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 Category:  Horror and Thriller Fiction
  Posted: January 16, 2021      Views: 77
Chapters:
1 

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 ABOUT
ALLI JOHNSTON  

I wrote horror recreationally for years and took a hiatus for college. I am recently graduated with a BS in Equine Science and a minor in Psychology and have my own business as an Equine Sporthorse Therapist. Fantasy worlds, creepy adventures, and st - more...

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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
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Chapter 1 of the book Devils Advocate
The truth behind the moon landing
"One Giant Leap for Mankind" by Alli Johnston

Background
A collection of short horror stories I have created based on random online writing prompts to stretch my creative muscles.


Dr. Rhiannon Spencer walked through the metal double-doors that opened up to the computer room of the NASA laboratory. Inside were multiple aluminum desks, copious amounts of technology with wiring neatly resting on top of each one. Well-dressed scientists sat in cushioned black chairs behind every desk, their nametags resting gently on their chests in plastic sheets dangling from nylon lanyards.

Dr. Spencer oversaw all communications both within the high-tech official building and out among the stars. Well deserving of her workplace affection, she greeted many of the room's occupants by name, asking a few personal questions along the way. "How is your daughter, John? Shannon, did you have fun at the wedding last weekend?" Dr. Spencer cared deeply about her employees and ensured they were reminded each day.

Today, however, was an extra special day.

For the first time in nearly five decades, astronauts were going back to the moon. A staff meeting two years ago discussed this as a possibility thanks to one specific man. Dr. Mark Emerson raised an intriguing question after listening to updates from Mars.

"We have monitored Mars for quite some time and have learned that bacteria and other microscopic forms of life have been developing, finding more as time goes on. What if these developments are occurring on the moon, as well? We have no way of knowing without regular monitoring from either man or technology."

After extensive meetings covering expense justification, mission planning, and various types of training tune-ups, the mission was finally a go. By this time tomorrow, the men would have landed and Dr. Spencer would be broadcasting the live footage to all NASA employees, with Dr. Emerson by her side. After recording, analyzing, and finalizing details of the trip with the astronauts safely on their way home, they would release the footage to the world.

The team within the computer laboratory were together for the rest of the day performing technology checks, sound adjustments, and furniture rearranging as they prepared for what they would hope to be a historic day.


Dr. Emerson arrived before anyone else, loading boxes upon boxes of donuts into the lab as an early celebration for the anticipated events. People began pouring into the room soon afterwards, some making their way to the desks while others stood against the walls, everyone looking to get a good view at the large screen that completely covered the north wall except for a few feet around each edge.

Dr Spencer walked into the room with her usual smile and greetings for everyone, making her way to the front alongside Dr. Emerson beneath the flat screen.

"Hello everyone! We have gathered you here just a bit early but we will have open communication via audio and video with the group within the next half hour. Please enjoy coffee and donuts while we wait. Today... we make history!" Applause rippled throughout the room, hopeful laughter and conversation following immediately as the NASA employees and scientists eagerly waited.

Finally, silence ensued as the idle screen containing NASA's emblem was replaced with a small rotating circle as the visual began to load.

The loading screen was soon replaced with the image of large white gloves, a small NASA symbol at the wrist. Footage rotated between the body cameras of each astronaut in the group, showing their bulky arms as they sat in the spaceship waiting for word to exit. According to the mission briefing, the men were to deposit a rover similar to Opportunity so that regular monitoring could be achieved.

Communication was repeatedly tested as check ins with each astronaut occurred, ensuring mental and physical health after their journey. With the go ahead, the door opened with a hiss. The men waited on the retractable metal steps until everyone was ready. After a quick countdown, they jumped together, landing their feet on the moon for the first time in almost 50 years.

Cheers erupted, both from the large screen and from the open room full of excited and anxious people. Chatter continued amongst everyone as they watched the explorers leap around dust and rock, the same dust and rock the very first astronauts walked on. For more accurate developmental research, the team aimed their landing in the same area with careful consideration of time of year and moon placement so that the footage of previous moon landings could be cross-examined later. The five astronauts were obviously excited to be among such historical land, splitting up to cover more ground. The rover was to be dispatched after a quick evaluation of the area.

"Holy shit."

The room fell silent as their eyes jerked back to the screen, searching for what caused the exclamation.

"You won't fucking believe this," the voice continued. One of the astronauts, Sean Beekman, had a slight shake in his voice as he spoke.

Dr. Spencer quickly shuffled through the body cameras, searching for the one labeled "BEEKMAN_24". It didn't take the label for her to know she had the right one.

Not a word was spoken as the screen portrayed the image of a large, dusty rock, at least 15 feet in height and 20 feet in length judging by what was lying next to it.

A familiar suit, eerily similar to the ones currently being worn by the sources of the active footage.

"My God," Dr. Emerson muttered, a hand over his mouth. Complete silence remained as the people both in the room and above the earth's atmosphere took in what they were looking at. It was clear that the suit was older than the ones the crew was currently wearing and that there was something terribly wrong with it. White, frayed fibers stood tall from the ventral line of the prostrate suit, indicating a very long cut from chest to pelvis. Sean awaited orders to approach, cautiously taking a few steps back.

Dr. Spencer relayed the order to Sean: "We have to look at it, we have to know who it is. Proceed with caution."

Sean took a step forward, breath ragged as he approached. The image on the screen showed something heartstopping - other suits lying nearby. Sean turned his body to show the Earth crew what he was seeing, counting out loud as he did so.

"One, two, three..."

Twelve. There were twelve suits strewn across the barren landscape.

"Hey... how many people have landed on the moon before us again?"

Dr. Spencer hesitated. "T-... Twelve, Beekman. Twelve."

A gut wrenching feeling filled the atmosphere, crushing the scientists with its silence. Sean began walking forward once again.

As he got closer, the rips in the suits were easily visible. Massive tears, the only abnormality about the spacesuits themselves. He kneeled down next to the one he saw first and read the barely visible name patch.

"CERNAN".

Dr. Spencer dropped her head. Confused, scared, and curious, chatter began and theories flowed.

"Quiet, QUIET!" Dr. Emerson desperately tried to regain control, although it was unclear of whether it was of the employees or himself. "Beekman, keep going, please." His voice was almost a whimper.

Sean knelt down to the body, freezing in his tracks once he realized what he saw. Eugene Cernan, part of the crew on Apollo 10, still in his suit. It was impossible to tell it was him apart from the name patch, his face was unrecognizable. His eyes were completely decomposed, the only thing left of his skin completely mummified and gray. A skeleton stared back at everyone in the room from inside the spacesuit.

Regaining his composure, he looked at the bodies around him. Each one looked exactly alike, decayed and unsettling. He paused over the bodies as he read the name patches, "IRWIN", "ARMSTRONG", "ALDRIN", "CONRAD"...

"Every American that has landed on the moon is lying right in front of us, dead," Dr. Spencer said softly. "How is that possible?"

"Were the returns faked? Weren't they documented?"

They thought for a moment. Neither of them had ever seen the "living" astronauts that had supposedly returned from the moon decades ago nor had they seen evidence of the previous explorer's homecoming.

Panic set in as Sean said, "Where is everyone else?"

Dr. Spencer had muted them as she focused on the insanity from Beekman's camera. She quickly fumbled with the computer as she remembered that there were other men up there.

"Please, come in," she said as she alternated between each camera. She had furiously clicked through the footage, seeing the same thing on the four other men's suits - a starry sky. It was beautiful, vast and open. As badly as everyone wanted to admire what they were looking at, they quickly realize that this meant the cameras were facing upwards and the wearers were laying on their backs. No answer came from any of the crew-mates so she quickly cycled back to Sean.

"You have to get to them immediately," she said to Sean. The orders had not been given from her supervisor but she felt that this had been deemed obvious. She would deal with whatever punishment came after she knew everyone was okay.

The camera showed the unending dusty terrain as Sean turned and began bounding towards the ship. His terror became increasingly obvious as his breathing echoed through the silent room.

A flash of white flitted across the screen as Sean froze in his tracks.

"Did you see that," he whispered, taking a cautious step backwards. Fear set in as he knew that the absence of gravity would never allow him to move quickly if he needed to.

The silence ached. Dr Spencer thought that maybe she could pass it off as a shooting star to calm him down but immediately thought better of it. They knew that what they saw was not something they had ever seen before. She anxiously cycled through the other cameras to see if she could get another glimpse of whatever it was. The black, star sprinkled sky glared menacingly back at her.

"FUCK!"

Dr. Spencer panicked, knocking a cup of writing utensils over as she smashed the keyboard to get Sean's image back onto the screen.

"HELP! THERE'S SOMETHING UP HERE, THERE'S SOMETHING UP HERE!" Sean screamed repeatedly, his camera showing nothing abnormal as he desperately tried to run. The moon forced him to move agonizingly slow, giving him too much time to think about his potential fate. Sean began to cry helplessly, collapsing onto the surface of the moon.

"You have to keep going, Sean, we're going to get you out of there," Dr. Emerson finally spoke again. "You have to get up."

Suddenly, the camera blurred as it fell to the ground and rolled back to show the sky. "NO IT -" Sean began, the audio cutting off completely as the screen showed nothing but the reflection of the room.

Shuffling through the cameras again, Dr. Spencer began to cry. There had to be something, anything she could do. Dr. Emerson dropped his head into his hands, completely at a loss.

Dr. Spencer gasped as she settled on one of the crew member's body cameras, causing everyone to flash their eyes to the screen.

In the top right corner, green lettering read "BEEKMAN_24". When the visual finally loaded, an empty, star spattered sky stared back at them.

Author Notes
Writing prompt from @writing.prompt.s on Instagram
Photo from google images

Writing Prompt:it has s been years since the last moon landing. After several decades of silence, humans proudly set foot on it again. Up there, the astronauts found mummified human corpses inside torn open space suits. The tags were still legible, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin... the astronauts from decades ago...
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