banner art above by Charles Carter

Monday, September 19, 2011


by Gil James Bavel

Mission Day 722: 14:55 hours
Ganymede Base mining station
Second Shift

I realized as I was freezing to death how beautiful Jupiter is from Ganymede's surface. Beautiful like a huge spider watching me with one powerful, raging mutant eye. Hanging there in its web, space. Coldly staring me down. Which only added to the growing chill I felt from my failing spacesuit. The fuel supply was nearly extinguished. I found myself doing the most ridiculous things in an attempt to stay warm. Rubbing my gloved hands together. Going for low-gravity jogs. Even if I could reach Ganymede's terminator in time, it didn’t provide enough ambient heat to be of any help. I was doomed.

Jupiter's natural beauty was as little a comfort as it was undeniable. When the Great Red Spot was facing Ganymede, it was all you could focus on. The bands of gravity-fed gas storms were stunning from my vantage point, and glowed brilliantly in their ever-churning incandescent rainbow of colors. What you see on the telescreens back home just doesn’t do it justice. Still, my suit's heads-up display read 12% on the power gauge, which meant I had maybe an hour or so before I would succumb to the stark cold of open space. It seemed ironic that the one thing that I had an enormous supply of was oxygen, and it was a highly combustible resource. Of course, I'd have to remove my breathing apparatus if I wanted to ignite it. I had already run over every possible scenario countless times in my mind, and I was stumped.

Io came into view from one side of massive Jupiter, a small speck brilliantly lit by the sun, 483,780,000 miles away. Why couldn't I be on one of Jupiter's other moons? I knew, of course, that we hadn't settled Io because Ganymede was so much bigger, because of its magnetosphere, relative stability and raw materials, but we did have mining stations over there. There was power there. Io had more internal heat than Ganymede, but that was because of the tidal flexing, which made Io more unstable.

I'd made the Ganymede-Io run a few times. Now there's an interesting feeling of vertigo, hanging between two tiny pebbles while racing past the gaping maw of the largest planetary body in the solar system. From here, it seemed even bigger than the sun could possibly be. From here, Jupiter looked like the biggest object in the universe. It was all you could see from such a low orbit.

It seemed like much longer than ten years since humanity had settled Ganymede. It had been discussed, budgeted, shelved, reopened, mothballed, reconsidered, shitcanned again, and finally implemented. Whoever figured out that terraforming Ganymede would be much cheaper and much faster than Venus or Mars was a genius. And by now quite rich, I should think. The Helium-3 on Ganymede was so much richer and easier to access than on Luna, and the advances in radiation protection in the last twenty-five years had allowed us to make semi-permanent habitation here a reality. To us, Jupiter was no longer the hot, spitting dragon she had been a century before. That, and the moon-huggers had a fit after we started mining on Luna. But it was okay with them if they couldn’t see it.

We were doing important work out here. Environmentalists never see the bigger picture. Without the Helium-3 from our installation, Earth would have to return to reliance on the dirty fossil fuels and radioactive fissile ones that had nearly destroyed the planet’s economy and biosphere in the early 21st century.

Too bad there still wasn't any atmosphere to lock in heat. Early on, they had proposed a low-orbit dusting of carbon to attract light and maintain some temperature. It wouldn't work because of radio and other early technological considerations; keeping the radio-link with Earth and Moonbase was the top priority, in case something like what did happen happened.

The accident wasn't the Company's fault, nor was there any mechanical malfunction or human error. It must have been a rogue comet. Jupiter vacuums up a hell of a lot more of them than previously thought. I’m surprised the Jovian Deep Space Array didn’t pick it up. When the tidal forces nearby Jupiter’s massive gravity-well changed, there was a massive moonquake that, by itself, we could have weathered.

There would have been some damage, but not the wholesale devastation to the installation that occurred when one of the fuel storage tanks ruptured in the shuttle bay. It lifted me off my feet and threw me on my ass, onto Ganymede’s surface, which shook with a rage like a giant teething child. I struggled like a tortoise on its back for a few minutes just to get back on my feet.

We stored raw hydrogen off-base for our fusion reactors, but some was used to refuel the shuttles. The shuttles’ main job, aside from replenishing our supplies, was ferrying the H-3 back to Earth for use planetwide. The chain reaction took out half of the lab—the main building—and explosive decompression took care of the rest. I was finishing up my fieldwork for the week, manually adjusting the antennae outside on the radio shack when it happened.

I saw Biggs and Williams tumble past, dead before they hit Ganymede's rocky, icy surface. I discovered that Lisa had lived for long enough that I regretted it; she'd recorded a few words into her suit’s com system before dying, "I love you Will." Hearing that when I got to her body was especially heartbreaking, because she really did. And I had loved her.

At first, when we started serving together, I thought she was into women. Maybe that was just a front she put up, serving with so many men. Over time, we had fallen for each other hard. Her face was so serene in death, her beautiful, long white neck looked so strange with her comparatively Day-Glo orange blood frozen to it. Her nose and ears had leaked blood onto the visor of her helmet, which I removed. She would have been proud that her short, spiky blonde hair still had unbelievable hold. Tears streamed down my face inside my suit, and I moved on.

I found my commanding officer, Devon, still alive behind the glass of the multipurpose building we used as radio shack, supply storage, and occasional hideaway when we needed privacy. Devon and I had conversations with my helmet up against the glass about the proximity of ships in the area, how we could restore the radio transmitter, if there were any way to get part of my oxygen supply to him, things like that. It didn't seem fair that I was out here and had plenty of air, but eventually Devon opened the airlock and choked on nothing at all instead of his own waste Co2 so that I could get in.

It wasn't the first time I'd had to put the glass of my helmet up to the bay window of the building to talk with whoever might be in there; the radio in the building was the original one they'd brought to Ganymede, now a secondary transmitter since they'd had the new one in the lab. Actually, there was a backup in the lab that was better, but we were only supposed to turn it on during a radio emergency. The multipurpose building's old radio had been screwed up for months, and we'd put in for another last Wednesday. I know, because I'm the one that requested it.

The Company said it was just a luxury though, and denied the request. I think it must have gotten back to them that off-duty I used to walk the underground tunnel into the building, close the airlock and communicate with radio operators back home. Because of our proximity to Jupiter, I only had a 2-hour window to send and receive one-way messages, and since it takes 44 minutes for messages to go each way, carrying on one conversation often took days. I'd periodically come in and check the computer to see if anything had come in during the week-long Ganymedean day. Of course, I don't really think the Company cared a whole lot. They never mentioned it to me.

I'd gone into the lab, and tried to leave a message on the computer for whoever might find us. The Company would be sure to investigate on next Friday's Run when they didn't hear from us. Today was Sunday. The power was out in the lab, and Devon finally came out into the underground hallway, his oxygen spent. His death was as instantaneous as it was grisly. Without an atmosphere, open liquid is not possible; where there is no air pressure, all materials sublimate immediately.

An unprotected human body, being comprised of mostly water and other liquids, shrivels up like a tin can in a vacuum. I went in to the radio shack to see about leaving some kind of message, but if you've ever tried to use a keyboard from inside a spacesuit, it's pretty goddamn difficult. Communications were offline. I eventually opened up a long-obsolete paint program and drew letters with a gloved finger on the hands-on pad.

"Installation compromised massive moonquake," I'd scribbled, "Technician William Jensen only survivor of initial damage, and I haven’t got long." It felt funny leaving a message for someone to read after you'd died. "Mortician:" I'd almost added as an afterthought, "allergic to formaldehyde." When I was done, I saved it and shut the computer down to save energy in case I could figure out how to jury-rig a link to my spacesuit's system in the next several minutes. It came down to tools. If I'd had the right tools, I think I could have tapped power from the multipurpose building's generator for long enough to survive until the Friday Run showed up. Of course, by that time, my suit would have been full to the knees with my own organic waste product (I'd always hated that Company euphemism). It wouldn't have been very comfortable, but I could've made it. The tools I required, if they hadn't been melted or disintegrated in the lab blast, were probably halfway to the other side of Ganymede by now. If I had long enough, I'm sure they'd have floated past. They'll find them someday and know that they're proof of previous life on Jupiter's moons. "Spanners of the Gods;" I could see the headline now.

As it was, I had fifty or so minutes, and I had run out of options.

I wondered if I should stay close to the installation, so it would be easier for them to find my body, or maybe go for a walk. The temptation to go on a final, last visionquest was irresistible. During the two and a half years I'd been here, I'd only ever seen Ganymede from the installation, the Io shuttle, or the Friday Run ships. We're not supposed to take walks. On Ganymede, we were exposed to about 8 rem of radiation a day from Jupiter without protection. 75 rems over a period of a few days is enough to cause radiation poisoning, and about 500 rems over a few days is fatal. My suit couldn’t protect me for more than a few hours—but I didn’t have that long. Nothing to stop me now. Walkabout. I might even find one of those alien spanners.

Click Here

for Part II


  1. very cool!I'd like to make the Ganymede run myself:-)


    1. Hey, Chris! Yeah, that would be fun, as long as no rogue comets hit while you're there. It's a little long (the story) but not as long as the Ganymede run would take!

  2. Thanks, Chris! The limited edition SisDS T-shirt is available from the Freezine, email Shaun for details!

  3. Great story Gil, I'm racing off to read the rest of spanner just floated past my window...

  4. Thanks, Old Peculier! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the comment, and let me know which story you're going to tackle next! SIADS is the longest one, the rest are shorter... with the possible exception of The Devo Riots--Which, if you're into Devo AND the Church of the SubGenius, is a hoot!


Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's exact whereabouts
are never able to be fully
pinned down, but what we
do know about him is laced
with the echoes of legend.
He's already been known
to haunt certain areas of
the landscape, a trick said
to only be possible by being
able to manipulate it from
the future. His presence
among the rest of us here
at the freezine sends shivers
of fear deep in our solar plexus.

Konstantine Paradias & Edward

Konstantine Paradias's

Konstantine Paradias is a writer by
choice. At the moment, he's published
over 100 stories in English, Japanese,
Romanian, German, Dutch and
Portuguese and has worked in a free-
lancing capacity for videogames, screen-
plays and anthologies. People tell him
he's got a writing problem but he can,
like, quit whenever he wants, man.
His work has been nominated
for a Pushcart Prize.

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris is a 2011 nominee for
the Pushcart Prize in literature, has
also been nominated for the 2009
Rhysling Award and the 2005 British
Science Fiction Association Award.
His short stories have been published
over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
PerhihelionSF, the Red Penny Papers'
SUPERPOW! anthology, and The
Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. He lives
and works in Portland as a writer,
editor, spoken word MC and bouncer,
and is also a regular guest author at
the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz hails out of the shattered
streets of Philly destroying the air-
waves and people's minds in the
underground with his band OLD
FEZZIWIG. He's been known to
dip his razor quill into his own
blood and pen a twisted tale
every now and again. We are
delighted to have him onboard
the FREEZINE and we hope
you are, too.

Daniel E. Lambert's

Daniel E. Lambert teaches English
at California State University, Los
Angeles and East Los Angeles College.
He also teaches online Literature
courses for Colorado Technical
University. His writing appears
in Silver Apples, Easy Reader,
Other Worlds, Wrapped in Plastic
and The Daily Breeze. His work
also appears in the anthologies
When Words Collide, Flash It,
Daily Flash 2012, Daily Frights
2012, An Island of Egrets and
Timeless Voices. His collection
of poetry and prose, Love and
Other Diversions, is available
through Amazon. He lives in
Southern California with his
wife, poet and author Anhthao Bui.


Phoenix has enjoyed writing since he
was a little kid. He finds much import-
ance and truth in creative expression.
Phoenix has written over sixty books,
and has published everything from
novels, to poetry and philosophy.
He hopes to inspire people with his
writing and to ask difficult questions
about our world and the universe.
Phoenix lives in Salt Lake City, Utah,
where he spends much of his time
reading books on science, philosophy,
and literature. He spends a good deal
of his free time writing and working
on new books. The Freezine of Fant-
asy and Science Fiction welcomes him
and his unique, intense vision.
Discover Phoenix's books at his author
page on Amazon. Also check out his blog.

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
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inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee. He has been
a Romantic poet for as long as any-
one can remember, specializing in
the composition of spectral balladry,
utilizing to great effect a traditional
poetic form that taps into the haunted
undercurrents of folklore seldom found
in other forms of writing.
His poetry has appeared on the pages
of such publications as SPECTRAL
CTHULHU, and a poem of his,
"The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner,"
won the Rhysling Award for long-form
poetry. His collection of weird balladry
and Jack tales, THE LAY OF OLD HEX,
was published by Hippocampus Press in 2017.

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff is the author of the
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Press, 2018), Flesh Trade (co-written
w/Edward Morris; published by Create-
Space, 2017), Punk Rock Ghost Story
(Deadite Press, 2016), Amazing Punk
Stories (Eraserhead Press, 2016),
Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich (Eraserhead
Press, 2014), Hunting the Moon Tribe
(Eraserhead Press, 2011), The Vegan
Revolution...with Zombies (Eraserhead
Press, 2010), and Screams from a Dying
World (Afterbirth Books, 2009).
David is a hardcore vegan and tireless
environmentalist. His contributions to
the punk horror scene and the planet in
general have already established him
as a bright new writer and activist to
watch out for. The Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance.

Sanford Meschkow's

Sanford Meschkow is a retired former
NYer who married a Philly suburban
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lished in a 1970s issue of AMAZING.
We welcome him here on the FREE-
ZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking currently
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movies within the comfort of an Insane
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stories at The Intestinal Fortitude in
the Flesheater's World section.
The Memory Sector is his first
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Owen R. Powell's

Little is known of the mysterious
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Gene Stewart
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Gene Stewart's

Gene Stewart is a writer and artist.
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researching tales of mystical realism,
writing ficta mystica, and exploring
the dark by casting a little light into
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Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
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With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
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a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
Audio Anthology, The Tide Pool, and
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.
When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
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Paul Stuart's

Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
biographical blurbs written in the third
person. His previously published fiction
appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and
His non-fiction financial pieces can be found
in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features
pictures of expensive homes, as well as images
of women in casual poses and their accessories.
Consider writing him at,
if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall
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Rain Grave's

Rain Graves is an award winning
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poetry. She is best known for the 2002
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(along with Mark McLaughlin and
David Niall Wilson). Her most
recent book, Barfodder: Poetry
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writes in San Francisco, performing
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Icy Sedgwick's

Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
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Blag Dahlia's
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G. Alden Davis's

G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
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writing scholarship for the effort. Soon
afterward he discovered that words were
not enough, and left for art school. He was
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with his BFA from Memphis College of Art
in '94, and entered the videogame industry
as a team leader and 3D artist. He has over
25 published games to his credit. Mr. Davis
is a Burningman participant of 14 years,
and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.
He's also the best friend I ever had. He
was taken away from us last year on Jan
25 and I'll never be able to understand why.
Together we were a fantastic duo, the
legendary Grub Bros. Our secret base
exists on a cross-hatched nexus between
the Year of the Dragon and Dark City.
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lines of our electromagnetic gathering,
shades of us peel off from the coruscating
pillars and are dropped back into the mix.
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another manifestation of light itself, a
purple shift shall we say into another
phase of our expanding universe. I
ask myself, is it wishful thinking?
Will we really shed our human skin
like a discarded chrysalis and emerge
shimmering on another wavelength
altogether--or even manifest right
here among the rest without their
even beginning to suspect it? Well
people do believe in ghosts, but I
myself have long been suspicious
there can only be one single ghost
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shrinking away into a withering heart
glittering and winking at us like
lost diamonds still echoing all their
sad and lonely songs fallen on deaf
eyes and ears blind to their colorful
emanations. My grub brother always
knew better than what the limits
of this old world taught him. We
explored past the outer peripheries
of our comfort zones to awaken
the terror in our minds and keep
us on our toes deep in the forest
in the middle of the night. The owls
led our way and the wilderness
transformed into a sanctuary.
The adventures we shared together
will always remain tattooed on
the pages of my skin. They tell a
story that we began together and
which continues being woven to
this very day. It's the same old
story about how we all were in
this together and how each and
every one of us is also going away
someday and though it will be the far-
thest we can manage to tell our own
tale we may rest assured it will be
continued like one of the old pulp
serials by all our friends which survive
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Shae Sveniker's

Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
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Nigel Strange's

Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
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J.R. Torina's

J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
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K.B. Updike, Jr's

K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin
Virginia writer. KB's life work,
published 100% for free:
(We are not certain if K.B. Updike, Jr.
has lost his Virginian virginity yet.)