DATE: OCTOBER 12, 2038
THIRTY MINUTES AFTER EMERGENCY MEETING
Charli sat on the sill of the Café windows, constantly reliving the argument between her and Lance. The fact that Lance threw so many accusations at her kept coming back. Maybe he’s the impostor… it makes sense how he kept on framing me, even though I didn’t do anything… She looked back at the center table. The crew isn’t all together yet, so I’ll just have to tell them this next time we meet. She shifted her eyes towards her tablet, seeing that there was a task waiting for her in Navigation. With a heavy sigh, Charli passed by the blue tables and walked into Weapons. Her boots went clip clop clip clop as it hit the metal floor. In front of her was Lance, who was destroying the asteroids hurtling towards the ship. Looking through the glass, the green blasts from the cannons were fired milliseconds after he pressed the red buttons on the controls. Visual task. She thought. It meant Lance was innocent, exactly like her. I guess I’ll stick with him for now. Charli confronted Lance after he finished.
“Lance!” She threw her body in front of him, in which he immediately scowled and turned the other way. Gathering every ounce of courage she had in her body, she bit her lip and spoke.
“Wait! I-i was wrong!” Charli stared down at her shoes. He stopped walking but didn’t face her. “I was wrong for doing all those things during the meeting. And I guess you had every reason to think that I was the impostor. I’m sorry. I know I haven’t been the best crewmate. I’ll admit I was being a louse, but you’ve got to apologize too!”
His feet made a sharp 180. His face could easily be read as furious. “What do you mean ‘apologize’? What did I even do wrong?” Lance began marching towards her, with the sound of his steps becoming louder as he came closer. “Tell me, what did I even do wrong to make myself say sorry to you? I don’t even think I should owe you anything, let alone apologize to you, the impostor, for killing Tom!”
“Gee, I don’t know, ACCUSING ME EVERY TIME I WAS TRYING TO EXPLAIN MYSELF?” she screamed. Tears started streaming down her cheeks. A few began to fall on the glass of her helmet. “WHAT IF YOU ACTUALLY GOT THE CREW TO TURN AGAINST ME? WHAT IF THE CREW HAD VOTED ME OFF? WHERE WOULD I BE RIGHT NOW?”
“IN SPACE, YOU IDIOT! DEAD! AND SURPRISE, SURPRISE YOU GUYS WILL FIGURE OUT I WASN’T EVEN THE IMPOSTOR! MY PARENTS ARE WAITING, WAITING FOR ME TO COME HOME!” Charli’s eyes were bloodshot red. She tried to control herself, taking deep breaths. But even the toughest people have to cry it all out sometimes. Charli grew quiet. “How am I even supposed to tell them I’m fine, that I love them when I’m not even there to say it?”
Lance said nothing. Instead, he walked over and threw his arms around her.
“Charli, I didn’t know you felt that way,” he said with sincerity. Then he pulled away, putting his hands on her shoulders. “Look, I’m sorry for the way I treated you, and I’m sorry for thinking you were the impostor. It’s just that rivalry between you and Henry really made me hate you since he’s my friend. I’m really sorry.”
“It’s alright.” She sniffed. “Well, since I’m not the impostor, and I know you’re not the impostor, want to stick together?”
The two remained silent for a couple of minutes. Lance followed Charli as she went to Nav to chart the course to Polus. They hadn’t seen anyone or anything yet, and that bothered Charli a lot. It’s nothing to worry about. She assured herself. If Lance is with me, nothing will go wrong. Still, she couldn’t trust Lance for some reason, whether it was him somewhat putting his trust in her for no reason, or when he kept on accusing her at the last meeting. Sigh, I’m sure it’s noth-
BEEP! BEEP! OXYGEN DEPLETING IN 26… 25… 24...
Red lights appeared, both on their tablets and the alarm. Lance and Charli looked at each other in fear. Her heart raced profusely, because this time, she knew it was mandatory for them to fix it, or else the entire crew would perish.
Lance looked back and forth at her and the tablet. “Charli,” he began, “we got to split up. I’ll go to O₂.” He pointed in the direction to O₂, and then to Admin. “And you go to Admin. Do you remember today’s code?” She nodded in agreement. “Good. Once it’s fixed, meet back here, okay? Stay safe.”
Lance ran down the hallway towards O₂, leaving Charli all alone.
18… 17.... 16… The countdown continued as she rushed to Admin, passing by Shields and Storage. She finally reached the keypad. With only seconds to spare, Charli inputted the code 42323. The alarm turned off. The red lights stopped flashing in her eyes. A rush of relief fell over Charli. I’m glad that’s over. As she was exiting Admin, the doors from Storage and Cafe closed, blocking any way of escape. No, this wasn’t any occurrence that happened right after the oxygen depletion. It was from the impostor. But there was just sabotage. How is that possible? Charli wondered. Suddenly, she heard footsteps, but no one was around or in the room with her. It started getting louder and louder until it stopped abruptly. The frightened crewmate moved her eyes toward the sound coming from the vents. That same vent, the one she had set her eyes on, cracked open. Underneath, there were purple-colored hands that were pulling its connected counterpart up. Although she couldn’t make it out clearly in the dark, Charli knew exactly who it was.
“D-darla?” Charli started moving backward from her position. The so-called “crewmate” tilted her head to her.
“Sorry, Charli, but it’s your turn now. ” Darla spoke slyly. “That stupid Tom. He never should’ve called me names. You should’ve heard his plea for help, it was hilarious! But, I guess it’s too late for him. And now, it’s too late for you.” Darla started walking towards the crewmate, holding something shiny and gleamy in her hand.
“Darla…” She continued walking away from the impostor until she bumped into the wall in the hallway. “Please, don’t do this.”
Darla cackled hysterically. “Why? So you can go back to your little mommy and daddy on your planet? So you can start making out with that dumb Lance? I heard you and your little tantrum from the vents. It’s not going to save you. No one will.”
Then the doors burst open. Charli looked to her left and saw the red emergency button, then back at the impostor. Quickly, she made a run for it, but Darla was too fast, throwing the knife at her leg. She screamed and fell down in pain.
“God...” Charli examined her leg, noticing a knife in the middle of her right leg. It was excruciatingly painful. The blood started surrounding her, reminding her of Tom’s death. She shook her head. No, I can’t give up now. Gotta fight through the pain. Her hands started groping the ground and pulling the weight of her entire body to the tables in Cafe.
“Charli!” She turned her head around, seeing Lance running from Weapons towards her. “I told you to stay safe! Why didn’t you even listen?” Lance dropped down to his knees and began the medical procedure, something that the instructors taught them during training. He started applying pressure on her puncture wound with the towel inside the medical kit.
“Lance…” Charli spoke softly. “I know who the impostor is.” Her fellow crewmate stopped what he was doing and looked at her.
“Wait, you saw who did this to you?”
“Yeah, and she almost killed me in Admin. Even though I’m not even sure it’s a girl anymore.”
Lance shook her by her arms. “WHO! I SWEAR I’LL KILL THEM WITH MY OWN HANDS!”
“Lance, it’s-” She stopped short. Something had come through her suit, all the way to her skin. She saw the tip of a knife, stabbing through her stomach. At first, it felt like getting a shot at the local pharmacy, but then the pain increased by a thousand. Her tears from before came back with reinforcements, dripping down faster than ever. Her vision began to blur, and she couldn’t hear what Lance was trying to tell her. Charli saw a long bridge in her mind, with a bright light at the end. Her parents were waving at her, motioning her to come over. From behind, it was darker. She saw her friends, but behind all her friends were holding knives. I don’t want to go back. Maybe there’s something better on the other side. Then Charli crossed the bridge, without taking one look back.