In just a few minutes we’ll be climbing into our hibernation pods to start the trip to Io. If everything goes as planned Kendall, the engineer, will be the only one to wake up during the trip. Just so that he can check all of the systems and if needed he’ll wake the rest of the crew. I’ve double-checked my pod and it’s all set for the four month trip to Io. The pods are not that glamorous. Besides the window around the head the rest is scuffed plastic. At least I was able to trade out the old cushions for brand new ones. Even if I’m unconscious I do think they will make a difference.
Initially I was concerned about having to hibernate in the pods. An anxiety attack while going into or coming out of hibernation would be very bad. A few months ago, while poking around the storeroom holding all the extra parts to The Decade Lost, I found a few spare pods. Not much has changed with hibernation technology in the last 8 years. So I took a few naps in the pods to give it a test run. Other than terrifying one security officer who missed the memo that I was in the storeroom, everything went swimmingly.
I do have a bottle of pills tucked into my jumpsuit. Just in case.
Until we get the all clear from the captain there isn’t much to do but stare at the five identical pods, and two very strange looking pods.
Let me explain. After the captain gave the orders to get our belongings stowed and prepare for hibernation most of the crew headed for the lockers across the room from the pods. Everyone but Jamie. Jamie is the geologist. He’s one of the few crew who does not know the true mission of the trip. If the government was going to make it look like we were a surveying team they needed a geologist. So he signed the papers, and probably missed the fine print that included a gag order.
Instead of heading to his locker, Jamie dropped his duffel on the floor and pulled out a white grease pen from one of the pockets of his jumpsuit. Then he began scrawling shapes and drawings all over his pod. There appeared to be a method to it, but it was not in any known language. I doubt he was aware that the rest of the crew had stopped what we were doing to stare at his scribbles.
Something bugged me about some of the shapes, I knew I had seen them before. Perhaps he was religious. But no, I don’t recognize any of the shapes with any religion I’ve heard of. Finally it clicked. I’d seen those shapes in some documents about abductions and alien artifacts.
Just as I was putting two and two together. Alan, the ship’s pilot walked in from the hallway. His arrival broke the spell over the rest of the crew and several voices all chimed in at once asking what Jamie was doing.
“Oh, it’s for protection.” Jamie replied. There was a long pause as everyone tried to figure out how to ask the question everyone was thinking. Jamie seemed to figure out the elephant in the room and added, “You know, so that while we’re in hibernation I’m not vulnerable to mind control… From the aliens…”
Oh good, the government hired a crack pot for the trip. Sure I believed aliens were a possibility. But mind control aliens? Now that was just crazy.
“I’ve done this on every single mission I’ve been on and it has worked every single time. My first trip most of the crew couldn’t stand the taste of coffee after hibernation.” Jamie explained.
He then went on to explain that what was others claimed was an accident was actually a sign that his gliphs had protected him. While others on the trip had minor accidents, he never even stubbed a toe. The pilot had it worst, while trying to stabilize the ship after a solar storm the med kit over the cockpit came loose and broke three of his fingers. Jamie claimed someone had loosened the med kit, controlled by aliens who wanted the trip to fail and not return to Mars.
Of course, hibernation has been known to have temporary effects on smell and taste. It’s one of the few side effects that the drugs have and usually it goes away in a matter of days depending on how much time you were out. And everything else Jamie was describing sounded like coincident. Nothing happened twice and everything had a simple and normal explanation.
But I can’t rule out the possibility that if aliens exist they could communicate telepathically. There have been studies that suggest some forms of insects have something along the lines of telepathy. And now that I know how to look at the glyphs, I did recognize most of them from my own research.
I was beginning to get so lost in my own thoughts that I almost missed when Jamie offered “I can put the wards on your own pods, if you’d like.”
“Sure,” I was saying before I really knew it. I got a few looks from some of the rest of the crew. “It couldn’t hurt.”
So, there are five identical pods. Just a few scuffs to differentiate them. And two with white glyphs drawn like crop circles from head to toe. One of those crop circle pods is mine. I’ll be spending the next four months sleeping in a crop circle pod. On my way to Io. To retrieve a ship that disappeared eight years ago before reappearing apparently empty. I think I’m going to need my anxiety meds after all.