Adam stared intently at the engine, trying to find out what was wrong with it. He glanced around the engine room. Machinery and wires stuck out from the cramped walls of the room. He sighed in defeat, realizing that he couldn’t fix it. He heard the sound of something hitting the ship, rushed out of the engine room to a window near the control panel, and saw a planet growing larger. He fiddled with the controls, trying to turn the spaceship around, but nothing happened. The planet continued drawing nearer. The spaceship started speeding up as it entered the planet’s atmosphere.
He was supposed to be analyzing soil samples from other planets, seeing if they were capable of growing plants, but now he could see death drawing closer with every inch the spaceship traveled. Adam felt his heart beat faster and he thought, I wish I could go home and be with my wife and kids.
He looked out the window and saw the planet looming over him. It was large and grey with no signs of life. The planet’s gravity pushed the spaceship downwards and the force of the impact propelled Adam backwards into a wall and he passed out.
He woke up to a crackling sound. He sat up groggily and looked around for the source of the noise. The face of someone appeared on his radio. He was wearing a dirty spacesuit without the helmet. He had messy brown hair and had brown eyes staring intently at Adam.
“Hello?” Adam said. “Who are you?”
The person said, “I’m Kevin, my ship crashed on this planet days ago. Who are you?”
“I’m Adam, my ship also crashed here,” Adam replied.
“Where are you?” Kevin asked.
“I have no idea,” Adam responded.
“Do you have any food?”
“I should have some food in the kitchen.”
“That’s good, carry some food and try to reach the mountain,” Kevin instructed.
“How will I know if I’m at the right mountain?” Adam asked.
“It’s surrounded by craters and has a crashed ship next to it. You’ll know what mountain I’m talking about once you see it.”
“Also this planet has breathable air, good luck,” Kevin said sarcastically.
Adam headed towards the kitchen. While walking, he thought, Can I really trust Kevin? He might be tricking me. But Adam didn’t let these thoughts bother him. He opened the fridge and stuffed most of the food in his bag. He slung the bag over his shoulder and walked out of the ship. He scanned the vast empty land and saw a mountain in the distance. He started walking towards it.
“I’m currently walking towards a mountain,” Adam informed him.
“That’s good, continue walking,” Kevin said.
Adam continued towards the mountain looming over him and examined his surroundings. He saw many craters in the distance and a vast grey desert and prepared himself for a long walk.
* * *
Kevin bent over to place the landmines around the mountain. He carefully armed them and covered them with small sheets the color of the planet. He smiled slyly once he finished. He walked into a tunnel he carved into the mountain leading into his lair. He sat down in his chair and glanced at his different monitors. On one was a map of the planet and another showed a desktop with lots of folders containing his plans. Another showed a proximity alarm. He looked at his map and pinpointed Adam’s location using his radio signal. He smiled, knowing that Adam would fall right into his trap.
* * *
Adam stopped at the edge of a crashed ship. He reached for his radio and said, “Kevin? I found another crashed ship.”
“You did?” Kevin replied, pretending to be surprised.
“Yeah, should I explore it?” Adam asked.
“I think you should, it might have more provisions for us,” Kevin answered.
Adam turned off his radio and entered the ship. He walked down the corridor until meeting a door. Adam tried opening it, but it seemed stuck. Adam ignored it and walked down a different hallway. Adam soon entered the kitchen and checked the fridges and any other food containers. All the food was spoiled or rotten.
The kitchen was connected to the sleeping quarters. Multiple backpacks littered the floor. Adam picked each one up and checked for things he could use. He found multiple glowsticks and a flashlight. Adam stored them in his bag and kept poking around in the room. In the corner of the room was a small portable generator.
He picked it up and asked Kevin, “I found a portable generator, should I keep it?”
“I think you should, it might be useful later on,” Kevin replied.
Adam picked up a backpack on the floor and stuffed the generator inside. He slung the backpack strap over his shoulder and walked down another corridor.
* * *
Kevin sat impatiently in his seat, anxiously waiting for Adam to arrive. He got up and paced around the room. He picked up his radio and spoke into it. “Adam? Are you ready to keep traveling?”
“Not yet,” Adam replied. “Still have a few more rooms to check out.”
“That’s good, but you need to get here quickly.”
Adam questioned that, “But why do I need to get there quic — ?”
Kevin turned off his radio and sighed. If only I weren’t stuck on this wretched planet… and it’s all NASA’s fault, sending me to here, Keven thought. Kevin loathed NASA. They sent him to that planet and didn’t care about what happened to him.
* * *
Why would he want me to arrive at the mountain so quickly? Adam thought. A flicker of doubt crossed his face. He walked out of the ship and glanced around ahead of him. A giant crater stood in front of him blocking the way to the mountain. Should I walk around or across it? Adam pondered. He decided to walk across to save more time. He slowly slid down the walls of the crater. When he reached the bottom, he stared ahead of him looking at how much distance he had to cover. He turned on his radio and tried to call Kevin. He didn’t respond. Adam tried again and this time Kevin responded.
“What do you want?” Kevin asked.
“I just want to talk,” Adam answered while still walking to the other side of the crater.
“Sure what do you want to talk about?” Kevin asked.
“Why did you want me to arrive at the mountain so quickly?” Adam pressed.
“I…uh…wanted you to arrive as quickly as possible, so we can…escape from this planet together,” Kevin lied.
Adam detected Kevin’s lie, but decided not to question Kevin. “Okay, I’m almost there I just need to cross this crater.”
“That’s good, keep walking,” Kevin said.
Adam turned off his radio and thought, What is Kevin up to? Maybe it’s just a trap to use my resources. Adam shook his head in disbelief. Adam looked up not realizing he was at the edge of the crater. He grabbed the rim and hauled himself over the top. He stared at the mountain looming over him, casting a shadow over him. Adam took a step forward and tripped on a rock. He picked up the rock and threw it forward. It landed on a bumpy spot on the land and Adam heard beeping. Instinctively, he dove into the crater. Soon after the beeping was the sound of a deafening explosion.
* * *
Kevin heard the explosion and rushed out of the tunnel. He ran toward the sound and was blinded by a cloud of smoke. When the smoke cleared, he looked around. Seeing no trace of Adam, he grinned. Satisfied, he strutted back into the mountain without bothering to look for a body. He walked into a room and picked up a chisel. He carved a mark among the 13 other marks.
“14 times astronauts have landed on this barren planet and 14 times I have outsmarted them and tricked them,” Kevin muttered to himself, “Soon, NASA will see how brilliant I am and will beg for mercy.” Kevin nodded in agreement to his own plan and walked into his planning room. He readied his laser preparing to shoot down another ship scheduled to pass by.
* * *
Adam crouched below the rim of the crater. He peeked above it and saw that nobody was there. He took off his backpack and lay it on the ground. He circled the perimeter of the mountain until finding the entrance. It was a simple metal door with no locks. He peeked over the corner of the door and entered slowly. He crept into an empty room with a chisel on the floor and marks carved into the wall. The emptiness of the room made a chill run down Adam’s back. He peered over the corner to see Kevin ranting to himself.
“Then I will go back to Earth and blow up NASA,” Kevin ranted. “After that, I will blow up all other astronaut programs!”
Adam gasped silently in astonishment, and continued to explore the mountain. He came to a room with a giant laser. The room had a retractable roof and was basically empty. He gazed at the circuitry protruding from the machine. He looked at a control panel and pressed the off button. All lights on the machine blinked off. Adam sighed in relief and heard footsteps coming in his direction. He looked around and saw no hiding place so he ran outside and hoped for the best. Behind him Kevin chased him with rage. He ran after Adam while screaming a string of insults.
“I’LL GET YOU IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO!!” Kevin yelled.
Adam ignored these insults and noticed that Kevin hadn’t bothered to fix his laser. He hoped he could survive long enough to escape. Adam ran back inside the mountain and hid behind a large shelf. He held his breath as Kevin walked by seething with rage.
Adam then heard a loud noise that sounded like something large was landing. He heard the sounds of Kevin heading towards the exit. Adam stepped out of his hiding place and went to see what was happening. Adam slowly crept towards the entrance, hearing gunshots. He ran outside and saw Kevin shooting another ship that had just landed.
Adam snuck up behind Kevin and tackled him. Adam kicked the gun away from Kevin’s reach. Kevin lunged for the gun, picked it up and shot Adam. Before Adam could react the bullet pierced his flesh. My life is at stake, I’m fighting a maniac on a distant planet…What do I have to lose? Adam thought as he felt a throbbing pain in his shoulder.
He pushed away the pain and hurled himself at Kevin. Kevin dropped his weapon and fell to the ground. Adam picked up the gun and pitched the gun onto a landmine. The landmine exploded and created another large crater. Adam stumbled. He realized he had been running on adrenaline the whole time. Kevin stood nearby with a murderous look in his eye. Adam slowly walked toward Kevin while gripping his injured shoulder.
The hatch on the landed ship opened and a group of people stepped out. One of them handed Adam a bandage which he wrapped his shoulder with.
“Kevin, we need to talk,” Adam said.
“Why would I listen to you?” Kevin responded.
“Why are you doing this?” Adam asked.
“Because… ” Kevin sighed, “NASA left me here. When I crashed they never responded for a whole year, they abandoned me on this planet. When a rescue team came finally I shot them down with my laser that I created out of parts from my ship.”
The group of astronauts tapped Adam on the shoulder and said, “We’re your rescue team. When we heard that you crashed, we came here as soon as we could. We’re here to take you back to Earth.”
Adam said to the group of astronauts, “We need to secure him, he’s dangerous.” Adam, and the other astronauts, surrounded Kevin while he kicked and punched him. Eventually they held him down and bound his limbs.
Kevin sneered at the group, “What are you going to with me?”
Adam replied, “We’re taking you to where you belong. Prison.” Adam and the other astronauts, dragged Kevin, as he thrashed around in his bindings, onto the spaceship, where he was locked in a room. Kevin pounded on the door, “LET ME GO! I DEMAND IT!” Everyone ignored him and went to their stations while the captain stayed with Adam.
“What are we going to do with him?” the captain asked.
“I think we should confront him to gain more information,” Adam replied. The captain nodded and they unlocked the door. They opened it and Kevin turned towards them.
“Have you finally come to let me free?” Kevin asked with a murderous tone in his voice.
“We’re here to ask you some questions,” Adam replied. “Why did you shoot the first rescue ship after it came to get you?”
“It’s because NASA left me on that planet for a whole entire year. Leaving me to live off the little provisions I had with me,” Kevin answered, “But I managed to survive. NASA had lots of budget cuts and decided it would cost too much to organize a rescue mission, so they left me there to die.”
“That isn’t true,” the captain said, “NASA was trying to locate where you crashed, so they could send a rescue team.”
“Really? Is that true?” Kevin said softly.
“It’s true,” the captain replied. Then Adam and the captain left the room.
* * *
As the door slowly closed, Kevin felt a sense of dread cross his face. How could I have done this? Make false assumptions and kill 13 people because of it. If only I could turn back time. Kevin planted his face into his palms and felt tears flow down his cheek.
* * *
The captain asked Adam questions about his adventure then let Adam rest. After two weeks, they finally arrived back on Earth. Adam dragged Kevin out of the ship and gave him to the authorities. Then Adam and the rescue team was called to the head of NASA’s office. It was a big room with a wall covered in awards and medals. On another wall sat a big bookshelf filled with binders, folders, and books. At the middle of the room sat a desk with the head sitting there.
“Thanks to your bravery, you managed to rescue Adam,” the head said to the rescue team.
He turned to Adam. “Thanks to you, our astronauts will be able to travel safely across space.”
Adam received praise from the rescue team and he smiled in accomplishment and then went to visit Kevin. Kevin was locked up in a tiny grey holding cell. There were no windows and a single light bulb hung on a wire on the ceiling. There was a stone slab with a pillow and mattress in the corner of the cell.
Kevin was shaking the bars of his holding cell. As soon as he saw Adam he stopped. “Have you come to gloat, Adam?”
“I’m just here to check on you,” Adam replied calmly.
“Oh, you know, I’m in prison ready to be executed, so I’m totally fine,” Kevin said sarcastically.
“Executed?” Adam questioned.
“I killed 13 astronauts, so yeah…” Kevin said.
“I’m sorry Kevin, it didn’t have to end this way,” Adam said.
Adam started to walk towards the door, but Kevin shouted to Adam, “Wait!” Adam turned to look towards Kevin. “I just want to say that I’m sorry too. My anger got the best of me.”
Adam walked to the doorway then stopped. He turned towards Kevin, gave him a sad smile and nodded in understanding.
* * *
Kevin watched Adam slowly close the door. Light from the outside slowly faded away until all the remaining light there was, came from the single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Kevin collapsed on the ground. “I’m sorry Adam, I’m sorry NASA, I’m sorry everyone I killed…” Kevin whispered to himself. Then he closed his eyes and started to cry.