Sunday, October 16, 2016
Nightmare Fuel, Day the Fifteenth - "Footprints"
We begin the second fortnight of the Nightmare Fuel project with a ghost story, but not the creepy kind. Image is, sadly, from an unknown source.
We've been a long time away from Earth. Yes, we slept through most of it, but still the time passed. Six years, sixty, six-hundred, six-thousand. The numbers almost didn't seem to matter.
The ship, of course, was big enough to be a world.
My parents were born far from earth, but their parents weren't.
This, you have to understand, is back when we used earth-style names. Even those of us born here.So, Elon, Nikolai, Marie, Ada and I were telling ghost stories. Ghosts were another thing we'd brought with us from Earth. The story I remember most was Ada's.
"It was the annual launchday party, and I was stuck with my parents. Again. So Tom and I snuck off to the old containment site. The one that was build earth-style with concrete floors and those crazy old lights that cast a harsh, blue-white glare. You know the place.
Or maybe you don't. It's been a long time since any of us bothered with that. This is back when we still used old earth-style bodies. And when boys still wanted to do with them what boys wanted to do.
Oh, don't look at me like that. Tom wasn't a bad guy. Not really. He just wanted what he wanted. Though how he thought he'd get anywhere with the heavy trousers, jacket, and workboots we were wearing is beyond me.
And yes. This is a ghost story. Let me continue.
Anyway, this old bunker-space was a bit like a beach, if beaches were a bare and dusty concrete floor leading to a pool of stagnant water leftover for god knows what purpose.
Anyway, the more time we spent there the less good it felt and the more panicky. Like my heart was beating too fast in my chest, my stomach had that tight, cramped feeling. Like I should run. He put a hand around my waist as we walked, pulled me a bit closer. Too close. I guess if it were earth and a real beach it would've been romantic. I guess.
Then, all of a sudden, I had this feeling of peace. Like I wasn't alone. I re-fastened my jacket, waked back across the dusty floor, back to where we came. He followed with this hangdog look on his face, and the next day was all apologies, and the day after that acted like nothing had ever happened.
What? Yeah, I said it was a ghost story. After I ditched him, I needed to be alone. So -I went back. Yes, I know this is stupid, but what's a ghost story without someone doing something stupid? The place was just like I'd left it, bare concrete, our booted footprints in the thick dust. But beside them were another set of footprints. Bare human feet, alongside mine. Perfectly formed footprints, save for an odd scar in the middle of each bare foot, as if a hole had been borne in it.
They say that when we left earth, some earth-spirits came with us. That they walk with us, perhaps even carry us.
Share this story. Don't worry about Tom, or about me, or about what was happening.
Share the part about the footprints.
We're far from home, but we aren't alone.
As long as we remember that, we'll still always be human, and still always be from the earth.