Stuck in a stutter
Fear the fallen utter
Nonsense in senseless death
– The Coming of the Condemned
In the black of space, a ship fell quiet. About fifteen minutes before the sounds of shouting, running, slamming, and gunfire echoed along the hull.
I hid shamelessly. I technically passed basic combat training some ten years before flying into the black to study and never used it since. As a scientist, I didn’t even carry a stun gun.
I’d heard of pirates out in the black. People figure the law won’t find you if you fly far enough. Those people live by plundering vessels and leaving them stranded. I thought we’d been raided, so I’d just lay low until they took all of our supplies and left.
I thought it was pirates before the silence. The silence didn’t make sense.
Then a murmur started. It echoed and vibrated across the hull. It was the sound of a house fly from Earth, circling around. As the sound grew louder, I thought of a hornet’s nest. I moved towards the sound, thinking of investigating, thinking there might be a mechanical failure. I froze when I detected a human quality to the sound. It was like a word being stuttered on the same syllable over and over. Maybe it was a recording the ship’s computer was accidentally playing back, caught in a loop. Maybe there was a system failure. I backed up again, trying to be patient, resigning to wait hidden in my lab.
It wasn’t long before I grew restless again, the unnerving noise echoing around the corridors. What if it everyone was evacuated? What if I’m the only one left here? With the systems failure, heat would deplete along with the oxygen, and I knew I’d freeze before I suffocated. I’d die alone because I was a coward.
I couldn’t sit still. Maybe I could fix it. I turned away from the corridor I’d seriously considered going into and went back into my lab. I sat at a terminal easily, even in the dark I knew my lab, my home.
There was no power. How could the computer system be making those noises without power? Was only this terminal down? What about the backup systems?
I reached under and pulled off a large panel, exposing the wiring. I crawled my way in about a half of a foot to find the connections for power and flipped a switch to manually engage the backup power systems. My terminal switched on.
From the new light I could see vague shapes coming from the corridor I was standing in before. I stood and inched forward. The shapes were moving in the same stutter of the buzzing noise. The shapes looked like human figures, but the movement were jerking and repeating.
As I began to see it clearer it was like a stiff dance, forward a half step, back a half, forward a full two, back another half step… It seemed robotic, but their faces were getting close enough to make out in the dim light.
Their vacant eyes were wide and blinking in the same stuttering cadence. I recognized some of them. It was the crew and not one of them looked alive.
Single file in their eerie march they came forward, not responding to anything I said. Their minds were gone or being controlled. I looked around my lab to hide. That was the only exit. I squeezed myself into the panel with the wires in desperation. Under and inside the terminal, I pulled the panel back on after me. With their vacant stares, unseeing and unintelligent, I was hoping that they wouldn’t be able to pry the panel off.
By some luck I was right, but they didn’t leave. They mill about outside stuttering, day and night without rest. I don’t know how long I’ve been in here any more. The background noise blurs together in a meaningless cacophony. It’s possible I’ve gone mad.
If I’m still sane, someone still might find this terminal I’m tapping into from the inside out. Someone might download this log and make some sense of it.
If I weren’t facing a slow death, madness, or whatever malady has befallen my crew mates, this might have been funny. Sometimes the sound is like “yup yup yup” as if they are agreeing with me.
Doomed, “Yup yup yup,” They agree.
I know the crew is either dead or one of those things outside. I won’t leave. Whatever my fate, I won’t become one of them.
This passage comes from a recording on one of the first ships that were found. It is the first recorded encounter with The Condemned. Though the ship was also found contaminated with Type Two and Type Three Condemned, it appears that in a single case one of the crew was able to avoid immediate detection and transformation.
There was a decomposed body found in the panel below the terminal. The cause of death appeared to be self inflicted electrocution. From the estimated time of death, the woman would have long since died of dehydration, and leaving would have surely resulted in her joining her crew as one of the Type One Condemned.
From here on the Type One were known as Yuppers in reference to her log. Though suspected, this allowed us to discover that Yuppers are attracted to noise and sound, but are unable to reason or perform motor functions other than moving towards its source.
– Compendium of The Condemned
Stuck in a stutter