The Other World

Written by Andrew Scobie

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Image: Small Dot Bubble Line by Jean Wolff

 

From the ‘News of the Day’ October 17, 2041:

     It is exciting times as the TRAPPIST-1 mission finally gets underway next week with the manned spacecraft to be launched at midday Wednesday, Texas time. The craft will carry seven astronauts, who will be placed in a state of suspended animation during their thirteen-year journey.

     “We expect in thirteen years’ time they will have landed on an Earth-like planet,” a Planet Search spokesman said today. “All of the astronauts are well. They are looking forward to completing the most challenging undertaking humankind has ever attempted.”

 

     In one of my early interviews I made a joke that I was going to ‘sleep, perchance to dream’. I told the social media audience that next time they wake up on a cold winter morning and don’t want to get out of that warm bed they should think of me. I said, “I won’t be getting out of bed for thirteen years.” It brought the house down. Planet Search encouraged us to give interviews. As far as they were concerned, the more publicity and media, the better. Somewhere within those thirteen years, people on Earth were going to lose interest in our mission. It was a natural human thing to happen. We needed to keep it in the public eye as much as possible.

– K.T. Brown, junior officer, space program

 

‘News of the Day’ October 19, 2041:

     It has been officially confirmed by Planet Search that the TRAPPIST-1 astronauts will unlikely be returning to Earth after the completion of their mission.

     “Who knows what will be possible in the future,” a spokeswoman said, “but for now we believe our space travellers will make a new home on the Earth-like planet they land upon.”

 

     I’ve said goodbye to my family and friends, many times over. I’ll miss them, of course, but I signed up for this mission to achieve something in my life. I find myself already dreaming of what I will find on the new planet. Will it be like Earth? I’m not sure, but I can’t wait to find out.

– K.T. Brown, junior officer, space program

 

‘News of the Day’ October 23, 2041:

     Blast off! Our astronauts have commenced their journey to the new world. The liftoff went perfectly and Planet Search has reported that the mission couldn’t have got off to a better start. Our thoughts are with them for their travel through space and we hope for a safe arrival at their new home. This is truly an exciting time for humankind.

 

***

 

     I feel like I am walking through a long tunnel. All around me is endless nothing, but something must be here. I must be sleeping, but in my sight the images of people I have known in my short life tell me I am alive. There is a contentment within me, and I know I am safe. The same dreams repeat and repeat. Here I am in the tunnel, with the flickering faces around me. My body feels numb. I cannot move. I cannot laugh; I cannot cry. I know I am on a greater journey.

 

***

 

‘News of the Day’ September 30, 2054:

     Planet Search reported today that after thirteen long years, the spacecraft known as TRAPPIST-1 has reached its destination, and in the coming days the crew will be ready to descend upon the Earth-like planet. The astronauts will then be automatically awoken from their state of suspended animation to commence the next phase of their mission.

 

     We were awoken from our long sleep by the ship’s computer, and after a short period of recovery, prepared to investigate the planet. According to the computer, it has an atmosphere – and inhabitants! The population of this other world know we are here because they have sent us communication in various different languages, each welcoming us to their planet. It is extremely exciting for us all. One of the messages we received from them was in English! Encountering these peoples is mind-blowing and probably the greatest discovery of all time.

     We have descended to the planet’s surface in our specially-purposed pod, where we were welcomed by the leaders of this planet’s population. They are friendly and intelligent and, most exciting of all, these beings are of human form. From what we have seen so far, this planet is very much like Earth in all respects. Many of the institutions and much of the environment and society of this planet is a mirror image of ours. It is truly amazing that we have come here from such a distance in space to find such wonders. It is as if we have arrived back home!

     This may seem like a strange observation to relate, but this planet and its population, in some ways, seem a little too perfect. At this moment I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems slightly unreal. We were not expecting a carbon copy of Earth, which this world seems to be. Perhaps this is a parallel universe? Is such an entity possible? We will try to keep an open mind and explore further.

– K.T. Brown, junior officer, space program

 

‘News of the Day’ October 6, 2054:

     Breaking news: rumours abound that something has gone wrong with the TRAPPIST-1 space mission. We are eagerly awaiting confirmation from Planet Search.

 

     Something appears to be extremely strange with this world. I have encountered inhabitants of this planet who are exactly the same in appearance and manner as people I knew back on Earth. Again, the possibility of a parallel world raises its head, but that also seems unlikely. Today, I met a man who looked and sounded just like my brother back on Earth, and it wasn’t just meeting this man that caused me consternation. I have met literarily dozens of men and women who appear to be exact replicas of people I knew back home. There seems to be something very wrong. Actions seem to happen by more than mere chance. Also, the events I am experiencing blend strangely into one another, time races by quickly and I find it hard to concentrate on just what is happening from one moment to another. Maybe I am space-lagged, I don’t know. I walk slowly, or run fast, but it doesn’t appear that I am moving at all. People say things to me and then, almost instantly they merge into other people telling me something else. I question my sanity. I don’t know what is happening to me. I feel restless and not in control. I try and seek opinions from my fellow astronauts, but conversing with them in any meaningful way proves difficult. I am not even sure my fellow travellers from the spacecraft are physically with me, and it may be that I am recording this journal in my mind to recount at a later time.

     Overwhelming feelings of despondency dominate my psyche. I try to relax my mind and take in these new experiences as well as I can, but the actions occurring around me are distorted and troubling. Everything seems so surreal and I am at a loss as to why. It seems that events happen according to my current mood. At times, I appear to control the action, but not always. Sometimes I wonder whether this journal I am keeping is a true record of the events happening, or has reality completely escaped me.

 

***

 

Planet Search statement, October 15, 2054:

     It is with deep regret that we announce the TRAPPIST-1 space mission has failed. There was a grave failure in the ship’s internal systems and it has been confirmed that none of the seven astronauts on board were able to be awoken from their state of suspended animation.

     Due to other instrument failure, it has not been determined whether the world the spaceship has reached is suitable for supporting human life.

     Our astronauts will continue to sleep for the remainder of their natural lives. We pray their dreams be peaceful ones.

 

featured in our spring 2018 issue

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