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The Planet of Ghosts
For Margaret, every morning had been the same. That’s why waking up to her whole room shaking was terrifying. She had practiced what to do in these situations, but this time was different. She dove under the table and closed her eyes. Only seconds later, the shaking stopped and she heard the Captain's voice from the speaker in the corner fill her room.
“Sorry for the disruption. It was only some small meteors, and it is now under control.” Margaret stopped her panic and opened the door to her parent's room, stepping over the books and broken glass on the floor. Her parents were already cleaning their room.
“Are you okay?” she asks her parents.
“We’re fine. I just a bruise from a book falling on my arm,” her mom replied.
“I’m going to head to the infirmary and see if anyone needs help,” her dad said. Margaret's dad, John, was the head nurse on the ship and was always in the infirmary. Her mom, Amanda, was an engineer and worked on the other side of the ship.
“They probably need me in the engine room,” her mom said. Margaret was happy to even see her parents before they left in the morning, but knew that they would be working late tonight. Normally, Margaret would go straight to breakfast to meet up with Elizabeth, but since it was 5 am, she didn’t know what to do. She waited for her parents to leave and went back to her bed trying to get back to sleep. After she laid there for a few minutes she decided to go for a walk. Knowing that Elizabeth was probably already asleep she didn't bother calling her room. Margaret pushed aside the pile of books and clothes on her floor and made a path from her bed to the door. The hallway was abnormally quiet and empty. She has only ever been out this early one time before when she was little.
The dining room was the biggest room on the ship. The floors and walls were white with gray metal tables and doorways, a lot like the bedrooms, and had about 30 white pillars throughout the room where you can order and receive your “food”. For every meal, you would get a nutrient filled pile of mush. Although she has become accustomed to the bland meals, she always finds herself thinking about eating real food. Margaret was born on earth but has few memories since she was only 5 when they were chosen. She can remember the letter coming in the mail saying that they could “start a new, better life”. Her parents called family and friends telling them the good news and saying how much they will miss them. Margaret didn’t know then, but that was the worst thing that could have happened to them. Life on “The New Hope” was nothing like anyone expected. She had made only one friend, never gets to see her parents, and don’t get her started with the school system. Once she had been in almost every section of the ship, her life became boring and dull. Every day was the same. The only way she could get through the years on the ship was knowing she would eventually be able to step out the door onto a new world waiting to be explored.
Margaret waits, watching from a table in the corner of the room, and dozes off. She’s shaken awake by a familiar face.
“Elizabeth? Why are you up so early?”
“It’s 8:30, Em. Did you sleep out here?”
Did I sleep out here? Margaret slowly starts remembering what happened that morning.
“I came out here after the meteor thing.”
“What meteor thing.” Wow, she really can sleep through everything. “Oh! That’s why all my stuff was on the floor. Anyways, I was waiting outside our closet for like 20 minutes and thought you died.”
“I don't know if I should be more worried that you slept through all of that, or that you decide to get breakfast after you realize I’m dead.” A smile appears on both their faces. Margaret and Elizabeth have been best friends since day one on the ship. Five-year-old Margaret was very careless and got lost on the first day. She wandered into the first door she could open and found six-year-old Elizabeth eating chocolate on the floor. That was the last time either of them had chocolate, but the first day of their friendship. For the next 10 years, they met in that closet every morning. Margaret sometimes looks back and wonders how they never got caught.
“I can’t believe this is our last day and I haven’t even started packing,” Margaret said. “All I can think about is what Hecate will be like.”
“All I can think about is getting off this ship.”
The rest of the day consisted of Margaret and Elizabeth sitting in there closet laughing about the past ten years, and packing.
Margaret woke up the next morning with a weird feeling in her stomach. She guessed Elizabeth felt the same. She could already hear her parents talking in the other room.
“John, we don’t know what's out there. Did you hear what they said? They received messages in a different language!”
“We can’t turn back now. The only thing we can do is hope that whatever is on Hecate knows that we don't want to harm them.”
“You’re right, do you think the captain knows we overheard them.”
“No, I don't think so, and we should keep it that way. And until we know for sure what's out there we shouldn't tell anyone, especially not Margaret.”
Margaret almost passed out. Why would my parents keep something like this from me? Every piece of hope she had for Hecate turned into fear. She thought if she should tell her parents that she heard everything, but decided that they would just deny it. Everything started spinning. She started stumbling to the door and reached for the button. Her door slid open and revealed dozens of people walking with their luggage. I need to find Elizabeth. Margaret ran to their closet, hoping that she might be there. She started pushing through the crowds, running as fast as she could. She finally broke away from the crowds and reached the closet. Elizabeth wasn't there. She fell, hitting the door, and started crying. Margaret looked up and saw people were staring. She quickly stood up hoping not to attract more attention.
“Em? What's wrong with you?”
“Thank God you’re here Elizabeth. I need to talk to you.”
“Why? Oh my God Em, you’re bleeding.” Margaret looks down and sees her arm covered in blood. I must have cut it when I fell
“Don’t worry about it. I just need to talk to you alone.”
“Whats going on Em you’re scaring me.”
Margaret looks down the hall to make sure no one is looking and pulls Elizabeth into the closet.
“I don't really know how to say this--”
“Em whatever happened, you know you can trust me.” Margaret takes a deep breath.
“There are aliens on Hecate. I don’t know what they are or how many there are but I know they're there.”
“How do you know this. Wouldn't someone tell us if there were?”
“I heard my parents talking about overhearing a message the captain got from Hecate. They don’t know what it said, but they know it wasn't in any language from earth.”
“Oh my God.” Elizabeth can barely say anything.
“Okay… um, what should we do?”
“I don’t know.” They sit there until Margaret breaks the silence.
“I think the best thing we can do is pretend like we don't know anything. If it's true that there is other life on that planet then there's a reason they're not telling us about it.”
Margaret looks at her watch.
“We have 20 minutes to get to the front commons and we can meet each other there.”
Elizabeth cracks the door and looks to see if anyone is watching. Once the coast is clear Margaret and Elizabeth walk back to their rooms, still processing everything they learned.
Margaret walks into her room and is met with her parent's panicked faces.
“Where have you been? We called Elizabeth's room but no one answered.” She can hear the panic in her mom's voice.
“Oh, sorry. I wanted to meet with her on the ship one last time before we leave.”
“You can’t just run off like that,” her dad said. “What happened to your arm?!”
“Oh nothing, I’m fine.So, can I start heading to the commons?”
“Oh, um, sure. You don’t want to walk down with us?”
“I don’t want to rush you or anything.” Margaret runs into the bathroom, washes off her arm, grabs her bags, and starts heading towards the door.
“I'll see you there,” she yells half way down the hall.
Margaret is overwhelmed with people when she gets to the common. She starts worrying that she won't be able to find Elizabeth.
“Em! Over here!” Margaret spins around.
“Elizabeth! I was thinking about wh--” She's interrupted by the captain on the speakers.
“As you know we are about to arrive at Hecate.” There are a few cheers from the crowd
“When we get there so some of the crew is going to go and check the area. Once we know we landed safely we will start heading out. It’s very important that everyone stays together.”
All of the sudden the ship starts shaking.
“It’s ok, we are just going through the atmosphere.” The shaking continues for a few minutes and ends with a harsh thud. The speakers go off again.
“We have officially landed on Hecate!” Everyone starts cheering. Margaret looks around and spots her parents. They look as worried as Margaret does.
“Elizabeth, when we get there I think we should run.”
“What? No! That's the last thing we should do. If we run they will know we know, and we might get caught.”
“Ok you're right. But we have to stay together.”
Some of the crew pushes through the crowd and starts unwinding the lever on the air tight doors.
“Okay everyone, please stand back.” Everyone slowly starts moving away from the door. The door opens. Five crew members slip through and close the door before anyone could see anything. About five minutes pass and the gateway slowly starts opening. This is it. This is the day I've been waiting for. Margaret stands on her toes, trying to get a glance of what this new world looks like. She feels a cool breeze but still can’t see anything. People start loading off the ship until finally, Margaret can see out the door. They are in the middle of a dense forest with tall dark green trees. The sky is a light shade of pink with three huge moons. It is the most beautiful thing Margaret has ever seen. For a second, she forgets everything that happened in the past hour. Her amazement is quickly replaced with fear. She is a few feet away from her first steps on Hecate.
“This is amazing,” Elizabeth says. Margaret takes a deep breath and steps onto the grass. For some reason, she expected something awful to happen as soon as she got there. For a second she thought that there were no aliens.
Once everyone was off the ship and on the captain and the rest of the crew came off. No one ever really saw the captain while they were on the ship so Margaret had forgotten what he looked like. The captain walked around the crowd and climbed on a large rock. Margaret expected him to start a speech about the new world and how we are going to live here, but instead, he turns around towards the trees. Suddenly, creatures started jumping out of the trees and running towards them. Everyone was so shocked they barely had time to react. Elizabeth looks at Margaret.
“RUN!” Elizabeth grabs her hand and starts sprinting out of the crowd. They run to the side of the ship and hid behind one of the wings. They turn around to make sure no one saw them. Margaret can barely breath when she sees what had come out of the trees. There are about 50 tall blue creatures standing around the crowd of people. The creatures look very similar to humans except that they're blue and eight feet tall. Their skin looks smooth with white lines in it and they're knees bend in the other direction. Margaret finally can make out their faces. Their sunken eyes are jet black and their mouths spread from ear to ear.
“Em, look at the captain,” Elizabeth whispers. Margaret breaks her gaze on the terrifying creatures and focuses on the captain. He is standing on the rock with one of the creatures that's bigger than the rest of them. But the captain looks different, and so does the rest of the crew. They have all gotten slightly taller, and their faces are changing. Then Margaret realizes what's going on.
“Elizabeth, they're one of them, all of them are.” The captain and crew are slowly turning into the blue creatures. She can't believe that she has been living with them for ten years and had no idea.
“We need to leave now,” Elizabeth says.
“Where are we supposed to go? And what about our parents?”
“We can’t go back in there. I’m sorry, but we have to leave them.” Margaret takes one last look at her parents and runs into the dense forest.
Margaret doesn't know how long they were running until they stopped at a river. They are both out of breath.
“Do you think we're far enough?” Margaret asks.
“I don’t know but we should keep walking.”
“Elizabeth, what are we going to do. We are on a new planet with creatures we've never seen before and we don't know what else is out there.” Right after Margaret said that a giant spider jumps in front of them. Elizabeth and Margaret scream and run as fast as they can away from it. Margaret can hear the spiders long legs behind them.
“Elizabeth in here!” They both dive into a hole at the base of a tree. The spider dives for the girls but is too big to reach them. Margaret closes her eyes and drowns out the screeching of the spider. Finally, it gives up and walks back in the direction it came from.
“Em, it's gone now.” Margaret opens her eyes.
“What the hell was that?”
“I have no idea but we need to get out of her before another one comes.” Elizabeth was right. The spider was loud enough to attract more unwanted company. They climb out of the hole and start moving deeper into the forest. Soon the sky started to turn dark purple, which Margaret assumed met it was night.
“We need to sleep somewhere,” Margaret said.
“Okay. We could try to find another one of those holes.”
“What about right here?” Margaret points to a small cave made of rocks and dirt. It didn't look like anything lived there so the girls slowly walked into it.
“This is perfect,” Elizabeth says a little too loud.
“Shhh, we can't let anyone or anything know we’re here.”
Both of them are exhausted and fall asleep almost immediately when they lie down even though the ground is hard and bumpy. Luckily the planet wasn't freezing cold.
Margaret wakes up in the middle of the night thinking that this was all a nightmare but is disappointed when she sees the three moon isn't the purple sky. After Margaret manages to finally drift off to sleep, they are both awaken by ropes wrapping around them. The creatures found them and they couldn't do anything about it.
“NO! STOP PLEASE!” Margaret's crys didn't stop them. They both struggled but couldn't get out of the net. The creatures picked them up with ease and flung them over its shoulder.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH US?” Elizabeth cried, but the creature did not respond. Eventually, the girls gave up trying to escape and stopped struggling. After an hour, they arrived at a tall gate made of wood. The creature yelled something in a different language and the gate slowly opened. When they walked through the gates there were thousands of more creatures. The creatures were living in houses and buying things from stores like humans but they definitely weren't human. It was hard for Margaret to see through the ropes but ass they got closer to where ever they were going the houses and stores got nicer. Some of them were made out of stones and some made from metal. The creature that was carrying them suddenly stopped. Margaret tried but couldn't see where they were.
“Can you see what's going on?” Margaret whispered.
“No.” You could hear the fear in Elizabeth's voice “But I think it’s where they took everyone else.”
The creature said more things in its language and the door opened. They walked inside and it became cold and dark. The walls are made of metal and the ground is made of dirt. After walking down the hallway for a while they are dropped in front of a group of the creatures. Margaret hits her head on the floor hard enough to temporarily lose her vision. Once she can see again, Margaret stands up and almost screams when she sees a dozen of the creature standing over her. One of them steps forward.
“Did you really think that you could escape? I am impressed that you managed to last that long.” Margaret recognized that voice.
“Yes. I’m surprised you could tell.”
“What are you doing with us? Why did you bring us here?”
“Our planet was dying and we thought that we could move to a new one. About 100 years ago we sent a group of our men to see if they could find a new planet, and they found Earth. After they found out that that planet was already inhabited and is in a far worse state than ours, we came up with a new plan. We are slowly taking more and more humans to our planet until there is enough room on earth for our kind to take over. Once we kill your whole race, we are going to leave it for as long as it takes to replenish. Once that is done we will repopulate Earth.”
“How are you willing to kill millions of people just to save yourself?”
“Most of you killed each other. All I had to do was start World War 3” Before Margaret could say anything else one of the creatures tied their hands and started leading them down another hallway.
“WAIT!” Margaret yelled. “WHERE DID YOU TAKE MY PARENTS?” No one responded. Neither of them could do anything. They couldn't escape and even if they did there was nowhere to go. The hall they were walking down was much longer that the first one. As they kept walking it slowly got colder and colder. They finally arrived at a door. The creature opened the door and reveals a room that looked a lot like a hospital. There were about 20 beds and tables covered it tools neither of them had ever seen before. There were other creatures already in the room. One of them came up to Margaret and took her.
“Why are you doing this to us?” Their screams were ignored.
Margaret was taken to one of the beds and strapped down. The creature looked her up and down before grabbing something from under the table. It looked like a bowl with a tube connecting to the back. Margaret realized it was a gas mask. The creature started bringing it towards her face. She stayed to move away but it was no use. The creature put it on top of her face and waited for her to go unconscious. Margaret held her breath for as long as she could. She was thinking about her parents and wondered if they did the same thing to them. She thought that if they never got that letter ten years ago she would still have a normal life. Margaret's thoughts slowly became fuzzy. She couldn't hold her breath any longer. Slowly, Margaret exhaled, and then took her last breath.