Monologues After Death
I am dead.
For 8 hours, 11 minutes and 26 seconds.
I am dead, because a friend took my life.
And I understand why. And I agree. He had no other choice then, and killing me was unavoidable.
I’m drifting half a metre above my physical remains, spinning in gentle circles around the axis. Moon, Earth, Moon, Earth. If my former eyes, now congealed to blind globes of ice, could watch any longer, they would like what they see. Planet Earth, unique in our solar system, with its gleaming atmosphere and the wonderful areas of blue water. And the bright surface of a crescent moon. In the north, Mare Imbrium, one of the larger craters, where our Moonbase was built and Ginny works and lives.
Ginny. Oh Ginny. I know I disappointed you, treated you badly. Our friendship breached after my return from the ordeal. Damn aliens. They took my friends, my love, my life, all I ever had and instead they have given me one thing I can’t handle yet, a single consciousness, detached from my body. A second life, or better: one half – the spiritual one - of my former life.
I am drifting in space. Outside of my dead form, but somehow connected with it. I’ve tried to leave it, tried to return to one of our satellites or Moonbase. And I’ve tried hard! But my consciousness doesn’t follow my orders; it seems as if my fate sticks to my dead bones.
We are leaving Earth’s orbit, since Ed gave me that final push. He shouldn’t be heavy at heart now, no. I believe he is, but he shouldn’t. As I said before: he had no choice. The aliens transformed me into a lethal weapon, prepared my brain to kill my commander, who was one of my oldest friends. But the enemy failed. Thank God, they failed.
Ed is repairing S.I.D. now on his own, I can see him working at the outer hull. Oh yes, he blames himself for sending me to death, but he shouldn’t. It was necessary. And I don’t blame him. Otherwise I would have killed him … or more precisely, the aliens in my head would have killed him.
I leave him now. He’ll get over it, as he always gets over it when someone of his staff loses his life. ‘Killed on duty’, the short notice will say later, or ‘accidental death’. I don’t know how Ed Straker copes with it, but however, he’ll find the right statement. Always a hardliner, but I could cast a glance into his heart. Goodbye, my dear friend.
I wonder if anyone else will miss me? Of course Lew, my comrade since we served together on Skydiver 1. We’ve become friends over the last months. Lew is … Lew. Intelligent, purposeful, caring, thoughtful. I can almost feel his sorrow though I haven’t touched his thoughts since I died. The time is not ripe for visiting him, my memories of our friendship are too fresh. Anyhow, the grief is double-sided. Hang on, Lew.
And the others? Gay Ellis, attractive Gay. Hell, no, not alone attractive, but hot, awesome, a beauty. Never seen such a doll-like girl before. I liked to talk to her, tease her, bring her out of her shell. But it was never more than a flirt. My heart belonged to Virginia.
Ginny, my love…I’ll miss you. I know Paul Foster chases you. Can’t say I’m happy with it, but he’s a brave and loyal guy though we were on bad terms. I’m a ghost now, a breeze of nothing. No rival any longer. Have to accept it. Okay, Foster, then listen: mind her and never hurt my girl or you’ll have me to contend with.
I’m getting tired now. There’s a lot I have to think about. My future, my past. Do I have a future? I don’t know. My body is drifting through the space, taking me with it into the dark. Where will it end? I don’t know…
Collins is dead. I don’t know if I saved the commander; shouting my warning at the critical moment, when they both fought in space. But Ed survived and Collins did not. Ed will return and the other man is a corpse in the dark now. Sorry, but nobody can expect sympathy from me.
That’s life. And that’s our job. Working for SHADO is perilous, not alone because of the aliens. Sometimes the real aliens are your best friends. Ed and Collins were close friends in the beginning of our organisation. Ed told me they installed S.I.D. together after the first massive attack of the aliens.
Maybe there were times when Collins was a kind and sympathetic colleague, but all I can say is he was unpleasant and irritating. I remember our training on Moonbase when he hurt me with the barbell, cracking my tibia and breaking my ribs because he wanted me out of the programme. Then his attempted murder on Colonel Grey. Okay, the security specialist couldn’t prove it was an attempt, but I’ve never heard of a total lack of oxygen in one of Moonbase private rooms before. And Collins’ fingerprints were found on the control device in front of Grey’s cabin. See?
I never understood why he wanted me as partner for repairing S.I.D. when his sole aim was killing Straker. What the hell had come into him? Stupid bastard, I’m glad he didn’t make it. If Ed hadn’t finished him, I would have done it. Collins? Forget his name.
I had a lot of boy friends and lovers in my life, but no one like Craig Collins. And understand, this is not a compliment.
Honestly, I can’t remember why I dated Craig, surrendered to his charms. It was the week after I’d dumped Andy Conroy. I felt lonely, unsatisfied, not fully engaged. My duty on Moonbase was dreary, the aliens stayed away, a routine job day in, day out. And then Craig barged in the control sphere, literally - he tripped over his own feet and fell through the air lock. ‘Clumsy Craig Collins’, I thought at that moment and started giggling. And all he did was jumping back to his feet, smiling at me and saying “I’ve never fallen to my knees in front of a girl that soon!”
After that he bombarded me with compliments and small pressies whenever he returned to Moonbase. And this happened very often since Commander Straker had assigned him to transport flights. I didn’t like him that well; he was no Adonis, was he? His hair too wiry, his lips too broad, his grin too big – and then his manners. Rebellious and sassy, taking whatever he wanted without asking when he wanted to get a hug, a kiss or whatever. In one word: outrageous. And possessive.
You ask me now, why I didn’t ditch him. Well, he had his advantages… he was young, strong, an experienced lover. My toy boy, someone at the same level as me, so why drop him? We had a lot of hot nights and that counted more than his strange behaviour. Anyhow, the affair ended when I thought he had died on the island. I cried a little bit, but then Paul Foster was there, soothing me. Forgetting Craig was easy, Paul tops him in all its particulars, especially in one. But enough, my lips are sealed now, don’t want to be a chatterbox. Let the dead lie in peace.
Dr. Blouden, SHADO medical, just told me about Collins’ death when he checked my head wound. Heavens! Although still suffering from a serious concussion, I almost jumped out of my hospital bed, grabbing for the telephone. I needed to know what had happened. I rang Colonel Foster, asking him for the facts. The most important thing is, he warned the commander right in time and so Straker escaped uninjured. I’m not surprised he started repairing S.I.D. on his own after the fight, wanting the job to be finished by all means.
Collins, crazy Colonel Collins. Finally I was right and Straker was wrong. If he only had trusted my instincts…
Collins and I were never friends and I had personal problems with him from the start. Too flippant, imprudent and skittish. His behaviour towards me with his ‘sirs’, ‘masters’ and ‘my lords’ was annoying. He wanted to provoke me with all he said and the way he did it. Regularly I’m a sober-minded scientist, but in this case it was hard to get a grip on myself.
I wonder why the commander had charged him with the repair job, but Straker’s announcement had been clear: “As to SID’s engineering, Collins is God”. But God wouldn’t deliberately set out to hurt Foster during their workouts, or upset Sir Esmond, giving him the creeps as we met on the studio lot!
And then his relationship to Colonel Lake. I felt something was wrong and when she told me, Craig was ‘different’, I started looking more closely at Collins. I was alarmed when he won our game of chess on Moonbase. Honestly, I’m a good chess player and Craig never left the stage of a rookie, hardly knowing how the chess pieces have to be arranged on the boards. It was more than a little strange that he beat me in seven moves – I was perplexed. Something had changed with him and I wanted to identify what.
I visited Dr. Jackson, knowing he had run some tests on Collins. Didn’t know he had done more than the official ones, but the result on the screen was alarming – Collins hadn’t shown any brain activity inside the isolator.
My instincts switched to red alert and I rushed to Collins’ apartment, trying to stop him from whatever he had planned. But too late, he was going to leave and hit me to the ground when I tried to talk to him. I’ll keep a nice scar on my head because of that mad bloke. The doc had to fix it with eight stitches and I’m still feeling dizzy.
No, Craig, I was not the one who was ‘out of his mind’, but you were. And I’m glad to say ‘were’, in past tense. Over and out.
When Colonel Collins entered my laboratory I had the certain feeling the usual tests would not be enough in his case. I watched his eyes, his wooden way of moving … not the way a well trained pilot should walk into my office.
I remember almost every second of his visit. It was two days before his and the commander’s takeoff for SID. Straker had called me earlier, announcing Collins’ appearance in my laboratory for a check of his physical functions. I noticed slight doubts in his voice, but when I asked he gave a cagey reply, mentioning Colonel Grey’s instinct about Collins he did not take too much heed of.
I was entitled to my own opinion. Knowing the commander for so many years allows you to sense his doubts. So I made the official tests on Colonel Collins and some more, the unofficial experiments in the isolator. After he had left, I analysed the results. They were beyond any expectation. The waves of his brain activity inside the cabinet were zero, in other words, totally missing. A body without own will, a human computer, I would say. For a moment, I was confused. Did I make a mistake? Or a failure during the test process? The only way to check it was to feed the data into the main computer. And then to wait for the result. And this result was as shocking as the first readout. No malfunction of the test apparatus – Collins’ brain had appeared to be dead in the isolator.
I called Colonel Grey to come to my laboratory again to get a second opinion, to check the computer results again and give him my suggestion how to deal with it. Grey was in charge over the SID project. But … a vital mission in space, Commander Straker counting on a partner, who was obviously controlled by an alien power – I assumed the worst.
I heard a voice behind my back and I looked up, instinctively knowing it was not Colonel Grey who had entered the room. I felt his gaze burning on my neck when he drew closer. I turned, grabbing at the telephone, but his hand followed mine, pulling my fingers away. Craig Collins stared at me, his eyes without any emotion, his face showing a murderous expression. “Into the cabinet”, he ordered and I did what he said. After he had bound and gagged me, I heard him rummage in my desk for a while. Then he came back, a syringe in his hand. I felt the needle penetrate into my arm, a liquid coursed into my vein and then I fell into darkness.
Later Dr. Shroeder told me I must have been unconscious for hours. He found me the next day, at that time when Colonel Grey warned Foster about Collins’ murderous plans.
I wonder how the aliens had controlled him over weeks and SHADO’s safety routines had not detected it. And how had the aliens managed to gain a complete control over his brain activities, but on the other side programmed him to act as the human he was before, until his last mission started?
I will speak to Commander Straker and request an expansion of the standard tests to analyse brain functions.
Alone with SID and my thoughts. Things went so awfully wrong. Now Craig is nothing more than a corpse drifting in space, because I had to kill him.
He was one of my oldest friends, for many a long year a trusted comrade and a good astronaut. We installed SID together the first time, and this was my main argument why I accompanied him the second time. I had my doubts, that’s true. But SID was more important than my feelings or Grey’s warning. I could not leave the Earth unprotected for weeks.
I’ll have to speak to Dr. Shroeder, Blouden and Jackson. They all gave Craig full clearance.
I want a detailed explanation, why three experienced medicals could have failed so much. And I have to apologize to Colonel Grey. He had a certain feeling and he was right. Paul told me they’ve found him with a bleeding head wound in Craig’s apartment. Sometimes I should listen more carefully – and believe.
I wonder how the aliens could influence Craig. They made him one of them. But how?
I’m convinced they had a hand in Craig’s crash. We should have tried to find the unlocated UFO with more effort. I’m partially at fault, guilty of his transformation into a killing machine. Perhaps we could have prevented him from falling into their hands. And perhaps I could have rescued his life, if…
But too late now. I’ve lost a friend and SHADO a well-trained astronaut. No matter what happened, we’ll have to arrange a memorial service when I’m back on Earth. Farewell, Craig. I’ve to get on with fixing SID before the next attack of the aliens starts.
These monologues are based on the episode 'The Man Who Came Back'.