Day one drew to a close. Despite its dangers, I do have to land every so often, inspect the aircraft, then catch a wink or two before setting off again. I was able to find a patch of dirt to land. My jet is able to land horizontally, perfect for missions like this. But landing is easy compared to inspecting the ship. I have to put on a suit that is heated, again, to the extreme, so when I step outside into the world, I can work. Thank god the jet doesn't break down often.
After a tasteless meal of meat-porridge, which is exactly as disgusting as it sounds, I slept for a good four hours. It's the best amount of sleep you can get out here. On the fifth hour of my snooze, the alarm sounded, and I had to rush to the controls: the ice was on the move. It threatened to close around me, swallow and crush me. My jet is reliable, though, and I was able to escape back into the star burned night.
Strange. I didn't think I wanted to live that much...
Unlike last time, the Geiger counter was on. No real radiation, aside from the occasional leak from old nuclear power plants. The world isn't really worth saving at the moment, so we leave the radiation to seep into the ice and, if it ever thaws, it will be our drinking water. Not that we can do anything about it...
I was very close to the ocean when I saw the first signs of life. There were a group of lights traveling across the glacial wasteland.
"Do we have men out here?" I asked to those back home
"No we don't." came the reply.
And so I landed. As I sat there, stationary, the cold biting around me, I noticed these lights came from what looked like giant robots. They were great, hulking iron giants with large claws protruding from their forearms. Each one had the head shaped like a skull with blue, burning eyes. They looked at me, registering a hunger as powerful as any machines muster. They turned on me, claws ready to snap close. I cheesed it. Being ripped apart by searing cold robots was not my way of leaving this earth.
But they must have been made by something, so I kept on searching. I followed their tracks as much as I could, slowing to the point where I could trace where they had come from. They had walked miles upon miles of ice, never finding a soul as I had, and I was working with a jet.
I felt that I would not be welcomed by a man who used robots to kill survivors rather than save them. So, with that done, I headed home. Maybe I'll check it out on another run. I just hope his robots wouldn't come looking for me...
On the way home, I crossed an old ocean. It might have been the Mediterranean, but I can't really be sure. All I really saw was the rocket.
It towered over anything and everything. They had drilled from the surface of the ice to the bottom of what used to be the ocean, and then built back up. It was a gigantic, black edifice resembling a great volcano that would spew forth fire from the earth's core. It was more solid, I found, than the world around it. The ice could try to push it but it still would not break. It was one of the few times I was in awe of the achievement of scientists.
I've probably made clear that I do not trust scientists anymore, but after they built this, a gigantic jet engine to propel us towards the nearest star, maybe they're onto something. They told us, of course, that it may be possible that we would become a moon of Jupiter, which was now the sun of many other gas giants, but that we have to try. I did not like it when they were sincere, that if we did X, Y would happen, no questions asked. But as we do not understand the universe as much as we thought, maybe now there is room for error. But for what little scientists have done for us, if this works...it could mean that men of science have redeemed themselves once and for all.
Or maybe that's just the freezing cold talking.
As I flew down, down, down towards the runway, I couldn't help but feel uneasy. Something wasn't right. The door slammed open to let me in, and I was right on track. I was a bit more optimistic on the way home, but now that had all faded.
Faded, I realized with a rush of adrenaline, like my gas had just done.
My engines suddenly gave, and I found myself free-falling to the ground. I slid upon the ice, grinding metal and snow until I finally was able to stop, a mere fifty meters from the entrance of the gate. I could hear the people inside panicking, and I was of course one among them. I knew, however, that I would just have to put on the suit and run into the archology as fast as I could. But as I looked behind me in shock, I found that the suit wasn't there, my bed wasn't there, and the entire behind of the jet was not there...at least, not for another couple hundred meters.
And it was cold.
I don't know why I did it, but I knew that I had to stay warm; otherwise I would freeze instantly as soon as a small gust of wind blew into the cockpit. I was wearing very heavy fur clothing, and I was covered in oil from the repairs and tweaking I had done to my jet while it was still functional. A small wire on my left leg was shooting sparks, and thanks to it, I found inspiration for what I was to do.
In a fit for survival, I set myself on fire, and ran towards the entrance.
I ran, and I ran and I ran. I ran towards the only source of light on this world, aside from myself. If there was pain, I didn't feel it. One thing I do remember not feeling was coldness. There were few times in my life I could be this warm and still be walking, so in retrospect, I should have savoured this moment. Yet, when I heard the door slam shut behind me, I realized in how much danger I had put myself in. There were people ready, though, and fire extinguishers were not in short supply.
Standing over me was Denis. In his hands he was carrying a fire extinguisher. He was looking down at me not with the contempt I usually see him doing (from my standpoint), but in fact, a concerned look in his eyes. I would have thanked him, I guess, but I had already passed out from the smoke inhalation. Or at least, that's what they told me.
Why did I do that? Why in this sunless world did I want to continue living? I would explain, but the proof is all around me. It was in those robots still trudging along on a dark, cold planet. It was in the archology as well. Man will go to whatever means to survive. The only thing that separates us from animals is that they tried, and failed, but we didn't. It is a constant drive to keep on living, and life cannot get so bad that the people willing to live it don't live it.
Yesterday, the sky lit up as they fired up the rocket. We all felt the planet move. Alpha Centauri is four light years away.
If I know people, we'll get there.