Hours passed between answers to my distress signal, but the snow never stopped raging. My suit was by now no longer the elegant white it had been when I left the ship, my boots no longer emitting enough light to see and my goggles were covered in a layer of frost that I had to scrape off every few hours.
We were trapped in the frozen jungle of Tarsecs 4, and even with all the equipment we had, the chance of anyone finding us grew slimmer every day. Maybe if we moved to higher grounds, where the magnetic storms weren’t as potent, our ship would be able to locate us. But we could not be saved – it was too late.
I sat beside my brothers dead body, unable to move from his side. His skin was pale, highlighting the blue of his cold lips. I slept beside him in a narrow space of a hollow tree that the storms had overcome years or maybe months ago. Soon my life support would fail and I would lie as still and peaceful as him. Frost was slowly creeping through the material of his suit, covering him in elegant petals of diamond water. As I watched his familiar face being swallowed by ice I realized that as far as mankind had come, we remained utterly vulnerable to the forces of nature and the fragility of our own bodies – and in our arrogance we easily forgot.
No one had expected intelligent life on this artic planet. They attacked out of nowhere and into nowhere they vanished after they had struck us down. Their primitive weapons damaged my brothers suit; too soon he ran out of oxygen.
He told me to go and leave him, but held my hand so firmly, so pleadingly, that I could not follow his orders. We looked into each other’s eyes when he drew his final breath. He smiled.
I should have died with him. Who knew if anyone would come for me? I had received the last message from The Endurance almost 36 hours ago, since then no attempt had been made to reach me. Chances of my crew thinking I was alive were slim, and hopes of being found grew dimmer with every passing hour.
I fumbled with my suit to get comfortable as I lay back down. Staring at the peaceful face of my brother I took his lifeless hand and tried to recall how warm it had once been. Images of him wove themselves around my thoughts like crimson rivers among blinding white oceans, beckoning and beautiful.
My communicator rushed with static noise as I sent out another message: “Doctor Foxton to Endurance, coordinates 122/867. I repeat: coordinates are at 122/867. Life support failing. Suit will not last longer than 4 hours. Do not attempt to salvage my body after 4 hours have passed… Thank you. Foxton out.”
I reached for my neck, and pulled at the cables that enabled my survival. When they disconnected a low hissing rushed past my ears – I immediately felt the temperature drop. My hand closed tighter around my brothers, seeking his comfort. This was my death sentence and my last wish. Tarsecs 4 had taken my brother, and now it would take me.
As the oxygen began to dissipate I felt increasingly tired. Slowly I closed my eyes, waiting for sleep to settle on me. I would die on an uncharted planet, surrounded by the rumbling of a never ending snow storm, and never return to The Endurance. But I wasn’t alone.
Then I drew my final breath. I smiled.