I had to light my candle by touch alone. For a moment, the smoke of the match overpowered the other smells permeating the air.
The relief didn’t last long.
My eyes hurt. Either because of the smell, or because I watched the stars for too long. I watched for hours. When I close my eyes, I can still see the millions of pinpricks spot my vision.
The periscope lets in too much light. I wish I could watch the stars through the filter of a screen. The bright unfiltered starlight can’t be good for my eyes.
But I suppose it doesn’t matter.
Whenever I stop writing, the silence overwhelms me. I just have to keep writing, to keep the scratching of pencil on paper going.
Pencil, because ball-points don’t work in zero-gravity. I thought I was used to the lack of gravity by now, but every reminder and inconvenience makes me want to claw my eyes out.
It’s not just the pencil, it’s everything. It’s how I have to clip my notebook to the desk lest it float away. It’s the weightlessness of my limbs. It’s the numerous bruises from when I pushed myself from the walls too forcefully and smashed against the other side. It’s the way the candle flame is perfectly round on the wick.
I never thought I’d miss the shape of fire. It doesn’t even flicker properly and the light is much less bright. I can barely see enough to write this. The flame is blue and there’s no yellow at all.
However much I hate it though, I don’t dare blow it out. It’s my only source of light. The only thing keeping my little bubble around the desk separated from the oppressing darkness all around me.
I don’t dare turn around and look at the black hole that is the hallway housing the berths.
Thinking of the darkness behind me reminds me of the smell. The smell is never far from my mind, but I relish every moment of relief. It’s in my nose, in my lungs. It clings to the back of my throat until I have to suppress a retch.
You’d think the lack of gravity would affect the smell. And you would be correct. Of course it does.
It makes it worse.
The sweet, putrid almost cloying scent…
I keep catching myself staring at the blackened screens. I keep wanting to see the stars, maybe even a planet. I could grab the periscope again, but my eyes still hurt from before and I’m sick of watching the stars move by. It may not look fast, but the fact that I can see them moving at all indicates how fast we’re going. Every second the ship drifts off farther away from home.
I have no idea where we are. We could be light-years away from Earth for all I know. The constellations are warped. Unrecognisable. For all I know not even a single star I can see now is even part of one of Earth’s constellations.
I miss the moon…
A loud growl from my stomach just scared me half to death. Suddenly I feel the hunger again, like my body suddenly realised I haven’t eaten in days. After the loud sound, the silence seems all the more heavy. I just keep writing, keep up the scratching.
If I don’t focus on my pencil, then my breathing seems much too loud. I can hear the heavy air rush through my nose, into and then out of my lungs. I can hear my blood pumping through my veins.
The rush of blood in my ears reminds me of radio static. But the radio went silent along with all the other sounds in the ship. All the ambient noise that I didn’t even register anymore after months aboard…
The buzzing of the lights, the static of the radio on standby, the rumble of the air-purifier, the whirring of the fans.
The voices of the crew.
Don’t think about that, keep writing. Anything, it doesn’t matter, just keep writing, keep the words going, keep the sounds going.
The sound is so normal. A sound I heard on Earth, at home. A sound from before everything went wrong. Before the food ran out and the power shut off.
Why didn’t I give up when the radio died? Then I wouldn’t still be here now slowly going mad. I can’t even look at the darkness. The thought sends my mind reeling, my hands shaking. I can’t even sleep because I’d have to blow out my candle and I cannot do that!
My fingers should hurt from all this writing, but instead, they just feel numb. The heating shut off along with everything else and the air is as cold as it is sweet. At least the cold promises to stifle the smell.
I should have given up with the rest of them, but I promised myself not to give up. Even if all hope was lost. I promised myself I would keep documenting until the end. I will not go back on a promise. Even if it means breathing in the sweetness. Even if it means unbearable hunger. Even if it means taking increasingly deep breaths as my lungs struggle to filter oxygen out of the air.
It’s like the smell is pushing the oxygen from my lungs. It hurts. But it won’t be for much longer.
I hope by the time someone finds the ship, our bodies will have long since mummified.
I don’t want to subject anyone else to this smell.
Posted elsewhere: r/nosleep titled ‘The Smell In My Space Ship’