TMSP Stories

“Aphrodite’s Tourney”

By: Julyn Rose Peliña

I’m Andheresa, from the Philippines and I’m a space dreamer. I gamble my life to save my family from poverty and achieve my dream which is to become an astronaut. I was chosen to compete in “Catastrophe”, a game and a door towards my aspirations

“Andheresa, you’re here. Are you ready for the flight? My mentor asked me.

“Yeah, I am” I coldly replied.

I am currently walking to the airplane runway to join my competitors. If I could only step back, I’ll do it but for my family, I won’t. I fall asleep on the flight and my body shivers even though I was coated with a blanket.

“Take this” a boy hand over a blanket to me

“No thanks, you need it too” I replied.

“I’m Ivano, from Croatia” he smiled.

“Andheresa” I replied

“In Croatia, temperatures drop up to 5 ˚C to 10 ˚C that is why my body is a little bit cold-resistant” he put the blanket on me and I did not notice that we’re too close to each other and feel his breath.

“Thanks” I replied and smile slightly. He began to walk towards his seat.

We’re about to land on the battleground. All of the competitors step up on the glass floor,

Hologram flashes out. I see the mechanics of the game. It says that we’re going to face a lot of catastrophic challenges. Only 3 people could win in this game. Flying robots are carrying bags and handed them to us.

“Contenders, proceed to the circle and get ready” the game creator announced.

I step on the circle slowly. I see a small opening in the end.

“Aahhhhhhhh” I shouted.

I hear some sound of the hiss of snakes. I don’t move because the snakes in my feet are boomslang snakes, if it bites me, I’m going to bleed out and die.

When I got a chance, I move out.

Day by day, I feel weak due to starvation, I already consume the wild grapes that I’ve got.

“I have to be strong for my family. My family needs me. I can’t die. I should win” I said trying to inspire myself.

I survive different kinds of disasters and deadly obstacles through my skills and knowledge and that’s the reason why I’m standing here at the podium right now. I see my mother and Anastheziya smiling. I won 40,000 dollars, a house and lot, and a trip to Fornax Space Station. My life is far from before, I’m undergoing training for the upcoming journey.

The day came I, Ivano, and Hayma from Myanmar ride on the space plane with the two air force pilots.

“According to the hologram, we already reach the Karman line” Hayma smile widely.

“Are you okay Andheresa?” Ivano asked.

“Yes, I’m fine, I can’t believe that I’m here,” I said and stare at the Earth from above.

The space plane is about to dock at the Fornax Space Station and we already get in.

After the briefing, I went to the cupula and stare at the breathtaking view of Earth from above.

“Soon when I return to Earth, I will spend a lot of time with you Mom, and Anatheziya we’re no longer live in a squatters area. We can eat healthy foods 3 times a day” I said and tears come out of my eyes.

Hayma and Ivano already fall asleep. I enjoy the microgravity; I explore the entire space station and see those two astronauts talking about something. I try to eavesdrop.

“Those three are the subjects for Tardigrade 1.0?’ a female astronaut asked.

“Yes, after they command us to inject the serum, we’re going to put them in a capsule and bring them to Venus,” the male astronaut said.

I’m enraged and confront them. I push the button for artificial gravity and they landed.

“You’re such a liar” I shouted and punch the male astronaut.

“What happen Andheresa?” Hayma asked and her fear is evident

“The reason why we’re here is that we’re gonna be their subject for experiment. They will bring us on Venus, we will die there”

“Don’t worry. If serum is effective, you will survive” a male astronaut said.

“And if not? We will die right?” I replied angrily.

The female astronaut gets a small gun and points it out on me. I feel pain in my neck and everything turns black.

When I woke up, I wear a spacesuit and saw Hayma and Ivano, unconscious. I can sense pain in my upper shoulder.

“I think they already injected the serum,” I said and try to look for ways on how to get out from the capsule. After several minutes Ivano and Hayma woke up.

“What happened Andheresa?” Hayma asked me.

“They already injected the serum on us and put us on this capsule,” I said and continue to look for some buttons.

The door of the capsule is about to open, we hold on but seems like the capsule pushing us down.

I and Ivano landed on the surface of Venus successfully. I saw Ivano, trying to wake up Hayma

“What happen Ivano?” I asked.

I check Hayma’s oxygen level. I burst to cry.

“Noooooooooooooooo” I shouted.

I saw a volcano is about to erupt.

“Let’s get out of here Andheresa,” Ivano said. I follow him immediately.

Maat Mons is erupting. We avoid large rocks coming from the volcano. When we’re far from it, I saw the oxygen level of Ivano decreasing.

“Ivano your oxygen level is…” I didn’t finish my sentence and Ivano push me away.

I stand up and see a large rock landed on the position where Ivano standing.

“Ivanooooooooo” I shouted I go there trying to lift the rock but I cannot move it.

I get up and run. The memories of Ivano flash in my mind, I can’t help but grieve.

Acid rain from the thick clouds of Venus doesn’t stop. I notice that as raindrops on my spacesuit, it became thinner.

“I will not survive. If this is what they want, I have to take courage and face my death” I remove my space suit and saw my shoulder turns into violet.

I stay in Venus for a long day. I put the earplugs in my ear and hear a voice.

“You survive Andheresa!” I hear many people cheering and congratulating themselves.

“If you’re done with your experiment, please return me to my family”. I said.

I saw the capsule touching down. I was traumatized but I’m still lucky because I successfully went back to my planet, but my friend and Ivano, did not make it. I start a new life with my family. While spending time with my family, I saw a message on my phone. “Prepare yourself for the next voyage”

“But where?” I asked myself and try to scroll down the message. I saw a picture of Jupiter”