“THE DISTRESS CALL: PART 2 of 3” by Scott Donnelly #MicroTerrors
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“Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids”™ 2023
Welcome to Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids, where it’s always the spooky season – full of chills, thrills, and spine-tingling spooks! Micro Terrors are family-friendly frights for those ages 8 and up. And while our stories are for younger ears, we are still talking about things that go bump in the night, and some children may not be able to handle what others can. Parental consent is recommended. Now… for tonight’s MICRO TERROR!!!!
THE DISTRESS CALL, PART 2
The words my dad spoke immediately unnerved me. “Don’t touch me.” I just gawked at him, wondering why he would say that. Was he hurt? Did he have some sort of sickness? As he stood there, his arms still in the position that stopped me in my tracks, I realized something strange about my dad and the way he looked. He hadn’t aged in the past fifty years. He looked just the same as when I last saw him, since he shoved me into the cryogenic chamber and then attended to whatever it was that had docked with Humanity’s Last Hope. Had he also found a way to escape that chaotic moment and suspend himself for five decades?
“Dad? What’s wrong?” I asked with a slight tremble in my voice. I was nervous and scared, but also relieved to see my dad. The lights in the room burst once more into a flickering performance. He looked around, taking note of the glitches and static.
“Come with me,” he said. “Just keep your distance. Got it?”
I nodded, agreeing to my dad’s terms, but just not understanding them.
He turned and left the doorway. I reluctantly followed.
As I walked several feet behind him, I noticed the glitching lights seem to have been a constant throughout all of Humanity’s Last Hope. There was an irritating buzz coming from all of the light fixtures, and the continuous flickering was starting to upset my vision and give me a nauseating headache.
“I saw the security footage on the Chronicle,” I said to him, realizing that he hadn’t said anything since “Come with me.” He didn’t respond and I found myself just staring at the back of his head as if his hair would lift up to reveal another face that would answer me. That would have been something…
“Dad?” I said again, trying to get his attention. “What happened? What came through the airlock in the docking bay all those years ago?”
He finally stopped, the lights above him flickering viciously on cue as if he was the one who caused it. He slowly turned around to face me and smiled.
“We found them,” he said. “The distress call that came in, it was Humanity’s Promise.”
I didn’t understand what he meant by that. Humanity’s Promise went off the grid years before that distress call had come in. How was it that out of absolutely nowhere they would still have existed out there, without any contact for so long, and then we happened to stumble across them?
His smile also seemed to contradict what I remember happening. The distress call in question wasn’t one of joy and relief. It was one that created panic aboard the ship that resulted in my dad putting my safety first and some sort of laser gun battle in the docking bay.
It didn’t make sense and I figured he wasn’t telling me everything. “Were they okay?” I asked. “The crew I mean. That was a long time to be floating out in nothingness.”
“They were fine,” he said. “Come on, I’ll show you. They’re all still here. We’re all still here too.”
My Dad turned back around and continued walking. Now I knew something was wrong. If everyone was still here, why hadn’t anyone come to wake me from my frozen slumber?
I followed my dad to an elevator in which we both entered. He made sure to keep his distance from me, standing against the wall and leaving me feeling awkward and out of place. We took the elevator down to the docking bay, and when the doors slid open, we were greeted by a cold, damp room the size of a sporting arena. Icy dew covered the walls and crystalline orbs drifted aimlessly through the air. The lights also flickered in the docking bay, but not until we entered. Maybe we had tripped a sensor, or something, somewhere.
I followed my dad through the room and in the direction of the airlock that I saw on the Chronicle footage. As he approached the panel by the door, he turned to me and smiled again.
“It’s good to see you after all these years, CJ Olsen,” he said.
Okay, that was weird. Why would my own dad specify my last name?
“Are you okay, Dad?” I asked.
“Never better.” He brought the panel screen to life and tapped a couple of buttons. I could hear gusts of air on the other side of the airlock; the standard decompression process had begun. Once it was done, a small yellow light above the airlock started to spin, along with a soft alarm, and the doors slid open. They split right down the yellow and black striped middle. Once it was fully open, I followed him in and we walked the length of the tunnel, my shoes clanking against the metal floor. Small port windows on either side of us supplied beautiful views of the cosmos.
The sound of the airlock closing behind us startled me, but I kept following my dad. We finally reached the other end of the tunnel where he tapped another digital panel.
The airlock slid open and I followed my Dad into Humanity’s Promise, the ship that had been lost for some time without a single transmission from anyone on board. It was like a ghost from the past, in more ways than one. It too was cold and vacant. Frost layered every surface, as well as sparkled on webs of dust that hung stiffly from the air vents.
I continued to follow him through the docking bay, which was like a mirror image of the one I was used to, only colder and darker. A light fixture buzzed above us as we passed underneath, but the power couldn’t quite come to life.
Up the elevator, we ended up in another corridor, once again looking eerily similar to the ones on Humanity’s Last Hope. The ships were built at the same time, by the same blueprints, so I should have just expected them to look like twin ships, but it was still strange to look at.
“Where is everyone?” I asked, realizing that another similarity the two ships had in common was the silence and absence of people. There should have been countless crew members and families on board. My dad had said they were all still here. So where were they?
“Not far now,” he said without turning around. He just kept walking and I was starting to get spooked by his demeanor. My dad wasn’t acting right. Why hadn’t he aged? Why was he still dressed in the same exact clothes I had last seen him in fifty years earlier?
“Is Charlotte here?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
A glimmer of hope swelled within me, but quickly faded as we turned the corner and walked through another sliding door. The next hallway was just as vacant as all the others. I knew we were walking through the corridor that housed the cryogenic chambers, but I wasn’t sure where my dad was actually leading me too. I was growing more uncomfortable by the second, my heart fluttering and my breaths becoming shallow and quick.
“You and Charlotte used to play hide and seek,” my dad said, turning around and flashing a forced smile at me. It didn’t seem natural, nor did the tone in which he talked. It seemed like a flat statement and not a, “Hey, remember when…” kind of memory.
I nodded and then he faced forward again. The lights above us began to flicker as we walked under them. Well, as Dad walked under them, like his body was statically charged, or something. I tested that theory by slowing my speed and letting him walk under the lights first. They’d flicker when he passed underneath, but then went dead after he had cleared them. I then walked under them, but nothing happened. I noticed he had the same effect on the control panels on the walls, the ones that were used to access each cryogenic chamber.
As we passed by each chamber, I kept an eye on the panel screens. They’d flicker blue with words and options on them, but then went dead after we’d passed.
But one panel caught my attention. When it briefly flickered to life, there was a red bar at the top of the glowing screen. That meant it was occupied; I knew that from hide and seek with Charlotte. She’d given herself away once by that red bar being lit; that’s how I knew someone was in the room. The rooms were designed to sense the presence of a living being.
I stopped right by the chamber doors as the panel went dark. My dad kept moving and I wondered who was in there. It would have been the first person I’d seen aside from my dad, and honestly, I would have welcomed that. I hated to think about it, but my dad was giving me the darn creeps. It was like all the people skills he had in the past were completely gone.
He stopped up ahead, somehow sensing that I had as well. He stiffly turned around and looked at me with an unnerving smile.
“We’re not far now. You’ll be with everyone else soon,” he said.
I just stood there by the darkened panel to the cryogenic chamber. If I could somehow lure him back this way to bring the screen back up, I’d be able to use the touch screen to enter the room. I took a couple of steps back and asked, “Where’s Mom?”
“Mom is here too. Charlotte is here too.”
He was starting to sound even more strange in the way that he spoke. “What about Charlotte?” I asked, trying to trip him up.
“Oh yes, Charlotte is here too!” he happily said as if it was the first time he said it.
I took a few more steps back and he started to walk towards me. The plan was working. Something was seriously wrong with my dad and I needed to get away from him ASAP. My heart fluttered more rapidly now as he slowly walked toward me, his creepy smile fading away from his straight, pale face. I kept my eye on the control panel, and when I saw it flicker to life with the red bar at the top of the screen, I made my move and I made it quickly.
I dashed for the panel and tapped the screen. The door slid open and I rushed in. My Dad just stood there and watched me. I slapped the panel screen on the inside wall of the chamber and the door sealed shut.
When the door locked, I turned around and immediately felt around in the dark for the cache box. I opened it and pulled out a flashlight. A bright beam shot from its bulb and I focused it on the chamber pod. It was occupied. I went up to it and ended the cryogenic process by tapping a few buttons on the pod itself. The machine hissed loudly as it decompressed and then opened. Inside, a young girl lay. It wasn’t Charlotte, as I first thought, even though the hair and her build were similar.
I leaned over her, cold air rushing up from inside the pod. She was roughly my age and looked peaceful in her slumber. As the color slowly returned to her face, her eyes started to twitch. When they opened, she looked directly at me and jumped, exhaling a startled gasp.
“No, no, it’s okay,” I said, trying to comfort her.
The girl looked nervous, she trembled.
“You’re one of them…” she whispered.
I shook my head. “No,” I said. “One of who?”
“The imposters,” she said, still not believing me.
Imposters? I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, but thinking back to the way my dad was acting, I got the sense that maybe there was something ‘imposter-like’ going on.
“I’m not an imposter,” I said, feeling bad for whatever she had experienced prior to her cryogenic sleep. “Your ship has been lost for a long time,” I said.
The girl cocked her head at me and then slowly reached out with a trembling hand. Her cold skin rested on my arm and her eyes widened. “You’re real,” she said, sitting up quickly. “How? How did you escape?”
“Escape what?” I asked, more confused than ever.
The girl climbed out of the pod and stepped onto the floor. I noticed she had shoes on, something I didn’t when my dad put me on ice. It was like she had been frozen in a hurry, or something.
“Did that thing attach itself to your ship too?” she asked, rushing to the control panel to pull up any information she could. When she saw what year it was, her breath fully escaped her body. She turned to me in shock.
“What thing?” I asked. “We docked with your ship fifty years ago. I woke up just like you and I don’t know where anyone is. Except my dad, that is. He’s out there,” I said, pointing to the door. “But he is acting weird. So when I saw this chamber was occupied I decided to bail on him.”
“Your dad?” the girl asked, lowering her brow. “Let me guess, he wouldn’t let you touch him.”
Her words were a shock to my system. How could she have known that? I nodded, swallowing hard in anticipation of a reveal I knew I wasn’t ready for.
“That’s not your dad. That’s not even a real person. He’s a projection, an image, a representation of your dad from your immediate memory,” she said. “That’s what it did to everyone on board Humanity’s Promise.”
I didn’t know how to respond. “That’s what…what…did?”
“Whatever that alien sludge was that attached itself to our ship. It was just floating out there in space. Once it made contact with our ship, it seeped in through the electrical circuits and wires. It didn’t take long before the entire ship was infected.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing coming out of this girl’s mouth. It was surreal; unreal.
“Where is everyone then?” I asked.
The girl took a beat and then said, “Gone…”
WE’LL CONCLUDE OUR STORY NEXT TIME
Thank you for listening to Micro Terrors!!! Join us each Saturday for another scary story! For more fun, visit our website at MicroTerrors.com where we also have spooky games you can print out and play — like wicked word searches, mysterious mazes, and more! MicroTerrors.com is also where you can find us on your favorite social media and even send in your own scary story for us to tell! Plus, you’ll learn more about our author, Scott Donnelly, who has other horrors for both young and old! I hope you’ll join me again soon for Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids!