Wednesday, December 28, 2011

248/365 --Playlist Story-- inspired by "The Season" by The Dodos

The ice moaned hauntingly, the ghost of a whale song, as the capsule ascended carrying two fully suited people. Jeong's eyes lingered on his companion. She looked past his shoulder at the wall of the capsule. He activated his radio.

"I'm sorry Malka," he said. She glanced at him briefly with disdain then looked at the ceiling.

After three more painful minutes of not speaking they reached the surface. Water shot up against the sides of the capsule and froze almost immediately. The heating element around the outside of the capsule door burned brightly and and water steamed up into space. Malka spun the wheel on the doorlock then the door popped open, expelling all it's air almost at once. The pair stepped out onto Europa's surface, under the meager shelter of an inflatable roof that had the sole function of identifying the portal from a distance. They walked across new slick ice towards the more weathered and relatively old surface.

The sun was out, unblocked by the omnipresent hulk of Jupiter which remained permanently halfset in the sky. Jeong and Malka stopped and looked at it for a few minutes, draining precious oxygen from their reserves. It was not a waste but a necessity and all the people who were ever stationed on the icy moon could not help themselves at the sight, as if the gravity of the planet pulled at their souls, half the sky a caramel jewel, milk poured into coffee, offering languid clouds larger than Earth. It was difficult to behold, and tasked the inadequate human minds that dared to cling to the frozen droplet of ocean that orbited it.

Finally they moved out, guided by red flags that were drilled into the ice every ten meters, towards the array of antennae that connected the colony with the rest of humanity.

"It's fine," said Malka as they walked.

Jeong stopped and looked at her.


"I'll chalk it up to cabin fever," said Malka.

"Ocean fever," said Jeong smiling. Malka didn't return his smile, but only looked tired. "You're still upset."

"I'm just disappointed."

The walked in silence for another minute.

"Is it me, or is it being here?" asked Jeong.

"It took so long to get here, so much work, so much effort, and I wanted this, I wanted to be here, but I never thought about what it would be like to actually live this life. Look at this!" she sweeped her arms in the direction of Jupiter, "This is extraordinary, and yet..."

Jeong stopped and put his hand on her arm to stop her as well.

"I've settled. I don't know how, but I've settled," said Malka. "How does that happen here?"

"I'd hug you if I could, but these suits..." said Jeong chuckling. Malka tapped her gloved hand against his shoulder. They started walking again, instinctively aware of their oxygen use after so much practice underwater. Jeong's expression turned serious. "I shouldn't have told you to make the best of it--"

"No, it's fine, it's fine. I overreacted. You're absolutely right and I didn't want to admit that to myself."

They reached the edge of the communications installation and started their diagnostics, walking between the various antennae and visually inspecting for damage.

"This is weird," said Malka after a few minutes.

"Yeah," agreed Jeong. "I was expecting some sort of small body impact or micro meteoroids but there's--"

"--nothing," said Malka.

They continued their inspection, their faces ashen behind their reflective sun visors.

"There's nothing wrong with the array," concluded Malka.

"It must be Earth."

"Or a booster relay is out."

"It'd have to be all of them. And besides, we'd still get some weak signals," said Jeong.

Malka looked towards the sun, searching for where she thought home might be, the dot of dust in the great black.

"Oh Earth," she whispered, "what have you done?"

Jeong looked at her, and even though she was masked by the sun visor, her saw her face. It was etched in his mind, a permanent fixture now, the subject and the glue of all his dreams. He reached for her hand and took it in his. She squeezed back. They walked towards the capsule, together, to their home in the depths.

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