Ruth sighed from within the departure vessel, glancing outside to see the rain coming down in sheets, and turned back to the captain logs. It had taken her two weeks of recording and interviewing, long afternoons when she wrote down the words of Horatius as his hands recovered, and listened to the experiences of Airomem. Then she brought the pages back to the ship where she had learned how to make a recording alongside the captain’s logs, which she and Horatius had been studying at nights.
“So concludes the travels of Dandelion 14, of my family and friends,” she finished, staring into the camera, a red light indicating it absorbed her words, “Future updates to arrive as progress is made and new stories created. This is Ruth,” she smiled, remembering the words of the captain logs she had watched before her, the next words making her feel official, “signing off!”
Outside, the rain still had not let up, and she remembered how cold she had been the first time she had experienced it. For now, she would stay in the last remaining piece of Dandelion 14 as shelter. And she glanced towards the recordings left by previous captains, ones still unwatched that she had promised Horatius she would wait for him to start.
One couldn’t hurt. Besides, she would choose the one at the very end. That way, by the time Horatius and she arrived on it, she would be ready to watch it again.
Selecting it, she pressed the play button and retreated to the front row of seats, feeling only slightly guilty.
Static filled the screen, far more than the other recordings, the image dancing as it came into focus. The background area was not the inside of the departure vehicle like the other logs had been – rather, it was a room she had never seen. Neither was bearded man that stared at her uniformed like the other captains. Red splotches covered the skin on his face, and his hair was missing in tufts, his eyes bloodshot.
With tears upon his cheeks.
“I’m so sorry,” he sobbed, his chin shaking, “I – I had no choice. I had to do it. No one else would.”
He coughed, wiping his nose on his sleeve, blood showing alongside phlegm on the fabric, his pupils avoiding the camera.
“I had to, you understand. Oh, such a terrible thing, so terrible. But there were no other options. None. Oh God, the blood upon my hands. The evil I have wrought upon you, only for a slim hope at the greater good. The slimmest of hopes. I cannot even begin to ask for your forgiveness.”
He sniffed again and composed himself, shaking his head and restarting, attempting to control his ranting.
“This is Bobby Cassandra, Scientist of The Well, Earth. Transmitting the message to you, the members of Dandelion 14, should you ever live to find it. If the disaster has not already killed you all. If you survived the asteroid. Oh God, the asteroid. I had to, you must understand. I’m so sorry, so very sorry! It was for the good of us all!”
He screamed the last few words into the camera, sobs racking his entire body, his head down so Ruth could only see his hair. Then he stared directly at her, the moisture in his eyes brimming over, his breathing uncontrolled and hyperventilating. And he just managed to force out a whisper, his face so drawn he looked like a living ghost, Ruth leaning forward to catch his next words.
“The asteroid. I sent it.”
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