The planet was dead. Perhaps life had once dwelled on its barren, red terrain, or perhaps it had never known the warm kiss of life.

The twisted, steaming corpse of a ship lay half-submerged in the crimson sands of the planet, as if the planet itself was devouring its metallic remains. A man, a survivor, the lucky one, or perhaps the unlucky one, laid gazing into the endless expanse of red and orange, contemplating his solitude. His hand was resting on the horrific mass of charred skin that was his face, his lungs inhaling the toxic air of the planet.

The irony of the situation had not been lost on him — surviving the crash onto the barren rock that floated in perfect harmony with the glowing orb that held the solar system together. Only to die now, being strangled by the planet’s invisible, vile tendrils. Inhale, exhale.

“The time has come to expand our horizons,” they had said to him as he prepared to launch.

His chest began to seize up as his throat refused to inhale anymore, coughing and spluttering. He remembered the crash.

Blaring red alarms, the deafening explosion that signalled the fuel tank being eviscerated by the point of the jagged spire of a blood red rock. He tried to wheeze out something, a prayer maybe more likely a groan of pain, but it was silenced before it even left his failing throat. The sound of the fuel tank rupturing roused him from his leather-bound seat, and he leapt to his feet, grabbing the dusty old fire extinguisher. His eyes fell on the mangled mess that remained of his arm, a wedding ring once sat, long torn off before his arm was.

He burst into the engine room, horrified at the state of the ragged machinery: liquid flame tongues licked around the shattered remains of the fuel tanks and whipped across his face savagely. His head lolled to the side, gazing out; he saw the endless black void, a tiny blue drop of life resting in that darkness.

Shrieking in pain, he was suddenly thrown off his feet as the craft made violent impact with the planet’s surface.

He had come so tantalisingly close to home it was as if the universe was taunting him, punishing him for his past sins. Had he not gone through enough? Had he not atoned for his past sins? His piercing green eyes rolled backwards as his arm collapsed. Perhaps this was needed.

The black fog of depression at his situation was slowly cleared. Perhaps now they would see, that some journeys were not meant to be taken.

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