The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

Author

Anya Schwartz

Anya Schwartz has 7 articles published.

mm
Anya Schwartz is the editor for the Fiction section of the Q. She is a second year English with a Concentration in Creative Writing and Mathematics double major, and she is from Brooklyn, New York.

Space Log Day 250

by
Photo credit: https://mic.com/articles/108854/

Today we got our final message from The Department. It came through right in the middle of our weekly U.S. History lesson. For once, class was actually interesting — Kennedy had just gotten shot in the head, and the communications system started beeping. Not the usual ringing that happens when we get an email or a movie, but beeping, like one of those practice alarms that happens sometimes when you’re watching cable. Usually, when we get a message, the ringing stops until one of us has time to go accept the message. But now, the beeping abruptly stopped, and when Mrs. S went to the computer to accept the message, there was nothing there.

Then, later, I was with Gwen and Jake and Zara, hiding in Jake’s hidden cave behind Mr. B’s office. Zara was playing The Sims on her laptop, and Gwen was trying to convince Jacob to drag  the Keurig from Mrs. S’ office back here so we could make hot cocoa without Mrs. S bugging us about food rations.

“Yeah, because the last time you cooked it went so well,” Jake said.

“Will you get over that!” Gwen said. “It was months ago! And Gina did most of the cooking anyway!”

“Leave me out—” I was responding when the alarm went off again, shrieking out of the speakers. I hadn’t even known there were speakers in this secret room, but there must have been some kind of connection to the comms system that we hadn’t known about.

It was everywhere, like a fire drill from back when we were in regular school, except a thousand times louder, and it shook through the walls, making the floors vibrate and into my bones. We all looked at each other in complete shock — nothing like this had ever happened on the ship before.

Zara pulled her headphones out. “What are we supposed to do?”

But none of us knew. The ship didn’t have any kind of emergency evacuation procedures (if this was even that kind of emergency); the only way out was out, into space, into the nothingness.

“We should probably go find Mrs. S or Mr. B,” said Jake.

That sounded good, because even though I knew they would’ve mentioned if we were going to have some kind of drill today, the idea that they might have more knowledge about what was happening was comforting. I couldn’t stop seeing Mrs. S’ confused face from class earlier today, when the beeping started for the first time and then stopped.

We hurried to crawl through the tiny door to Mr. B’s office, but we hadn’t even made it to the hallway before the beeping subsided and a booming voice replaced it.

“THE ALLURE,” it said, even louder than the beeping had been. It sounded robotic, like Siri reading a text message, but also deep and male. Creepy. “WE HAVE READ YOUR MESSAGES. WE HAVE KEPT CORRESPONDENCE. IT HAS BEEN TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DAYS SINCE YOU WOKE UP. THIS IS THE END.”

“The end?” Gwen whispered.

“THIS IS THE END,” the voice said again. “YOU WILL NOT HEAR FROM US AGAIN.”

And then the voice was gone, and the walls and floors weren’t rumbling anymore, and the four of us were alone in the silent, dark hallway, gripping each other with shaking hands.

“Was that The Department?” I asked.

“Let’s just find everyone else,” said Jake.

Zara gasped. “The food stores! They left us up here with no food stores. They knew!”

We found everyone else in one of the classrooms. Mr. B had his head in his hands. Callum Lang and Nico Soto and Tommy Filt were sitting underneath one of the tables. They didn’t look up  when we walked in.

“What did they mean by ‘this is the end’?” Alexandra was asking.

Mrs. S took a deep breath. Her glasses were on the table in front of her; I’d never seen her without them, and her eyes looked smaller, her face rounder and younger.

“This was our mission,” she said. “They didn’t tell us until now, because…we’d never have taken it otherwise.”

“We didn’t take it,” Zara said. “We didn’t have a choice.”

Jake came around to Mrs. S and put a hand on her shoulder. It felt strangely formal, but he was probably scared that she’d yell at him if he attempted any other kind of touching.

“This was our mission,” she repeated. “To come up here and report back to them. To come up here and get left.”

So that’s it, I guess. That’s our destiny, our purpose. To keep floating until the ship runs out of fuel. To keep eating until we run out of food. To keep breathing until we run out of air. To keep writing back to The Department, to you, until we run out of life.

Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but this is going to be my last letter. Hopefully, whoever you are, you’ve read my messages for the last two hundred and fifty days, and gotten to know a little about us eight delinquents who had no choice but to be flung into space. Hopefully we’ve left our mark on you, at least, if we can never make a mark on anyone else again.

Love from,

Me

Space Log Day 223

by
Photo credit: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/

Good morning.

Last night, I found out something potentially life-changing. Remember how I said that Jake seemed to be semi-regularly stealing from Mr. B, and how Mr. B seemed to be hiding something from me when I visited his office last week?

Turns out Jake and Mr. B have been conspiring. There’s a teeny-tiny little door that Jake found beneath Mr. B’s desk and he went through it. He told me he hoped that it was a hidden food pantry, or something exciting like a laser tag arena (“You’re an idiot,” I told him), but it was just a small, hidden-away room behind Mr. B’s office. But what did he decide to do with it? Make it a clubhouse, a secret refuge from Mrs. S.

Apparently when he told Mr. B about it, Mr. B got quite mad, as a) Jake did not have permission to be in Mr. B’s office at the time, b) Mr. B was not allowed to support us having a place to literally hide from Mrs. S, and c) Mr. B wanted the secret room for himself, as his office is the size of a match box, and this new room would add a few extra square feet.

But then while Mr. B was sleeping in his bunk, Jake snuck in and began decorating it. Also he put a padlock on the door so that Mr. B couldn’t get in. (This is the part where you go ahhhh, and remember that Jake is a delinquent.)

And this was all a few weeks ago, when I didn’t even know about it!!! Jake’s been sneaking into Mr. B’s office to decorate this secret clubhouse almost every night. Of course Mr. B knew, because he’d seen the padlock the next morning, and of course noticed the stream of black paint coming through his office and down the hallway (he is the janitor), but Jake would not submit to any deal Mr. B offered to share the room. So that’s why Jake’s been semi-regularly stealing Mr. B’s vacuum—I never imagined Jake would actually be cleaning with it!—and also why Mr. B was so excited when we made the agreement to leave his office alone, weeks ago when we were convincing him to convince Mrs. S to let us throw a Day 200 party.

So this is absolutely crazy!!!!!! Jake woke me up last night to take me to the newly-finished-decorated secret room. At first I was reluctant as anything to get out of bed, because it was just after 1 in the morning and Mrs. S made us move milk crates of printer paper across the ship from stores into her office, because she prints that much, and if you’ve ever lifted a crate of printer paper, you’d know why I didn’t want to get out of bed. But Jake made me, and it was completely worth it.

The crawl through the tiny door beneath Mr. B’s desk into complete blackness was scary as hell (Jake forgot his flashlight), but when I was about halfway through, Jake flicked on the fairy lights he’d strung across the whole ceiling. He said he found them in Zara Hemmings’ suitcase, probably to decorate her bunk with, but he figured she wouldn’t mind him stealing them once he showed her the secret room.

Jake’s decorations were incredible, considering that he had to find things that were already on the ship. In one corner was a bean bag that Jake made himself out of cloth and rice. He said he made it before we knew about our possible food rations issue, but rice had to be boiled anyway so one day we’ll just cut open the bean bag and eat the rice. On one of the walls was a giant Taylor Lautner poster, also stolen from Zara Hemmings. And there was a rug from the storeroom, a desk from one of the classrooms we’ve never used, and a monitor screen for us to watch movies on.

So I guess this is where I’ll be spending the rest of my free time for…the rest of my life.

I’ll write more soon!!

Love from,

Me

Space Log Day 215

by
Photo credit: https://www.videoblocks.com

Halloween was last week and so we celebrated with another party, even though we had less pudding rations for dessert than usual, as we’re trying to conserve food. Zara Hemmings made us all dress up in costumes. Nico Soto and Callum Lang were Mrs. S and Mr. B, and Mrs. S got really mad about it because they snuck into her room and stole pantyhose. I think Mr. B thought it was funny, but Mrs. S kept glaring at him to be mad, too, that he had to pretend.

Every day after that has been pretty boring. Back to our regularly scheduled educations, I guess. We learned how to test the vents for optimum airflow, how to program the communications system to do big math for us, and we spent three days studying the American Revolution. At one point, Mrs. S tried to assign us to research each of our own states, but Jake’s from Oregon, which didn’t even exist yet, so then we just watched Schoolhouse Rock videos about America in general.

I was having trouble with polynomial long division on Thursday, so during our lunch break, I went to Mr. B’s office to ask if he could help — Mrs. S was chatting about the Housewives with Alex, and I didn’t want to bother her. Mr. B was having his lunch, too, of dehydrated vegetables and some weird mix of chemicals that kind of tasted like coffee that he cooked up a few months ago.

“Ah, Gina,” he said when I knocked on his door.

“That was very ominous, Mr. B,” I said.

He laughed a little, but I couldn’t tell if it was because what I said was actually funny, or if it was just so awkward that he had to laugh so that it wasn’t as awkward as it could’ve been. “What do you need?”

I think he was trying to hide something from me. He kept his body angled completely towards me, with his hands behind his back. His office is very small, a secluded room towards the back of the ship near the boiler room, so it’s always quite cozy. He’s decorated it with pictures of home the way the rest of us have decorated our bunks.

“Long division,” I told him.

“Ah,” he said again.

I got the sense that he wanted me to leave, so I offered, “We could go to the kitchen, maybe? Where there’s the big table?”

Mr. B nodded. “Yeah, yeah.”

I know it’s all mysterious and weird and all that Mr. B’s keeping secrets, but he’s so nice that I don’t feel like I need to bust him. It’s a small ship — we all have things that we want to keep private.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this. You don’t know Mr. B or me or any of us. But I guess it’s kind of nice to know that someone is out there, reading this. Maybe you go home to a partner or a family and you sit down for dinner at 6 p.m., and maybe you have Thanksgiving plans, and maybe sometimes you look up at the sky and the moon and you think of us up here. I think that would be nice.

I wish you could write back someday.

Love from,

Me

Space Log Day 199

by
Picture Credit: https://www.gingdu.com

One more day until Day 200, which is crazy! It feels like we’ve been here for entire years, but it’s only been a few months. Jake and I have been trying to convince Mrs. S to let us throw a party for the special occasion but she is very adamant that tomorrow be just another regular day. Mr. B said he’d help us work on her, but only after we promised him that we’d stay away from the janitor’s closet for a week. (Apparently Jake has been semi-regularly stealing the good vacuum from Mr. B’s closet—I have no clue as to why, but Mr. B just about lit up when Jake said he’d leave it alone.)

In the meantime, while we wait for Mrs. S to acquiesce, I have convinced some of the others to help make decorations. Alex said she’d make a banner, and Tommy said he’d make a PowerPoint with pictures and inside jokes to document the first 200 days we’ve spent together. I asked Nico if he could make a playlist, but he still won’t talk to me after Gwen and I put glue into his hair gel.

On the other hand, amid all of this excitement, we are experiencing a slight crisis: we think we are running out of food. Mrs. S noticed for the first time last week, when we were making chili for the gazillionth time, and she realized that we only have three thousand cans of beans left. Now, you reading this from the safety of Earth, where beans grow in excess on trees (do beans grow on trees?), may be thinking the same thing that I did—three thousand cans of beans is a lot of beans.

But then Zara Hemmings did the math for me. If we use three cans of beans a week, we will run out of beans in twenty years. Again, that might also seem like a long time, until you remember that as far as we know, we will be on this ship for the rest of our lives, heading deeper and deeper into space, where there are obviously no grocery stores to stock up on more beans. (And we usually use closer to six cans of beans a week.) These are only our beans stores, but if we have around the same amount of cans for the rest of our food options, we are about doomed.

Because I’m so good with the communications system and also very good at writing compared to everyone else, Mrs. S made me draft a very nice letter back to The Department asking if there was possibly a mistake with our food stores, or if they could send a small ship out with more food that could somehow fly extra fast and catch up to us. Nico swears there’s another pantry somewhere on the ship where there’s more food that The Department just forgot to tell us about, but I have a feeling that if there was more food on the ship, they would’ve found somewhere in the thousand-plus page ship manual to mention it. So if you get the chance to ask around about that and then get back to us about it, that’d be great.

I think that’s all for today.

Love from,

Me

Space Log Day 161

by
Photo Credit: https://www.spacetelescope.org

It’s about 0945 on the Allure and we have, surprisingly, done no work all day.

For the first time, The Department has sent us a newspaper from Earth, and, of course, everyone wanted to read it when it first came through. There was a mad scramble towards the log computer when the morning mail alarm first read aloud the incoming paper. Jacob got there first, because he’s the tallest, and he had Tommy Filt in a headlock to keep him out of the way. But then Mrs. S intercepted and made Jacob let Tommy go and then stand across the room. She decided the most fair way for everyone to read it was for her to read it aloud.

So the rest of us crowded around her seat and we spent all day reading the news. It felt a little bit like storytime, like when we were kids, all of us sitting on the ground in a huddle, just listening. And, honestly, it was kind of wonderful. We skipped the boring stuff, because none of us wanted to listen to Mrs. S drone on about things we didn’t care about, and nor did she want to read it. But the advertisements were amazing! The first one we read was for some new face wash that guarantees no acne within a week. All of us just about died when we heard that because we have to ration our acne cream on the ship—I think The Department largely underestimated the amount of acne cream that eight teenagers would need for months and months. Alexandra demanded that we turn the ship around right then and go back to Earth to get some of the new product. Mrs. S said she was being ridiculous and to sit back down.

Jake Kelsey and Nico Soto both flipped when they saw the pictures of the new Nintendo 4DS. None of us could figure out how it worked from the full-page ad, so Jake demanded that we look up videos about how to use it on YouTube. Mrs. S let him because he’s her favorite. She even let Gwen turn all the lights off, so it felt like we were in a proper movie theater while we watched.

We also read a couple movie reviews. After reading them we argued about which we’d all want to watch; we agreed upon the new Incredibles movie. So, if you’re reading this, and you have any power over which movies The Department sends…you know what to do. Sometimes, when we’re lucky, The Department will send us a movie, although it’s never been a movie that we’ve asked for. If we’re lucky, none of us have seen it before, but if we’re even luckier, it will be a Disney movie. I nearly cried when, a few weeks ago, Mrs. S told me we’d just gotten High School Musical 2. When we do get movies, they have have poor graphics and crackly audio (I guess because the transmission of movies into space is difficult?) but at least they don’t have ads like YouTube does.

Then Mr. B came in and asked for the sports news. Apparently it’s difficult to keep up with baseball when you’ve been cryogenically frozen and then stuck on a spaceship for an extended period of time.

It’s weird to think about how sports and politics and businesses keep on functioning on Earth while we’re all stuck up here. Of course I’m not egotistical enough to think that Earth would miss us now that we’re gone, but…I struggle to comprehend how life on Earth can still be normal for some people while my entire world has been turned upside down.

Ew, that sounded super cheesy. I just reread that last paragraph and I am supremely sorry that you had to read it.

So now it’s nighttime, or as close to nighttime as you can get on a spaceship, and Mrs. S said it’s okay that we didn’t learn anything, or do any physical labor all day. She said that even we deserve a day off every once in a while to do something fun. I guess that’s a nice sentiment, but if I get to choose what fun thing to do on my next day off, it will not be reading the newspaper.

And I guess that’s all for now. You’ll be hearing from me again tomorrow!

Love from,

Me

Space Log Day 149

by
Photo Credit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Good morning Earth people!!!!!!!! It is bright and early on Day 149 and Gwen and I are the only ones awake. The clock in the log computer says it is 0618 in the morning, and while there is no time in space (or, really, no time at all, anywhere), everyone else’s bodies are synched with the log computer. Usually I’d never be caught dead out of my bunk before 0800, but Gwen and I woke up at 0500 to put glue into Nico Soto’s hair gel. I’m only telling you because you’d never be able to tell him before he uses it!

I think I am going to go back to sleep after I finish typing this, but I figured I’d do myself a favor and get writing this over with.

So, hello. It is me again. I am writing from space, as you know. With every second I am moving further and further away from you, reading this, as well as everyone I’ve ever known (aside from the ten of us that are currently on this ship). We still have no idea where we are going, but I guess that’s all part of the mysterious master plan.

Today has been the first time that me and Gwen had access to the log computer while no one else was around. I don’t know how in (almost) 150 days neither of us has thought about just waking up before everyone else to have the ship to ourselves, but this morning was wonderful. We snuck into the bathrooms, peeked around everyone’s shower caddies and poured glue into Nico’s gel bottle. We even had extra glue, so we put the rest into Alex’s shampoo bottle. We thought it’d be funny to see what happens when (or if) she notices. Which won’t be for a while, probably, because she’s kept shaving her hair since that first time she shaved it all off while on detention. But we’ll see what happens.

Then we realized that all of our pranking had only taken about fifteen minutes, and we still had hours before Mrs. S or Mr. B would wake up. Gwen suggested that we watch Vine compilations, but the main log computer refuses to connect to YouTube, and Gwen’s laptop was dead, and I lent mine to Jake and he was still sleeping. Then we thought about making breakfast, since there was no one around to remind us about food rations, but our last escapade in the kitchen making grilled cheese went so horribly that we agreed to just wait until one of the adults was awake to cook for us. So then we decided to just mess around on the log computer because there was no one who could yell at us.

I’m much better with the communications system than Gwen is, and I found a way to track these logs we send you so that we could call whoever at The Department who reads them. Just for fun, I guess. I couldn’t think of anyone else to call. And the call connected, too, but no one picked up. It just rang and rang.

The weird thing is that I almost didn’t mind that no one picked up. I mean, yeah, it would be cool to talk to the person who’s reading these logs (you, I guess), to talk to someone who’s actually on Earth, but it’s kind of amazing how calming the sound of a dial tone was. I hadn’t heard one in so long.

If you’d asked me, before I got on this ship, the top 1,000 things that I would miss about home, I never would have even thought about dial tones. But I missed them.

Sorry that this log hasn’t been super typical. I didn’t talk about what we were supposed to learn or how we did our best to get out of learning that thing, because it’s still the early morning. I guess tomorrow I’ll talk about whatever we do today. Hopefully this log was still interesting enough to be useful, or at least amusing to whoever reads it. Or else I guess I wasted my time.

Oh well. More tomorrow!

Love from,

Me

Space Log Day 107

by

It’s been over 100 days, and I am still required to write these stupid logs. As if anyone back home is still reading them. Who really cares what eight teenagers in space are learning, or what they’re thinking about what they’re learning? Mrs. Something (I can never remember her name) says they’re very important for The Department’s records.

Whatever that means.

So, hello to whoever in The Department is reading this. I hope you’re having a nice day today. Kiss the ground for all of us.

Today we learned how to check the windows to make sure they stay air-tight. Alexandra Lopez didn’t show up to mandatory training, and she earned herself an hour in detention. (Detention is getting yourself locked in one of the bathrooms, because they’re the only rooms with no maintenance equipment, no intercom, and no windows. It’s really boring.) Just to piss off Mrs. S, Alexandra shaved off all of her hair while in the bathroom. It took Mr. Banks, our janitor/head engineer/maintenance man/more-that-I-cannot-remember extraordinaire, more time to get the hair out of the sink drain than Alexandra spent in detention.

Mr. Banks has gotten used to cleaning drains of hair, though. After we all woke up from cryo when the Allure got into space, all of our hair kept falling out in chunks until our bodies adapted to being alive again.

Learning how to check the windows was cool but freaky. Knowing that one wrong move could probably kill us all made everyone very still and very quiet. Which is rare, for a group of delinquents.

During training, we’re split into two groups; one with Mrs. S, and the other with Mr. B. Jacob Kelsey and Gwen Clemons, my best friends on the ship, were both part of Mr. B’s group, and I was with Mrs. S, so I was forced to hang out with Nico Soto for the whole time. But then one of the alarms went off because the plumbing was all clogged, and Mr. B had to leave to go check on it. (It was Alex’s hair.) So the groups converged into one, and we all pestered Mrs. S until she let us stop checking the windows and go back to our common area.

I really don’t know why The Department put someone like Mrs. S in charge of this mission. She comes off as a hardass, but she’s really a softie, and even though Jake is her favorite, she loves us all. I’d ask you reading this why she was assigned to us, but it would take you too long to get back to me for it to be worth it.

Now that it’s been so long into this trip, I find myself thinking about our goal more and more. Our objective. This big secret that The Department is keeping for us. From us.

Gwen thinks that they’re sending us to some new galaxy to study planets. Jake thinks that we’re going to meet aliens that The Department has already made contact with. Once we asked Mrs. S where she thought we were going, but she just smiled at us and said, “it’s a surprise.” Which made us think that even she doesn’t know what we’re doing here.

I don’t know what I think. It must be something kind of boring, because if it was important or exciting they’d send actual astronauts and not high school kids. Sometimes I think that maybe there isn’t anything we’re heading towards; The Department just wanted an excuse to get rid of us.

Their daily letters to us (which were all sent months or years ago) sound cheery, but they also don’t reveal anything about what’s going on back on the planet.

I miss home. I miss the ground, and I miss my mom. We all do.

Nico Soto says he doesn’t miss anyone, except I’ve seen him staring at a photograph of his little brother late at night, so he’s a liar. I don’t know what Nico did to get here, onto the Allure, but I suspect I’ll find out eventually. We’re stuck with each other for about…forever, as far as we know.

I think I am going to end this log here. Gwen stole some cheese from the kitchen this morning while everyone was eating breakfast so we’re going to try to make grilled cheese sandwiches, or as close to good grilled cheese sandwiches as we can make with freeze-dried space bread and an electric stove. Don’t tell Mrs. S!

Looking forward to writing to you again tomorrow. As always.

 

Love from,

Me

Go to Top