LOG-013: smoke signals



ALL CHAN. [Area of non-pertinent or no conversation.]


FE-EC3 * a distress signal. (come/c’mon) check over here.

FE-EC3 yes. (tune/turn) up the V-H-F.

FE-EC3 yes sir. 

FE-EC3 okay. detecting transmission now–


FE-MC1-VHF mayday mayday mayday– this is Mariner Crew-1– sustained critical systems damage due to debris collision– evacuation requested, no propulsive power. mayday mayday mayday– this is Mariner Crew-1– sustained critical systems damage—

FE-EC3-VHF Mariner Crew-1 this is Eureka Crew-3 [ident code redacted] responding to distress call. do you read?

FE-MC1-VHF Mariner Crew-1 to Eureka Crew-3 reads loud and clear.

FE-EC3-VHF Mariner Crew-1 this is Eureka Crew-3– who is speaking? 

FE-MC1-VHF this is Flight Engineer @FE-MC1 of Mariner Crew-1.

FE-EC3-VHF Eureka Crew-3 copies. Mariner Crew-1 what is your current location and crew status?

FE-MC1-VHF location sector gamma-four. original flight path on VICTOR route– about three light-seconds out from waypoint two– deviation of 321-056-010. we had an hull breach– space debris collision– we lost propulsive power and life support systems sustained critical damage. @CDR-MC1 and @MS-MC1 are incapacitated– they’re in cryo now. One fatality– we lost @PLS-MC1 to injuries suffered during initial collision.

FE-EC3-VHF Eureka Crew-3 copies. will relay information to commander @CDR-EC3.


FE-EC3 sir– yes. yup. 

FE-EC3 mhm. okay. 


FE-EC3-VHF Mariner Crew-1 Eureka Crew-3– commander @CDR-EC3 is currently contacting Mission Control for clearance– hold tight.

FE-MC1-VHF roger.


ALL CHAN. [Area of non-pertinent or no conversation.]


FE-MC1-VHF Eureka Crew-3– this is Mariner Crew-1. do you have an estimated response time?

FE-MC1-VHF Eureka Crew-3 do you copy?

FE-EC3-VHF Eureka Crew-3 copies. apologies for the delay. response approval still in progress.

FE-MC1-VHF copy that.


ALL CHAN. [Area of non-pertinent or no conversation.]


FE-MC1-VHF Eureka Crew-3 Mariner Crew-1. I uh– I have a personal request.

FE-EC3-VHF go ahead.

FE-MC1-VHF can Eureka Crew-3 stay on the line?

FE-EC3-VHF negatory– comms must remain clear.

FE-MC1-VHF Mariner Crew-1 acknowledges.


ALL CHAN. [Area of non-pertinent or no conversation.]


FE-EC3-VHF Eureka Crew-3 will try our best in the meantime.

FE-MC1-VHF acknowledged– thank you very much.

FE-MC1-VHF I’m routing (the signal) through the handheld * * can * carry *.


? * * [Static and rustling noises obscure the rest of the message from FE-MC1.]


FE-MC1-VHF * Mariner Crew-1, radio check?

FE-EC3-VHF good and readable.

FE-MC1-VHF hmm. [further rustling noises, likely FE-MC1 tweaking the handheld radio.]

FE-MC1-VHF radio check?

FE-EC3-VHF loud and clear.

FE-MC1-VHF alright.

FE-EC3 understood.


FE-EC3-VHF Mariner Crew-1 if Eureka Crew-3 deviates from current route– E-T-A will be approximately one-three hours.

FE-MC1-VHF confirm E-T-A one-three hours?

FE-MC1-VHF affirmative.

FE-MC1-VHF copy. okay.

FE-MC1-VHF I’m going to go check on the hydroponics systems. 

FE-EC3-VHF acknowledged. Eureka Crew-3 will keep you updated.

FE-MC1-VHF thanks.


FE-EC3 one-three hours? Okay.


FE-MC1-VHF ah– yeah– hydroponics lost power too.


FE-EC3 I’ll pass it on.


FE-EC3-VHF Mariner Crew-1 we are now diverting to your location. E-T-A one-three-point-four hours.

FE-MC1-VHF copy– one-three-point-four hours. thank you very much.

FE-MC1-VHF Eureka Crew-3 who am I speaking to?

FE-EC3-VHF this is @FE-EC3. 

FE-MC1-VHF is this your first emergency response?

FE-EC3-VHF affirmative… first long-duration flight too– actually.

FE-MC1-VHF (well/wow) isn’t that exciting– congrats.

FE-EC3-VHF thank you.

FE-MC1-VHF ever been to the (Hub) near Station Foxtrot? the one in Sector Gamma-One– I mean.

FE-EC3-VHF I have not.

FE-MC1-VHF it’s got (these/those) big crystal gardens. absolutely lovely.

FE-EC3-VHF I’m sure they are quite a sight.

FE-MC1-VHF mhmm. they’re all (natural from) a formation harvested from– harvested from one of the comets way out * *.

FE-MC1-VHF sorry (man/ma’am)– I’m rambling. it’s been so quiet here. honestly…

FE-EC3-VHF it’s okay.


ALL CHAN. [Area of non-pertinent or no conversation.]


FE-EC3-VHF @FE-MC1? you– uhh– like animals?

FE-MC1-VHF yeah. no pets– unfortunately– you know the life. [brief laughter.]

FE-EC3-VHF I get it. I like dogs– especially the big fluffy ones. never pet one before though.

FE-MC1-VHF never? wow. you’re missing out. 

FE-MC1-VHF tell you what– tell you what– if we get to meet up off-duty I’m gonna buy you tickets to a– I dunno. a petting zoo or something. a space petting zoo.

FE-EC3-VHF ha. 

FE-MC1-VHF was that too forward of me?

FE-EC3-VHF no– no. you’re fine.


ALL CHAN. [Area of non-pertinent or no conversation.]


FE-EC3-VHF Mariner Crew-1. Eureka Crew-3. do you read?

FE-EC3-VHF Mariner Crew-1 do you read?

FE-MC1-VHF Crew-1 reads. [spoken softly]

FE-MC1-VHF [sound of low intensity electronic beeping.]


FE-EC3-VHF Eureka three to Mariner one– our E-T-A is one-one hours. what is your status?

FE-MC1-VHF checked the auxiliary hold again– airlock two… completely compromised. backup generator blown… but main * * * [signal noise masks FE-MC1]

FE-EC3-VHF say again?

FE-MC1-VHF backup generator blown. main power seems to be holding steady now.

FE-EC3-VHF life support systems status?

FE-MC1-VHF couldn’t fix it. still (critical).

FE-EC3-VHF oxygen levels?

FE-MC1-VHF uhh– *. probably enough. 

FE-EC3-VHF professional estimate. please.

FE-MC1-VHF mmm. for two people in cryo– (for/four) hours. maybe. * losing cabin pressure faster than I thought though.

FE-EC3-VHF I’m sorry. 

FE-MC1-VHF ’s not your fault.

FE-EC3-VHF we should have—

FE-MC1-VHF like I said– it’s not your fault. I’m amazed * * * the call at all seeing as we’re in the middle of # nowhere. I would ask for forgiveness– * not that sorry for being selfish. 

FE-MC1-VHF [sound similar to low oxygen warning activating.]

FE-EC3-VHF so you knew.

FE-MC1-VHF I had hoped. well. that at least my crewmates can make it out.





VO2 avg awake  = 12.0 mL/kg/min = 720 mL/kg/hr

VO2 min asleep = 3.0 mL/kg/min = 180 mL/kg/hr


2 people (180 mL/kg/hr * 4 hr) = 1440 mL/kg

1440 mL/kg / 720 mL/kg/hr = 2 hr (1 person)


RADIO STATION – On the edge of an abyss a radio station floats above its plunging depths, rocking gently with the sway of invisible waves. It periodically broadcasts:

“This is Station Merlin in Sector Gamma-Four with information Whiskey. Time…”


THE PILOT’S CABIN – The voice filters through the holes of your ears, rousing you from a dreamless sleep.


MIDNIGHT SUN – Or was it so dreamless? Something teases at the edges of your subconscious. A flickering lamp, tongues of firelight… 


AUTHORITY – Focus. These whimsies have no place in the land of the living.


YOU – Shake off the thought.


RADIO STATION – The audio briefly strengthens: “…in use Two-Two Center. Transition level…” 


MIDNIGHT SUN – The only beat pulsing within light-years of your craft.


ENCYCLOPEDIA – Radio stations such as this one serve as crucial waypoints for interstellar navigators out in the far-flung reaches of deep space. Both a lighthouse and an information service hub, it is one of many in the vast constellation of the Trans Galactic Radio Network.


ENDURANCE – You attempt to sit up, but a wave of lightheadedness washes over you. Visual snow. A numbness tingles in your extremities.


PAIN THRESHOLD – This is nothing.


YOU – Brace yourself against the wall and ride it out.


THE PILOT’S CABIN – Your sight clears. A thin thermal blanket is folded away in its cubby. A book lies on the floor below your cot, pages splayed and spine sticking up. 


REFLEXION – The book is right underneath where one of your arms was hanging over the cot’s edge. You must have fallen asleep while reading. 


YOU – Pick up the book.


THE GOLDEN AGE OF INTERSTELLAR EXPLORATION, A HISTORY – It’s titled “The Golden Age of Interstellar Exploration, A History.” The cover features an artistic render of a Space Bridge on the surface of some exoplanet, a set of complex arches backlit by an imploding supernova. A tiny figure stands alone before the gilded architecture with one fist raised.


CONCEPTUALIZATION – It’s certainly eye-catching (or excessively gaudy, depending on who you ask) for a history book.


RHETORIC – Not to mention the scientific inaccuracies that you itch to point out.


DRAMA – And pray tell, to whom, my liege? There is only an audience of three: me, myself, and I.


PERCEPTION (SIGHT) – The cover art is faded and the corners are worn. The author’s name is barely discernible. A strip of yellowing tape runs down the book spine. There’s something small sticking out between the pages.


REFLEXION – This book is well-loved, albeit old. Chronic radiation exposure and handling has dulled its colors.


YOU – Flip the book open.


THE GOLDEN AGE OF INTERSTELLAR EXPLORATION, A HISTORY – The introduction reads: “For centuries after the Space Race, interstellar travel to any extrasolar systems remained a distant fantasy. Travel and information were hard-limited by the speed of light. As conditions worsened on Earth, there was no more time for dreams. Humanity lost interest and space programs fell by the wayside in favor of tackling problems on the ground.”


ENCYCLOPEDIA – Until the discovery of an anomaly at the edge of the Solar System, just beyond the shadow of Pluto. 


PERCEPTION – Something unperceivable, only describable by the lack of it.


LOGIC – A scientifically inexplicable phenomenon.


MIDNIGHT SUN – A hole in the fabric of reality.


L’APPEL DU VIDE – The abyss.


THE GOLDEN AGE OF INTERSTELLAR EXPLORATION, A HISTORY – “…some saw it as a warning, others, a blessing. Love it, fear it, or hate it, the *manifold* undeniably reignited space interest and within a decade, numerous space probes were sent off to explore the unknown. It was a cosmic black box, but stray transmissions would leak from a localized region, enabling researchers to triangulate an approximate volume of space where the phenomenon existed.”

“The first probe to successfully cross the boundary— and return— captured images that would shake the foundations of scientific knowledge.” The words are familiar. Charming.


RHETORIC – Charmingly *passé*, you mean. An overreliance on pathos and quixotic visions. The author’s attempts to harness the zeitgeist of the golden age with little basis in scientific accuracy is dubious at best as an accurate portrayal of historical events.


EMPATHY – All the same, you once loved this book.


RADIO STATION –  A burst of static jolts you from your reverie. The staticky buzz is louder than before, sounding like a land-line left off the hook. 


PERCEPTION (HEARING) – There’s an odd pause in the automated broadcast. 


LOGIC – It’s not the usual end of a message.


RADIO STATION – “Sometimes I close my eyes…” The voice sounds the same as the automated announcer, but it’s unmistakably human, thick with emotion. 


EMPATHY – You can’t interpret the voice’s feeling, tinny and distorted through the static. You can only tell that it’s undeniable *human,* raw in cadence.


RADIO STATION – “…and for a moment, I’m back on Earth with you.” 


REACTION SPEED – Wait. This must be the station operator. Did he hijack the broadcast?


RADIO STATION – “I could feel the sunshine and taste the grainy sweetness of cornbread. It was the World Faire of ’82…” He stops. 


ENCYCLOPEDIA – The World Faire of ’82 was held in the Republic of Americas, over a century ago.


RADIO STATION – There’s a crackle of a sigh. “Except I don’t think we attended. We couldn’t afford the tickets.”

“Things have been getting weird lately. Maybe it’s just me, but…”


GLOAMING – A frisson of fear skips down your spine.


RADIO STATION – “Once, I woke up on Pluto, watching as Wakefield first stepped through the Bridge. The cameras, the rovers…” He sounds breathless. 


PERCEPTION (HEARING) – You have to strain to hear his next words.


RADIO STATION – “I was alive.”


MIDNIGHT SUN – Now, he is no longer alive.


RHETORIC – It is impossible for this person to have lived through both events. Something doesn’t line up.


APHELION – Memory is a fickle thing. There are many possible, *normal* explanations for this phenomenon.


LOGIC – A prolonged lack of human contact, for one. 


ENCYCLOPEDIA – Studies have shown that chronic social isolation increases a person’s risk of premature death and numerous mental illnesses. A lack of physiological and psychological stimulation contributes to the risk.


CONCEPTUALIZATION – What better way to escape than dreaming of the past?


YOU – Keep listening.


RADIO STATION – The operator sounds like he’s moving away from the receiver. “I figured… they never solved faster-than-light communication… wouldn’t have mattered except…”


REFLEXION – This station sits at the edge of a massive black hole.


ENCYCLOPEDIA – The time-space dilation of a gravity well of this magnitude would mean that a minute on the edge is equivalent to seven years on Earth.


DRAMA – Time is a social construct.


MIDNIGHT SUN – An unstoppable hand that extracts a toll from all of us, sooner or later.


YOU – Keep listening.


RADIO STATION – “I wish I could remember what you looked like when you got on that train.”

The static hiccups. There’s another long pause.

Faintly, as if from underwater: “What I wouldn’t give for a cup of real coffee.”

The transmission’s keen fizzles out just as abruptly as it started.


YOU – Lean in.


RADIO STATION – Nothing. Only waves of static from some distant shore.


MIDNIGHT SUN – A ghost trapped in circuitry, bouncing from electron to electron, rocketing out into a vast dark.  Just another mote of dust in the cosmic haystack. A memory repeating itself over and over and over… 


GLOAMING – The thermostat in your cabin has not fluctuated, yet a cold seeps underneath your skin. Gooseflesh prickles.


YOU – How much time has passed?


LOGIC – For the station—


GLOAMING – The operator huddles underneath an oversized coat, slumped over the dashboard. The coat engulfs his scrawny torso, a hatchling sheltered under its mother’s wing. 


LOGIC – Based on the timestamp of the last automated broadcast—


GLOAMING – The body has barely even cooled.


LOGIC – Ten minutes.



THE FOURTH WALL – Hello! Lately I’ve been inspired by various media and their ways of storytelling. As a result, the blog’s taking a somewhat different direction this semester, but the stories belong in the same overarching universe.


It was on day three, hiking out into the mountainous scrublands and already sweaty from exertion, when he felt it: a rumbling.

Then he saw it: plumes of white clouds, billowing from the horizon off in the distance– no, not clouds… smoke, he realized, watching as a trail rapidly ascended.

Then he heard it: a deep roar, loud and imminent as the rocket screamed through the atmosphere.





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Item No.     012 

The exterior of Station “B” illuminated by a billowing cloud of smoke and fire following the criticality incident at Reactor █ at ██████ on ███████, ████████, 19██. Initial report of  ██████ casualties increased to ████████ after the total structural collapse of Station “B” and subsequent triggering of ████████████████ at ████████.



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The terrain on the twilit 1c is treacherous, mountainous and perpetually blanketed in ice and snow near the surface– and bubbling with molten rock seeping through cracks in the dark valleys below. Several research stations are established across the planet; this one in particular focuses on ice core drilling and magnetometry.