To whom it may concern, Yael Kastel_Haifa
Winner Energheia Israel Award 2022
1.To whom it may concern:
Here is an account of my existence before you.
Some would say I had lived a life of insignificance. For the most part, that is true. Everything that I have lived and breathed could be wrapped and put away in this document.
That is quite a bleak start. Let’s break the ice. Here is a short list of facts that I would like you to know about me.
I am the only person living on those entire ·
· I run this station by myself since the day I got here.
· I am 24 Earth years old.
· I will stay here until the day I die.
Those facts may raise some questions on your end. To assume that ‘you’ are having questions is a hopeful assumption, since most likely no ‘you’ is ever going to think about the thing that is ‘I’. But for the sake of giving myself something to cling to, I will ask ‘you’ to let me hope that this document of mine will ever be seen by another human being, or any other intelligent being (I am not picky).
Well – you may ask why am I here, and why am I writing this now.
If you’re clever enough you may have understood, based on those four facts added together, that my circumstances don’t suggest that I found myself here by choice. That is partly true, Since the choice had been between death and a life of isolation.
Although I am now starting to think that both are very much the same.
2. A formal apology
Why would someone be sentenced to a lifetime of solitude? The answer, according to the law of the union:
The killing of another intelligent being will result in a penalty of death or a lifetime of solitary labor.
So, are the words you are reading the ones of a killer? I will assure you that I am no killer. Still, I would like to make a formal apology:
I am sorry for leaving you behind.
Since if you are reading this, it means that I am no longer here. And since I know the law of planets under this union, you may not be a killer as well. Please accept this document as my attempt to help you out.
I don’t know how you feel right now. I did not have a document waiting for me when I arrived here. Maybe I had been the first to arrive here; maybe the person before me did not leave a note, or maybe the note was taken from them. Maybe it will be taken away from you too. I hope that you receive it for selfish reasons only. I want my memories to be shared with someone other than myself.
Now, if I may, I would like to share my first advice to you:
Don’t believe everything that I say.
3. Instructions (part one)
This station is what one would call an ‘experimental laboratory’. That is code name for ‘a waste of time’. You will probably get a list of tedious tasks to perform every day. Most of them will be very useless. Some of them may actually be of use to you if you try hard enough.
Some tasks include:
· Collecting, describing and numbering various plants. (Could be useful. You might find something edible).
· Attempting to grow provided seeds in various conditions (utterly useless. They will not grow).
· Recording changes in the atmosphere. (Useless. Unless you find a way to predict or connect the changing climate which, based on my past recording and living experience, is completely random).
· Preparing spreadsheets and samples of tasks above for a monthly checkup (they never come. You can do it if you want to cling into false hope, which I would admit, is useful sometimes).
I wonder how old you are. I wonder if you are younger or older than me. When I came here, I was 19. It has been a bit longer than 5 Earth years now. Yet it feels like it could have been 10 years away or just yesterday.
Dealing with time is no longer needed for someone like me. Since it doesn’t matter how much time passes. My fate will not change.
At least that is what I thought.
4. A tale
Once upon a time, I told myself a tale that I would one day be rescued or find a way out of here. The tale went like this:
It was a day like any other.
I woke up and gazed outside the window to the vastness of the spotty ground.
That day I had decided I would try to see what lies beyond the northern hill. Some deep voice had told me to stay away from what is unknown and far; but another voice, just as strong, had urged me to explore and risk myself for the chance of finding something new. It took some self-convincing, but in the end, I found the courage to pack a bag with some crackers and water and set foot outside.
It was daylight (there are 14 hours of daylight here on average, you may want to write that down) and I had gone through my usual path, wary of the swallows (you may also want to note that there are swallows around here). About an hour and half later I heard the sound of a rattly engine from below. Not long after I could recognize the shape of a common traveler’s spaceship.
It crashed (or landed very poorly, that depends on one’s phrasing) just next to where I was headed. I approached it.
Before we continue, I have a confession to make.
This tale is not fabricated completely. It has fragments of truth. But you will have no way of telling between the two, at least, I think you will not.
Where was I?
I approached it.
(I am not one to trust an uncalled visitor from the sky).
The cockpit opened with a bubbly ‘tsssss’ sound, and I squinted to see if I could determine whether the life-form inside was a threat. I could not see them just yet, but I could hear them. They said:
5. In case of malfunction
They were human as far as I could tell. I think they broke one of their legs. They were bloody. I have no medical knowledge what-so-ever, but I assessed the situation to be not very good.
So, as you can imagine I felt quite lost in this situation, where I was expected to aid a crashed pilot. Well.
I am not used to conversing with others. I have no ‘others’ to talk to. I do sing and hum to myself on occasion, but I try not to talk. I find that once I start talking to myself, I struggle to stop. And I can be a very cruel companion, so it is best if I avoid it.
I could have walked back and left them to die. Nobody would know. But my curiosity got the better of me; I had not seen anybody in a very long time.
“Do you understand my language?” They asked me.
“I think you have broken your leg,” I answered.
I couldn’t tell if they were amused or their mouth squeezed because of the pain.
They asked me if I could set their bone back. I said I am not sure. We hadn’t known each other for very long. They replied they must ask me to try my best. I said “if you insist”.
I went back to the station to bring them ice and a stick of some sort to stabilize their leg. When I came back, they were still conscious, although somewhat dizzy now.
I will spare you further details of the state of their left leg. They asked me to fetch a first-aid kit from a small tin box from their spaceship. It had some pain killers.
I don’t have much experience stabilizing limbs. Now that I can proudly say I had once successfully stabilized one, here are steps of how you should act in said event:
1. Push the leg so it’s not twisted.
2. Try to ignore the screaming.
3. Put bandages around the wound.
4. Try to ignore the screaming.
5. Press any thing that you think is fit to be a sling and tie it so it won’t move.
6. Try to ignore the screaming.
I fetched my garden wagon to carry them to the base. They were taller and heavier than me. I thought of their spaceship and what it might contain. I wondered if it worked.
I wondered if I still remember how to pilot a spaceship.
After I put them on my bed, (they were all bloody and dusty, but I was about to change the sheets any way) I decided it would be best to scan their ship while they are still ill. They seemed to run a fever and mumble nonsense and mistake me for someone I was not.
Someone they had known and cared for.
Someone they had loved.
There were still a couple of hours before sundown. I made my way back to the ship. I brought my wagon in case there would be a lot to take. Always come prepared. And I do not care if you think I am a thief. I refuse to justify myself to you. And One Day (if you survive here long enough) you will grow to be as desperate and selfish as I am. And You will stop asking what is wrong and right, and start asking what is necessary.
I had found several necessary things:
· Pain killers.
· 12 canned boxes of dried food.
· A carton bag full of money.
· More pain killers.
· A full cartridge of bullets.
The last item would suggest that there might also be a gun involved. Either I could not find it because it was well hidden, or they were carrying it.
They were most likely carrying it.
It would be dealt with later, I told myself.
Have you ever shot a gun?
It’s quite unpleasant. Makes your ears hurt and your stomach feel hollow.
7. Scavenger hunt
They were still on my bed when I was back. They were asleep, or unconscious, or something in-between. I tilted them just enough to grunt something at me. I put several painkillers in their palm. They took them and melted back into their half-sleeping state. I took the liberty of taking some for myself as well. The pills were not strong enough to my liking, in any case, I welcomed their numbness with open arms.
I spread my other set of sheets on the floor and tried to sleep.
It was a weird feeling, being around another human.
Their breaths were low and deep but not peaceful. I listened to them as I felt my own breaths deepen and the room getting muffled until I fell into a sweet, numbing, hazy nothingness.
I woke up feeling something cold pressed against my throat.
“I want my gun back,” they said. They seemed scared. Their face gleamed with feverish sweat.
I grabbed their knife-gripping wrist and pushed their hand away. It was easy. “Try to threaten me when you are feeling a bit better,” I said.
They seemed more insulted than scared after I said that. “If you’re going to kill me, get it over with now.”
It was my turn to be insulted. “I don’t plan on killing you.” I really was not.
Their dark eyes squinted at me, struggling to unveil the heavy curtains of pain-killers and fever. Their eyes lingered on my eyes just a little longer, searching them for truth.
I couldn’t tell if they had found it or not.
“If you help me fix the ship, I can take you with me.”
I myself am also a scavenger of truth. But in this case, there was no need to search for it in their eyes. It was as if someone had written it on their forehead.
L I A R
I wore my kindest smile and shook their hand.