Ten Winters on Saturn

Ten Winters

The zip of your suit sticks halfway up. It's caught on a loose thread, a small sign of decay from years of disuse. You force it to the top and adjust your helmet, as fear flutters down your body like a thousand spiders. "Hello," you whisper to no one. "I'm here. I'm here. I'm here."

On the dashboard the transmission warning light beeps and flashes. Useless thing. It didn't survive the journey. No one on Earth has heard your voice in years.

You check the laser gun hanging from your belt. You probably won't need it, but the radio has been silent for so long that loneliness compels you to stroke the weapon, hold it close to your body like an extra limb. Lately you've been feeling things that you're not supposed to feel. Fear, guilt, confusion. Ten solitary years have scratched away at your resolve like rats nibbling through a wire.

This will be your first time outside in ten years, but time has lost its meaning to you. You look down at your hands; they don't look like yours. Your nails are long and yellow and you realise you haven't cut them in weeks, maybe months. You turn them over but you don't recognise the fingerprints on the other side. You reach out to push down upon the handle of the hatch and feel a bolt of helpless ecstasy as you step outside.

Saturn is stretched out before you, a pearly cloud.