The Wretched

A green-blue gradient colored floating astronaut backlit by light in the center of some large science fiction structure.

Day 1, salvage ship The Wretched. Flight Engineer Crowley reporting. The other members of the crew are dead and the engines remain non-operational, though ship integrity remains good and life support systems are still active. I successfully jettisoned the intruder from the airlock, but it remains alive and continues to try to access the ship. With a little luck I can repair the distress beacon and somebody will pick me up. This is John Crowley, the last survivor of The Wretched, signing off.

Day 2, salvage ship The Wretched. Flight Engineer Crowley reporting. I have spent the day trying to find something, anything, that could be repaired. Any system that I could bring back online. There’s no plan, not really, just…something to keep me busy. A first step. I already have a rifle. I picked it up from one of the other crew members. They…they…didn’t really have a use for it anymore…but, there’s no time to think about that. This creature is too dangerous. If I can get a system up, any system, maybe I can leave a message of some kind. A warning. This thing, it attacked us while salvaging a wrecked probe on Sigma-6B. Sensors indicated only plant life, but they were wrong. Or maybe they weren’t, I don’t know. There was this strange blue moss stuck in the jagged metal of the panel I was working on earlier. Was it from the creature? Is that thing a plant? Maybe…maybe that’ll help me figure out what to do about it, why it can survive in the black. It won’t matter if I can’t even fix one system though…This is John Crowley, the last survivor of The Wretched, signing off.

Day 3, salvage ship The Wretched. Flight Engineer Crowley reporting. I am still struggling to get systems back up. Each attempt fails and with each flickering of life support I worry that it will be the last time. What is the point of bringing back navigation if I do not have enough air to discover where I am? So I stopped. I dropped what I was doing and went back to the engine. Not my area of expertise but perhaps I can get it running. At least a little? Get this bucket moving or get more power to the ship. I don’t know! The thing didn’t go back together right anyways. It might be more broken than when I started on it, but it doesn’t matter. I still haven’t figured out any of my other problems, despite the distraction and change of scenery. I can only hope something…anything…changes tomorrow. This is John Crowley, the last survivor of The Wretched, signing off.

Day 4, salvage ship The Wretched. Flight Engineer Crowley reporting. The engines…I have no idea what to do with them. Most of the day was spent crawling around them again, looking at even more of what’s going on. I swear I walked through the manual 10 times before lunch. I’m even more confused than before. More lost than yesterday. I didn’t mess with anything this time, no sense in ruining it any further. I had just hoped I would learn something, get a better idea of what I fucked up even if I didn’t know how. Instead I had a thought about the other systems, the ones I was working on two days ago, and I got the scanners working. I think. They’re scanning but there’s something that keeps showing up, something big. Is it the monster? Probably, but it disappears at random. Maybe because it’s a plant…does this have to do with the same problem that led us not to detect it in the first place? Or are the scanners broken still? I only hope I can get something else working…maybe external cams…so I can check. I can’t go out there to fix them. It’s still out there. And if they aren’t and there is also something that big out there? I can’t. I won’t. It has to stay out there. This is John Crowley, the last survivor of The Wretched, signing off.

Day 5, salvage ship The Wretched. Flight Engineer Crowley reporting. One step forward. Two steps back. Things…did not go well today. I was looking around for one of the other systems manuals and found it in George’s office. Along with a menu. Looked like he was planning his first meal home. This was our last job before some time off and there’s nothing better than real, fresh food. Not this shelf-friendly, dried and processed stuff. Chef does well enough, but it’s not the same. What I would give for real food. What I would give to have Chef back. Poor Sam. That’s when the alarms started blaring again. I guess the scanners are working, or at least the sensors attached to the alarm system. Something set them off. I deactivated but they just were set off again. I don’t even know what is doing it. I had to shut them off. But it didn’t end there. I had to shut comms off too. Something, the creature maybe, spoke over them. “We can hear you,” it said. Now I have no alarms, no comms. No way of knowing if I am about to be saved or about to die. I need to get a message prepared, something to warn people so if they find this heap they can send it into a sun. This is John Crowley, the last survivor of The Wretched, signing off.

Day 6, salvage ship The Wretched. Flight Engineer Crowley reporting. I realized this morning that it wasn’t just a matter of making a message and trying to get it out there. No, I had to get it out there. Had to. And that meant making sure it would be heard before anyone who finds The Wretched climbs aboard. So I suited up. Now this meant risking myself to the creature, perhaps even the risk of letting it in. But it said it could hear me, over the comms, so I made noise. I set something up, it’s pretty easy to make broken stuff just make noise every so often, and put on the EVA. It probably took more time to suit up alone and worry about going out that it did to fix the antenna a bit. Now, once I can get the signal out, everyone will know to burn this heap. This is John Crowley, the last survivor of The Wretched, signing off.

Day 7, salvage ship The Wretched. Flight Engineer Crowley reporting. The constant dread and silence are getting to me. I thought the creature had broken in through the observatory where it had been trying before, but…I had just dropped my mug. It broke, of course, and it was an hour before my heart slowed. I don’t know how long I had been staring into space, but by the time I had used up the adrenaline spike reinforcing the observatory windows it was mid-afternoon. At some point I found myself repeating, “soup of the day whatever it is, a full beef burger with house sauce no onion, and the hot fudge sundae no nuts.” It was what he planned for his first meal planet-side. I think I’ll try the same if I ever get the chance. This is John Crowley, the last survivor of The Wretched, signing off.

Day 8, salvage ship The Wretched. Flight Engineer Crowley reporting. There was a fire in the compartment where I rigged the noise maker. Whatever happened I didn’t hear it, with the sound off everywhere none of the working systems got my attention. Well, until the fire suppression system hit me. At some point it kicked in fully due to the fire, I think, and it’s not like sensors are working at peak performance to direct the system properly. At least the fire was put out. As soon as I finished drying off and finding somewhere new to sleep, that’s when the sewage silo sprung a leak. Whoever took the shortcut of rigging all of the drainage to the same silo should be here to suffer it. The whole place is a mess and…and I think the creature finally got in. The ship is breaking down around me. It’s full of water and sewage and I can hear the thing in the vents. Scraping and rubbing against the metal, like an old tree against a wire fence. I had to take the captain’s card, lock myself in their quarters. That section is one of the few still mostly intact. That’s when I saw it, comms picked something up. Another ship at the edge of the system, asking if we needed help. I missed it and I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer them now. Not with the systems in this state. Not with that thing out there.

Day 9, salvage ship The Wretched. Flight Engineer Crowley reporting. I am just waiting. Listening. There is little I can do from in here, but the captain has some personal food stashed away and water systems are still working. Even if it smells like cleaner. Although maybe that’s just the sewage soaked clothes from yesterday, sitting in the corner. Does it matter? It’s only a matter of time now unless I can get out and make it to a comm relay, somewhere I can rig an outgoing signal. But I also need to be able to hide. That part is easy: airlock 2, the hold, the workroom, the freezer, and here. I’m not sure any of them will let me get a signal out. Maybe I can rig something in the workroom…or at least nearby? It has all the tools I might need…but it is so far away. This is John Crowley, the last survivor of The Wretched, if you are reading this get off the ship and enact twice your normal quarantine protocols. Get someone to destroy The Wretched. And don’t go to Sigma-6B.

Day 10, salvage ship The Wretched. I dreamt of the creature again. It’s growing. Feeding off the sewage and bodies spread throughout the ship. Tendrils, vines, roots…they scrape against the vents and in every little space. It’s everywhere. I can hear it when I’m awake and I can see it in my sleep. Maybe if I can jettison one of the broken escape pods it will draw the creature’s attention and I can get to the workshop. My workshop. It should still be safe there. Reinforced, free of bodies, full of tools. It’s where I hid before. How I survived. Maybe I can still survive there.

Day 11. The workshop. I haven’t been here in days. After the adrenaline wore off and the dread creeped in…I couldn’t come back here. Where I hid. But now, gods, it took all night to creep back here. I don’t even know if the escape pod meant anything to the creature. I haven’t seen it, not really anyways. But gravity failed so maybe it had its own problems. I fixed that but what systems were left reporting to my shop told me O2 is down, not good for me. I doubt the plant cares. Fixing the hole wasn’t a major issue, once I got to it. But then another problem. An engine caught fire. I let it loose. My only option from the shop, but maybe I should have let it burn. Let the ship burn and that damned thing with it.

The Wretched is a solo journaling RPG created by Chris Bissette and progenitor of The Wretched & Alone system.