Commander Driver pressed the camouflage button. ‘Right, Holly, strap yourself in, we are about to descend. There’ll be a bit of turbulence as we enter the atmosphere. Ready?’
I fastened my harness ready for the descent. Sparks and flames flew past in the viewer. I braced against the turbulence that jolted me as the Storm bored through pea soup fog. I hoped that we would not hit anything.
With a dull thud and gurgling sound, we sank into thick soupy sludge.
Driver began her commentary. ‘We are entering the swamp.’
‘Ugh! How do we navigate? How do we get out?’ The thought of wading in toxic muck made me queasy.
‘Don’t worry; the computer’s navigation system can handle it.’
The viewer showed a mass of black-brown lumps. The stench like rotting fish stung my nostrils.
I sniffed. ‘Can you smell that?’
‘What smell?’ The Commander remained unaffected by any smell.
‘The rotting fish smell.’ I put a handkerchief up to my nose and mouth. My eyes streamed. I gagged. ‘Sure the Storm hasn’t cracked…’
‘Don’t be ridiculous, the Storm is state of the art, there’s no way the seals can break,’ Commander Driver snorted, and, as if to demonstrate that the smell was all in my imagination, she flared her nostrils with an exaggerated intake of air. She then frowned and said, ‘It’s alright, Holly. We will be out in five minutes.’
Five minutes of brown lumpy stew later, we emerged from the slime. The panorama greeting us was not much better. The vessel waded through a soupy mist. ‘What lives on this planet? Cockroaches?’ I asked.
‘You will find that even in the darkest of places, there is light.’
‘You sure there’s not a breach in the hull?’ I reeled at the stench of the atmosphere and the cold isolating presence that accompanied it.
Driver coughed and answered, ‘No, the on-board computer readings show that the vessel is completely sealed. But it may be something that you are sensing, on a spiritual level.’
That made sense. ‘I think God has left this place to rot; that this is where lost souls go to hell.’ I spoke through the fabric of my suit sleeve. ‘It smells like death.’
‘Yet for the few righteous ones, God keeps the place going,’ Driver preached.
‘If this is not hell, I would hate to see what is.’ I commented as we passed through an electrical storm. ‘I sense only loneliness and fear in this place.’
‘Perfect love casts out fear.’ Commander Driver was on a spiritual roll. ‘We have come in the name of the Lord to save the lost souls from this hell hole.’
‘That’s our mission?’
‘Yes, that is our mission.’
The vessel came to a stop.
‘We are here!’ She announced.
With the urge to dry retch, I began my mission with Commander Driver.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature Photo: Sea Mist Glenelg © L.M. Kling 2011
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