Personal Log: Elmira Stevens, Age 13, Frontier Project, NASA

May 31, 2262

Hi, um, I’m Elmira, and I’m bored. I’ve read every steampunk novel in the library twice, and the fantasy ones, and the science fiction ones. I’m running out of novels all together, but Mom said that if I don’t find something productive to do, she’s going to give me extra chores, so here I am, talking to a computer. Who knows, maybe my generation will be the one that actually finds a planet to colonize and this log will go down in history as some kind of important document that kids cite in their research papers about the first extrasolar human colony! Although I kinda hope not… What if I talk about boys or something and then everyone’s all “Ooooooh, Elmira likes Tommy!” Lol, there I go. It’s a lost cause, I guess.

[Entries Omitted. For full text, please see Personal Log: Elmira Stevens, Unabridged]

June 11, 2264

Omg, I think they actually found something?? Mom’s been working overtime at the sensor arrays all week, and Dad’s been so tied up in data analysis that he’s barely come back to our family quarters to sleep. They won’t tell me what it is though. Is it a planet that won’t kill us all? Am I actually going to get to see the outside of this spaceship?? I’ll keep you posted.

June 12, 2264

You’re never going to believe this–it’s not a planet…It’s an alien! That’s all I know. Screw school–I’m sneaking into Mom’s office with her spare badge tomorrow to find out more. She’s been too busy to keep track of where I am anyway.

June 13, 2264

Okay, so it’s not like some little guys with funny noses asking to see our leader. IT’S A HUGE ASS CREATURE. Like, bigger than a planet. It’s mostly made out of some element we’ve never seen before. We can’t see it, actually, but some of Mom’s crazy instruments prove it’s there, and moving fast. We’ve diverted course to keep pace with it. This is literally the biggest scientific discovery, like, ever.

June 14, 2264

Update: There may actually be little guys with funny noses LIVING INSIDE THE CREATURE. There’s like, whole ecosystems in there. Some of them live on these chunks of rock that circulate through what Mom describes as a circulatory system of some kind, though I can’t see the veins, and they don’t seem completely solid like our veins. They’re made out of that weird element. It seems to be mostly permeable–some of the creatures just fly around in there like it’s water or something, and get this, our ship is running tests to see if we could breath whatever it is they’re flying through! The wild thing is, it’s like it’s taking care of all the little creatures in there. Its flight patterns generate a sort of artificial gravity that keeps everything living on the islands from flying off into space, and it even has a natural bioluminescence that brightens and fades. It seems to simulate the day and night cycles of a planet orbiting around a star. The animals in there probably don’t even know they’re living in a creature.

June 15, 2264

Mom is analyzing the atmospheric readings. Apparently, they are almost in range for supporting human life–closer than any of the planets we’ve flown by, anyway–but not quite ideal. Dad and his team are trying to figure out where all the little things living in the big thing came from. Did they evolve in there? Did it pick them up from somewhere else? Did it pick them up from somewhere else, and then they’ve been there so long that they evolved to live better in there? Dad says he thinks it’s a combination. He isn’t supposed to be talking to me about it until he knows more, but everyone on this whole ship is talking about it. How could you talk about anything else?

June 16, 2264

There’s creatures that can do magic in there. Mom says not to call it that. She says everything is scientific, and magic is just a cop out word for the things we don’t understand yet, but Dad showed me a drone recording of a freakin’ firebreathing dragon, so you tell me that’s not magic, Mom.

June 17, 2264

I had a weird dream last night. I was in this room–it’s how I always imagined the main character’s room in “Gears and Goggles” looks. I was happy. I knew that I was safe. That I’d be okay. When I looked out the window, there were all these floating islands, and our colony ship had landed on the biggest one. Everyone on board was getting out and exploring this new world. Now that I’m trying to tell you about it, it just sounds like a normal dream, but it didn’t feel like a normal dream. I can’t describe it. I don’t know how to.

June 18, 2264

So, they’re trying to figure out what this big creature thing eats out here in space. They think maybe it’s like minerals from space dust and asteroids and stuff it flies through because they’ve watched it collect that kind of stuff. It seems to channel it to its center, and sometimes new masses originate from there, though we don’t have great data on that as it’s really deep inside. Mom hypothesizes that the space debris is the material it uses to create the islands, but that doesn’t explain the trees or the creatures, or why it seems so intent on taking care of them. If it’s a symbiotic relationship, what does the big thing have to gain from all the little things?

June 19, 2264

Oh. My. God. It’s not just animals in there. Mom says they’ve observed signs of actual intelligent creatures now. They’ve got little cities and stuff! They’re growing fruit via the bioluminescence out toward one of the edges of the creature! They’re raising something that looks an awful lot like cows! I wonder if we’ll try to contact them. I wonder if we should?

June 20, 2264

Dad’s work friend noticed something weird. There’s more than one kind of intelligent life in there. And even some of the big fauna floating around in the empty space between the islands is showing signs of being highly intelligent. Think whales and dolphins and stuff. Think octopi. Dad says that once they started looking into it, they realized the percentage of higher order life to lower level life was actually far higher than you’d expect in a normal ecosystem. It’s almost like this creature is collecting the best and brightest of the universe to keep as pets. But why?

June 21, 2264

I haven’t been putting it in the logs because it felt silly, but I’ve been having those dreams every night. They’re always a little different. Every time I wake up and think, okay, I was really happy in that dream, but now that I think about it, it would have been better if I’d had a fridge full of soda pop…the next night it will be the same dream but with a fridge full of soda pop. Again, I’d pretty much written it off as dreams being weird, but then I sort of jokingly mentioned it to Tommy at school today and HE’S BEEN HAVING THE SAME DREAMS. Like, it’s a different room for him, but he still looks out and sees the colony ship, and every night it gets a little better. I wonder if I should tell Mom and Dad, but they’re probably too busy.

June 22, 2264

Even Mom is having a hard time not using the word “Magic” these days. The aliens in the city she’s been observing have started bringing their tools to life. I know it sounds crazy, but Mom doesn’t have much tolerance for bullshit and she swears it’s true. A bunch of them got together and meditated around this plow, and then there was some green light and it started plowing by itself, and also seemingly communicating with them, in at least some rudimentary way. This shit is her new obsession, and I can’t blame her. She keeps muttering about how energy can neither be created nor destroyed, so there must be some energy they are using to bring things to life, but she doesn’t think her instruments are tuned to pick it up. With how much she’s scribbling on graph paper after hours, I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up in the morning and found out she’d built a new, better sensor array out of everything in our silverware drawer.

June 23, 2264.

I finally mentioned the dreams over breakfast this morning and Mom and Dad flipped out. They’ve been having them too! They’re going to conduct a survey of the ship today. Maybe it’s not just us and Tommy.

June 24, 2264

So, yeah, it’s not just us. A bunch of people on board have been having really similar dreams. Like 65% of us. The only difference seems to be that everyone sees a room they’d want to see. A cool scene from their favorite book, or their childhood bedroom, or a room from a painting that used to hang in their hall. It can’t be a coincidence. Is this creature reading our minds? Is this it trying to communicate back? That would mean it knows we’re here. It’s a lot bigger than us. Who knows what it could do? I feel like I should be scared. I’m not, though. I think I’m going to read it “Gears and Goggles” tonight. I don’t even think I have to do it out loud.

June 25, 2264

“It’s excrement!” That’s totally not what you want to hear your mother shouting over the protein paste at breakfast, but that was the start of my day. The woman has had a breakthrough. She’s convinced herself that the creature is feeding off the thoughts of the smaller creatures that live in it, and that the waste by-product of that is the energy that the magic people are using to bring their tools to life. She thinks that after generations of living inside the organism, they’ve evolved ways of perceiving and interacting with these new forms of energy, or at least some of them have. Now she’s just got to convince her colleagues, which is probably going to be hard. I may be fifteen, but even I’m pretty sure she’s jumped past a few crucial steps of the scientific method in coming to this conclusion. I mean, I can’t prove she’s wrong, but all the forks are still in the silverware drawer, so I don’t think she’s built the sensor array that can prove any of that. I think she needs a good night of sleep, even if she is right.

June 26, 2264

I asked mom why she’s so sure the creature is eating our thoughts even though her boss laughed in her face today. She didn’t give me an answer for a while, and she didn’t look me in the eyes when she did. Turns out she dreamed it.

June 27, 2264

A monster tried to eat the colony Mom’s been observing today. She said it had three pairs of wings and a lot of mouths–some big, dumb, mean thing that could have wiped out the whole little society that’s going on in there. Only it didn’t. Just as it was swooping in, this big pack of other monsters bounced out from several islands away and just…ate it. She said they looked like giant white blood cells. She thinks they’re protecting the people living in the creature like our white blood cells protect our cells from bacteria and viruses. I didn’t ask her why she thought that, and she didn’t ask me why I was standing in front of our window while I read “Gears and Goggles” last night. Maybe we’re all going a little crazy.

June 30, 2264

They’ve got footage from our sensor arrays playing on every monitor in the common rooms of the ship now. The brass has given up the charade of keeping this discovery a secret. After school we all just go down to the promenade and watch. Tommy saw a flying racoon once. I saw a sky narwhal, I swear, but it went behind and island before I could show anyone. Linda from first period says she saw a dead dragon crashing through an island. She says that if you looked at the monitor showing the outside of the creature the whole thing shuddered like it hurt when it happened. Now a whole team of scientists is trying to figure out if the big creature feels pain, which is wild. Personally, though, I still can’t shake what I saw today. It was the room from my dream, on a little island all by itself right near where our ship is keeping pace. It didn’t have a roof, almost like the creature was trying to show me. It had a steam engine like from the books I’ve been reading outside powering the lights. I think it even had a mini fridge in the corner. Where the hell did it get a mini fridge?

July 1, 2264

I’m not the only one who found my room on the monitors. The promenade is choked with people every afternoon now. Tommy’s gotta help me up into the branches of the park trees for me to see the screens now.

July 2, 2264

Today, the atmospheric readings changed. There’s a pocket of islands around where the rooms are rotating in that’s almost the same composition as Earth’s breathable atmosphere. Like, Earth’s atmosphere before our ancestors fucked it all up. Better than that, even. It can’t be a coincidence. There’s a lot of talk that this could be it. Home. A fresh start for humanity. Our mission was to find a planet. But the people who sent us on that mission are dead and buried a million miles away, so who are they to complain that we found something better?

July 3, 2264

A big island slid into the middle of all the room islands today. We all recognize it. It looks like the one from our dreams. The only thing that’s missing is a ship.

July 4, 2264

We woke up to fireworks today. We didn’t shoot them, but the engineers are readying the landing gear. It’s a celebration–it has to be–though maybe not of independence. I can’t talk long today, even though I have so much more to say. I have to get into my turbulence pod soon. Goodbye, log. I never thought I’d say it, but by tomorrow, I’m going to look at this ship from the outside. Somehow, I don’t think I’m going to be so bored any more after that.

End of Personal Log


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