The Terror Two Project, by Matthew Peyton

Crewmate’s Log: Second Engineer Simon Ellison. Date 27/09/2179

It’s been five weeks since we touched down on the planet. We have finished establishing a base camp and have already found some amazing stuff. One of the research teams we sent out have found a series of cave networks below the surface. They say it has something to do with water that used to run through the planet, and if we can find any evidence of water then our mission is already halfway done.

We were told this mission would be the beginning of some great big advancement for humankind, establishing whether Mars is fit for humanity to colonise. They told us that we’re some sort of modern-day explorers and that our names would go down the history books as the saviours of humanity. I just came along for the paycheck. 

I ain’t happy about this though. I’ve been stuck on that rusting ship for seven months only to be stuck working in the engine room. We’re some of the first people on an alien planet and I’m stuck watching a pressure gauge. I suppose it’s better than being back home. I guess I’ve got to make the most of it.

Crewmate’s Log: 14/10/2179

I don’t know what’s going on around here anymore. A few weeks ago one of the recon teams made a big find. They found some sort of junkyard filled with ships. Alien ships! So much for being the first explorers on the planet of Mars. They showed us some images from the site and half of that stuff looks like it’s been there for centuries, covered in rust and half buried in the sand.  The research teams have already begun exploring the ships, trying to figure out where they came from and why they were left there.

The Captain ordered a group of researchers to be stationed in the junkyard, but after a few days, we lost contact with them. The Captain ordered another recon team to head out there to find them. They found their campsite completely abandoned – all their equipment had been taken and there were a set of footprints leading to one of the ships. Turns out they had found some kind of power source in one of the ships; they wandered in and forgot to contact the base. The thing was though, they had been missing for nearly a week and had no memory of being missing for that long.

The Captain has ordered them all back to base and placed them under observation. People are starting to get a bit paranoid. They can’t tell if the research team forgot to get in contact or if there was something else they weren’t telling us.

Crewmate’s Log: 02/11/2179

I just got off the line with security, letting them know what a complete waste they are. I’ve just been completing my rounds in the engineering room and found one of the research team hunched over in the corner. He was rummaging through my boxes, looking for something. I asked him what the hell the problem was.

The look in his eyes – it was like he wasn’t even human at that point –  he was some kind of animal. I was ready to crack him over the head with a wrench if he tried to come near me. He was lucky that security found him before I did. Turns out everyone managed to escape containment. They’ve been found all over the base except for one, the head of the research team, a scientist called Monroe. No one seems able to find him. And until they do I’ll be keeping my wrench close.

Crewmate’s Log 05/11/2179

They found him. He stood staring out of the airlock door. Apparently he kept mumbling about needing to free it from the underground. When the security team tried to catch him, he opened the airlock and walked out. He got about five steps before he collapsed and was swallowed up by the sand. The Captain sent out a recon team to collect the body but there was no sign of him. He was gone, buried by the terrain.

The Captain doubled security on the rest of the research team. It doesn’t matter; it won’t help me sleep any better.  

Crewmate’s Log 06/11/2179

We saw him. We saw Monroe outside the base. The Captain sent out a security team. But before they even got close to him, they were dragged into the sand, as if something was beneath them and had pulled them under. The base erupted into panic, some people ran to find anything they could use to defend themselves, and others just stood and watched Monroe. He was like a statue, sand gathered at his feet and his eyes never moving away the base. He stood for hours – even when people started to calm down and sleep – he was still there.

Crewmate’s Log 07/11/2179

There are more of them now, the security team have joined Monroe. No one wants to leave. No one can leave. They’ve started talking to us now, only at night. We can hear them from outside whispering about the underground. They want us to join them, they need help to dig it up.

Crewmate’s Log 29/12/2179

We’re nearly all gone. The Captain and I are the only two survivors left – everyone else is dead. I am currently stranded in the base, beginning to run low on power and oxygen. The Captain has taken the rover out to try and set up contact with any ships that might be passing. That was nearly two days ago, so rescue seems unlikely. The voices have already started for me; I don’t have long left. I can hear them outside the pod – they’re telling me that there’s something beneath us. I have to see what it is. I have to see what they left us underground.

Critical Reflection:

This piece was inspired by my love of the horror genre, along with films like Alien and The Thing. My aim of this piece was to place the reader in the position of a character who you would not see as the traditional protagonist of a sci-fi story, a sceptical labour worker rather than a courageous hero fighting off a monster. By doing this I hoped that it would ground the story to a much more recognisable perspective, as opposed to sci-fi narratives which often follow a special individual. Moreover, by writing this piece as a series of diary entries I wanted to create this sense that the reader was unravelling a mystery left behind by the crew of the Terra Two, whilst also hinting at a larger mystery and leaving them with a sense of dread of what could exist out amongst the stars.

Matthew is currently an MA Film and Screen Studies student and a former Film Studies student at York St John. He has a huge love for horror and sci-fi cinema, and he enjoys writing short stories and plays in his free time.