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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

You are Mark, an agent of resistance being hunted through the Kuiper Belt by forces of the tyrannical UCES government. Can you find and rescue your daughter from the clutches of the government before it's too late? And will you uncover the lost archive of forbidden histories in time to bring down the UCES? Or, will you fail, and ultimately be unable to reveal the devastating truth.

Ch 1: Isolation


Your eyes open; the warning klaxons triggered by your proximity sensors are sounding. You rub your eyes hurriedly and look to your scopes. A small green dot is steadily approaching.

Pirates? Horror flashes through your mind, or is it them?

Either way, discovery would mean a certain end to the mission, and certain doom for humanity. You carefully wipe the sweat off of your now-drenched brow. Your handkerchief quickly becomes saturated, you place it carefully back onto the console. You're on your own this time. For a moment you consider bolting from the area.

No, they’re far too close, not to mention the fuel gauge.

You stir in your seat, wringing your hands, eyes glued to your scopes. The hiding spot will cover me, you tell yourself. Even an experienced scout wouldn't make you. Still, you nervously consider your options should the worst come to pass.

This might be it you think to yourself, end of the road.

Your eyes flash back to the handkerchief. Your resolve hardens. This isn't it. This can't be it.

The dot grows closer. You can finally make out the craft’s searchlight as it scans your rock, meticulously probing for signs of life. The rhythmic whooshing of your heartbeat fills your ears. The Silence deafens. For a moment your heart stops. Here they come. Your hands hover over the controls, trembling uncontrollably, as you ready yourself for the inevitable. But it never arrives.

The search light passes over your position. It's them, I'm sure of it. The craft continues on its way, oblivious. You finally let yourself breathe. The danger hasn't passed just yet, but your sector is cleared.

Your heartbeat slows. You glance at your clock. 05:23 Earth time, an unfortunate sight. It’s been too long since you've had decent sleep. It was just 02:44 when you last closed your eyes. Alas, your body won't let you rest. The last three weeks have been entirely draining, you feel as though you are at your breaking point. For a moment the prospect of giving up blinks through your mind.




Not when you're so close. Not when so much is at stake. You have to push on. For Mags. For everyone. You sigh wearily. Having completed its scan, the pursuant ship departs your rock and continues on its journey. You make note of its heading. You let your muscles relax. You didn’t notice how tense you’d been.

I have to get more sleep; you think to yourself.

You strap yourself in for bed. You can only hope that your body will cooperate this time. You start awake again. What the hell is it?!

Your radio is chattering, picking up a transmission. Another message already?

You dial in to the signal.

Bzzt… Mark, we don’t have much time. Things are getting worse here. More people are disappearing every day. Fear is growing unchecked. The timetable is shrinking faster than we anticipated. We have to act while we still have a chance. Hurry. Bzzt… Mark, Mark, we’ve bad news. . .

You switch the radio off.

Shrinking? Things are worse than they're letting on.

Your eyes flit back to your map. Surely, you’re not far off now.



Ch 2: Misery


The sun is warm on your skin. You feel the cool winds blowing over the heated sands of the beach, spraying you with rough, coarse, irritating particles.

"It really never ends?" She asks with a huge grin.

"Not for 12,000 miles!" You reply, with an even larger grin.

"I want to build a sandcastle!" She exclaims, starting off towards the water, shovel and pail in hand.

"You sure you don't want to swim first?" You call after her.

But she's already got her sights set on the perfect patch of sand. You smile to yourself.



36 hours. 36 hours with no sleep whatsoever. It's not like you were getting enough sleep before, but this is too much. Your body can’t handle much more.

Unfortunately, it’s out of your hands. You spent those 36 hours scouring the belt for the rock that contains your prize. The cached archive will bring an end to it all. You can feel yourself getting nearer and nearer. The little tingle on the back of your neck is sounding the alarm, and your gut is telling you that must push forward.

This is unbearable, I can’t go on like this.

Who knows when the next scout will come? Your luck isn’t infinite.

This ship is too cramped. How do two people manage to patrol in this thing?

Not to mention the pirates that frequent this area. You’ve had a few run-ins with them already. Your mind flashes back to the pirate skiff. It was the closest you’d come to failure, and you were forced to burn through most of your remaining ejection mass to evade him.

God, my eyes look bloodshot.

In all his haste, the pirate lost control of his craft. He impacted the rock at such high velocity that very little remained of him or his skiff.

I have to sleep.

You must push on. Like he said, the timetable is shrinking.

What time is it again?

Your mind races. Thoughts of the warm beach fill your head.

Is that what I was dreaming about?

You push it from your mind. It’s far too painful to imagine those days. Everything was an adventure, life was full, you were content. Then the ‘disease.’

I can’t keep thinking about this, I’m driving myself insane! I need to pull it together.

Mags is the only thing that matters. The only thing that has ever mattered since the day she was born. It was you two against the world. Until they took her.

I’m spiraling. I have to get my thoughts under control.

You remember the pain of watching the doctors drag her away from you. Screaming and kicking, you tried to save her, but it was futile. They took her anyways. Your eyes blur from the tears, your soft sobbing the only sound for thousands of miles. The void envelops you.

I will get her back. We will be reunited. Of that I am certain. I will not falter.

You pray that she’s okay, wherever they took her. Wherever they’re keeping her. Yours is not the only tragedy, millions on Earth bear identical scars. Their children are taken from them without explanation. Exactly like they did Maggie. There are millions on Earth who will never again see their children.

What time is it again?

This is for every one of them. No one should have to endure this pain. You must end it once and for all.

You will end it once and for all.



Ch 3: Exodus


Did I really just pull that off?

You sink even further into your seat as your craft accelerates away from the hangars. Obtaining the skiff was far easier than you’d imagined. Taking the Pilot’s ID without being noticed wasn’t as challenging as you expected. In reality, you just had to buy him a few drinks before he became inebriated enough that he almost gave it up willingly. The rest was easy.

Discretely gathering the supplies proved even less difficult. You managed to fuel the ship up and purchase a few months’ worth of rations without raising suspicions. As far as you can tell, no one at the station is aware of your escape just yet. You figure that that won’t last long. You increase the throttle.

Getting here has been more than a pain; you were forced to sign on to the crew of a mineral hauler out of Vesta on its way to Haumea. The largest titanium deposits in the system were discovered there half a century ago. Naturally, it was a popular destination for haulers.

Haumea station is the largest ever built in the Kuiper belt – the hostile and remote nature of the solar system’s far reaches prevents more wide-scale colonization efforts. For the time being, at least. The station houses a gargantuan mining operation that produces unfathomable quantities of titanium for shipbuilding and industrial purposes. It’s the busiest trade hub in the outer belt, and the easiest to slip out of.

The perfect place to procure a ship.

The journey was long, and quite brutal. Mineral haulers are known for working their contractors to the bone for minimal pay. Their reputation was not for nothing. However, now that you’re aboard the skiff and on your way, you let your shoulders relax a little. The masquerade necessary to pull this off has exhausted you, and for the first time in months, you let it drop.




It’s now been 48 hours. You tried to sleep again, but an alert from your scopes jolted you out of bed. A match! The rock’s silhouette strikes your memory.

I remember this place, the images he sent me, this has to be it!

For a moment you’re filled with pure, unadulterated glee. This is what the last six weeks have been about! However, you quickly notice a complication. The surface of the rock is well-lit, and you can make out a large docking area. There appears to be some kind of subterranean station bored further into the asteroid. Judging by the level of development, it has to be UCES.

Awesome. Would have been nice if he mentioned a military presence.

Bzzt… Dad? Dad?? Where are you? I need you, please, please help me, they’re hurting me, please find me Bzzt… This is a priority message from the UCES Navy. Mark, if you’re out there, come home. This doesn’t have to go on any longer. You can still save . . .

You flip the radio off again. You know better than to trust them. After all, they wouldn’t be putting so much effort into locating you if this archive weren’t so crucial to the resistance effort. So afraid are they of losing their monopoly on information, on power, they’d spend this many resources, this many ships, this many men, only to stave off your success.

They will not stand in my way. I will succeed. I will unveil their lies. Their regime will crumble. I will make it so.

A soft mantra to preclude your departure.

And then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

You prep for hard vacuum; there’s no way onto the station without abandoning the skiff. You wouldn’t get within 100 miles before being spotted and intercepted in that thing. Hell, you’re lucky that you managed to spot them first; any closer and you’d already be space dust.

However, a single vacuum suit inconspicuously approaching? You’re too small for their sensors. You finish supplying your suit and enter the airlock. You take a deep breath as the outer door opens, and you step into the great black. You maneuver carefully. You hope to avoid triggering any of the more sensitive scopes that may be pointed in your direction.

It takes a while to get positioned, but soon enough you’re aligned with the station. You begin drifting towards it at the maximum speed you’re willing to risk. At this rate it will take just under 24 hours to arrive, but it’s worth the wait. You’re finally within reach. Suddenly your suit radio flicks on in your ears.

Bzzt… Dad? Dad?? Where are you? I need you, please . . .

 You turn the radio off again.

I thought I switched this thing off before I left.

You continue onward.

After hours of painfully slow movement, you thud lightly against the surface of the rock. It’s a short scramble to the entrance of the hangars.

So far so good.

You arrive just as a patrol ship is aligning for docking. You shuffle your way through the hangar opening, making yourself as small as possible. You’re able to use the distraction of the docking ship to slowly make your way to cover on the underside of a dock.

This is it. I’m inside. Time to finish this once and for all.

Bzzt… Dad? They’re hurting me Dad, they won’t stop, you have to help me. . .  

You turn your radio off again angrily, but it turns itself back on.

Bzzt… It doesn’t have to be this way, Mark. You still have time to make this right. You must reckon with your own sins . . .

You manually disable the radio in your suit controls, but the suit doesn’t comply.

Bzzt… She’s all alone Mark. She needs you. She needs you to come home. We all need you to come home. Please Mark if you’re receiving this . . .

In all your frustration, madness consumes you, and you try violently to rip your helmet off of your suit. Vacuum or not, you can’t stand this torture. But before you make the final effort, the radio powers itself off.

This damned thing. I had a feeling I should have taken the other suit. I should have listened.



Ch. 4: Eternity


You and Mags step off the train and onto the platform. It’s a beautiful day, and the purity of the air astonishes you.

Ever since seeing the post card on your wall, Maggie has begged you to come visit. You never took her, out of fear that she would be bitterly disappointed. Crater Lake drained decades ago into Klamath Lake after a skirmish around the southern edge of the crater. No one knows which side blew the proverbial dam, but now it’s just Crater World Heritage Park. No more lake.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

You secretly wanted to go as well, but you knew she would revel in having swayed you to her side, so you let her convince you.

Together, you hike up the trail towards Phantom Bridge, an overlook built at the site where the lake was drained. From there, you can see Phantom Rock, as well as the whole crater. The ‘ship’ moniker had been removed, considering the lack of water.

As you climb the slope, Mags, running ahead of you, turns ‘round a bend in the trail and out of your sight.

“Mags! Come on back where I can see you! You’re too far ahead!” you shout up the trail after her.

No response.

A sweat breaks out on the small of your back.

“Mags! Come on we don’t have time for this, there are still active landmines in this area! We have to stick together and stay on the trail!”

You hoped the landmines remark would stop her in her tracks, but as you turn the bend, she is nowhere in sight. You panic, sprinting ahead at full tilt.

“Mags?! Stay where you are, I’m coming to get you!”

You scream, but to no avail. Without warning, two armed men in UCES camo emerge from the underbrush on either side of the trail.

“Freeze Adrian! On the Ground! Now!”

You flop onto your stomach at their command, but as you hit the ground, you fall through into complete darkness. You find yourself floating helplessly through the void.

“Mags?! Mags?!”

Instantly, you can no longer breathe; you’re under water.

You swim upwards as fast as you can muster, but the surface looks so far away. You can see her, Mags, standing atop the waves peering down at you, gripping her handkerchief. She’s saying something, but you can’t make out her words.

You crash through the surface, arms out to embrace her, but she’s gone.

 “Mags? Where are you?!” you shout.

You cough up water as you tread, desperate to stay afloat. To your left, you see a log adrift on the surface.  You swim towards your savior, but to no avail. You are plummeting again. The water is replaced once more by total darkness as you fall violently downwards.

You slam into a metal chair. You struggle to move; you are bound tightly. Your wrists burn from the friction.

The florescent lights above you are blinding. God, my head feels like it’s splitting open.

The door swings ajar. A doctor strolls in followed by two armed guards.


I failed.

“Good to finally see you again, Adrian.” A warm voice greets you.

“Mind telling me why we found you on the underside of dock 3? Eager to return, are we”

Return? What the hell are they talking about

“Not talkative today, Adrian?”

Really wish you’d stop calling me that.

“Well, regardless, you’re ours now. You know you can trust me, right Adrian?”


“We’ve been through hell together.”

I have no idea what you’re talking about.

“I can bring you to Mags.”

How dare you use my child to torture me?!

“You know me, Adrian.”

Do I know that voice? No. I’m losing my grip.

The doctor lowers her surgical mask.

Your screams of horror reverberate through whole of the station.



Ch. 5: Retribution


You jolt awake once more, breathing heavily. The inside of your suit is drenched with sweat. Your mouth feels like the Sahara.

Bzzt… -unintelligible screams- It doesn’t have to happen Mark -screams continue- She doesn’t have to suffer. You can end this whenever you . . .

At last, your radio shuts off again. You wish you could remove the receiver entirely.

You look around in confusion. You’re still under the dock, thank God. It was just a bad dream. It had been nearly 72 waking hours by the time you passed out under there. You only slept for three. Nevertheless, there isn’t time to worry about such trivialities. It’s time to act.

Carefully, you ease yourself up onto the catwalk and move stealthily towards the station entrance. As you near the doors, you walk more confidently. You muster yourself, struggling to make your nonchalance apparent.

The suit will protect me.

You stroll through, pressurize in the airlock, and move down the hallway. Through the glass on either side of you, people in lab coats and surgical masks work tirelessly. You don’t look at them; better not to draw attention.

You continue on. None of the staff seem to even notice your presence. This outpost is so remote and unheard of that the UCES doesn’t bother with standard security measures. The markings on your vac suit are enough.

Now, where would they keep the archive?

There’s no way you’ll be able to access it without encountering resistance. You weigh your options carefully.

Suddenly, a group of soldiers are running down the hallway towards you in a frenzy. You calmy turn down a side hall and duck into a supply closet. You hear the boots continue onward towards the hangars.

That can’t be good.

You poke your head out, the coast is clear. You’re walking again, and soon, you come to a 4-way intersection. The station datacenter is to the left.


But as you start in that direction, you again hear the clanging of mag boots.

“Soldier!” you turn to see a red-faced sergeant, “Where are you going?” He motions back the way you came “We’re all supposed to head to the docks.”

“Uhm, sorry sir, I must have gotten a bit turned around” you mumble out nervously.

“Turned around?! Hell, you have been stationed here long enough to know. . .” His eyes wander down to the markings on your suit.

The jig is up.

“Haumea? you’re the…” the man’s hand jerks down to his radio, he intends to raise the alarm.


That’s all the corporal manages to get out before you sock him in the head as hard as you can. The corporal goes limp. You hope you merely knocked him out.

I have to get to the datacenter.

You sprint down the hall. At the end, you come to a reinforced door and barge through. Your head meets the firm titanium arm of a UCES soldier in power-armor. You slam onto your back in a daze.

You hear a hoarse voice grunt.

“Alright, let’s see who this intruder is.”

He yanks your helmet off.

“The hell? It that you, Marcus?”



Ch. 6: Revelation


“Dad, I wanna go home.”

“I know honey, we’ll be home soon.”

“How soon?”

“As soon as you’re better.”

“When will that be?”

“Let’s listen to the doctors honey, I promise everything will be okay.”

Mags lays back down, looking defeated.

“Look, maybe I can have a nurse grab us some ice-cream from the cafeteria?”

“You can’t buy me off with ice-cream, Dad.”



“Sir! Dr. Adrian! Uhm, I mean, Mark…”

You turn; it’s that damnable security guard again! We were almost out of sight too.

“Sir, you aren’t allowed to leave the premises.”

“I know, John, but Mags is getting homesick, we’re just going for a walk around the block.”

“I get it Mark, I really do, but I just can’t let you do that. It’s against protocol. Come on, let’s go back inside, eh?”

“Please John? I promise we’ll be right back!” Mags begs.

“Listen to her John, she’s really hurting” you plead.

“Alright, back inside, easy way or the hard way this time?”

You sigh.

“Sorry Mags, I tried.”

She doesn’t respond.



Your eyes open.

Where am I?

You look around the dark, empty hospital room. Your stomach turns.

“Where’s Mags?!” you get up and go to the door. Locked.

“Where is she?!” You pound on the door, screaming.

A nurse walking by takes notice and shuffles off hurriedly.

“Where are you going?! Where did you take her?!”


After a long while, her footsteps return. The door swings open, the nurse walks in followed by a doctor.

“What’s going on, Mark?”

“Tell me where you took her, I demand to see her!”

“See who, Mark?”

“My daughter you bastard, don’t play dumb with me!”

The doctor turns to the nurse, “Looks like he’s regressing again, what do we have him on now?”

“I believe Latuvid this time, sir.”

“And we were making good progress with it too.”

“What the hell are you two talking about?! Where’s my daughter you fucking fascists!” You stand up angrily.

“Let’s stay calm, Mark. You’re very sick, we have to take this slow.”

“You motherfuckers! I’m not sick, you took my fucking daughter, I want her back her back right now!” You lurch towards them.

“That’s quite enough, Mark.”

As you approach, the nurse pulls an injector from behind her back and swiftly stabs you in the arm. You feel dizzy, your vision fades, you collapse to the ground.

“What a shame, he was so . . . “

Your consciousness fades.



Ch. 7: Repudiation


God damnit.

You’ve failed. You’ve failed, and now humanity is doomed. You’re not saving anyone. You find yourself handcuffed to a metal table.

I don’t know what they hope to get out of me, but I’m not breaking. Never.

The door opens. Two uniformed officers strut in, one has a pair of aviators on, and stands by the door silently. The other takes a seat across from you.

“Adrian! Great to see you! I have to say, I didn’t expect our next meeting to be under such bizarre circumstances.”

Why the hell do they keep talking to me like that?

“Not to mention the surprise you gave to sergant Evans! Sheesh, poor bastard will have a black eye for a month!”

I did what I had to do.

“Not going to greet an old acquaintance then? I was even starting to see you as a friend before you left. Imagine that!”

Before I left? Friend? This is nonsense.

“So what exactly are you doing here with that stolen ship? We were notified by Haumea of the theft, and we were most intrigued to find that it was their skiff afloat. We never thought it would be you in it though, I mean, you’ve been gone for so long! We didn’t think you were ever coming back.”

They’re trying to confuse me; it’s just an interrogation technique.

“You know, I’m sure the superintendent would have just let you come visit if that’s what you really wanted. I know you two don’t get along, but he’s not that vindictive.”

Do they really think this will work on me?

“Okay, I have to say, I’m a little hurt by this Adrian. I really thought that we could just smooth this all over.”

He turns to the other officer, “Let’s take him to his room then, I guess."



You pace back and forth. It’s been a week since they locked you up here. No one has so much as spoken to you. Even the orderly who delivers your meals won’t say a word, no matter how hard you try to get one out of him. Finally, the door opens.

“Hello, Mark.”

Great, another doctor.

He smiles at you. For a moment he almost looks familiar. You push that thought aside; it’s some sort of trick.

“You don’t recognize me? It’s been too long… we’ve all been worried sick about you… to be honest, we thought you were dead.”

Dead? You can’t seriously expect me to believe that.

“I heard the transmissions. I know what you are” you spit out. You won’t let his words break your fortitude. Never.

“What transmissions...”

He pauses.

“… I see, it’s worse than we thought. You have been isolated for far too long. We have to get you back.”

You stare at him coldly, defiance apparent in your eyes. He sighs. He looks exhausted.

“No? I had hoped things wouldn’t be this complicated.”

You don’t budge. He sighs again.

“We’re glad to have you back Mark. We’re going to do everything we can for you.”

He turns and leaves. For a moment, you hear him speaking to someone in the hall.

“We have to bring Jennings. He doesn’t even recognize me anymore. We have no choice but to bring him out here.”

“All the way out here? That will take weeks! What do we even do with him until then?”

“Manage him the best we can. Who knows, maybe he’ll come-to before he arrives. I have my doubts but have to try.”

They’re testing my resolve. I won’t break. These weasels are truly shameless. I may have failed my mission, but I refuse to give in.

They will not triumph.



Ch. 8: Revival


Six weeks have come and gone. You scratch tally marks for each day. Forty-five, to be exact.

Your hunger strike started in week two, but you’re pretty certain they’ve been force feeding you in your sleep. After all, your weight has only increased since your incarceration. You’re also pretty sure they’ve been drugging you. You have been in a haze ever since the visit with the doctor, and 14 hours of sleep per day has become your new norm.

But you haven’t broken. The bastards haven’t gotten to you yet.

I know the truth.

Steadfast in your cause, you haven’t spilled a single detail about your mission to anyone. It hasn’t exactly been difficult; they haven’t bothered to inquire about it since the initial interrogation. However, you know their ploy. It’s an insidious long con. A horrifying mind game designed to make you question your own reality. As soon as you open up, you’re at their mercy.

I have to remain firm. It’s all I have left. I know the truth.

All told, your life here hasn’t been the torturous hell you expected it to be. It’s actually been relatively cushy, putting aside the whole being locked in your room 24/7 thing. People have started visiting you more frequently. The human contact is comforting, even though you know they’re all lying to you.

Once, the officer who interrogated you came by to chat. He was much less chipper than in your first encounter. He almost seemed melancholy. You were rather abrasive to him, after all, he is an officer of the UCES Navy, basically a terrorist organization. After a while of getting nowhere, he sheepishly started telling some story about how the two of you got into a bar fight on Calisto in your younger days. At this, you flew into a rage. How dare he try to plant false memories in your head? The officer went silent as your screams filled the air. He seemed sad, as if he regretted his attempt. You could have sworn there were tears in his eyes as he turned to leave.

They would truly do anything to break me.

The room you’re being held in isn’t so bad either. Instead of a prison cell, it more so resembles crew quarters. There’s a bolted-down desk for you to study at if you please, and the zero-g bed is far from the worst you’ve slept in. Your mind shudders as you remember your sleeping quarters on the Haumea-bound hauler. These were much better conditions than you had dared hope for. They even take you to the gardens sometimes so you can have fresh air and see the plants – under armed guard of course.

Most of the time you’re left to your own devices. Sometimes you try to read the literature they leave for you in your cell, but your mind always seems to wander elsewhere – like that day on the beach. Oh how you wish you could go back to that day.

The nightmares have started to subside as well. It’s by far the worst thing you’ve dealt with these past weeks. Each night like clockwork, Mags calls out to you helplessly. You always chase her voice, but no matter how close you come, she vanishes before you can embrace her. Sometimes you go days without dreaming of her. Other times, you are driven to insanity by her anguish.

At least they’re subsiding, you tell yourself.

However, the waking thoughts of Mags have not followed suit. Nay, they have grown worse. Your captors have so far refused to tell you where she is or even if she’s okay. It’s as though speaking of her is forbidden; you are completely ignored. Of course, that hasn’t stopped you. In fact, it’s made you even more desperate for something, even a morsel of information about your daughter.

Their cruelty has no bounds.

The door opens, in walks another doctor. The first in weeks.

“Hello Mark” he smiles through his mask “May I sit?”

You don’t respond.

“Alright then” he says as he closes the door and takes a seat at your desk chair.

You sit in the corner, facing him.

“Do you know why I’m here, Mark?”

You stare at him blankly.

“You don’t recognize me, do you, Mark?”

Your face twitches.

I wish he would stop saying my name like that.

Something about his demeanor, something in his voice, it’s throwing you off. You can’t place it, but it’s uncanny. The question makes your skin crawl.

“I’ll give it to you straight Mark, I’m here to help you get your life back. At least, what remains of it.”

Unless you can bring back Mags, you can’t help me.

“You really don’t recognize me?” The doctor asks again, fruitlessly.

“Marc, I’m Dr. Lee Jennings” he says, pity welling in his voice.

He lowers his mask. Your eyes widen in disbelief. A memory surges forth from the depths of your psyche like a bolt of lightning.

“I’m your brother-in-law.”



Ch. 9: Shock


Your blood runs cold. Your stomach turns itself inside-out. You are paralyzed. Fear bursts forth from your very core.

It isn’t true

Your first instinct.

He’s lying.

Your desperate attempt to deny the truth that is unfolding before you.

I can’t give in. They’re false memories. It isn’t real!

A last-ditch effort at holding on to the delusions that have saved you from that most devastating truth. You know he is not lying to you. You can see it in his eyes. More than that, you recognize his face. The memories come flooding back. The bonfires. The road trips. The reunions. Her graduation. The wedding.

The operating room.

In an instant it all comes crashing down. Vaporized, rubble, ruins. You feel adrift, lost at sea, weathering the most brutal storm mother Earth can produce.

“You’re starting to remember now, aren’t you?” Says Lee.

This can’t be.

You feel faint. Your head is spinning. He seems so much further away, as if you’re looking at him through the wrong end of a telescope. Your breath quickens. A sweat breaks out on your forehead.

“Alright Marcus, let’s take it slow, this might have been too much at once.”

I’m going to pass out.

Your heart feels as though it’s going to pop at any moment. You’re paralyzed, enveloped. Your vision fades.




Ch. 10: Resurrection


“Mags? Where are you?!”

“Over here dad!”

You take off down the corridor. Her voice isn’t far this time, you’re certain you will catch her.


You collide at full force into a concrete wall. Groaning and clutching your nose, you sit back up off the ground.

What the hell?!

You’re no longer in the dark hallway. You’re in a concrete box.

“Can you hear me? Mags?!”

Her voice fills your head.

“You didn’t save me, and now they’re going to kill me.”

“Mags! I’m coming for you! I won’t let them hurt you!”

“You’re too late, Dad.” She says blankly.

“Please Maggie, just hold on a little longer!”

“You let them kill me. You let me die.”

“No! Mags please, don’t leave me!”

No response.

Your anguish can’t prevent the inevitable. You call out for her, but it’s no use. Mags has left you. You curl into a ball on the cold, dank floor of your cell. Your mind goes numb. You don’t know what to believe anymore.

Suddenly, you’re back in the metal chair. The straps are tighter this time. The door again swings ajar.

That doctor-

In she walks.

“Why didn’t you save us, Adrian?”

What? She’s part of it?

“You let us down. You let us die.”

No! I didn’t! I did everything I could!

“We trusted you.”

“You killed us.”

In an instant, you’re back in the ocean, treading for dear life.

But instead of the log floating next to you, it’s the doctor. She floats aimlessly on her back. She looks almost peaceful. However, the water around her is quickly darkening. Her lab coat is red with blood.

“Hold on! I’m on my way!”

You strike off towards her, but as you near, her face turns to greet you. You freeze.

Her face.

Paralyzed, you sink helplessly below the surface. You try to force yourself upwards, but your limbs no longer obey. You scream in horror as the water crashes into your lungs. Your eyes open, you bolt upright.


Lee is standing over you.

“What’s happening to me?!” you demand.

“It’s complicated, Mark.”

“I need the truth.”

“We have to take this slow. You nearly had a heart attack when you started to remember who I am.”

You shudder.

“I remember… I remember so much more… but so much is still missing… I can’t make any sense of it.”

“I know, Mark, but –

“What happened to them?”

“Uhm, to who, Marcus?”

“You know.” You plead with him.

He sighs wearily. For a moment, he looks as if he’s going to leave you without an answer, but after a long pause, he opens up.

“Well, there’s no easy way to say this, Mark. I’m sorry you have to hear it from me like this. They didn’t make it.”

It can’t be true.

“Mia… Mia… she- “

“Yes. In childbirth.”

“And... and Mags-”


You go numb.

He’s lying!

But you know the truth. The operating room. You were there.

“How... how long has it been?”

“10 years, Mark.”

Like a tsunami, the revelation washes over you, and takes with it your very soul. Your body doesn’t move an inch.

“Is this… is this the first time that I- “

“The third, actually. You regressed rather quickly the other two times. You simply couldn’t cope with reality. It’s been 5 years since. We were beginning to believe you were never coming back.”

I think I’m going to be sick.

“Then, what is this place? Why am I here?”

“I’ve been meaning to ask you that myself. How the hell did you manage to get this far out? I mean, you disappeared from the ward back on earth over 11 months ago, we didn’t even think to- “

“11 months? No, it’s been 14 weeks. “

It dawns on you.

“How long was I in the skiff?”

“A little over 6 months.”

“I… I only remember bringing 3 months’ worth of supplies.”

“Marcus, we only found evidence of 6 weeks’ worth of supplies having been aboard that skiff. We’re still shocked that you managed to survive.”

6 months?!

Come to think of it, you barely remember eating anything while on the ship. Your mind was always somewhere else.

“Why am I here?”

“I don’t know, Marcus. You just showed up. We were very surprised that you resurfaced here, of all places.”

“What is this place?”

“You still don’t recognize it? You worked here for many many years after getting your PhD. You were one of the brightest researchers that this lab ever employed, so I’m told.”

Fusion research?

“You made the Kuiper belt more than just a long shot, more than just a dream. You made it possible. It was your work that brought about the discovery of cold fusion. You opened the far reaches of the solar system to humanity in ways that were deemed impossible. This place, it bears your name now.”

Memories resurface. Particularly, you remember Raul and that barfight he tried to reminisce about.

I have to apologize to him.

“Personally, I think that somewhere in your subconscious you wanted to return here. You didn’t meet Mia until after you left. Maybe this is the only place you feel safe now. The only place not tainted in your memories.”

Mia… Mia how could I forget?

“Mark, it’s been a long time. Too long. I haven’t seen you lucid since… well, you know.”

A chill runs down your spine.

10 years.

“I’m glad to have you back Mark, we all are. Things aren’t over yet. You have a very long road to recovery. But I made a promise to Mia in that operating room, and I’m going to be with you, here, every step of the way.”

“… you made a promise?”

“This isn’t your first episode. You were diagnosed 25 years ago after you skipped a whole semester of classes. You were convinced that your professors were reporting on you to the government” he says wearily.

“You have bipolar disorder, Mark, bipolar I. She knew what her death might do to you. She made me promise that I would look after you, that I would help you get your life back, that I would help you move on. I don’t intend on breaking that promise.”

“You’ve been with me… this whole time?”

“I've been by your side whenever I could be, I got myself transferred to your hospital after your break started."

"You did all of this… for me?”

“For Mia, Mark. I love you, but this is for her. You weren’t getting better, and I made her a promise.”

The tears flow as Lee embraces you.

10 years.


Ch. 11: Convalescence


“To Mark!”

Raul stands out of his chair, glass raised.

“None of us would be here without him… We’d still be in transit! Hah!”

At that the whole room erupts into laughter. You can’t help but join in. You tip your glass back. Just water – you haven’t had a drop of alcohol in two decades. You figure it best to keep it that way. Raul drapes his arm across your shoulder as he sits. The cheers die out and are replaced with the normal hum of the crowd.

“You know Mark, I’m really sorry about clotheslining you that one time, if I’d known it was you, I would’ve used the taser!” Your table once again erupts in laughter.

“Seriously though, you saved my life last time we were here. I literally wouldn’t be here without you. So again I say, to Mark!”

You tip your glass back. You’re going to need a refill; you’re astonished that the others are downing booze at the same rate.

Looks like I’m designated pilot again, you joke to yourself.

Five years have passed since you arrived back at M. Adrian research station, and it’s where you’ve been ever since. Things have been far from easy; avoiding more episodes has been like walking a minefield. But with the help of Lee and the rest of the talented medical staff aboard the station, you’re finally recovering. Your condition is life-long and neurodegenerative. Your 15-year-long psychotic break stole your once-great mathematical abilities from you – but you’ve found smaller ways to contribute to the stations’ research. You’ve been euthymic for over a year now, hence the special occasion. All your friends and family were flown out to Calisto to meet you, a courtesy from the UCES for your contributions. It’s the first time that you’ve felt truly happy in this long decade.

You aren’t out of the woods yet, and in some ways you never will be. But you are on your own two feet again. You are in control of your life again. And for the first time since you can remember, you feel optimism about the future. The winter is over, and a new spring is in full bloom. It’s hard to believe you’ve made it this far.

Your mind wanders back to that song you used to listen to on end.


For the wretched of the earth,

There is a flame that never dies.

Even the darkest night will end,

And the sun will rise.





A note from the author:


The themes of this story, unfortunately, draw, on my lived experiences. They were horrifying beyond words. I have done my best to capture that horror here.

In September of 2021, I suffered an episode of acute psychosis. My prescribed antidepressants triggered a severe manic episode that landed me in the hospital for two weeks. It was one of the hardest experiences of my life.

Recovering from that experience was, in many ways, even more difficult. After being discharged from the hospital, I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder. At the time, I knew nothing about the disease. What I learned thereafter still keeps me up at night.

Everyone knows the name, ‘bipolar disorder’. Few understand the grim reality.

There exists a ‘mortality gap’ between those with BD and the general population. That is to say, those with bipolar live, on average, 9-19 years shorter lifespans than their peers.

One way or another, each of us pay our 10 years.

I wrote this for myself, to help understand what I went through and what it means moving forward. But I also wrote it for everyone who is forced to experience this disease, often alone, often without the understanding of their families or friends.

I hope that through reading this work, you have gained at least a glimpse into the utterly horrifying nature of this disease. Most of all, I hope you will have gained a greater respect for those who must endure it.


Thank you for reading.


Submitted: September 11, 2023

© Copyright 2023 elm-brown. All rights reserved.

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