The Repopulation Project
I am used to the sounds of my solitude. These noises are as dear to me as the air that I breathe. The rhythmic crackle and crunch of the ice beneath my feet is a song that only someone submerged in the silence of this place could hear. The wind whistling through the trees is the pipe section. The branches as they whip against each other a slow steady rattle and hiss. This is the orchestra of my life. This is all I have to smile about but sadly not all I can remember. Sometimes I wish I had no recollection of what remains lacking. I glance down at the contrast between the red of my boots and the plethora of white. These boots will be the end of me.
The sun begins its ominous descent behind the mountains in the distance. Soon the isolation of the night would be upon me. I start to run towards my shelter. The brilliant colors fluid in their movement as they blend to surround the descending light. This always makes me feel a sense of urgency. I need to be safe in my shelter, deep beneath the powdery white. My breath a moist morse code signal into the icy sky above me as my mind repeats the words Do not see me...Do not see me. The open space before my refuge is where I feel most vulnerable. I fight the urge to fall to my knees and say a prayer as I come closer to my solitude. The last moments of fresh air and space are bitter sweet. My snowsuit is white. I blend with the surroundings, except for me feet. My boots they are blood red in an ocean of white. I can’t help but wonder what moron outfitted the crew with them. My boots were so small back then. I am wearing now what my mother had been wearing when we came to this place.
Go back to earth they said. Earth is now habitable they said. A foolish few of us dared to believe and came home.
Most of what was left of the human race had been evacuated from the planet earth in the year 7511. Prior to the comets, complete cleansing of the planet. This did not finish the human race for we had already found a way to safety...Sort of. The earth’s inhabitants left in massive cargo ships like the Noah’s ark of old. The rich were kings and queens. The poor well... We became breeding stock. There would be no difference between us and the other animals saved from extinction. Well little to no difference. The animals of old were stored as embryos, cryogenically frozen. The real animals were left to perish in the blast or in the cold that was sure to follow. Humans were the only things grown to adulthood. We were cultivated as a crop. The poor were grateful to be taken along. They did not dare complain about the reason why. My ancestors became breeders created to repopulate a planet we had never laid foot on. An orb of white that one day we would return to. A symbol of our future freedom that was visible from the viewing area.
I was born on a cargo ship as was my mother and her mother before her. The smiles of the female members of my family were the only visions of grandeur I had ever seen. I had no toys. We had no possessions. We floated in a metal room with nothing but each other. Our numbers grew as each of my female family members had their eggs harvested. They would be used to create a life with an unknown males essence. Most of the embryos were stored for the repopulation project. My siblings remain even now in a cryogenically frozen embryonic state...somewhere. Every once in a while they would develop a few to term. They grew a perfected form of humanity. We were now free of every genetic defect. A woman who had ceased her ability to procreate was left to raise the children. The men were put to proper use in other areas of the cargo ship. There were no standard families anymore. All male children were put to work at the age of ten. They were separated from the female community before they had a chance to achieve puberty. Heaven forbid a child was made the old fashioned way. I was only five when they offered up freedom to a chosen few family units. It is strange that I remember that place as clearly as I do.
My mother, two of my aunts, and I were in one of the first settlement groups. A group of five men were sent with us. We took shuttles to earth. The ships would double as our dwellings upon arrival. The shuttles contained small groups. No more than ten passengers were allowed onboard. We would establish settlements on the finally habitable planet of our ancestors.
I remember the light exploding around us. A beacon of faith as we descended into the earths atmosphere. There had not even been the briefest moment of panic as we landed on the white planet. We were sent well equipped for the arctic weather of the North. In the South, we were told that we were destined to find a warmer climate. They suggested we stay in the frozen safety of the North. Anything that would have survived would have attempted the pilgrimage south long ago. We would be safe here in the North. They had been wrong about so many things.
I spend a large portion of my time talking to myself. I am an ageless girl all alone in a vessel hidden deep beneath a snow drift on a frozen planet.
How did that happen? Well...I’m not entirely alone. I have the bodies of my family and crew quite frozen solid in a safe place, as twisted as that sounds. Had I not been smart enough to keep them as a child, I would have nothing to wear right now. I would have frozen to death a long time ago. That is how I ended up with these hideous boots. I think they made them red so we could find each other in the vast expanse of white. Instead, they helped everything unsavory find us. Now I am not complaining. I have survived another day. That is always something to be thankful for. I say the little prayer that my mother taught me shortly before she came to live in my freezer.
The sounds they cannot hurt you
Lay safe and still my sweet.
No noise you make
Shallow breaths you must take
Until you fall asleep.
Dream of nothing sad, good times not bad.
Until once again we meet.
I was warned against making a fire. I have never had the urge to make one because I never get cold. The others were always cold when they were alive. It is ironic that even in death they are freezing. The vessel is covered in snow giving an igloo like effect. It is possible that is what makes the temperature tolerable for me. Each and every morning as part of my routine I go outside and pack more snow around the craft. It must be five feet of solid ice by now. The last thing that crosses my mind every single night as I close my eyes is... Did I remember to lock the door? I know that it has to be opened by human D.N.A., but that doesn’t matter. I not only push on it, I shove things through it and in front of it. That cold ridged metal door is the only proof that I am in here. This place deep in the side of a mountain is both my solace and my prison.
I whisper the prayer my mother taught me one more time for luck. I lie on my bunk and shut my eyes tightly as the shrieking sounds of the night begin. At first it’s far off in the distance, and then it’s close. Until they begin to pant, and scratch on the door. I like to pretend that I’m invisible that even if they found a way inside they would not see me. I imagine I blend right into the metal bunk. I fantasise I am a part of it. I am one with the ship that protects me. I start my deep calming breathing. I was to take forty deep slow cleansing breaths. I inhale the first one and count to ten then slowly exhale. I count to ten again. By the time, I get halfway done I am almost there, melting into my bunk. I am the liquid form of my being. I slip inside of myself until I am adrift on the endless stream of my subconscious.
I wake up every morning and brush my teeth. I open the door and spit the foam from the tube into the snow outside. I count the prints in the snow. I comb my hair with my fingers. I put the flash drive of whatever knowledge I seek into the main frame. I do my schooling by hologram. There are so many lessons. I have listened to them all so many times. I repeat them aloud and mimic the hologram when I’m bored. I watch movies so I can learn to interact with other people.
The radio on this ship had never worked when it had counted. I hear some random voices from time to time. They say things like, “Please help us.”
I answer them in my head Sorry it is just me. You will have to help yourself. I know the voices cannot be trusted. I think this was part of the plan. They would send us here, cut us off, and watch to see if we survive. Sometimes I wonder if someone somewhere is watching me. I hope they are thoroughly entertained by my misery. The scratching on the door used to scare me to death as a child. Now it just feels like a timer, it means it’s my bedtime. The nails will click away until they finally find a way to get inside. One day they will add me to the bodies in the freezer. I understand this. I cannot keep them out forever. What am I thinking? There is nobody left to put my body in the freezer. I will be gone. Another day is done. I say my prayer.
The sounds they cannot hurt you
Lay safe and still my sweet.
No noise you make
Shallow breaths you must take
Until you fall asleep.
Dream of nothing sad, good times not bad.
Until once again we meet.
Thuds, bangs, scratches, and a continuous clicking sound lull me to sleep. I start my breathing and slip into nothing.
I was far too young when the adults died to keep track of time. I haven’t the foggiest idea how old I am. I have a chest and hips now. I am not quite as shapely as my mother. I try to see myself in the reflective surfaces, but the image is all wavy and distorted.
At some point every single day I try and have a visit with my mother. I pretend that she is sleeping. It actually isn’t nearly as creepy as it sounds. I spend time with her by having one sided conversations. When I need to hear her voice, I watch her hologram diaries. When I hear her voice speaking, I pretend it’s only to me.
My Mother’s hologram diaries
My name is Nylan 110. I am with one of the first crews on the mission to repopulate the planet earth. I am here with my sisters, one of my daughters, and some men from aboard The Cargo ship Savior. I have faith in this new life. Earth is healing, and I feel honored to be a part of this mission. We have been going out only in the sunlight for we have heard the sounds of wild animals at night. We have set up some traps to catch one so we can see what we are dealing with. The snow is an endless supply of fresh water. We have begun to eat it finding it is filling as well and a pleasant change to the tube food we were sent with. We have yet to find any edible wildlife in the daylight hours. Once we have discovered what kind of predators we are dealing with, then we will know if it is safe to hunt at night.
My name is Nylan 110. I am with one of the first crews on the mission to repopulate the planet earth. I am here with my sisters, one of my daughters, and some men from aboard The Cargo ship Savior. We have discovered that there are other intelligent life forms that have survived in the northern regions where we had assumed that we would be alone. We were wrong of course. We caught one of the creatures and took it aboard to study. It seems almost human. They haven’t let me near it. Everything inside of me is screaming that we need to get this being off of the ship. I wish to god I had not brought Nylan 112 with me. I fear for her safety now. I just could not bare to leave her behind. There are many of these creatures outside. How can we possibly coexist in this place?
My name is Nylan 110. I am with one of the first crews on the mission to repopulate the planet earth. I am here with my sisters, one of my daughters, and some men from aboard The Cargo ship Savior.
I suspect the team travelling with us was not picked at random. I have overheard some distressing conversations. This being aboard the ship has characteristics from several ancient arctic species mixed with human D.N.A.
Could they have been bred aboard the Savior, placed here with us on purpose? Could this be a test? The team sent with us says this creature could not have occurred through natural evolution. I am beginning to suspect someone is playing god. We were forced to set him free in the daylight for at night it seemed there were dozens of them who had found our ship they were pounding on it and tipping in at making the most terrifying sounds. He ran about fifty feet or so and then died. When he died he liquefied before we could hide the body. We attempted to cover up the evidence. Nothing could cover that smell it was as though his essence stained the planet. Marking the scene of his death and pointing the guilty finger directly at us. It will look to his kind like we killed him on purpose. One can only imagine what they will do come nightfall.
We covered the ship in snow, layer upon layer until the sun set. My daughter told me someone was coming. She can sense the danger we are in for accidentally killing one of their own.
I made up a little prayer with my daughter in hopes that god may be listening. I hope he doesn’t find us at fault for what our people have created. I pray for nothing myself but her safety and her ability to survive without me if something should happen.
My name is Nylan 110. I am with one of the first crews on the mission to repopulate the planet earth. I was here with my sisters, one of my daughters, and some men from aboard The Cargo ship Savior. The creatures came at us with a vengeance taking us in broad daylight from underneath the snow as we attempted to search for sustenance. My sisters are dead and almost all of the crew. Their bodies were left in a line in front of the door. We have stored the bodies in the freezer. On each corpse, nothing but a tiny mark, all but invisible to the naked eye. On each victim, it seemed to go directly into the spinal column.
Captain Dillon says he’s just a grunt. He can operate the ship and fight. He knows nothing of science. He says he has called for help. I have a feeling that nobody is coming. Three of us remain. Captain Dillon, my brave little girl, and I. Thank goodness there is a staggering amount of tube nourishment in the cargo hold. We cannot leave the ship. We are trapped...There is no freedom for any of us here on earth.
My mother would leave no more entries after that one. One night she heard the voice of a child. It was crying and pleading with her to open the door. She couldn’t help herself, and in the time it took to exhale she was gone. Captain Dillon shut the door quickly and held me down until morning when he opened the door, and her body had been left in front of it. We took her inside and placed her in the freezer with the rest of the crew. He then began teaching me how to survive and what the rules would be if anything were to happen to him. He stayed with me for quite a while. I was alone with him for a year or two. I have no concept of time. We assumed other ships had landed because the creatures had left us alone. We hadn’t heard a scratch or squeal in months.
That morning we had the first contact on the radio. The voice said they were our evacuation crew. They had landed less than a mile from our vessel. Captain Dillon told me he would be right back with some help. I knew he was gone forever as the door slid shut behind him. He was not left outside of the ship as the others were. Captain Dillon is not the freezer.
No more voices came on the radio. I was alone with nothing but holograms and lessons. I had nothing but the bodies in the freezer to talk to. One day I just knew that I was safe. Perhaps I had just ceased to care. I felt safety in the daylight hours. I ate snow every day and went for a walk. I always sensed that something was nearby, but nothing had ever made its presence known.
One day I began to bleed. I thought I was dying. It was that night that the sounds came back. I found information and supplies for my condition onboard. I stay indoors for a week every month. After my issue is gone, the sounds disappear again. I venture out once again to eat some snow and get some fresh air.
I have never seen another living creature during the daylight hours. I suspect the small animals that live here are nocturnal. I can faintly hear the pitter patter of their tiny hearts through the veil of silence that encompasses me. I rest my hand against a tree for a moment. I always end up filling my grumbling stomach with snow. There is still food on board the ship, but on some days, I would rather starve than eat veggie paste. I have even eaten bark over veggie paste. I struggle to screw the cap off and begin to squeeze the thick vile fluid between my lips. A voice... I can hear a voice. I put it down and listen.
The radio squeals. A male voice says, “Is anybody out there?”
I never answer only privately in my mind. It has been so long since I have talked to another person. I pick up the radio and touch the red button. It makes a screeching sound. The voice on the other end says,” I hear you... I heard that. Please try again.”
I press it again, and it screeches. I laugh aloud at the sound it makes.
The voice says,” There is someone out there. I can hear you.” The man begins to cry.
I drop the radio in a panic. I promised to follow the rules. I promised I would never let anyone else onboard. Even if they said they were friendly. That is how my mother was fooled into going outside. I promised Captain Dillon. I promised I would survive. I could not let anyone in because it may be a trick. They will take my food. They will take my shelter. They will hurt me. I remember his final warning as clear as day.
I can’t help myself. I press the button, and it screeches again. I need to hear the voice now. I need to know if it will still cry. I don’t cry anymore even when I watch people cry on movies. The act of crying intrigues me.
I hear laughter. I hear joy. I want to let him know someone is out there. What will it hurt to say one word?
I pick up the radio press the button, and I say, “Hello.”
I am greeted with laughter, a crazy amount of laughter. The voice says, “Oh thank god.”
I press it and smile. I remember the person on the other end can’t see my smile. So I press it again and say, “I am here.”
My soul began to cheer. I have finally spoken to someone, and they have answered me back.
I hear the shrieking begin outside. I whisper,” Be quiet now, no fire, no lights, block the door. Don’t let anyone in. No matter what they say even if it’s a child.”
“Until we speak again,” the voice whispers to me.
My stomach feels funny. I smile so wide my cheeks begin to hurt. I convince myself to start my deep breathing. I pretend this night is the same as any other. I succumb to the nothing.
I dream for the first time in a long time. I can’t think of a man as anything but protection or danger because the last time I saw my reflection I was a child. I jump off of the bunk in the morning and kneel in front of the radio. I wonder, Will I will ever hear his voice again? Did he survive the night? Will he speak again? Will he cry? Will he laugh?
I hear his voice say, “Are you there?”
I press the button and answer,” Yes... I am still here.”
The voice responds, “My name his Michael.”
I reply my name is Nylan. I give him my family name, and leave my crop number off.
“How old are you Nylan?” Michael asks.
I tell the truth,” I don’t know.”
He says, “I have been here maybe a month. I came with a supply ship. Have you had some kind of head trauma?”
I press the button and answer,” I am healthy.”
There is a long drawn out moment of silence. He says, “I suspect you have been alone for a long time.”
I’m not supposed to say that I’m alone. I realise this person has no way to find me. He would be dead once darkness came if he made an attempt to. I reply, “Yes.”
“We should try to find each other, “The voice states.
“We will die, “I state as a fact. I realize I am being blunt, but there is no point in sugar coating the situation for this human.
He replies, “We have to at least try...Don’t we? Do you want to be alone forever?”
His words struck a chord in my soul. The creatures haven’t killed me. They let me out in the day. What is the difference between tempting fate for no reason and tempting fate with purpose?
I say, “Okay...I will come to you,” and the story begins.