This is Captain James Marshall Greer of the HMS Overlord, and I am making my final report.
At approximately zero-six-hundred hours this morning, the ship’s engines died and the hulk is drifting towards the epicenter of the great cosmic event known as The Folding In. Our mission has failed. Within the hour, our ship will be destroyed and, in perhaps a day’s time, the rest of humanity as well.
It has been hours since we’ve last received transmission from earth, but when news of our failure reached the planet’s surface, many took to their cities’ skyscrapers and hurled themselves from their tops. One horrified reporter said it was as though the sky were “raining men,” the bodies cascading down from great heights and exploding on the pavement, piling in great heaps of blood and viscera in quantities sufficient to block major urban arteries. In their attempt to maintain some semblance of order in humankind’s final hours, politicians promised to raise a monument to the fallen on the sites of the carnage.
Still others, in the face of everything the scientists have said, have come to see The Folding In as the dawn of a new awakening of human consciousness, as a liberation from an oppressive and technocratic society, a great cosmic broom to sweep away the Central Registry and all its eyes and ears and the endless database of files and records it maintained on each of us. For them, this is cause for celebration, and there are reports of orgiastic gatherings on the outskirts of every major settlement. They say you can see the mass of naked, writhing bodies in the light of bonfires made from clothing, furniture, household appliances, and all the tokens of the old and dying order. They say you can hear them chant in the darkness, “Swing low sweet satellite/ Coming for to carry us home.”
And while we are well outside the range of all human contact, the ship’s communication system still buzzes with unearthly life. At times, the signal manifests itself as a mechanical, even rhythmic, beat that we can feel pulsing beneath our skin. Other times, it’s a metallic shrill that rends the recycled air. There are maddening drones and dim echoes of static and feedback. Sometimes, and God help me, this is worst of all, sometimes we can even hear what sounds like a human voice. The words are distant, fragmentary, an incoherent babble, and whatever warnings, comforts, and threats they have to offer us have come to nothing.
To my wife and child, whom this message will never reach, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we weren’t able to stop this. I’m sorry for the horrors that you’ve witnessed and the horrors that are still to come. I’m sorry that we let you down.
The ship is dead.
The crew is dead.
Everyone will let you down in the end.