Coccoon, a short story by shawntaulicus. Date added: 2012-01-22. Times viewed: 489.
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- Intro: A cosmonaut crash lands on a strange planet
"I came from the sunny valleys
And sought for the open sea,
For I thought in its gray expanses
My peace would come to me "
Sara Teasdale, The River
"Just open your eyes, you can't stay down forever." This is the voice of my father. He beckons
me to wake up but at this moment I am in perfect bliss. I am in a cocoon and safe and nothing
hurts. Why would I ever want to leave this place?
"Come on Jan. You're quitting? Joking?" The voice of my father again, but this time his words
boom and echo. The sound dances through my head and I can feel it surround me. His voice
travels and ricochets across the walls of my cocoon. I try to turn his voice out, to stay asleep. I
never want to leave this place.
"We aren't quitters, Jan. Wake up...live." This time his voice sounds broken, defeated. There is a
sadness within his words that strikes me. Something about the inflection on the word "live".
I am reminded of going to the hospital as a child on a crisp December morning. My father
drives in silence the entire way and keeps the music much louder than it had any right being. He
keeps his eyes on the road, never turning to look at me. We arrive at the hospital and my father
walks slowly to the reception desk. Moments pass and a nurse appears, face solemn and lost in
concentration. I'm young but I can see that she's searching for the right thing to say. She walks
up to us slowly, her eyes heavy and she breathes in deeply. She tells us that my mother won't
be coming home again. The sadness in her voice, the defeat is the same as in my fathers when
he tells me to wake up and live.
Am I dying, I wonder? Is this the end of my journey? It's been a hell of a 28 years and every
instinct inside of me is telling me to wake up and live, but the comfort is too strong. I am warm
and safe and happy. Nothing can change this. Within my cocoon the darkness is broken up by a
single light, then another. The lights transform themselves into the eyes of my father and I can
see that he is crying. He blinks so slowly, and the cerulean blue of his eyes quickly fades to an
ash grey. He remains wordless but his eyes say more than his vocal chords could ever hope to
convey. Live, they tell me. Wake up, they beg of me. I attempt to speak, to reassure my father
that this is all I want, to let him know that I am at peace and happy. He couldn't possibly
understand the warmth that I feel at this moment but when I go to speeak no words come out
and I begin choking. I can't breathe and the walls of my cocoon turn from a cotton soft to a hard
leather, my fathers eyes shed a single tear and disappear. I finally open my own eyes and they
burn. I can't breathe because I am underwater. Frantically I push with what force my muscles
will allow at the door to my pod. It opens slowly and I drift towards the surface.
# # #
"I came at last to the ocean
And found it wild and black,
And I cried to the windless valleys,
"Be kind and take me back!"
Sara Teasdale, The River
The sky is a deep purple and is being torn with boquets of lightning. Instead of safe and warm I
am now terrified and cold. I swim in a straight line in order to find a place to lay down, to sleep.
That's all I need to do, is find a nice place to sleep. I am exhausted and my muscles begin to lock
up. Starting with my calves and working slowly through my thigh and then my stomach. For the
first time I notice the thickness of the water, like cream for coffee. It tastes like steel and my
mind begins to drift to how toxic the water it is and how much I've swallowed. The pain is
unbearable but I will myself on and soon I reach a small island. Instincts kick in once again and I
begin to vomit. The remainder of my energy is expelled and I pass out once again.
I awake to the sound of screeching. Above me are creatures that I can't really describe. They are
about the size of penguins but have scales instead of feathers. There are a few dozen flying
above me and I wonder how long I've been asleep for. The sky is blue and clear and
overpoweringly bright. I sit up, put my knees together and place my arms around them. The
lizard-hawks above me continue to screech and fly in circles. Theta 6. I remember where I am. I
was on board the Planetory Exploration Vessel Prince Hamlet. Our systems shut down and life
support begain failing. We were ordered to fire an emergency distress beacon and then escape
to our personal escape pods. What had happenned I wondered.
Sharp pains begain to prod from the inside of my stomach. How long had it been since I'd eaten
last? Deciding that since I'd gotten this far, I might as well press on and wait for some sort of
rescue. I slowly get to my feet and start walking in a straight line. The island that I'm on reminds
me of the tropics back home. The trees are thick and the grass is easily taller than I am. I
continue in my straight line and soon discover what looks like an apple tree. I shake it and a few
of the apples fall to the ground. I pick one up and wonder if I should risk eating it, but the
sudden throng of pain from my gut encourages me to take a bite. It is bitter. Bitter and then
salty. I grudgingly swallow the bite and take another. Deciding that several of these apples will
be enough food for the next few hours I walk back to the shore where I woke up, this time away
from the vomit.
I get back to my point of origin and am driven to my knees. I grab for my throat and struggle to
take a breath. It will not come easily and fear consumes me. Shouldn't have eaten those apples.
I am now on my back with the tide slowly washing up to greet me. I turn over and vomit the
remainder of whatever is in my stomach. Crashing on to my back I look up and laugh until I
begin to cough. In far distance the sound of thunder and a persistent rumble. A ship, here to
rescue me and any others who managed to escape. My breath becomes more shallow and I
close my and once again I am warm and safe. The rumble begins to fade but I stop paying any
mind to it. I am back in my cocoon. Vonnegut said it best, "Everything is beautiful and nothing
"You're not thinking of quitting again, are you Jan?" My father again.
"Jan, open your eyes. It's time to wake up." My mother this time.
I'd love to listen to them, but this time, much like in my childhood I'm choosing to just remain in
bed. Hoping that if I ignore their calls long enough they'll just let me stay sleeping. The roar of
the rescue vessel grows deeper and louder as it gets closer but I ignore that too. In my mind I'm
seven years old again. It is a school day and I am tired. Nothing is waking me up this time. The
warm thick water of the ocean raises higher and higher and I let it enfold me. This is true peace,
this is perfect in every sense of the word. I am calm and happy. Everything is beautiful and
nothing is hurting. I keep my eyes closed.
"But the thirsty tide ran inland,
And the salt waves drank of me,
And I who was fresh as the rainfall
Am bitter as the sea."
Sara Teasdale, The River
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