* * *
“All right ya’ sorry sons o’ bitches wake the hell up,” the captain said. “Storm’s gone.”
Jessie spent her hours of sleep hushing Jon to sleep. She was exhausted. Most of the astronauts couldn’t catch any sleep as their minds were flooded with pictures of their friends getting swallowed by the storm.
The captain led the march to their destination. The soil under their feet was illuminated by the stars and the moon. It glimmered with a fiery red color.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jessie spoke. “The sky is so clear. No fog from pollution.” She pointed into space, behind them. “Look, you can see Earth, so blue.” She had Jon slung over her shoulder. Carrying him wasn’t too hard here. She thought she heard Jon say something but she thought it was probably her imagination. They kept pacing.
“We’re not too far off, just another mile and we’ll be there,” said the captain.
* * *
“Here we are,” the captain said. “No more hikin’ through hell without a home.”
“No more sleeping in those pieces of shit pods,” said Faisal, a soft-spoken, usually humble Indian man.
Just over a dusty hill, they climbed over on their hands and knees. The soil was sliding underneath them. They all peered over the peak of mountaintop in amazement. What lay ahead of them was a compound dug deep into a crater, entrenched under a great wall of dirt. The compound was a blank white color. On the roof read the words Migration ERA in bright red paint, however, it was riddled in dark red sand enshrouding the text. The compound was structured like a castle, built with large towers that rose tall off the rounded roof. At the top of those towers sat heavy turrets, they slowly rotated, scanning left to right.
“Why in hell would they need turrets here?” Jessie asked.
“Isn’t it obvious?” said the captain. “For shootin’ down flyin’ saucers.”
Faisal laughed at this. He always found the captain rather hysterical. The rest of the group did not.
“What are you laughin’ at ya’ dang turban-head.”
Faisal stopped laughing and dropped his head down. “All right, let’s keep going, shall we?”
When they made it to the gates, a loudspeaker sounded, “STOP. Please assert your faction.” The turrets jolted aiming at the group, their barrels started spinning violently.
“We are part of the Migration ERA shuttle that landed approximately thirty days ago,” the captain stepped forward. “Most of us are NASA. Sector 30-C. We rode in on the Falcon-11.”
“PLEASE STATE YOUR ENTRY CODE.” The turrets didn’t break. They were fuming with smoke now.
The captain looked back at the group. “What fuckin’ entry code?”
Jessie stepped forward. “Sector 30-C’s entry code is 38910A-Alpha D-Delta.”
They stood completely still for over ten minutes. Faisal wet himself.
Then, the turrets calmed, rotating back to their loop. A drawbridge slowly fell in front of them. It was a glass cylinder with an electrical door. It opened. “PLEASE STEP INSIDE. DO NOT REMOVE YOUR SPACE SUITS WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION.”
The group huddled through the bridge into a bright white room with red locker racks already filled with space gear. The doors sealed behind them. The bridge rose and locked up with an electrical clunk. Out in front of them a large door opened, ten black suited astronauts marched out, armed.
“Raise your hands above your head,” one of them said. “Stay calm. We must perform a full strip search.”
Jessie cringed. “Is that really necessary,” she said. “We have certified NASA and Migration ERA identification. Is there anyone else even on this planet?”
The men avoided her question and continued their task.
To be continued…