When I woke up, I had experienced 6 months of humiliation. I looked at my peers. They had endured the same. It was Captain Crewcut’s idea of a bad joke.

“What’s that smell?” I asked.

“It’s a nursing home in outer space. What did you expect? These people have been waiting here for 40 years.”

“Why didn’t they go back?”

“That’s a good question, I don’t have the answer to. We’d better suit-up.”

When we got to the ward, nobody was awake. “

As you can see, we keep them comatose—similar to hyper sleep, but with one exception; we have to keep them under with special medication, similar to stem cells.” Captain Crewcut was even more powerful looking in a medical jacket. Anyone who looked at him could tell he liked to play god.

“You insert the needle like so. Follow these charts. If something out of the ordinary happens, come and get me.” He said this like nothing out of the ordinary would happen.

That was it, and he left us. It was difficult to go to work with the view from outside. The gold planet glowed like a volcano. It was like staring at a second sun, but more solid, and so large, it nearly blotted out space.

“You’re telling me, there’s not a single place on that planet to land?” Brandon asked.

“Just look at it though, the eruptions, and the rivers of lava.”

“Somehow, Cortez would’ve found a way. The gas mines were pretty bad; I doubt the gold planet can be any worse.”

I read the charts and gathered up the syringes. “Mr. Covington, It’ll be two doses for you.” When I administered the contents, his body relaxed. He could’ve been 100 years old.

Then a pulse, like a gigantic sun spot shot across the station. Vibration and sound caused my ears to ring and my head to explode. Several of the patients sat up in the toxic black and gold light. Their faces were half-dead, with paralyzed muscles that quivered to speak, but couldn’t.

“What’s going on here?” Captain Crewcut demanded. “My god, you’ve got to give them more medication.” He started inserting the syringes himself, at the base of the skull, not paying attention to dosage.

I wasn’t a medical professional, and obviously, Captain Crewcut wasn’t either. He was panicked, but in no time, all the patients were sedated. It caused me to wonder about the Captain and why he so desperately needed to keep the patients under. It was an answer I was going to get to the bottom of.

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