Still Water

By Mark Tremble

sfgenreThey only come at night.

That’s mostly because the days are too hot for their flailed skin. The last time I saw them, it looked as if their hides were about to fall off their bones.

Thank God.

Hell, I could even leave the door to the hut open in the daytime if I wanted to — but there’s no point since it lets out the cool air, the same cool air that I breathe to stay alive. That, and the fact that there are some nasty little bugs that live under the sand that might want to join me as well.

They come out at night too.

Cooper went out last week. In the morning. The temps weren’t that high but they kept calling to him, telling him to drink, drink, drink. I tried to stop him, but it did no good. He went. Now, he’s one of them. Skin isn’t as bad as theirs yet but it will be soon, I expect.

That’s what happens when you drink the water.

We set down here about three months ago now. Five of us. Five of us who were supposed to lift off again after one month. That’s never going to happen. Not after Rogers told us he’d found water in the cave, right after he’d emptied our main supply.

It looked clean enough and, yes, we put it through all the tests we could. Boiled it as well, just as good, suburban earth people would with water they’re not sure about.

But, somehow, it still didn’t look right to me. I know that sounds crazy to say when you’re talking about water but that’s what I thought at the time. And that’s why I didn’t drink.

The others did. Captain went first, good man that he is. Or was. Then our pilot and navigator. Descending ranks of stupidity. Maybe that’s too harsh. They couldn’t have known, I guess, but no-one wanted to listen to me. Only Coop’.

Now he’s with them too.

But I’m so very thirsty. I dream of rain, stuff that pours from great fat black clouds that hang low like the engorged belly of a beast that’s descended from the sky. Only I never to get to taste it, not even a drop. I just stand there as it hammers into the sand an arm’s length away.

I wake up and it’s gone. The desert and the heat are all that’s left and I’m still on my bunk inside the hut.

A few days ago, the stones came. Not from the sky, no, nothing as biblical as that but from hands that were once — human. Small ones, pebbles, striking the hut’s protective shell like raindrops. At first, that’s what I thought they were. Then, the stones got bigger, when the others, my former crewmates, weren’t getting what they wanted.

They’ll come back until they break through, until they can drag me away with them, to become just like them.

Until I drink, like them.

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About The Author

Mark Tremble

Mark Tremble is a teacher and sometime writer. He loves being at home with his wife and, now, two daughters.

 

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Coming In Issue 227

101 Uses For Dark Energy
by Pascal Inard

AThousand Ways Of Not Detecting Aliens
by Russell Hemmell

Jamison Omitted
by Willow Schafer

The Black Dog Cometh
by Benjamin Hayes

The Orient Express
by Daniel de Cullá

The Human Question
by Ivan Bucalo

Still Water
by Mark Tremble

Three Mistakes And Something More
by Paul Alex Gray

Triumvirate Judgement
by David Scholes

Webs
by J.M. Williams

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