Come in Mission Control

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

The crew of the International Space Station witness the invasion of Earth.

Anders floated before the screen. George giggled and clapped his hands, bouncing up and down upon his mother's knee. Joanna smiled at her husband sweetly; her face was a warm, blushing red. Anders slowly waved into the camera and blew his wife and two year old son a kiss. He reached out and grabbed either side of the monitor to steady himself. George pointed at his father.
'Yes, George, that is daddy. Can you say it, baby? DA-DA.' said Joanna.
'Right, dada!' she clasped George around his waist and kissed his soft blond hair, George continued pointing. Anders stared back quizzically and copied him. George didn't react, so he then took hold of his ultramarine jumpsuit and taut it towards the camera. His son still looked unimpressed so Anders showed off his NASA and International Space Station badges. Then stopped, reached to his left shoulder, tilted and moved his badge of the Dutch flag into view. George stopped and chuckled.
'A true patriot,' said Anders, who smiled into the camera then looked down into the module. The compartment was compact, long, narrow and filled with knobs, switches and computers on each of its four, white walls. It was a hi-tech padded cell. Their commander, Daniel, floated in mid-air on his front, as though he were lying on a mattress. He spoke into a bright red phone; a direct line to the Johnson Mission Control Centre in Houston, Texas. To Anders rear, Peter sat at the amateur radio, speaking in Russian.
'Your daddy is a space man, George, thousands of kilometres above us, above the sky. What should my space man be doing, instead of talking to us?'
'Honey, it is my break and things are fairly quiet at the moment. Daniel is on the phone to Houston, Ron's resting, both the Russians…'
'Andrei and Ar…'
'…and Arkady, yes. Both of them are working on a faulty panel and I'm free.'
'We both miss you,'
'I miss you too. It's less than one month till the shuttle picks us up and I'll be home, one more…'
The picture of his wife and son disappeared and the call disconnected. Anders checked the internet connection, it was down.

'That's odd.' said Peter. Anders manoeuvred around to see him examining the circuitry beneath the radio, 'It just died. I'll try a different frequency.'
'So did the internet.'
'I lost Mission Control,' Daniel shouted. Anders examined the computer. The modem was searching for a signal.
'It's the actual signal that has disappeared.' said Anders, who used the handles in the wall to gravitate towards his commander. 'Surely our line to Houston can't be down?' Daniel turned towards him, his expression was grim.
'You're right; this line is heavily encrypted and operates on multiple bands…' Daniel was interrupted by Peter.
'Every frequency on the radio is gone. We've been cut off.' Daniel ran a finger along his jaw in thought and then spoke with authority,
'Peter, check Andrei and Arkady haven't damaged something or pulled out a cable. I'll examine the other systems and make sure they are working. Anders you stay here and try to get through to Houston.' They nodded and headed off in opposite directions leaving Anders alone.

The chamber was muted and still, apart from equipment occasional whirling within the walls and Anders own exaggerated breathes. He felt a chill run along his spine as he travelled between the command console and the computer. No change. He picked up the red phone and pressed it too his ear.
'Come in Mission Control, this is Alpha. Houston, do you read me? Over.' He waited for a reply. Anders jumped as a light on the dashboard flashed and a shrill buzzing sound resounded. A slender white slip emerged from a slot to the left of the phone. Anders hastily tore it free and read it.
"Radio-waves jammed, global. Use on-board Radar and report. - Capcom" Anders hurriedly swivelled, turning frustratingly slowly, as though pushing through treacle. He slid open a panel on the wall and activated the Radar. Daniel emerged from the port beside him.
'All systems are running correctly, thank god.' he said as Anders handed him the message from Mission Control. He read it and looked up, 'What the hell is going on?'
'There's nothing out of the ordinary on the Radar.' Daniel floated to the command dashboard and read the various dials,
'There is no change in temperature, radiation, our trajectory, nothing.' The two men looked at each other in confusion.

Abruptly, a tremor reverberated through the space station and everything shook violently. Machines jittered in their containers and the exterior groaned from the stress. The noise quickly escalated to a deafening rumble in their ears. All the scanners bleeped and whined and the dials fluctuated wildly. Daniel was sent careening down the module unable to grasp a handle, and thumped into the opposite end, cutting his temple on a sharp extremity. Anders held on tightly to the exterior of the Radar.
'What the hell!' Anders shouted over the ruckus. Almost as swiftly as it started, the noise dissipated into an eerie lull, before a tremendous sonic boom blasted through the compact interior, smashing all the glass in the chamber, cracking Ander's computer screen and frying several instruments. The sound died away and the station became still once more.

Three other men entered the module. It was Peter and the two Russians, who spoke to each other rapidly. Anders couldn't understand Russian but was able to discern the panic in Andrei's voice. Daniel hoisted himself towards the group whilst clutching his head, leaving a trail of hovering blood globes in his wake.

'Everyone, come quickly!' yelled another voice from the module beyond the command compartment. It was Ronald, shouting from the crew quarters. Anders didn't hesitate, he headed through the portal and up into the crew chamber, the rest of the crew followed. Donald was in the chamber, upright and wearing nothing but his vest and underwear, staring at the television. His mouth was open and terror racked his face. Anders, Peter, Andrei, Arkady and Daniel huddled around him and watched. A female news anchor narrated, with a particularly nasal American accent, over a map of the world. It wasn't an ordinary Atlas, it was wrong, all the countries had shrunk.

'…as you can see has resulted in a loss of a fifth of the world's land mass, according to early reports. All of this started half an hour ago, after the sudden, worldwide shutdown of outgoing signals; radio waves...' Daniel turned to Donald and said,
'How are we picking this up?' Donald didn't respond. He was transfixed by the news. 'Donald?' Daniel placed his hand on his shoulder causing him to jump. 'Where are we getting this signal from?'

'A… a satellite I presume. Although, it was unwatchable a few moments ago, the picture quality is perfect again now.'

'…Monstrous tsunamis, hundreds of feet high, are hitting shores across the globe and have completely decimated flat coastal states and countries including New York, Rhode Island, Florida, Hawaii and abroad; the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands and Japan. There are no official figures but early reports suggest casualties to be in the millions…'
Anders heart plummeted and a cold stabbing pain shot through his gut. He clutched his face and temples. His body was numb and panic spread, like fire, through his head. He felt a tug on his sleeve, it was Arkady. He stood staring out the small square window above them. The colour had drained from his face. The astronaut raised his arm and pointed.
'??????????,' he said. Absentmindedly, Anders turned to his counterpart then looked up. Set in the black, shrouding the stars and leaving only the crescent of the Moon exposed, was an object. A vast, looming object, at least the size of the Moon, with a metallic surface bathed in shadow. It eclipsed the Earth from the Sun. A blue radiance throbbed and ebbed over its exterior. Beneath its shell, enormous tentacles hung, like vines dangling from the canopy of a jungle tree, wrapped around the continents. Amongst which, countless pods were travelling, descending to Earth; burning red as they burst through the atmosphere. Anders didn't notice the whole crew standing around him, gawping at the horror which slowly, slimily, sunk onto the crust, a metal jellyfish engulfing the planet.

'Donald, you said the television's picture quality was awful before, but is fine now?' said Daniel still mesmerised.
'Ye.. yeah.'
'Was it around the same time the wave hit?'
'You might say, exactly the same time.'
'Everyone, listen up.' Daniel clapped his hands and attempted to garner the crew's attention. 'I'm not certain what's happening. Frankly, I'm petrified, as I know each and every one of you are. I don't know what that thing is, but based on the devastation it has caused I'm assuming it's hostile.' The foreign echo of Peter translating into Russian, tailed Daniel as he spoke, 'We need to get focused and act. We must regain contact with the Earth and give them all the information we've collected, it isn't much but it's something and may help. Peter and Donald, I need you both to run a diagnostic of the space station, find out what shape we're in. Arkady, use our cameras and start photographing that thing then download the pictures directly to Mission Control. Anders, go online and use the radio, give us a complete picture of what is happening on Earth. I'll get in contact with Houston and Andrei, you get in contact with Moscow and we'll relay everything we know. Let's move.' Daniel finished and led his bewildered, shaking crew through the hatch. Anders couldn't think, and bile filled his throat, as he autonomously followed his companions down into the command module.

Anders barely noticed his companions peel off in different directions to complete their assigned tasks. He waded through zero gravity back to the wall of laptops. His hearing was blocked by a loud ringing in his ears. Through the muffled barrier came a soft, familiar voice that steadily grew clearer.
'Joanna?'Heart racing, he searched his computer screen, the call had reconnected. His wife was sat in darkness holding their son. Her face was red with tears, her make-up had run and her hair was out of place. 'Honey, you're safe! Thank god, oh thank you, thank you. Are you hurt? What's going on down there? The news said the Netherlands was lost. I thought, I thought you were… I thought you had…'
'The north is completely submerged, all of it... gone. It's utter mayhem here. The phone doesn't work, there's no power, I'm on the laptop but it's running out of batteries. Outside is pitch-black. Huge pods started dropping from the sky and people are running around in a panic. George is scared, I'm scared. No-one knows what is going on. What do we do?' She clasped her face with her free hand and wiped away the tears from her eyes.
'Listen to me honey, pack a light bag and get out of there. Travel to our cousin's place in Frankfurt and they'll look after you.' He caught a glimpse of a shadow moving on the wall behind her as he spoke. 'Go quickly, please. I love you, Joanna.'
'Daadaa.' George pointed.
'Yes baby, dada. We love you.' she replied. A pan smashed on the kitchen floor behind her. She jumped up and looked around in panic; her eyes bulged as she scanned the darkness. The form of a tail twitched and an unidentifiable roar resounded.
'Get out of there, honey, get out right now! Please, get out…' Anders stopped mid-sentence, as the connection died and the call was lost. Stricken, he punched at the computer screen but his movement was suppressed by the thick air. He howled in absolute grief.

Everything that transpired afterwards was a blur for Anders. He was beside himself and didn't notice Daniel, come over to comfort him. He cried into his commander's jumpsuit creating globules of water that floated around their heads.

Anders, who was utterly catatonic, sat with a glazed expression as the astronauts reconvened. The mood amongst the crew of the International Space Station was morbid, as Daniel summarized their situation. All connectivity to the Earth had been severed. The President had confirmed an aggressive alien action and had urged a united Earth to retaliate with full force. Mission Control told them to sit tight and await further information on the shuttle due to bring them home. And they had roughly two months of food supplies left on the station, provided they were strict and rationed appropriately.

Later, Anders sat staring through the cabin porthole, beholding at the metal monstrosity as it slowly consumed the Earth. Despite all of our development and history, Humanity had been conquered in a matter of hours. Anders knew, as all the crew did, that no shuttle would be coming to rescue them. None of them would survive more than two months and even if a miracle occurred and they were able to return, their homes and their families were no more.

Submitted: March 19, 2012

© Copyright 2021 Alec Maynard. All rights reserved.

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