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                                                    Letters from a Tin Can
By Ken Rager


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Report of Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA, Captain of UES Excalibur.
Date is day 232, year of our Lord, 2245.

I have awaked from hibernation and have ben recovering for  last 68 hours. I have regained enough motor contrl to write this report.
Personal statis: Blood pressure is normal, body temp is 98.2 F. Reflexes below normal sight is blurrd Appetite is returnng as last of sllep fluid is being pumped now. I expect full recvery within 24 hurs.
Ship stats: The main computr is back online, however theris a problem with the inturnal clock, seems no infurmation before i awoke from hibernation.  I will attempt to repair problem after my  recovry.
Crew status: I am only one to awake from hibernaton so far. The other 5 crew  and 36 colonists are still in the sleep chaaambers.
I grow  tired, hard typing will cut messge short for now. Will try report within next 48 hours.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA ***END OF MESSAGE***
 


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 235, Year of our Lord, 2245

I have recovered enough from my hibernation sickness to check out the condition of the ship. It appears that while in flight the Excalibur was hit by something, possibly a meteor. There is extensive damage to the outer hull, I have viewed it from the top observation windows. There is a deep scratch approximately 200 feet long, starting at about the midpoint of the top hull, extending down to the observatory tower. I have found minimal internal damage, there were some conduits ripped loose from the vibration, in the lower navigation compartment.
I think this shorted some power cables, which caused a glitch. I feel this is why the computer's memory was erased.
I have worked on the memory circuits of the computer, with no luck. I am having trouble recalling certain memories myself, (probably due to the hibernation), but I know that the computer auto backed up itself every 2 days. So there should be a copy of the backup somewhere in this maze of equipment, I just cant remember where.
I request all information you can send me, but I know that due to the distance, you will not receive this message for another two years, so I can't expect an answer until four years or longer. Until then, I will search for the backup, and perhaps as my memory returns, I will recall where it is.
The other members of this trip are still in hibernation. This is very strange, and the computer is no help. I cannot recall complete sequence to awake them. I will not attempt to do so until I fully recall the steps to manually awake them. I don't know why I am the only one the computer automatically awoke.
My memories are slowly returning. according to the computer's date and time clock, we have been in space for 75 years. If I recall correctly the trip was to last 75 years. But I can see no sign of the Cliffer System, or the robot ship that we are supposed to rendezvous with. I will do a complete scan of the area as soon as I remember how to turn on the damned instruments.
Will sign off for now, got to eat.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 236, Year of our Lord, 2245

I have found the way to operate the scanner. We are nowhere near the Cliffer System. There are no detectable star systems within 4 light years, so that means the Excalibur is at least 4 light years off course. I'm not even sure about the star systems that are around us. The computer is still of no help, and my memory is still very weak, but I do not recognize any of the star systems at all. I have activated the emergency radio beacon and am trying to contact one of the robot scout ships. No answer yet, just solar wind noise on the receiver.
I am still the only one that is awake. The ship is deftly quite. I feel lonely and writing these notes seem to be the only relief I have. All life support systems are operational so I feel there is no need to be afraid, yet it would be nice to have someone to talk to. Hopefully I will be able to awake the others soon.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur ***END OF MESSAGE***

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 237, Year of our Lord, 2245

I tried to awake one of the crew members today. I opened the chamber of Commander Alie Jacobs, the ship's co-pilot. I was horrified at what I found. All that was left of the Commander's body was a sack of bones. It had appeared that she had been dead for a long time, perhaps several years. The stench was horrible, and the site of her corpse made me sick. I slammed the chamber cover shut and ran to the bathroom, where I lost quite a bit of the dinner I had just had. I wonder what could have went wrong with her hibernation? The instruments all appear normal. I don't want to go back in there, but I need to know if anyone else has suffered the horrible fate that Jacobs did. But more important than that, I need someone to talk to. This ship is big, and I seem lost and alone in it. If only I had someone to talk to, or to listen to. My feelings of loneliness are about to overpower my feeling of fear of the sleep chambers. I will awake some more people today, and together we can remove Jacobs' body and give her a Christian funeral. Burial in space is the proper funeral for space travelers. I feel very sorry for Alie and I will miss her, we were very good friends, spending a lot of time in the preparation for this colonization trip. So I plan to awaken the rest of the crew today, and I will file a complete eulogy for Alie Jacobs, following her funeral. I just hope the ship's ventilation system has done away with the smell of death that is in the hibernation room.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 239, Year of our Lord, 2245

I checked the other people in the hibernation chambers. They are all dead. No one survived what ever it is that happened on this ship. No one, that is, but I. The stench was so horrible that as I opened one chamber, I had to back out, get some air, then open another. I checked each and every one. 41 corpses. 41 men, women and children. The seed of our race, sent forward to claim new space for our over populated world. All the many dreams and hopes, all the plans. These are all dead now. I have sealed off the hibernation deck. Shut off all ventilation to it. This is now a tomb. I said a prayer that my Grandmother taught me when I was young. After I welded the door shut, it hit me. I am the only survivor. But why? Why didn't I die along with the rest? I prayed to God all night long last night for an answer. It doesn't make sense to me.
I guess my main objective now is to find a way home. I worked on the navigation computer tonight, I cant seem to get the proper boot up sequence.
The life support systems are working, and there is enough food on board to last me a lifetime. The lights automatically dim at night and brighten in the morning, fooling my body to think that I am home. But as I gaze out the observation deck at nothing but stars against a jet black background, I know that this is not home. This is just a prison.
I plan to see if I can boost the output of the distress transmitter. Nothing but the hissing sound of solar wind on the receiver. Im not even sure if anyone will ever get these messages I type and send.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 240, Year of our Lord, 2245

I never dreamed that I could be so alone. No one to talk to. No one to argue with. No one to look at. I can't wait to go to sleep, because then I dream of other people. Dreams of people that I knew in a another time and place, so far away. Like ghosts in my head. I never believed in ghosts, now I find myself wishing they did exist. Maybe I could get them to talk to me? Or at least I wouldn't feel so all alone.
I did go through the other crew's personal belongings today. I don't think they would mind, but I guess it doesn't really make much difference now rather they do or not.
Seems that one colonist was an old movie buff. I found several CD's of old movies from the twentieth century. I think I will watch one in the morning. But now I must get some sleep. Maybe I can chat with some of my old friends in my dreams. Ha Ha!
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 241, Year of our Lord, 2245

I watched a very good show today. It was called "Aliens". All about these alien creatures that go on a killing spree. Funny, I never liked those kinds of movies before. I guess I am changing. It might be nice to have some of those aliens here today. Then I'd at least know that I am not the only fricking thing alive around here.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 242, Year of our Lord, 2245

I dreamed about my old girlfriend from high school last night, Lisa Trablay. I was about to kiss her, and an alien jumped between her and killed her. For some odd reason, I laughed.
In my dreams, of course!
I wonder what ever happened to Lisa? I promised her the world way back then. I don't blame her for not waiting for me. But still I wonder if I had not chosen to enter the military, perhaps I might be with her now.
Her dream was to have a family, a home. My dream was to go to the stars. Well, I got my dream. I hope she got hers.
I haven't thought of her in such a long time.....
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 251, Year of our Lord, 2245

Happy Birthday to me!!!
Yep. The big 3-0! (Really 105, but I'm not counting hibernation time!)
I am celebrating by drinking some very old Scotch I found in the personal quarters of one of the colonists. Found two bottles, so I plan on going up to the observation deck and drink to the zillions of stars!!!
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 252, Year of our Lord, 2245

Im sick today. Forgot what is was like to have a hangover. Drink one of the bottles. Got drunk and felt sorry for myself. I threw the empty bottle against the glass bubble of the observation deck. I wanted to break the bubble, but the bottle shattered instead. I guess I was lucky it didn't break, or maybe I aint so lucky.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 1, Year of our Lord, 2246

Happy New Year! I celebrated by drinking the other bottle of Scotch, and yes, I'm sick again! This time I beat the empty bottle against the observation bubble. The bottle broke in my hand. My hand is cut, it bled a lot, but I think it will be ok.
I need to get back on the computer, need to find out what happened to the Excalibur, what happened to all the other people on board, and why it didn't happen to me.
At least it might keep my mind occupied.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 2, Year of our Lord, 2246

I have been working on the main computer. I did find out something about it. It seems the internal clock was stopped for some reason. I found a log entry into the computer's self diagnostic system. The clock was restarted at the time that I was awakened from hibernation. What stopped the clock? And what started it back up? But more important than this, how long has the clock been stopped? I don't know the answer to these questions, but I do know that the clock's time is not right. The date my not be right. God only knows how long I have been in space.
I need to know also.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 5, Year of our Lord, 2246

I have been working feveriously for an answer. No sleep in 48 hours.. Must find how long I have been drifting in space... What year is it? Where am I? God hear me.. God help me..
Need sleep.
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 8, Year of our Lord, 2246

Have found a possible solution to my problem! The wreckage outside the ship... I looked at it with telescope... saw the words "United Earth Space Agency". They were on the side of the thing. I think it is one of the robot scout ships. I think it collided with the Excalibur. I am also thinking that maybe the computer clock on it may still be working! I think God may have answered my prayers! Praise God!
Now all I have to do is go for a little space walk and see if I can retrieve the computer from the thing...
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 9, Year of our Lord, 2246

I have it!! I got the computer from the scout ship. I was right. The scout ship was smashed against the hull of the Excalibur. Looked like a nasty collision. The outside hull of this ship is covered with space dust. I guess 75 years would collect a lot of dust. I also noticed a very bright star while I was out there. Maybe I can get a navigational fix on it.
Gotta check out this computer from the scout ship first.
I am very excited and my hopes are high!
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Message from Captain Richard Yelsan, UESA.
Date is day 11, Year of our Lord, 2246

I have retrieved the information from the scout's computer. I cannot believe what I have found. According to the computers diagnostic log, the last entry was Day 167 Year 2706!
It was the last entry because the nuclear power source failed, so I still don't know how long I've been in space, only that it has been at least 500 years!
No wonder the stars are different. I don't even know if the human race still exists! A lot can happen in 500 years. I may be the last human being alive!
Why would God curse me with such a hell as this? I want out! I want out now!
Captain R Yelsan, UESA  ***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

I have taken the date out of my address heading on these messages. I feel like time is no longer important. I have reset all the ship's computer clocks to zero. I feel like time is my biggest enemy. I no longer feel the need to track it.
I am alone. I am lonely. I need a human voice. I human touch. God please hear me. Please kill me God.
***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

That star is getting brighter and brighter. I sit in the observation bubble and stare at it for hours. Not much more to do. Cant sleep. Don't want to eat. Just want to die. I tried to destroy the ship, but the computer requires retina scans and passwords from my me, my co-pilot, and my navigator before it will initiate the self destruct sequence. I cant even remember their names, let alone their passwords. And I don't think there's much left of them to do a retina scan.
I have found it very enjoyable to count the stars..
***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

The computer clock says day 121, year 0.
Guess it's been 121 days since I reset the clock.
Tried to cut my wrist with a steak knife today.. not enough nerve to do that.
Thought I heard footsteps on the deck 3 last night, couldn't find anything.
***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

My daily prayer:
"Please Lord, deliver me from this bondage."
***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

Somebody keeps knocking on the ship's hull..  I don't think Im alone anymore. I think someone is watching me. I see shadows and I hear footsteps. I feel scared and I fear that someone is out to get me. I think I saw a gun in one of the crew bunkers. I guess I had better get it. I don't want to kill anyone, but I will defend myself!
The light is so bright from that star that I cant go up in the observation bubble anymore. I get burned from it.
Someone is beating on the outside of the ship again! I hope that star burns them up!
***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

I have claimed the upper part of the ship for myself. The invisible people can have the rest, but they had better stay away from me, and leave me alone. I hear them talking but I cant see them. They are plotting to kill me. I think they want me to go crazy then they can rush me and take over the ship. I wont go down without a fight!!!
***END OF MESSAGE***



 
 TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

I am being haunted by the crew of this ship. I see them everywhere. They beckon to me, calling me to join them. I have found them to be the invisible people. I hear them beating on the hibernation chamber door. It is a good thing that I welded the door shut. They want me to be dead, just as they are dead.
***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

The temperature in the ship is getting very hot. Most of the electronic systems have shut down. I know the invisible people are behind this. I hung a cross on the door of the hibernation chamber, hoping to contain them inside it. It didn't work. I still hear them wailing at night. I hear them walking on the outside of the ship, banging on the doors. I cant go to the observation deck any more. It is too hot up there. I am getting too old for these games that the invisible people are playing. I am almost ready to give up and join them.
***END OF MESSAGE***


TO: Alpha Launch Station BB542
FROM: UES Excalibur

This is my last message. I grow old and weak. The invisible people win! Today I will join them. The ship is closing in on me. I hope that you will someday read this note. I hope that you will forgive me for surrendering the ship to the invisible people.
There is a fire in the forward section of the ship. The heat is unbearable. I feel that I may be in hell. I hope that God will forgive me.
To the people of Earth: The world may be getting smaller, but space is unforgiving. Perhaps we should not look to the stars for our salvation. Perhaps we should look into our own minds. Maybe there are no other frontiers for man to run to. Maybe our only option is to make what God has given us work. Maybe we are the reason it quit working in the first place.
But who of you will listen to me? I'm just a crazy old man, trapped high above you, in my little tin can.
The walls to this cabin are glowing red. This is it. Goodbye my fellow humans, if there are any of you left.
***END OF MESSAGE***



TO: United Earth Space Agency, Earth.
FROM: UESA Search Vessel  2941

Message from Commander Thafford Demos, UESA.
Day 212, Year of our Lord, 2752

We found the remains of the UES Excalibur. It was immobile and caught in the gravitational pull of the star Solairs Expent. Our scanners picked up only one life, so we assumed that there was only one survivor.  We could not establish radio communication. We tried all channels and frequencies with no answer. We did discover on the old sub spectrum radio frequency that the survivor was sending messages out. We caught the last few that he sent. Im sure that there are more streaming towards you, but at this distance, it will be several more years before you receive them.
We tried transmitting back to him on the same frequency, but it was almost as if he had his receiver turned off.
We even tried space walking on the hull of the Excalibur, trying to open the doors, with no luck. We even beat on the hull to get his attention. It was almost as if he was afraid of us.
Today we had to give up. The gravitational pull from the star became to great for us to maintain a safe orbit.
The Excalibur burned up at 23:24 today.
I have listened to the few notes that we received from the ship.
The last one made me feel lonely, and wanting to go home.
I see no reason to stay here any longer, so we will head home.
Commander Thafford Demos, UESA.
***End Of Message***


The End.

 Copyrighted Ken Rager 1998

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