Joy's Lament

Chris Morris

1

A Spacewoman Came
Travelling

Hope.


It was the last thought of the spacewoman as her craft spun out of control and plunged downwards, taking Joy with it. Below was the source. The root of the problem that had seemingly taken hold of all the universe. The anchor tied to the feet of jubilation as it tried fruitlessly to crawl uphill but was instead dragged inexorably backwards towards the pit of gloom.

 

But perhaps, just perhaps this was the one place the problem could be resolved. And even as she spiralled closer to the surface, the spacewoman couldn’t help but cling to that one thing that kept her going, the inspiration for being here and trying against all odds to overthrow whatever great power had its lethal grip tightly clenched around the very throat of all things gleeful.


Hope...

***

The engine was dead: the only sound breaking the enveloping silence was the light flutter of snowflakes as they hit the warm spacecraft and solemnly joined the heart of it in its demise. Yes, there was no doubt whatever about it; the condition of the ship was one of two major things that Joy noticed upon waking up. The other being that she had made it. She had arrived.

 

Outside of the cracked window, Joy observed a frozen planet. The ship had crash-landed awkwardly, with the rear end plunged into several feet of snow, and she had awoken at first to find herself staring upwards, straight into a sun. Instinctively, she had squinted before realising that this planet’s sun was much further away than the one she was used to seeing from her own home planet, and besides this, it was veiled behind a thick cluster of clouds, from which the snow fell with grief, like a mourner at a funeral throwing white flower petals before a coffin.

 

When she looked below this, Joy saw a cold and barren landscape, rolling white hills surrounding patches of forest filled with leafless trees too frozen to sway in the frigid wind that sent the snowflakes crashing quietly to the ground. She let out a few quick gasps of air and watched as it escaped her and joined the smoke soundlessly rise from somewhere on board.


The radio.


Reaching towards the console, Joy found the small, rectangular radio and glanced at the screen. Seventy-eight per cent charged. No signal. Could be worse. She unbuckled herself from the driver’s seat and carefully slid out of it, wincing in sudden pain from her ribs and right arm. Glancing outside once more, she felt glad that she’d thrown on her winter coat, but wondered if it would be enough; this planet looked cold beyond anything she’d experienced back home.


Placing the radio in her pocket and walking behind the chair, she fumbled and found the handle to the door and pulled it before stepping cautiously outside. The freezing air hit her like an icy thump to the chest. She sharply drew in a breath followed by several gasps of cold, shaking exhales. Climbing down the steps of the ship, her feet eventually found the snow and sank into it. She clumsily flopped forwards as she disappeared almost waist-deep into the snow, her hands racing out in front of her and landing in the cold stuff. Catching her breath, she scrambled to an upwards position before wading with great effort towards a small hill with a single, lonely tree at the top; an oyster in a vast white sea of desolation.

 

Reaching the foot of the hill, Joy clutched onto the roots of the tree and pulled herself upwards, out of the deep snow and underneath the leafless branches where she now sat and brushed the lumps of snow from her trousers, shaking with the raw chill as she did. When she was finished, she reached into her pocket and pulled out the radio. Her heart leapt to
discover that it had now found a small signal.


‘Come on, come on...’ she whispered as her gloved fingers pressed the buttons on the device.

 

The screen flashed a single word:

 

HOPE

Joy raised the radio high above her head and watched with anticipation for the radio’s next move. When it came, her heart sank further into coldness than her ship
had:

OUT OF RANGE

 

‘Damn!’

 

Joy felt like throwing the radio away in frustration, but clutched on to it tightly as she leaned
against the bark of the tree and looked at her stolen spacecraft as it sent smoke upwards through the snowflakes and disappeared into the cloudy sky. She crossed her arms around her body and clenched tightly. She would have to move. But in which direction? The radio was of no use and she knew nothing of this place. Which way was north? And even if she knew that, how would this help her? Would her Sense work in a place like this?

She decided to sit and think. Think about what it was that led her here in the first place. About her search for the cure to this... this epidemic of grief and
despair.


She closed her eyes.

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