0005 Disguised as saviour

She opened her eyes. The only way she could tell that she succeeded was by the slight tensing of her facial muscles – it had been absolutely dark for several days now, she guessed by the groaning of her stomach. Her hunger had passed and now only a steady, low murmur remained that gnawed at her insides.

Her need to speak, to scream out for help, had also passed. It had been of no use; no-one remained. It had only taken a few successive moments, too fast to fully register, her memory blurring the events into a mish-mash of alarm lights and hasted speaking followed by screams. There had been no direct indication of what had caused it, only an extremely high-pitched shriek that had resulted in complete darkness, which resulted in her shortly losing any sense of direction.

Now, she was trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, somewhere in the void between the stars.

The air was starting to taste stale; all machines had given the ghost. She was fairly certain that it had been an EMP attack, but by whom? And especially in this region, which was relatively unmapped. She postponed this thought for a later time – finding her way towards a source of light was her prime goal for now.

She was still in the process of mapping her more direct surroundings – within the ship. Having lived here for a few months, she had a sketchy outline of most of the ship’s interior in mind, but some parts were simply not accessible because they were shut off or obstructed in some way. Crawling through ducts only got her so far, but with some backtracking she figured that she should be rather close to the power conduits. Only a few more rooms to cross.

Clinging to the idea of finding at least a pinprick of light in this darkness kept her going and she knew – or rather hoped – that she would be able to jumpstart the power manually. Yet her hope was slowly deteriorating, partly because of the hunger and thirst that ate at her, but mostly because of a growing sense of unease in the darkness. Of course, she had panicked several times, especially when she had first fallen asleep in the utter blackness, but that had passed over time. Now, the dark was becoming cold and suppressing, as if it was a living entity weighing down her chest. Whatever she tried to think of, she couldn’t shake the feeling away of being, not surrounded, but entirely enveloped by something ghastly. The shriek that had accompanied the oncoming darkness clung to her mind still.

After some hardships, she did manage to enter the gigantic room with the hydrogen reactors. She also found her way to the controls which were conveniently touch-coded. She wondered why not every part of the ship was made accessible in this manner and simply blamed it on faulty design principles – but there were more important things at hand. It took hours, relatively speaking, as her sense of time had been obfuscated since any photon at all had last hit her retina. She had worked through the emergency manual, checking and re-checking her steps along the way several times, until she arrived at the final instruction. It should only take one pull on a hidden lever – she stopped for a moment to laugh internally at this crazily simple manoeuvre after the steps she had taken to get to this moment. Then, she performed a final mental check that she had done everything in the correct order.

She pulled the lever down, closing her eyes for the oncoming shock of light. Then, she immediately opened them again.

In the overwhelming glare of light, her eyes barely had the time to register the presence she had felt all along. She could only experience that it was omnipresent – clinging to the walls, suffusing the air, penetrating each of her senses now more intensely than before. Her senses tried to suggest what the presence actually was, but then the sharp shriek sounded again and at realizing what the presence embodied, shock took over and relieved her of her consciousness.