Dementia

By , Alpharetta, GA
The world was white. Everything: the walls, the floor, the doors, my clothes, even the translucent window they watched me through was milk like in color. Sometimes I wondered whether Dementia really had made me like this. Maybe it was all of this white, all of this emptiness that made me crazy.
Maybe I was crazy even before the launch. It was crazy to go right? But if it was crazy to go, then why did they ask me? Maybe they’re the crazy ones. Yeah. Maybe they’re all crazy, and I’m the only sane one here! It was so ironic; the only person that’s locked up is the only one who doesn’t need to be!
I smiled at the irony. I felt the line widen across my face, stretching the skin until it hurt to let it grow anymore. As my smile extended, I could feel something growing inside me, slowly rising from my chest and finally erupting from my opened mouth. The laughter was powerful. It shook my body like a leaf in a cold autumn’s wind. I couldn’t seem to control it or maybe I just didn’t want to. Then I remembered that laughter was crazy. No one laughs. At least, not since we left for Dementia.
Dementia. Dementia. The word rolled across my tongue. It felt odd. Dementia. I smiled again, this time at the way the word felt. I giggled. It was a small awkward burst of sound, and it caused me to explode into laughter again. This time they heard me, and I saw their shadows slowly fill the square of milky white. Out of defiance I laughed louder, stronger.
I heard the lock on the door click, and they entered clothed in their scrubs that were the color of emptiness and masks that covered their mouths and noses. They didn’t speak, and they moved quickly, the first binding my arms, the second my legs, and the last slowly moving towards me with a cloth the size of his hand.
I laughed at them. I laughed, but the fear had already gripped me somewhere inside. Once I was bound, the one with the cloth held my head still and placed the cloth over my mouth and nose. “No,” I coughed out between strained giggles. I struggled against his strength. “No,” the sickly sweet aroma clouded my mind, “it’s impossible.” I chuckled silently. “It’s impossible,” my vision blurred and my mind searched for something to hold onto, “not to be insane.”
*
We were consistently the top three best students in our entire launch and space travel classes, each of us aced our AMSM (American Military Space Missions) entrance exams, and received top scores on every physical and mental ability checks the scientists put us through. We were the best of friends. When the Americans decided it was time to explore the new-found planet called Dementia, King, Michael, and I were the obvious choices for the mission team.
I remember the day that we were assigned the mission well. We were leaving the locker rooms after a day of intensive studies and work outs, when the Commissions General came to tell us the news.
“Do you have any deodorant, King?”
“Yeah, but I left it in the locker room. Why’d you wait to ask until we were leaving?”
Michael lifted his arms and tried to smell his pits, “I guess I don’t smell so bad. I can probably wait and shower once I get home.”


“Are you kidding?” I tried my hardest to sound sincere with my nose pinched closed, “you always smell like a dog, Michael. There’s no way we can wait. We need to go back now and get you some of King’s deodorant.”
“Nah-ah!” Michael said, sounding defensive but slightly doubtful, “I don’t smell that bad.”
“Keep telling yourself that,” King bent down to retie an undone shoe lace.
“Not you too, King!”
“Well James is right you know. You do smell pretty bad after practice,” King rose again to his very full height.
“Well both of you guys smell like their poo after practice, so there’s no need to be pointing my stench out when yours combined stinks like a sack of crap,” Michael had gotten huffy.
“You’re the one who pointed it out,” King rebutted calmly.
“Shut up!”
“Dude, relax. You don’t smell that bad. I was only messing with you. Geez,” I ended what could have sprouted into a very stupid fight. Even though Michael opened his mouth again, we were saved from another comeback when King suddenly turned, straightening his back, and laying his arms at his sides. Michael and I had just enough time to do the same before the Commissions General was standing in front of us, a pile of papers stacked in his arms.
“At ease!” He was balding middle aged man, slightly older than the rest of the commanders in the AMSM, but he demanded just as much respect and order. He certainly deserved it. He was the one of the leaders of many missions into space. He had designed many a scientific instrument that had helped America prosper both here on Earth and in the heavens above. He was one of the few surviving battle heroes of the vicious Canadian-American War, and he knew how to control an army.
“Commissions General Palmer?” King inquired.
“Thomas Kingsley, Michael Chapman, and James Forrester, right?” Palmer repositioned his glasses on his nose as if to get a better look at the three of us.
“Yes sir,” we replied in unison.
“Good. Alright then. I have a mission for you three. In the past year, American scientists have discovered a new planet in the Hyman Galaxy. This planet is shrouded in a barrier of exceptionally thick mists and rock, and even our most technologically advanced robotics are not capable of entering or viewing through this barrier. This is why we have decided to send a manned mission to the galaxy to determine what the planet is like. Of course, I was asked to provide the scientists with a crew for the mission, and seeing that the three of you are doing exceptionally well in all of your trainings, it was more than simple to find a crew. What do you boys think?”
I was stunned, speechless. Even King, whose craft with speech was elegant, was without words.
“So?” Palmer waited for some response.
“Of course we would love to accept this invitation. Thank you Commissions General,” King said.
“Yeah, thanks,” my response always a tad bit later than King’s.
“You boys earned it,” Palmer gave us a smile, “we will have a meeting to go over the basics of the mission tomorrow morning. 7:30 sharp.”
“Yes sir,” we again said in unison.
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow boys,” he turned to leave, “oh and you might want to hurry home to your showers soldiers. You sure are giving off quite an odor in this hallway.” I could almost feel Michael flush beside me.
“Yes sir,” we muttered embarrassed, and watched as the Commissions General walked down the corridor whistling the whole way.
*


Michael, King, and I left the AMSM building the sun sank beneath the horizon, but my excitement and anticipation for the following morning did just the opposite. It rose like the early sun, filling me like how its rays of gold flood a room.

“I wonder what Dementia is like? Won’t it be awesome to be the first people to see the surface of a planet?” I was ecstatic. Every since we’d entered the AMSM I had wanted to go on a mission. It was my dream.

“Yeah, but it’s not like we discovered the planet or anything. When the press publishes any information we find we’re not even likely to have our names mentioned,” King’s negativity couldn’t come close to crushing my high spirit.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not so sure I want to go on this mission,” Michael’s voice was small and he shivered while pulling a coat on his slightly more petite body, “What if there’s….something out there on that planet. Like, maybe, they have mist around their planet because they don’t want to be found.” I wasn’t sure whether he had been shivering from lack of warmth or because he was scaring himself silly.
“Who’re they, Michael? Do you think that little green monster aliens are going to pop out of the mist and get you? There’s nothing to be worried about! It’s going to be fun! Like all of those back yard adventures we had when we were kids!” I persuaded my less thrilled friend into believing that the mission would be as uncomplicated and fun as our childhood pastime. Images of Michael wearing a home-made orange jump suit, and me in my costume Galactic Space Ranger Zzub Raeythgil helmet filled my head. Memories of the three of us marching through the forest in my backyard or behind the elementary school were some of the happiest I had. King wielding a long slim stick in hand waved it around like a knife and pretended to lead us to the aliens on some undiscovered planet. Our adventures took the three of us to the moon and far beyond.
Back when we were kids and the neighbor’s furry, gray cat was as much an alien as the tiny green men that floated in flying saucers every Saturday night on the television screen, the world was so simple. Then the turn of the century came, and so did the Age of the Machine and all of the wars over the new technologies that followed. Then we joined the AMSM to “protect the chances of Americans on Earth and in space”.
We walked out to King’s solar powered car together. “I guess you’re right, James. It will probably be just as fun as when we were kids. Maybe even more,” Michael had a distant, happy look in his eyes as he climbed into the front passenger seat.

The car ride back to the main part of the city from the AMSM establishment was about an hour. The asphalt was thin and long, stretching way out over the horizon. Rows and rows of trees separated our work from the place we lived in. The world outside was as black and quiet as space. I tried to imagine that this would be what it would be like on the ship to Dementia: King sitting at the controls, Michael snoring away beside him, and me peering out into the deep, black vastness. I looked out at the long stretches of trees imaging stars with gases of the most brilliant colors swirling around them, planets with all types of atmospheres and surfaces, even comets whizzing by my window like birds with long tails of light.

But the images I saw slowly faded as the lights of the city grew closer. After King pulled off the highway onto one of the roads that led into our part of the main city, he spoke softly so as not to wake Michael, “He might be right, you know, James,” he let out a sigh, “It’s defiantly a possibility that there’s other intelligent life out there somewhere. And if we haven’t found them yet, then maybe they don’t want us to find them.”

“So you think the planet has a barrier because it’s hiding something, too?”

“It’s possible.”

“Do you think the scientists think so? What about Palmer?”

“Why else would they be so curious to see what’s out there on Dementia?”
*

7:30 as sharp as a knife. The room was round and had a large conference table at the center. Commissions General Palmer sat at the head and a board of five scientists sat to his left. King and Michael were already seated across the table from the scientists when I entered the conference room.
I didn’t notice him until I had already seated myself next to Michael and received a slightly irritated warning from Palmer about watching my time. I was cutting my arrivals a little close to call.
He was sitting next to King across from the last scientist, near the foot of the table. His dark hair fell over his face and his eyes seemed tired. He slouched a little and kind of reminded me of a drooping flower.
“Who’s that guy?” I whispered quietly to Michael.
“Don’t know.” Before I had a chance to make even one guess, the Commissions General stood and began his speech.
“I believe that the three of you boys know each other, but I’m not sure whether you are acquainted with Mr. Madison, here,” he made a gesture towards the drooping soldier.
“No, I don’t believe we are,” King acted as spokesperson for our group.
“Why’s he here?”
“Well, Mr. Forrester, under my judgment and the judgment of the board of scientists here, we believe that a fourth person should accompany the team that I have already selected to go on this mission to the planet of Dementia. Therefore, because Mr. Madison here is as mentally and physically equipped as you three, I believe that he should be worthy of going on this mission with you.”
“Well,” I thought back to my imaginations from last night of my two friends and I off exploring in space together. There had never been a fourth person in our group, and I didn’t intend for there to be one now, “I don’t think,”
“That it will be a problem at all, sir,” King cut my sentence off. I hoped that looks could cause pain because if they could King would sure be paying for cutting me off. But of course they couldn’t, and King continued talking without even a wince.
“Of course we would love to have another person join us on our mission to the Hyman Galaxy,” he turned to his side and offered a hand to Madison, “Hello. I’m Thomas Kingsley and these are my two friends Michael Chapman,” Michael waved, “and James Forrester.” He made a gesture in my direction though I made no attempt to say hello, “It’s good to have you on the team.”
“Thanks,” he seemed to brighten for a moment, but it was false because he again drooped as soon as the Commissions General began to speak about the plans of the mission.
“Alright boys, now for the details of your work: you will be leaving a week from today so enjoy your time on Earth while you can. While the technicians prepare the rocket for launch, the four of you will spend time together through training exercises. You will study with these five scientists here and learn as much as you can about what the trip to the Hyman Galaxy will be like and what to expect inside the galaxy. They will teach all that they have been able to discover about Dementia and how to use the instruments they have designed to measure characteristics of the planet. When the week is up, you will board the rocket and will be sent into space. The scientists can guide you to the planet, but once you have entered the barrier communication will be severely limited or possible gone at times. We are not totally sure, but to be safe we are alerting you now so that you will be prepared for times of little to no contact.
The journey to Dementia would normally take several years with previous technology, but because of these brilliant scientists here,” the white-coated men seemed to glow like light bulbs in a dimmed room, “we are now capable of sending you on your mission much, much faster than ever before, and you should reach the Hyman galaxy in a matter of months, at most a single year.”
Palmer stopped for breath allowing us to process the words we had received. A year. Only one single year! In all of my space travel studies it had never been heard of much less thought of. Long periods of time were just a fact of space travel, no way of getting around it, until now. I was excited; this would be a first in space travel, and I was willing to go for it.
Palmer began his rant again, “Once you reach the planet, you will have a month to study the planet unless otherwise informed. The first week after arrival will be used to study whether the planet is livable or not, then you should, if capable head down to the surface to study it. If not just let us know and begin your journey Earthward. Is that all?” The final question was directed towards the scientists who nodded in agreement.
“Okay then, boys. Good luck,”
“Thank you Commissions General.” We were dismissed and I followed King who followed Michael out of the door.
“Ugh, I’m so hungry,” I moaned.
“Maybe if you got up earlier like the rest of us then you could eat and not be hungry,” Michael said loftily.
“Maybe if you shut up I could get to the mess hall and eat now,” I grouched and started stomping in the direction of the smell of food, but someone grabbed my arm. It was King.
“Let’s wait and invite this Madison guy to come with us. I mean if we’re going to be a team then we need to get to know each other. When Madison exited the conference room, King was so quick to greet him that they ran into each other.
“Ouch!” Madison yelled.
“I’m so sorry, Madison,” King apologized.
“It’s….no problem,” Madison sounded calm and collected but his eyes shot daggers even sharper than mine towards King, and a feeling of fear clenched my gut, “and it’s Lucas, actually.” Lucas started to move away from towards the gym.
Remembering his question for Lucas, King sent one last message to our team mate, “Would you want to go eat with us in the mess hall this morning, Lucas?”
“I don’t eat that crap they call food, and I really don’t want to eat anything with you.” We watched him walk down to the entrance to the gym in silence.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m hungry, so I’m going to go eat,” I said after a minute or so trying to dust off the frost Lucas had left on the scene.
“Yeah, might as well,” Michael said shivering slightly, “before we have to go to the gym and work with that guy.”
*

We avoided Lucas as much as we possibly could over the next week, but as the launch day grew dangerous close there was no way not to be with him. I was suddenly wishing that the scientists’ invention for speed in space travel was much faster than a year, much faster than a month at that.

But launch day came and went, and we were up in the dark, vastness I had always imagined, traveling towards the Hyman Galaxy. Lucas wasn’t as horrible as we thought that he would be, that is as long as you left him alone. There were a few times, like when Michael and I were goofing off in the zero-gravity and accidently knocked into Lucas, when we thought he might try to kill us. So we organized plans that would keep us safe. We took shifts, staying awake at night and always traveled together around the ship. And, most importantly, we always made sure we had a communicator to the scientists on Earth in hand or in reach. Lucas had a reputation with the scientists that he planned to keep.
Despite our slight problem, passing the time on the ship was fine overall. Most of all I loved to look out the windows. I loved to watch the planets go by. I loved to see all of the stars and the comets. It was better than I could have ever imagined.
*
The scientists told us over the communicator that we couldn’t be more than a day away from Dementia. Our spirits rose. I was sick and tired of being cramped up in the rocket with all its small tunnels and low roofed rooms. I was ready to stretch my legs and explore the planet.

“Now remember, one week of rocket site observations,” said Dr. Noel, the head scientist on the team, his deep voice following gently through the communicator, “then you are free to go down using the Planet Pods to explore as much as you can of the planet until the month is up. Then you should head home, so we can review the information you have collected.”

“Okay Dr. Noel,” King radioed back to the group of scientists on Earth, “one week then we can go down. Head back to Earth in one month.”

“Oh and remember that you might lose contact with us once you are near or inside of the planet’s barrier, but do not worry. Just continue to collect information for as long as you can. And,” the doctor’s voice seemed to depress a little, “if you cannot find any information of use or if the planet is too dangerous for study then go ahead and return home as soon as this fact is discovered.”

“Don’t worry Doctor,” King wasn’t about to let the scientists feel like we weren’t up for the challenge, “we won’t give up very easily.”
*
Dementia was beautiful, even more so than the sun, or the moon, or any of the stars. Its barrier was crystal blue in color, and the mists flowing around the planet were like smoke around a fire. It was mysterious and alluring. I wanted to brush away all the mists and rocks, so that I could see what was underneath. It was a robin’s egg that I had to crack.
“Wow. It’s beautiful,” Michael’s voice penetrated the awed silence.
“Let’s get this week of observations started. I want to go down there as soon as possible,” I said.
“Agreed,” King responded by moving to the temperature recording station to begin seeing whether the planet was safe to move onto.
*
I sat pouring over only slightly usable readings. The barrier, much as the scientists had expected, was as hard for us to penetrate with probes as it had been for them back on Earth. I was frustrated and on edge because it was Saturday, the day before the new week, and we had next to nothing to prove that the planet was anywhere near livable.
My brain hurt as I looked over the list of chemicals and gasses found on the planet, looking for a combination of good ones. Then I saw it the H and the little two and the O. Maybe it was a flaw. I flipped through the next few pages. More water, even oxygen. Soon the pages were dotted with them, covered with them.
“Guys! There’s water and oxygen down there!”
“What!” Both King and Michael shouted in unison.
“Oxygen! Hydrogen! Water! It’s livable!” I smiled a large smile at my friends who smiled back at me. Even when I turned to see Lucas sitting at one of the radar screens, he seemed to have a fleck of happiness in his dark eyes.
*
It was decided that King and I would take the first Planet Pod to see what was on Dementia. I felt bad about leaving Michael behind with Lucas, but King’s reasoning was that he would probably pee his pants more if something scary was on the planet than if Lucas tried to scare him.
“As long as you stay out of his way you’ll be fine,” we told him as we climbed into the pod.
“Okay,” he hit the button that closed the pod off from the rest of the ship, “I’ll see you guys later.”
The pod started slow and drifted towards the barrier of blue. Then when it was surrounded by the mists, King and I started up the rockets that sent us hurtling through the barrier and finally landing on the rocky surface of the planet.
From what I could see out of the pod window we were situated on the side of a hill. The valley beneath us was just as rocky which made me worried that the whole planet would be a barren rock wasteland.
“Come on. I want to see what’s out there.” I started to open up the pod, but King stopped me. He handed me a space helmet.
“The readings said there was oxygen,” I complained.
“It’s a precaution.” I took it roughly from him and placed it firmly on my head like a kid who doesn’t want to wear a large winter jacket his mother bought for him.
Together we climbed out of the pod stretching and looking around.
“Wow. Is it all rock? That’s disappointing.” I turned my body three-hundred and sixty degrees only seeing dull gray points.
“What’s up there do you think?” King started to climb the hill towards the top. I followed.
The view was spectacular. The hill dropped off sharply to a large body of water. Waves crashed up against the hill and gushed over several pointy looking rocks. Far off across the water, specks of green dotted the horizon, and I felt almost like we were back on Earth.
“Hey! Are those plants? This means there must be oxygen!” I pulled off my helmet excited to have found another planet in this large universe that might support humans.
“Wait!” King yelled as I drew in a huge breath.
“See, what are you so scared about? It’s fine.” I smiled at him, then I coughed and everything was gone.
*
When I woke up, I was back on the rocket. Michael was sitting over me looking worried.
“He’s awake!” He said when he saw my eyes flutter open. King rushed over to get a look at me and, of course uninterested, Lucas stayed where he was.
“I told you to wear the helmet,” King said his tone worried, “You could have died.”
“I thought there was oxygen.”
“There was,” this time Lucas spoke, “but there was something else too.” I was startled at his input into the conversation.
“What?” I asked him incredulously.
“Well when I was looking at the readings you found, not only did I see oxygen, I saw something totally new. Something that is unknown to the human table of elements, something that humans have never come into contact with before. Looks like we’ll get to see what happens to a human when they do.”
“Hey! Why didn’t you tell us you saw something like that? Did you want me to get killed or something?!?”
“There’s no need to be angry with me,” He turned away from us back to one of the radar screens, “I didn’t make you take off the helmet.”
I was infuriated. I was sure that you could see the steam rising off of my skin and the fire that lit my eyes. I couldn’t believe he would let us go down to Dementia without such important information!
King must have seen how mad I was, “Calm down,” he handed me a glass of water, “We’re trying to see if we can filter out anything the gas could have lodged in your system. Anyways, it can’t be so bad. You’re obviously not dead…” Yet I thought.
“Anyways,” Michael interjected, “all four of are heading down today. Try to keep your suit on this time,” He said jokingly.
*
This time we landed on the other side of the body of water where we had seen the plants. The pod crashed through tree branch after tree branch finally reaching the ground that was slightly damp and much softer of a landing than the rocks we had slammed into a day ago.
Each of us climbed out of the pod, wearing our suits and helmets of course, and looked around at the different trees.
“There must be thousands of species of plants here! Look at all this!” Michael was wide eyed with awe. “It’s almost comparable to Earth!” He climbed over branches, which had fallen from the impact of our landing, to the nearest tree and began investigating.
“So should we split up? To cover more ground?” King looked at me and Lucas who was slightly less sullen today. Maybe the trip to the planet’s surface would be good for him.
“Sure,” he said, “I’ll stay with him,” he gestured to Michael who had moved onto a tree farther away from the crash site, “maybe I can catalog some of the things he finds.”
“Okay then. I guess James and I can go looking for the lake then. See what’s around it or in it.”
As we walked through the forest in the direction we believed to be towards the water, I started to feel drowsy. My head started to ache, and I was worried that the effects of the unknown gas were starting to show up. By the time we reached the lake I was out of breath. King wasn’t even close to my state of being though. He looked pretty happy and fit and healthy. He ran up to the water from the forest leaving me to struggle up to the beach over the sand dunes by myself.
I blamed how unfit I was on the unknown gas, but somewhere inside me something said that the reason King was so much more fit was because he was better at being an astronaut than me. No I told myself. It’s the gas. I watched as King swirled a stick around in something that looked like pond scum. He’s always been better than you though. The voice was right. When we were kids, King was always the leader of our games. In school, he was better at sports and academics. Always better, always more, that’s King.
What was I thinking? It wasn’t King’s fault that he was good at things. Anyways he was a good friend. A good friend? A good friend would have stopped you from taking off your helmet. I couldn’t stop thinking these awful things. My head ached every time I told the voice it was wrong or to go away.
He didn’t stop you because he wanted you to get sick. He wanted you to die. He wants to be the best without question. I was starting to believe what the voice was saying. My hand reached down and picked up a small rock off the sandy ground. My hands tossed it back and forth, back and forth. My arm pulled my hand back and flung the rock forward. The rock flew and hit King squarely in the arm.
“Ouch!” He cried spinning around, “What was that for?”
My mouth leaked a few laughs.
“You think throwing at rock at me is funny?” His fair brow contorted in pain, anger, and confusion.
I didn’t answer; my mouth didn’t want to.
“Whatever.” King turned thoroughly annoyed and bent over the water again.
My hand picked up another rock tossing it to the other and the other tossing it back.
My lips parted and moved, “You could have stopped me you know.”
“Stopped you?” My feet took a few steps towards King.
“But I understand. It’s almost natural for you,” my hands tossed the rock back and forth more, “to want to be the best, to be the one and only best without any doubt.”
“What are you talking about, James?” King was only a few feet away from me now.
“I’m just as good as you at everything!” My voice was angry, very angry. My arm had pulled back again and this time when the rock flew towards King it hit him in the middle of his back. The force of the blow was strong, and he almost toppled over.
This time instead of ignoring me, King struggled to his feet clutching his shoulder and faced me screaming, “What’s your problem?!?!”
My mouth laughed again.
“Are you trying to kill me?!?!”
“I think you’re twisting the facts Thomas, you’re the one who tried to kill me yesterday. I’m just trying to get back at you.”
“No! I told you to keep your helmet on yesterday.” He was making me and the voice mad. My hand picked up yet another rock, and my eyes could see the fear grow in his. I felt powerful.
Then my feet ran towards him, my body flung itself on top of him toppling us both into the water. I mashed the rock onto his helmet, once, twice, three times. It cracked; he screamed; we felt powerful. The rock smashed into his head, and his screaming stopped.
I stood up my clothing damp with water and blood. My head ached. I laughed. Then I sobbed. I couldn’t look at him, his body still and quiet. The feeling of power had subsided and was replaced by fear. Someone’s coming. I heard him crashing through the trees before I saw him. It was Lucas.
“What happened? Did something attack you?” He his eyes widened when he saw me covered in blood and King’s body in the shallow water. I could see the wheels turning in his mind. My head ached again.
My mouth moved again and I barely heard the words I was saying, “The scientists won’t believe you and neither will Palmer. Even Michael won’t believe anything you tell him. We’ve hated you from the start, and he’ll believe me when I say that you killed King, so don’t even try telling him it was me.”
“They’ll see your clothes though. You’re stained with blood, and look at me: still pure white.” The truth and the arrogance in his words made me angry.
“Then again, maybe you won’t get the chance to say anything to Michael.” My body went through the murderous motions again, rock on glass, crack, rock on skull. He was saying he was better than you because he was pure white. He’s not pure white anymore.
I went back over to King’s body, to drag it out of the water. On my way back up the sand dunes I grabbed Lucas’ body as well and began dragging the corpses back to the pod. Michael was waiting for us there, and when he saw me he stiffened. I think he died before I even attempted to kill him. Out of all the people he thought would ever hurt him, he never thought it would be me, and so he shut down. I sobbed as my hand covered itself over his mouth and nose, suffocating him. He had no fight in him. The voice reassured me though, no witnesses.
I entered the pod taking the bodies back with me to the rocket. My body shook with laughter and sobs each time I looked at them. My head ached. Soon the rocket headed back to Earth.
*
My first day in the white room, I laughed. Dr. Noel and Commissions General Palmer were both there. They watched me laughed and talked like I couldn’t hear them.
“What happened out there, Noel? What happened to him?”
“We’re not quite sure, but there was something in Madison’s journal about an unknown gas. We might do some tests to see whether the gas is in his body.”
“You think the gas made him like this?”
“It’s possible there might have been a specific disease in the gas that brings out the worst in a person. It seems to have made Forrester go far off the deep end.”
“I wonder what the gas could have brought out in Forrester to make him kill all of the others. He always seemed somewhat gentle.”
“There’s no way to know,” Noel sounded defeated.
“It’s such a shame. That team was the best we had.” A burst of my laughter filled the room. Dr. Noel opened the door and walked out shaking his head. Palmer followed him but walked backwards giving me one last glance before sealing me in.





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