes outside, 8BHW, and then has to go back inside because he basically can’t handle the outside reflect the two parts of us that struggles in this dilemma. The main character is the part of us that wants to leave the society that caused the ‘dilemma’. 8BHW is the other part of us that wants to stay in the world we were brought up in and are used to, even though it causes the ‘dilemma’. In the end, those of us that are in this situation will have to make a decision of which part of themselves they are going to follow. Regardless of the choice, the other part of themselves will always be there, as if hanging in a mist. A person who remains in the ‘dilemma’ will still feel a part of themselves that wants to leave. A person who leaves the ‘dilemma’ will feel a desire to go back to their origins. This is reflected in the main characters always going back to the Station, looking through the window, and even sneaking in and walking around. As a result, a person who is in this situation is ‘caught between two worlds’, as the main character says.
The epitaph’s statement that they are the ‘living dead’ and ‘oblivious to the world’ refer to the inner death and alienation the modern world creates. It reflects how people in the modern world are not living in the ‘world’ but an artificially created one. As a result, they are not really living as human beings.)
Copyright my Mike Michelsen