The goat ran away as soon as I untied him. He doesn’t look like much, but he’s nimble on his feet and faster than hell. I lost him in the moss, which has grown thicker and more unruly in my absence (it’s the one thing that’s really thriving out here).
Eventually I picked up a trail of hoofprints in the dust and followed them southwest towards the rock columns. I spent the rest of the afternoon tracking him down, finally spotting him standing motionless in the mouth of the caves staring unblinking down into the darkness. It was the strangest thing – he wouldn’t go any further inside but he wouldn’t leave the shelter of the entrance either. The damn thing wouldn’t move either way. Each time I picked him up and tried to carry him back to the campsite he squirmed away from my grip.
I gave up and left him there with some feed. If the goat wants to stay near the caves, that’s fine with me. Maybe he misses the feeling of containment back on the ship.
Other than that little non sequitur, it feels good to be back. Most of the plants are still doing alright: only a dozen or so have died from the wind and neglect. In fact, today I had my first harvest: I cut off a few leaves of cabbage to go with my evening bowl of Nutri-Stew. It tastes overwhelmingly bitter and is hard to chew, but it’s nice to eat something that I helped grow. Something other than paste.
Hiroshi found out a way to reduce the static on the radio broadcasts. Now people are talking to each other more and it isn’t so lonely, which is a nice improvement, but it sounds like things are getting worse back at the ship.
“We’re on lockdown,” he said. “There was a loud noise a few minutes ago, I think it might have been a gunshot, and then Captain Martinez came on the intercom and said that until further notice nobody should leave their rooms.”
“What happened?” Dawn asked.
“I don’t know. Something bad. Whenever anybody in authority tells you to stay calm you have to assume it’s bad.”
In the background of his open-mic transmission I could hear metal pounding against metal. There was a brief moment of stillness and then Hiroshi’s voice returned:
“I don’t think they want me on the radio anymore, but I’ll keep broadcasting as long as I can. I’ve blocked the door with my bed.”
Some of us are debating if we should go back to the ship and try and help out somehow. We might be too late. Civil unrest isn’t our only problem, not anymore.
Another storm is coming, a continent-sized hurricane of dust and ice far bigger than anything we’ve seen so far. According to Hiroshi, none of the drones that have flown into it have returned intact. It formed near the north pole and has begun to rapidly drift down towards us on the flats, tossing around boulders and trashing all of the inducers in its path.
The wind’s been picking up all night.