Space Station Alpha

"Are you in Johnny?" Peterson asked me as I stared at my hand. I was holding four nines and the pot had grown to nearly the size of my paycheck. I had a good hand so I decided to play it for what it was worth.

"Yeah," I said tossing in the chips for the bet, plus fifty more. "I'm in with a bit extra."

The play moved to Jackson sitting on my left. He took one look at his cards and folded his hand. "Too rich for me," he said tossing his cards down onto the table.

I looked at Blaines. He looked down at his cards and then at me. I held my face steady and our eyes locked. He smiled like the Mona Lisa and keeping his eyes on mine, he tossed in the chips. "I'll call that."

Harrison folded, as did Jones. It was down to Blaines and me.

"What'cha got Johnny?" He asked. I laid down my four of kind.

His Mona Lisa smile widened as he laid down his hand. With a sinking feeling in my gut, I forced myself to look at his cards.

He was holding a royal flush. "Damn," I muttered.

"I'll collect payday," he said, laughing.

"Bastard," I said, and then laughed. "Oh, well, it's not like I was saving for college."

The game broke up and Blaines slapped me on the shoulder. "Come on, I'll buy you a drink," he said.

"Yeah, with my own money," I said, following Blaines to the drinks counter. Jimmie, our part-time bartender, poured two beers from the tap. We grabbed the beers and found an open table by a window.

"I never get tired of looking at it," Blaines said, staring out the window.

I followed his gaze. The station orbited a double star system: a brown dwarf locked in a tight orbit around a black hole; the hole was slowly eating the dwarf. A stream of gas, pulled from the dull brown star, formed an accretion disk around the black hole, barely visible on the edge, but brightening to an intense purple-white as it neared the hole. Two jets, centered at the north and south poles of the hole, spewed particles into space at nearly the speed of light. It was beautiful and frightening.

"Do you think the theory is right?" Blaines asked.

"Which one is that?"

"The theory that a black hole is a gateway to another dimension."

"Beats me," I said shrugging my shoulders and taking a pull from my beer. "I'm just a grunt, a thousand light years from home on a research station filled with men. How I got this assignment is beyond me."

Blaines cocked an eyebrow at me.

"Okay, okay. How was I to know she was the General's daughter?"

"Ignorance is no excuse my friend," Blaines said. "Especially to a General."

I sighed. "Don't I know it."

"Besides," Blaines said," if some pirates show up, you'll get more action here than if you were stationed on Mars, or someplace."

"Hmpf," I answered. "Pirates will never attack here, there'd be no profit in it."

"You never know. Remember what they told us in boot camp? 'Hope for the best and expect the worst'."

I raised my glass. "Bring on the worst. It'll be a nice change of pace."

Blaines grinned, downed his beer and stood. "I'm done. I have to space walk tomorrow and check the relays. You're off tomorrow, right?"

"Yeah," I said scowling.

"Well, have a good one."

"You too. Watch your butt out there."

"Always." He turned to go and then paused.

"Thanks for game," he said grinning like a cat who had just finished a canary dinner with all the trimmings.

I growled and gave him the finger. He laughed and headed out of the rec room. I finished my beer and went to bed.

***

I hit something hard and jolted awake. "It's my day off," I muttered. I always liked to catch an extra couple of hours sleep if I didn't have to report for duty. It was two more hours I could trim off my tour time.

I opened my eyes and looked around. I was laying on the floor of my quarters in the dark. The floor shuddered, then lurched violently, slamming me into my bunk. My sleepiness vanished instantly. Something bad was going on; the station should not be moving like this. In the dark, I felt around for the clothes I had tossed on the floor the night before and hanging onto my bunk with one hand, I dressed.

I struggled to my feet and grabbing the wall for support, I stepped into the corridor. The corridor, lit in the reddish glow of emergency lighting, was vacant. I could feel the station moving and that was not a good thing, orbiting next to a black hole. My first thought was that the station had suffered a major systems failure, but I wasn't in freefall and I could still breathe, which meant that the core systems, at least, were still operating.

I found a commlink in the hallway and dialed the Command Center, looking for answers, but no one answered the call. I switched the commlink to broadcast mode. "Can anyone read me?" I said, my voice echoing in the corridors of the station. I waited, but there was no response.

"Damn it," I mumbled. It looked like I would have to check the Command Center in person and headed toward the elevator.

The station was vibrating with a low rumble, but the violent motions had stopped. That could be either good or bad news. As I passed the bar and glanced out the window, I stopped. The news was bad: the station was falling into the black hole.

Where were the alarms? The evacuation klaxon should have been ringing and the intercom blaring, instructing people to head for the shuttle bay. Other than the creaking of the walls and the low rumble of vibrations, the station was quiet, too quiet. A knot of fear tightened in my gut.

The rec area had a computer terminal in it and I could check the station systems and, maybe, get an idea of what was going on. I stepped into the rec room, turned toward the terminal set in the wall. I glanced at the drinks counter and froze. The fake wood top was splattered with blood. I slowly walked around the counter and looked at the floor. Jimmie was lying on the floor, covered in blood and obviously dead.

"What is going on?" I whispered to myself. Something very bad had happened here. Was there a murderer loose on the station? I looked around the rec area, but nothing was out of place. It made the hideous sight in front of me even more chilling. I needed answers, fast.

I punched in the systems readout on the computer terminal with shaking fingers. The main power was off line and the station was running on emergency battery power. If the main power was off line, the engines were off line as well. No wonder we were falling into the black hole. I dialed up engineering on the commlink, but again, there was no answer.

Jimmie had been horribly murdered, the power and engines were off line and I hadn't seen a living person yet. I couldn't add it up. I needed to get the Command Center and get some answers.

I ran down to the elevator and stopped at the door. Two more bodies were lying on the floor, their blue jumpsuits covered in blood. Had the whole crew been massacred while I slept? Then another thought struck me. Where were my buddies? None of us would have just stood by and let this happen. The knot of fear in my gut tightened even more.

I punched in Deck 3 on the elevator console and the elevator dropped a level to the Command Center and Armory. I hoped I would find some answers, but when the elevator doors opened, I knew there were no answers on Deck 3. I stepped out of the elevator and looked up and down the hall. Bodies were scattered on the floor and blood and gore still dripped from the bullet riddled walls. In the eerie red light, it was like looking into a nightmare.

I knelt down beside a body and turned it over. It was Peterson. He had died violently, his chest ripped open and a look of frozen horror was on his face. I touched his cheek. It was still warm. Checking the other bodies, I found my whole squad, except for Blaines, dead on the floor. All of the bodies were still warm. Whatever had happened, it had just happened.

This wasn't the work of some psychotic; this had been an intense and deadly firefight. I knew my buddies and knew how capable they were. To cause this much damage, there had to be multiple attackers, well armed and well trained. Could pirates do this? I doubted it. They wouldn't be able to stand against my buddies, not with our training. Who then?

I knelt and examined Peterson's chest. The wound looked like it had been clawed open by some animal. No weapon, that I knew, could cause damage like that. A quick examination of the other bodies revealed that all the wounds were similar. I couldn't account for it, but I was sure this wasn't the work of pirates. Instead of answers, I was just collecting more questions.

I checked the Command Center but the row of computer terminals and offices were empty. What had happened and why hadn't someone come to wake me up? I looked at the bodies and suddenly realized what had happened. While I was sleeping, my friends had been dying. Guilt stabbed me in the chest and I leaned against the bulkhead and closed my eyes. I should have died with them.

The floor lurched again and the bulkheads groaned as the black hole clawed at the station. A sudden thought took the edge off the guilt. Where was Blaines? Was he was still alive? It was possible, since his body wasn't among the dead. I had to look for him, at least I could that much, but first I had to get the engines back on line before the station fell into the maw of the hole. The engines were controlled from the engineering deck, so that had to be my first stop.

From the look of things though, I would need some firepower so I ducked in the armory on the way to the elevator. I shrugged on some body armor and looked over the weapons rack. I am no stranger to combat and my favorite weapon in close quarters is the shotgun. We had several types on the rack and I decided on a UAC 2201 Police Martial. The black, 12-gauge pump-action held seven shells, was easy to reload and packed a punch. I loaded the shotgun, filled my pockets with shells and then carefully made my way back to the elevator.

I punched in Deck 2 on the elevator console and waited. I expected to see someone come screaming at me when the elevator doors opened, but engineering was eerily silent. A couple of bodies lay on the floor, the blue jumpsuits they wore stained red. A quick inspection told me that both of the technicians had died horrible deaths. I spied another body slumped against the metal panel of the engineering control console and kneeling down to inspect the face, I saw that it was Thompson, our chief engineer. His throat had been slashed. I like to think I am tough Marine, able to take anything, but the sight of so many bodies ripped to shreds was getting to me.

I stood shakily, set the shotgun within arms reach and punched up the status display on the console. When I was first stationed on Alpha, I spent the first month cross training on every system on the station, so I knew my way around engineering. Thank God for military pessimism. Looking over the display, I immediately saw that I was in trouble. Not only were the engines off line, but the fusion reactor was also in shut-down mode.

I punched up the station orbital display on the computer. The station was slowly spinning its way into the maw of the black hole, but it was the tidal forces that I wanted to check. The intense gravity of the black hole would rip the station apart long before it fell into the hole. The computer estimated that I had an hour and a half before the gravity of the hole reached the critical point. Damn.

Both the engines and reactor had been manually shut down, so I called up Thompson's daily log file. He must have shut down the systems before he died and I wanted to see if he left any messages. As the entries began to scroll on the display, something grasped my shoulder. I snatched the shotgun and whirled.

"Whoa, whoa, Johnny! It's me."

"Blaines! Damn it, I just about crapped my pants and blew your head off." I lowered the shotgun and took a deep breath. "What in the hell is going on here? I woke up and found this." I pointed to the bodies.

"You won't believe it," he said. "I was outside working on the relays when something came out of the black hole."

"Nothing comes out of a black hole. Not even light."

"I know. It sounds crazy as hell, but this huge ball of energy comes shooting out of the black hole and hits the station, passes right through the walls and then I start hearing screaming and shooting over the radio. I tried to get back into he station, but I was locked out. I made my way to the emergency airlock and just managed to get in, when I saw you at the console. Have you seen anything?"

"No, nothing, except a lot of bodies. It gives me the creeps. They, whoever they are, have to still be here. The bodies are still warm."

I hooked a thumb at the display. "We have other problems too. The fusion reactor and engines are off line and the station is spiraling into the black hole. We have about an hour and a half before the tidal forces pull this thing apart."

"Why don't we head back to the armory, so I can get a weapon," Blaines said, "then we can get the reactor back on line-what?"

Behind Blaines, a monster with brown, matted fur, red eyes and a mouth full of fangs, appeared. It was suddenly just there, appearing like a ghost. Blaines twisted to look as I reached out to pull him away from the monstrosity. My fingers brushed his shirt as the creature lifted him up into the air and disemboweled him with a swipe of a clawed hand. Blaines screamed and I screamed. I fired the shotgun into the belly of the thing, pumped and fired again. The creature fell to the ground, shimmered and vanished.

I stood shaking, looking around wildly, but nothing else appeared. I knelt beside Blaines and cradled his head in my lap. He looked at me and smiled. "Don't think this means you don't have to pay up," he said weakly. Tears burned my eyes. There wasn't a damn thing I could do for him.

"Get them Johnny," he said and then went limp in my arms.

"Bastards!" I screamed. After a moment, I laid his head gently on the deck and stood, gripping the shotgun. What was that thing? It had just appeared out of nothing. How could I fight an enemy I couldn't see? No wonder my buddies had been wiped out.

I leaned against the console and cradled the shotgun in my arms. I doubted anyone was alive, how could they be? What should I do? Since the creatures were still on the station, and the station was falling into the black hole, why not let the hole have them? But I couldn't get what Blaines said out of my mind: something had come out of the black hole and entered the station. It must have been these creatures. If they could escape a black hole, they could probably escape the station. There was an outpost not far from Alpha. What if the creatures went there? The outpost wouldn't stand a chance. I could radio them, but would they believe me? Hell, I could hardly believe it myself. I had no idea what the creatures had planned, but I couldn't take the chance. I had to get off the station.

I turned back to the display. Scanning the logs, I found the entry I was looking for and punched up the recording. "This is Chief Engineer, Thompson," said the image on the screen. "We are being overrun by monsters. The crew is dead. I am shutting down the main reactor and the engines. With the engines off the station will fall into the black hole and send these bastards back to where they came from-" On the screen, Thompson's head jerked back and a clawed hand ripped out his throat. The recording ended.

I shuddered but admired the steel in Thompson's voice. The crotchety old man had gone down fighting. He had hedged his bet by shutting down the reactor as well as the engines. Without the reactor, the engines could not be restarted. However, I needed the reactor back on line to open the shuttle bay launch doors and get off this death trap. That meant I had to get to Deck 1 and restart the reactor. It was isolated from the rest of the station through a special elevator. I doubted I was going to make it very far, but I had to try.

First, though, I would hedge my bet as well. I recorded a warning message and set it to transmit every minute to the outpost. If I didn't make it, the message would at least give them some warning. It was the best I could do at the moment. I reloaded the shotgun and turned toward the reactor elevator.

In the elevator, I punched in Deck 1 on the console. When the elevator doors opened, I walked into Hell. A steam pipe had ruptured somewhere filling the deck with hot, murky fog that swirled in the red emergency lighting. I carefully stepped over bodies as I made my way to the reactor control console, expecting at any moment to have a clawed hand rip out my guts. If any of those creatures were down here, I would not see them until it was too late.

At the console, I punched in the fusion restart sequence. The readouts indicated that the start-up procedure was proceeding normally. The system had to go through a self-diagnostic and then the laser igniter had to charge. Once the laser charged up, plasma would be injected into the combustion chamber and the laser would fire, starting the fusion reaction. I checked the start-up time on the computer. It would take about an hour for the sequence to complete. If all went well, I'd have almost thirty minutes after the power came back on to prepare and launch the shuttle before the station reached the point of no-return. I could have used a little more time, but I had to play the cards that I was dealt.

I turned to go back to the elevator and ran into a furry, dark shape. I jumped back, bringing up the shotgun, but the creature vanished into the mist. I stood turning, trying to peer into the swirling mist, holding the shotgun tightly. After a long minute and no sign of the creature, I cautiously made my way to the elevator and punched in the Engineering deck. The doors closed and I breathed a sigh of relief.

A brown-furred creature appeared next to me in the elevator.

It growled and took a swipe at my head. I ducked and aimed the shotgun, but the monster knocked it from my grasp, sending it spinning into the corner of the elevator and out of reach. I drove my fist into the bottom of its jaw in an uppercut, pain shooting down my arm. The monster's head rocked back and the creature took a step backward. I kicked it hard in the gut and it doubled over. I kicked upward, driving the steel toe of my boot into its forehead with a loud crunch. The creature jerked upward, slammed into the elevator wall and then slumped to the ground. It shimmered for a moment and then vanished. Breathing hard, I grabbed the shotgun and exited the elevator when the doors opened.

At the engineering console, I reactivated the main power grid. Nothing happened of course, but it would be ready when the reactors came back on line. I double-checked to make sure the engines were off line. Everything was set. All I had to do now was to make it to the shuttle bay on Deck 5.

I headed for the elevator and punched the call button. I glanced nervously around as the elevator hummed. After a long thirty seconds, the doors opened. I started to step into the car, then stopped: The car was filled with what looked like flying, human skulls. They were semi-translucent and ghostly fire trailed behind them as they floated in the air. When they saw me, they screeched and attacked.

I jerked up the shotgun and blasted the first one that dove at me. It exploded, sending me flying backward onto the deck, the shotgun jarred from my grasp. I struggled to my feet, looking around wildly for the shotgun. One of the skulls struck me in the back, catching my clothes on fire and knocking me to the floor. I rolled, trying to snuff out the flames and rolled on top of the shotgun.

I grabbed the shotgun, rolled onto my back and fired. The skull exploded, the heat singeing my face. I rolled to my knees, pumped and fired at the skulls until I ran out of ammo. I reloaded, backing away from the last of the monsters. As I jammed the last shell into the shotgun, it dove at me with a screech. I jerked up the shotgun and shoved the barrel into its ugly face, squeezed the trigger and ducked as the creature vanished in a ball of flame.

I backed into the elevator and punched in Deck 5 on the console. I nervously glanced around as the elevator car moved upward. When the elevator passed Deck 4, I began to breathe a little easier. Maybe I would make it after all.

The car suddenly lurched and with a grinding noise, came to a stop. A clawed hand punched through the ceiling and reached for me. I fired the shotgun into the ceiling and heard an inhuman scream and the arm vanished.

The elevator dropped. I slammed against the wall as the elevator fell, and then smacked the floor hard as it jerked to a stop. I struggled to my feet, pried open the elevator doors and stood looking at the metal wall of the elevator shaft. I couldn't get out that way.

I looked up at the ragged hole in the ceiling. The shotgun had punched through the thin metal leaving a hole just wide enough for me to push through. I would probably get my head ripped off as I climbed through, but I had no choice. Time was running out.

I tossed the shotgun through the hole and waited for a reaction, but nothing happened. I jumped and lifted myself through the hole, the ragged metal digging into my hands. I rolled onto the top of the elevator, grabbed the shotgun and backed against the wall, waiting. Still no sign of any uglies.

The elevator had stopped just below deck 4. Looking up, I could see the doorway that opened to the living section of the station. I set the shotgun on the small ledge of the doorway and pulled myself up to the door. I pushed on the doors and opened them just wide enough to slip through to Deck 4. Bending down to pick up the shotgun, I saw a clawed hand reach for me.

I ducked and tried to bring up the shotgun, but there wasn't enough room to maneuver on the ledge. The hand reached down, grabbed me by the back of my armor and lifted me up into the air. I twisted around, pushed the shotgun through the opening and fired. The hand dropped me.

I fell through the ceiling of the car and slammed onto the floor. The elevator lurched and I heard something snap above me.

"I'm done for," I thought. The elevator dropped, followed by a loud squeal as the emergency brakes activated. The car slowly ground to a stop and looking through the open doors saw that I had stopped just under the doorway for Deck 3, the Command Center. Fate had for once, dealt me a good hand. After catching my breath, I pried open the doors and exited the elevator.

The main elevator wasn't going anywhere, but I still had a way to get to the shuttle bay. I could take the service elevator at the opposite end of the station. Trying not to look at the carnage around me, I stopped in at the armory, reloaded the shotgun, grabbed some extra shells and made my way to the service elevator.

Thankfully, the trip to Deck 5 was uneventful. I stepped from the elevator, took a deep breath and strode slowly toward the shuttle bay entry door. I was tired, my hands hurt, my back ached and my face had that raw feeling that comes from getting too close to a fire. The emergency lighting blinked off replaced by the cold glare of the overhead fluorescents as the main power grid came back on line. Good. I was hoping my luck would hold as I slapped the open button on the shuttle entry door.

It didn't. In between the shuttle and me, a gigantic monster turned to look at me. Its head, sprouting eyestalks that writhed like a nest of snakes, just fit under the ceiling of the hanger. From its sickly green torso, octopus-like arms waved, and as it turned toward me on four squat legs, the tentacles reached for me.

I had to get to the shuttle and the only way there was through this monster. Taking a deep breath, I ran straight ahead. A tentacle whipped past me, ruffling the hair on my head, as I dove between its legs. I rolled over onto my back and fired the shotgun into its crotch, punching holes that oozed green slime. It screamed as I fired, but I was a mosquito trying to kill an elephant.

The monster turned and raised a huge foot and brought it down on the deck with a crash. I rolled to my feet and empted the shotgun into its gut, again with little effect. It whipped a tentacle at me as I dove behind some crates stacked near the shuttle. The crates exploded into kindling, sending fuel canisters skittering across the floor.

I peeked over the ruined crates. The monster took a step toward me, stepping on a fuel canister. I ducked, expecting an explosion, but the canister simply split open spraying fuel across the floor and onto the legs of the behemoth.

Hiding behind the remains of the crate, I reloaded the shotgun. The crushed fuel canister had given me an idea. I stood and aimed at a canister directly under the monster and fired. I was hoping the shotgun blast would rupture the canister and ignite the fuel, but the canister just jumped across the floor and remained intact. I fired at another fuel cylinder, with the same result. "Damn!"

The creature whipped a tentacle at me. I dodged, bringing up the shotgun to block the blow and was knocked backward under the shuttle. My right shoulder was on fire and feeling it with my left hand, I found it was dislocated. I grabbed the shotgun and looked at the barrel: it was bent.

I tossed the useless weapon aside and crawled over to the wall of the hangar, putting the shuttle between the monster and me. Taking a deep breath, I rammed my shoulder against the wall. There was a loud pop and a stab of pain that left me dizzy, but my shoulder was back in place. I slid down to the floor to catch my breath.

I was running out of time. I had to get in the shuttle and get off the station before the black hole munched on the station and me in it. The problem was that the hatch to the shuttle was on the side facing the monster. Those tentacles would cut me in half before I made it halfway up the ladder. I had to distract the monster somehow and I had to do it fast.

I stood, rubbing my shoulder. The fuel canisters were the key. If I could ignite the fuel, the resulting fire should distract the monster long enough to get into the shuttle. Once in the shuttle, I could remotely open the launch bay doors and make my escape.

How was I going to ignite the fuel? I didn't carry a lighter or matches and there weren't any flame sources in the hangar. Fire on a space station is a constant worry, so ignition sources are always well controlled. A flare would have worked nicely, but flares are dangerous and none were available.

"Think!" I ordered myself. I felt naked without the shotgun, although it had been useless against the monster. I looked again at the bent weapon laying on the floor and had an idea. I needed to get a fuel canister.

I ducked under the shuttle and crawled toward the shattered crates. I rose to a crouch and peeked inside the remains of a crate. A dozen canisters lay in the bottom. The monster whipped a tentacle at me and I ducked. The remains of the crate shattered and a canister rolled onto the ground in front of me. I grabbed the steel cylinder and ran, diving under the shuttle.

I opened the canister until a trickle of acrid smelling fuel poured onto the floor and then gently rolled the canister toward the feet of the monster. The cylinder rolled slowly across the floor, leaving a trail of fuel, and bumped into the crushed cylinder between the monster's legs.

I grabbed the shotgun, and holding the metal stock, swung the barrel against the concrete floor. I was hoping for a spark, but I was disappointed. I shook my head and swung again. Still nothing.

"Damn it!" I screamed and swung the barrel again. A spark flashed from the barrel and the fuel trail ignited with a whoosh. The fire streaked across the floor and between the legs of the monsters, engulfing the canisters.

The monster began to back away from the flames when the canisters exploded, knocking me to the floor and sending a huge gout of fuel and flame upward engulfing the monster and outward across the floor of the hangar. The monster screamed and its tentacles snapped at the flames. Explosions rocked the hangar as the other canisters ignited, creating a maelstrom of fire with the monster writhing in the center of the raging flames.

I crawled under the shuttle and mounted the stairs toward the shuttle entry hatch. Above me, alarms sounded and emergency lights flashed. I heard a deep rumble and glanced at the bay doors. They were beginning to open.

"Damn, damn, damn," I said. I had forgotten that the best way to put out a fire was to get rid of its oxygen. The best way to do that on a space station was by opening the affected area to the vacuum of space. The automatic systems, sensing the fire, tried to put it out by opening the bay doors. It would only take a few seconds to evacuate all the air from the hangar.

Taking a deep breath, I moved steadily up the ladder, gripping the rails tightly against the hurricane of air that was rushing out into space. The fire, momentarily strengthened by the rushing air, burned my back as I tapped in the access code on the hatch panel. The door began to slowly open. My ears popped and my lungs were burning as the air left the hangar.

"Come on," I thought, glancing behind me. The fire was out and the monster, still alive, was turning toward me. I jumped into the open door and slammed the hatch close button with my fist. The hatch swung closed and air began to flood the shuttle cockpit. Sucking the air into my starved lungs, I punched in the start up sequence on the control panel. The shuttle began to hum as the systems came on line.

I peered out the forward windscreen. The monster was moving toward the shuttle, its green hide cracked and blackened from the fire. I strapped in and punched in the launch sequence. The shuttle rocked as the monster struck the side of the ship, then the catapults fired, flinging the shuttle out into space. I fired the engines and the shuttle moved away from the station.

I leaned back and breathed deeply. Somehow, I had made it.

***

I am setting a course for Outpost 512. It will take me a week to get there, but the shuttle has some emergency rations that should last me. At least the ordeal is over.

Something bothers me though. I only saw a few monsters on the station. How could so few cause so much carnage? It would have taken quite a force to overwhelm my buddies. Maybe most of the monsters were killed when they attacked the station and I just had to handle the leftovers. Maybe.

I saw the station fall into the black hole a few minutes ago, so it is probably a moot point. If there were any creatures left, they have gone back to where they came from. All I want to do is rest. A week of doing absolutely nothing is very appealing to me right now.

***

"That's it?" Jameson asked. He was Station Master for Outpost 512.

"That is all that was on the recording tapes," the technician answered. A rescue ship had retrieved the shuttle two days earlier and had towed the ship to the outpost. The shuttle had been heading into interstellar space and it was just by luck that the rescue ship had stumbled across it.

"Any sign of the pilot?"

The technician shook his head. "None. The space suit is missing, so we assume he went EVA and didn't return."

The intercom on Jameson's desk buzzed. "Yes?"

"Sir, we found some blood on the shuttle cargo hatch. We think there is something inside the—" Over the intercom the transmission was interrupted by a long, piercing scream.

Jameson leaned toward the intercom. "Hello? Hello? What's going on down there? Do you hear me? What is going on down there?"

Author's Note

This story and its sequel, Outpost 512 (which is lost for the moment), were two of my most popular Doom fan fiction.