Three days since the explosion. Three days since the killing started. No one’s brave enough to go below deck five, so no one knows what the body count really is or even what kind of damage we’re looking at. If we were lucky, it’d just be a hole in the side of the ship and every scientist and specimen sucked out into space.
We’re not lucky. We thought we were. We never should have gone through that asteroid field, but orders are orders and time is money and all that.
We still have food, but fuel and crew are running low. It seems like every night someone else disappears. Captain holes himself up in his quarters with a gun under his pillow while the rest of us wait our turn.
We’re pointed at the nearest station with backup thrusters all we have left. This time tomorrow, we’re listing, hoping solar winds from the nearest system don’t blow us off course. As if we have a course at all.
Food running low, but lasting longer each day, since numbers are thinning like the hair on my head. A little joke for the dead and soon to be.
Captain didn’t leave his room today. I wonder what kind of food that bastard has in there. If he wasn’t in the same position as us, I’d think he was in there plotting an escape. I know there ain’t no escape pods on this hull, but there were some predators on board, that’s for damn-sure.
It’s so quiet when everyone is asleep, almost like there’s nothing else here with us. Until you hear the footsteps. Heavier than I’d expect, like a fat man trying to sneak around a corner into the kitchen while his wife was asleep. I wish I had jokes like this when people were still round, but they’re slimming down by the day. See what I did there?
Ha, glad I still have some sanity. My first bunkmate, the guy who bilked me out of my promotion, disappeared a couple days ago. That cheap bastard still owes me a beer for helping him prep. I’m gonna slap him if I ever see him again.
Heard a gunshot in the captain’s room, but it’s lokced so we can’t go in. Bastrd finally went and did it. G’riddance. He put us all here.
Id almost do it mself if he hadn’t taken the guns from us first day. “no threat, no guns” he said. Fuckem, we’ve been dropping like flies. Over half the crew, gone
Captain’s quartrs started to smell befre the het went out. Lites flikring, growls in the distance. Heard a scream lst nite, too cold to do aneting bout it. Hands shivring jst sting ere.
So cold. ez to find blankts, ever1 elz gone. No fud. Drnk me own pis. Not bad, cept the gags.
Dy 2 7
Saw cute bunny 2day, lift ma spirts. Almost tryd 2 et it, butt iit ran off. Who sad dose predtros wre al we ad on bord???
Utterwsie im all lone. Preds etin men. may ned 2 joni dem
Buny ere!!! com ovr, frnd. wont hrt u
Richard looked up from the logbook. “It ends there.” He pointed at a splotch of blood at the bottom of the page.
Charlie nodded. He’d been around his share of rotted out husks, but this one was the creepiest.
“Crazy the guy survived a month,” Richard said.
Something clanged off in the distance, made Charlie nearly jump out of his boots. “When you think this happened?”
“Months, maybe years. Who knows how long this thing’s been floating here.”
Long enough for whatever killed the crew to die off? Hopefully.
“Look, Charlie, nothing here but our crew and whatever the idiots who flew into the asteroid field left us.”
Charlie looked over his shoulder at another clang.
“Just one of our guys in the mess hall,” Richard said. “Let’s get going.”
The two of them trudged onward. Curiously, for all the supposed death in the log, there weren’t any bodies to speak of, save for the captain’s mostly decomposed corpse in his quarters, which they were only able to get open because the ship had lost power.
Charlie imagined it an excruciating way to die. Not a suffocation due to lack of oxygen, but a slow, starvation and isolation-backed descent into madness until whatever was still aboard finally got you.
“You want to go down below deck five?” Richard said.
Charlie stopped in his tracks. When neither of them was speaking, it was dead silent. Too silent to think there was still a threat, but the log said the same.
“No, absolutely not. Whatever was valuable down there is long gone.”
“Oh, come on, we’re trained for this,” Richard said with a confident grin. “This is no—”
Movement down the hallway behind him, so dark Charlie could barely make it out, but when he squinted he saw it again.
Richard followed his gaze down the hallway. “What do you see?”
“Don’t know.” Charlie fought to keep his voice steady. “But I don’t like it.”
Richard cocked his gun and ventured forward. The ring from his flashlight bounced with every step.
They saw it simultaneously. Heard it, too. A faint squeak.
“The bunny,” Richard said as he lowered his gun. “You scared of that little thing?”
Charlie laughed, mostly to himself. The log did say there’d be a bunny.
The little creature hopped toward them. If the ship’s crew were terrified of what they’d been transporting, Charlie could only imagine how an innocent little bunny must have felt, seeing so much death and violence, probably only spared because it wasn’t worth the time.
They knelt down as it cautiously approached, with Richard in front and Charlie back just a few feet. Hop, stop, hop, stop, sniff the air, hop, st—
When it was an arm’s reach away it lunged forward, its entire body flapping open in a mess of rubbery tentacles from mouth to tail. The barbs inside latched onto Richard’s outstretched hand.
Charlie stumbled back and fumbled for the gun hanging from his shoulders while his companion shrieked and flailed beside him until he flung the creature free.
The two of them fell facing each other, Charlie’s hand shaking on his gun, Richard staring down at the stump that remained of his own.
Footsteps, claws scratching on the floor. Charlie snapped toward the sound.
The bunny leapt at Richard’s head, its bloody body flimsy and distorted until the apex of the tentacles opened. It cut Richard’s scream at the point of impact, wrapping itself around him and pulsating as it drove the barbs further into his skull. Charlie pushed himself backward and began firing.
Continue to part 2>
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