“Hey, Vince, are you there?” she asked.
“I’m so excited about the mission, Vince! Wait until I tell my friends that my husband is in a scientific mission in outer space!” she said.
“Hahahaha, you’re such a sweetie, Vince!" she laughed.
“Does Earth look beautiful from space, Vince?” she smiled.
“It is more than beautiful...” I murmured, while I observed the aurora borealis.
It is just the third day of my mission at the Biology Satellite. I have no idea how long I’ll stay here, but what is for sure is that it’ll be a long time. I don’t expect to return to Earth before a year.
It is poetic… somewhere in that huge planet, dear Alice is having dinner.
The food in this station is nothing out of ordinary, but I predict it’ll get very tiring to eat the same pulp four times a day. At least there is fresh coffee; it should help to make this more bearable.
I’m completely set. It is time to start my mission.
I apparently have to investigate the effects of different types of gases produced by plants, on a handful of organs of different species. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It isn’t simple. I have to plant the seeds for the plants, to cultivate them until they sprout a lot of leaves, and take these leaves to pass them through a chemical procedure so they produce the gases.
I’m not sure what the goal of this mission is, but my superiors made very clear that this could mean a huge, and I mean huge, scientific breakthrough. I’ll do my best!
Alice called! We talked through the videophone. She is as beautiful as the day I left… I really, really miss my wife.
Things seem to be normal down there. Same boring job, same boring family, same boring life. I comforted her. She is very interested on what I’ll do up here, I tried to explain the best I could, but words aren’t my strong point. I don’t think she fully understood the purpose of the mission.
We ended the call, promising we would talk every day around this time.
I never realized how hard exercise is. To avoid the health problems that may come from the inactivity and other factors, I was ordered to take an hour of my time for varied exercise routines. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to use a goddamn oxygen mask every time I had to do it.
“Vince, do you think you could send some of those plants? The house is starting to look very dull without you. Kisses!”
The plants are ready. Most of them have sprouted. It is time to gather a good amount of these leaves. Have I mentioned where they are stored? They’re in some type of glasshouse, with direct access to the light of the sun. Ha! More like the radiation of the sun, if I remember my science training.
At least, in order to save time, I’m able to use several robotic hands that will recollect leaves on one side, while I take care of the other.
I have a few bags, full of leaves. They’re marked with the name of the species. Now it is time for the next step. Meanwhile, I think I should check if the animal organs are in optimal conditions. They're stored in a big freezer, also marked by species.
I see… hearts, livers… are these lungs? And oh, look, a human lung. It is grisly to see a human lung, but I suppose that it was needed.
“Have I told you? I made several new friends! I can’t wait to show you photos of them, Vince!”
Alice, you’re such a nice woman… I miss you. But I know you’re here in soul… Sometimes, when I look at the planet Earth… I can swear I see your reflection on the material of the window.
Day 24 of the mission. It is almost a month. Alice said that she would create a special broadcast with her friends, to celebrate a month of my mission. She is so proud of me!
It is time to spread the gases all over the tissues of these unfortunate organs. I placed this bovine heart in a special container. Due to obvious health hazards (who knows what kind of bacteria live in this heart), I have to use special gloves, which are inserted through narrow tubes. If I settled them correctly, I should be able to slide my hands in and out of these gloves with ease.
I poured the gas inside the container. Now it is time for… nothing. I wait and let it stew. At least there are another two containers, so this mission should go smoothly.
It is done. Now… yawn. Bleh.
I think I’ll go exercise.
Also I could swear I saw a lung moving, like if it were breathing, surely the chemicals activated its functions. I wonder what this means, scientifically speaking? I’ll make sure to send this little tidbit to my superiors. It's the duty of a scientist to take note of everything that may be important.
Alice never showed me what she did…
Oh, fuck. My food fridge is broken.
I tried to fix it, but I know nothing about fridges. I suppose it won’t hurt if keep my food in the freezer that contains the organs. It is big enough to ensure they don’t touch each other, so there will not be any contamination.
Message Recorded at an Earlier Time.
“Vince, I’m sorry that I can’t talk to you, but there was an emergency at work… please forgive me. My life is so hectic recently! Have I told you my sister had her baby?”
I struggled not to crush the bowl with the food pulp.
The experiment is going excellent, there has been progress. I have sent some reports to my superiors, and they replied saying they’re proud of my job. I seem to be making everybody happy…
…But why am I not happy? Why do I feel like I deserve to have a dunce hat and the word “SUCKER” painted on my forehead?
Alice, please, stop leaving recorded messages, I want to talk to you…
I made a mistake, a very stupid mistake.
There I was, dissecting a horse liver or whatever that thing is… when I felt an itch on my neck. I pulled my hand out; bloody glove included, and touched my face and neck with it. It is gross, now my face is full of icky liquids, eugh…
I have to be more careful…
Alice hasn’t said a word yet.
…Where the hell is she?
Day 92 of the mission, blah blah blah.
Who cares about the mission?
Here I am, staring at the screen of the videophone or whatever this contraption is. Client isn’t on use. I can see the spot where she normally talks to me. She hasn’t left me a message since like a month ago.
I’m having a harder time breathing, and my neck still itches like hell. Yesterday, when I looked at the mirror, I noticed that the spot is very red, almost like I rubbed poison ivy on it.
I don’t have poison ivy here. Nope, not at all. Not a single leaf of poison ivy.
Poison ivy, poison ivy, poison ivy.
I WANT TO GO HOME DAMN IT!
Day 108 of the mission. It is a miracle!
There is a message from here! Time to find out what is going on. Alice, tell me the truth, I command you to tell me the truth. You’re my wife, you HAVE TO TELL ME THE TRUTH
“Vince, what the hell is wrong with you?!"
“That is an invasion of my privacy, Vince!”
“Don’t dare to speak to me with that tone, Vince!”
“Why don’t you remove that towel from your shoulders, Vince? Are you hurt?”
“Vince! Stop shouting!”
She left me. She will never call me back. I’m sure of it. Take a deep breath, Vince, not everything is lost… continue the project, continue the investigation…you still can have a good life when it is over.
You can do it.
My… My neck… I can feel something moving in there. It is like I have a tiny weensy heart in there…
IF ONLY IT WOULD STOP HURTING SO MUCH!
Her soul left me, she is not here anymore, she is gone, I’m completely alone, just me, myself, and I.
I can’t continue working like this.
Every time I’m at work, suddenly I feel PAIN on my neck. PAIN. I’m there, cutting leaves, when suddenly PAIN. I’m there, applying gas to the organs, when suddenly PAIN. I’m there, dissecting that stuff, when suddenly PAIN.
I haven’t even slept in days, because of the PAIN.
I can’t move. I… I’m paralyzed by fear…
…Am I going to die…?
I looked at the mirror, to examine again that spot on my neck. I have been covering it when cloth, to not to see at it…
I can see it moving. It MOVES. Like a tiny teensy heart. This is in no way natural. How did this happen?!
Is it a tumor? Am I having a tumor while being stranded in space?!
I WANT TO GO H-O-M-E HOME PLEASE SOMEBODY GET ME OUT OF HERE!
…Why haven’t I told my superiors about my pain?
I feel afraid of them being disappointed. I have to carry this mission to its very end. For humanity, for my superiors, for Alice…no, not for Alice…
Wake up Vince, you’re being an idiot, you need HELP. You have A FUCKING TUMOR ON YOUR NECK.
…sometimes I feel like something is clouding my thoughts, something isn’t letting me think straight. It is just psychological, isn’t it?
Yep, just psychology, tricks of the mind.
Alice, I miss you so much.
I told my superiors about the pain, about how I feel, about the TUMOR. Now I only have to wait for their reply, and I’ll be a free man…
“Finish the experiment and then we’ll see.”
WHAT KIND OF REPLY IS THAT?!
Hey, good evening, Earth! Day 148 of the mission reporting. And it is the last day. How is that? Do you feel proud of Vince, Earth?
It is over.
Want to know what I have done today, Earth? I smeared everything with every flammable liquid I could find inside this damned satellite.
I turned on the videophone, or whatever that thing is.
“Hey Vince, are you there?” she asked.
The plants are doused with liquid. The fridges are doused with liquid. The organs, the small boxes, my equipment, everything is doused.
…I’m doused with liquid. Especially the TUMOR. It hurts like hell, but soon it’ll be gone too.
“I’m so excited about the mission, Vince! Wait until I tell my friends that my husband is in a scientific mission on outer space!” she said.
What was the obvious step that followed that? I sparked a fire. Something easy, a spark created with two cables. Fire is spreading in this moment, I can see its reflection on the window.
Everything will be ashes. The project will be ashes. I’ll be ashes…
…And I’ll be free.
-“Hahahaha, you’re such a sweetie, Vince!”-, she laughed
Oh, shut up Alice.
So, are you proud, Earth? Are you proud of good ol’ Vince? There you are, completely oblivious to what I do here in space, I bet only a handful of you know who I am!
Are you happy now, people?
The fire is near to me. I feel its heat. In a few minutes I’ll be on fire too, and I’ll reunite with the remains of this miserable place.
And do you know what, Earth? I don’t care! I’ll be free of all of this! Free of the PAIN.
…Any last words you would like me to hear?
“Does Earth look beautiful from space, Vince?” she smiled.
“…It is a nightmare...” I murmured, while I observed the reflection of the fire.