UomoCapra

Ghouls in Jool: A Halloween Writing Challenge

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The most terrifying season of the year is here and our little green friends are gathering to tell us some scary stories…

The challenge is simple: to participate, you must write a spooky short story set in the Kerbal Universe. The best 3 stories will be included in the first issue the “KSP Loading…” Newsletter.

Rules

  • Everyone in the world can participate!
  • Please use proper language (suitable for all ages).
  • Max. 400 words long
  • The  story must be set in the Kerbal universe and have a spooky element to it.
  • To participate, you will have to post your story in this forum thread.
  • Like your favorite stories.

Important dates

  • The last day to submit your article is October 31, 2018.
  • Winners will be announced on November 9, 2018

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A few KSP super-short stories that are guaranteed to make grown kerbals hide under their beds and cry for mommy:

  • "And then Jeb suggested we make an Eve sea-level SSTO..."
  • "Uhm guys, Moho is getting awfully big in that viewport. How's our deceleration dV budget?"
  • Dres, pretty much any day of the year: "H-hello? Is anyone out there? Hello??"
  • "Wheels!"

 

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"Eyes in the deep"

 

Spoiler

 

The sound. No one ever talks about the sound. Shrieking, crackling, a cacophony of static, and chaos, ripping at the hull. Flames lick the windscreen, and the cockpit shudders with the voracity of some ancient beast. Temperature on the rise. Sweat running down my forehead, as the suit defiantly cools me off. My mind goes blank, and my bones rattle, as I grip the controls. A grin grows on my face.

“I’ve trained for this, I know what to do.”, I tell myself. I reorient. Have to hold the glidepath. The shuddering worsens. “Just another day at the office”, I say. I start to loosen up. Atmospheric re-entry is a dangerous proposition. Hitting the air at mach 20 is like tossing a smooth stone at a lake. Too shallow, and you skip back into space. Too steep, and you’re a toasty kerbalmallow.

Laythe is often considered a vacation planet for Kerbalnauts. The pristine white beaches, untouched by Kerbal hands; serene. But that’s down there. Up here, it’s anarchy. The caustic forces of nature try their best to rip your ship to pieces. But not today. The rattling of the pod begins to quiet, as the flames outside start to fade. I can see outside now, the clouds starting to part as my descent hastens. Something is wrong.

“My trajectory was off, how did this happen?”, I thought. “Must have been Bob, that rascal”. Bob and I have a rather interesting relationship, like kids in school. Always pulling some tomfoolery, trying to one-up the other every time. Scientists make remarkably good pranksters, it turns out. But this is different. Something is wrong. “Where did my fuel go!?”, I grumble. I tap the gauge to see if the needle was stuck, but it doesn’t budge. I make preparations for chute deployment.

Water landing by chute is not the most pleasant thing. At descent speeds, it’s not that much softer than dry land. The impact rattles my teeth. I unharness myself and try to open the hatch. “Stuck. Great.”, I say. Looking out the window, I notice the water line starting to rise. “What? I shouldn’t be sinking!”, I yell out. Before I could sit, I’m already beneath the water, sinking into the deep. I hit the SOS button so KSC knows what has happened. As I look out the window again, I can see two giant glowing eyes staring back at me.

 

Edited by Joshua Stubbles
spelling error.

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The Heart of Jool

Ultimate Steve

 

Spoiler

Falling.

Deeper and deeper, away from everything I have ever known.

Falling through the flashes of lighting. Will I be struck, or crushed?

Kerbin. So far away now. I am the first witness of Alien Thunder.

Will I be the last? The only? And how long until I meet death?

 

Gravity.

I can feel it everywhere. Jool, pulling me closer still.

The helmet creaks. The others would never hear.

The ones who died along the way - The helmetless pilot.

The crushed engineer. The scientist locked outside.

 

Whoosh.

And the world drew Golem Thirteen to its ultimate fate.

Noises, growing louder ever still. But always, nothing

But the menacing fog around the Heart of Jool. Until a voice,

Menacing, kind, Evil and holy, speaks out from the void above.

 

Hello.

No - it couldn't be! The ancient legend was true! Have I met Evil?

Tell me, child, what do you know of me, the Deep Space Kraken?

The devourer of ships, destroyer of worlds, the embodiment of Death.

Yours truly - but have none considered a force stronger than I?

Which?

Regret.

 

CRACK!

Long ago I destroyed ships, devoured worlds, killed mercilessly.

My helmet gives way, great Kraken! In moments I shall meet Death!

I met Death long ago, banished by the Universe to the Heart of Jool.

And tell me, great Kraken of Deep Space, what do you mean by this?

 

Child,

With power comes destruction. At the top I ruled dust.

I fell. From everything, wishing I could go back to mend it.

Wishing the dust would absolve my crimes. In you I see me.

 

And unlike me, I can save you.

 

Pop.

The visor gave way to the intense aether, crushing instantly.

The last I would see, before my final toxic breath, would be

The haunting yet noble face of the Kraken of Deep Space

Against the backdrop of the cruel, unrelenting Heart of Jool.

 

HOLD!

T Minus Five. The launch pad. But how? The crew, all still alive.

Golem Thirteen would stay on the ground. And then was a sound.

Indeed, it was The Kraken of Deep Space. Gone in a blink, he said

Goodbye and nothing more, with a smile that shook me to the core.

 

But I am now certain I will remember that great regretful ghoul.

The one who saved me from the void in the Heart of Jool.

 

 

By my count, 399 words, not counting the title! The original came out to 515, I had to trim it down significantly. For the interested, here is the original:

 

Spoiler

The Heart of Jool

Ultimate Steve

 

Falling.

Deeper and deeper, far away from everything I have ever known.

Falling through a mass dozens of times larger than my homeworld.

Kerbin. So far away now. How much longer will I be able to think - 

Before I am finally crushed by the weight of the atmosphere?

 

KA-BAM!

Lightning flashes around me. Will I be struck? Or crushed?

Will I be the last to hear these sounds? I am certainly the first.

The others died along the way - The pilot without the helmet.

The engineer between the magnets. The scientist locked outside.

 

Gravity.

I can feel it now. The mass of Jool, pulling me closer still.

The creaks of my helmet that the others did not get to hear.

And the world that drew Golem Thirteen to its final fate nears.

Closer and closer and closer still. Closer to the heart of Jool.

 

Whoosh.

The air draws thicker. All around me, I see my color. As I fall,

The noise grows louder ever still. Until it stops. I open my eyes.

Nothing but the menacing fog near the Heart of Jool. Until a voice,

Menacing and kind, Evil and holy, speaks out from the void above.

 

Hello.

No - it couldn't be! The ancient legend was true! Here, have I met Evil?

Tell me, child, what do you know of me, the Kraken of Deep Space?

The devourer of ships, destroyer of worlds, the embodiment of Death.

Yours truly - but have none considered a force stronger than I?

Which?

Regret.

 

CRACK!

Long ago I destroyed ships, devoured worlds, killed all who opposed.

My helmet gives way, great Kraken! In moments I shall meet death!

I met Death long ago, banished by the Universe to the heart of Jool.

And tell me, great Kraken of Deep Space, what do you mean by this?

 

Child,

Power is never the answer. I was in great error, seeking control of All.

And at the top I ruled a pile of dust. Angry dust. I could not run. I fell.

From everything, wishing I could redo it all. Wishing the dust would

Absolve my crimes. In you I see me. And unlike me, I can save you.

 

Pop.

The visor gave way to the unrelenting aether, crushing me instantly.

And the last I would see, before my final toxic breath, would be

The grotesquely haunting yet noble face of the Kraken of Deep Space

Against the vast backdrop of the cruel, unrelenting Heart of Jool.

 

Hold.

Hold the countdown. Where am I now? Back on the pad, but how?

T Minus Five. A close call in fact. And by my side, the three crew.

Golem Thirteen would stay on the ground. But wait! And that sound?

A moment, through the window, I see that great big smiling face.

 

Goodbye.

Indeed, it was The Kraken of Deep Space. Gone in a blink, he said

Nothing more than a tearful goodbye that shook me to the core.

But I am now certain I will remember that regretful great ghoul.

The one who saved me from the void in the Heart of Jool.

 

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5 hours ago, swjr-swis said:

A few KSP super-short stories that are guaranteed to make grown kerbals hide under their beds and cry for mommy:

  • "And then Jeb suggested we make an Eve sea-level SSTO..."
  • "Uhm guys, Moho is getting awfully big in that viewport. How's our deceleration dV budget?"
  • Dres, pretty much any day of the year: "H-hello? Is anyone out there? Hello??"
  • "Wheels!"

 

Please remember Dres is 'exclusive', not empty ^^

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Decided to do one based not on the legend of the Kraken, but another odd little fear held a member of the KSC... The result was rather dark I will admit.

When the wreckage was discovered in Kerbin’s deserts, Walt Kerman quickly fell into a panic. He insisted with every ounce of his being that the unidentified vessel, with its leg-like appendages and glowing ‘eyes’, was in fact one of the robot spiders from Duna that he had warned of many times before. Of course, Walt’s ramblings were considered little more than paranoid delusions by the rest of the Space Centre. There was never any evidence of such things, and there never would be!

The mysterious crashed vessel was studied and investigated, but no conclusions could be made about its origin or its purpose. Its cargo bay was empty, and most certainly not full of the preserved eggs of the extinct Dunan Empire as Walt had insisted. However, this did not put him at ease. The spokesperson grew so distraught by what he was convinced was the beginning of the end for kerbalkind that he soon fell ill from the stress!

“We shouldn’t have sent those probes Duna!” Walt cried, as his friends stood by his bedside. “They’ve tracked us back here to a new habitable planet! They will plant their eggs in our snacks, and their eggs will feed on our vital bodily fluids!”

The other kerbals, of course, dismissed these ridiculous claims. Perhaps that hazmat suit hadn’t protected Walt from inhaling a few too many rocket fumes during his time at the Space Centre.

“The Dunan Empire will rise again and take over Kerbin!” He continued. “Didn’t you see the photo of the Dunan face? That wasn’t just a mound of rocks! That was an artefact of a long-gone empire!”

The rest of the Kerbal Space Centre wouldn’t have to deal with Walt’s wild ideas for much longer though, as it seemed their poor spokesperson would soon be no more. As the days passed and the illness took hold, Walt slowly withered away, leaving behind a husk of a once lively kerbal.

The other kerbals felt guilty for having always dismissed Walt’s fears as mere fiction. Especially when Walt’s lifeless body began to hatch.

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Here's a little story, probably I should call it "Clank"

Spoiler

 

Clank!

Startled, research forgotten, the two scientists looked up. They had both definitely heard it this time. This time it was undeniable.

“Okay, maybe you weren’t dreaming earlier” apologised Jedfen, but neither of them seemed pleased by this prospect. 

Jedfen and Hencott were familiar with all the regular noises of Outpost V., but this noise was not one of them. They knew the steady whirring of the solar arrays as they tracked the sun, the hum-thud of antennae realigning, and the wet slap of sloshing fuel. Clanking was something new, and it was coming from outside!

 

Clank!

The two locked eyes, panic growing at the realisation they were not alone. Something was knocking against the outside of their laboratory!

“Should we call mission control?” suggested Hencott

“We can’t” replied Jedfen, wondering if Hencott’s stupidity might be higher than indicated, “Did you forget that it’s night here for two more days? We need to be facing sunward to get a signal to Kerbin”

“Maybe the supply ship came back?” Hencott proposed weakly, but that ship had launched weeks ago, the kerbonauts were alone.

 

Clank!

“WE HAVE TO STAY CALM!!” shrieked Jedfen, momentarily losing his cool “What would Jeb do?”

“We need more information” said Hencott, taking deep breaths, “We need to know what is making the noise, one of us will have to go outside…” 

Silently both Kerbals stood to face each other, and proceeded to play rock-paper-scissors…

 

Clank! 

“That noise came from near the north window” Jedfen said into the handheld radio.

“Copy. Approaching now. I think I see someth…” but the staticky reply was cut short by a yelp! Then laughter! Then ominous silence…

Minutes passed, but the radio only hissed. Amidst rising dread Jedfen moved to the suit rack, compelled to go help, but he was too late! The airlock began to cycle, something was coming in! Armed with a jumbo-sized snack bar Jedfen prepared himself to defend the outpost.

Through dramatic billowing gasses Jedfen saw him step from the airlock, grinning, and holding something that was attempting to wriggle free. Looking closer, he saw cradled firmly in Hencott’s arms an adorable tiny rover!

“Where did that come from?!” he asked, tension dissolving into curiosity.

“Some earlier mission?” laughed Hencott, “I think it was trying to charge power by the window light! Can we keep it?” 

“Control can’t say no if they can’t contact us!”


 

 

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2 hours ago, Blasty McBlastblast said:

probably I should call it "Clank"

If you name it, you'll never get rid of it...

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Skarkrow

Spoiler

Skarkrow is a scarecrow like none other, though he sits a Jeb's farm in lower Nora, at midnight something horrific happens. Some would say he turns evil, and other's would say he gets possessed by the omen of an ancient demon.

As day turns dark and the sun turns silver, he turns, his eyes glowing a demonic ruby red. His clothing gets old wine red blood stains and his hands turn into thousands of rusty needles.

666 years ago, at the Kerbal Space Center, he came stronger than ever. He was so powerful, he caused a rift to the underworld. Demons escaped and panic spread. Luckily, Jeb's great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Jeboniah Kerman saved the day, with his wooden missile.

Skarkrow will come back the Halloween, and you won't just hear the screams of those killed in the past but those killed in the present.

 

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Fright Night at KSC

Spoiler

Every year during the three hundred and thirty-third night, mysterious things start to happen at the KSC. None of the KSC staff want to stay that night, as weird noises abound around the Center. The only exception is Mortimer Kerman, who gleefully volunteers to be the caretaker for that night, from his usual haunt in the Admin building. In the deserted Astronaut Complex, ghostly footsteps and flushing toilets are heard. The great radio dishes of the Tracking Station creak and squeal as they turn,  but only during that night. Pale apparitions are seen streaking down the runway, rising briefly before vanishing below the waves, while the big display screens at Mission Control fill with static.  Even though the VAB is shut down for that night, the cranes and other machinery start moving with nobody at the controls. Fire and smoke bloom on and around the empty launch pad as a muted roar is heard, and hundreds of tiny glowing krakens scurry around the Research and Development center. A steady tap-tap-tapping punctuated with whirring fills the Spaceplane Hangar, without a soul in sight. They call it "Sotreum ed Aid"

When day finally breaks on that seemingly endless night, everything grows quiet again, and Mortimer starts to look sad. The tiny glowing kraken all vanish without a trace. But when the brave kerbonauts start arriving at the Astronaut Complex, they are shocked to find all the kerbals that had been KIA during the last four hundred days sitting around, drinking koffee...

Edited by StrandedonEarth

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Oh, cool... already getting some good entries!!!

Hey everyone! Any of you that have read my fan-fiction story knows I'm a Halloween/Day of the Dead fanatic...
But unfortunately, @UomoCapra wasn't 100% accurate when he said "Everyone in the world can participate!"...

Everyone in the world... but me... :(

I talked it over with him, and while I'd love to enter, because I work for Squad now, it wouldn't really be fair...

So I'm super thrilled to say I'm going to be helping choose the finalists instead!!!

Bwaahahahaha...  :D

So please, keep them coming... and bring your best!!! I really like what I've read so far, and I'm looking forward to a whole lot more!!!

Happy Halloween!!!!!!

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The Final Countdown

Spoiler

 

It was a dark and stormy night. 

Gene Kerman peered out of Mission Control's main observation window, trying to differentiate the spacecraft from the sheets of rain relentlessly pounding it. If this storm doesn't die down soon, even the best Stability Assistance System would not be able to keep the first stage on course.

He looked at his arm. It was shaking as if it had a mind of its own.

We don't have a choice. The window of opportunity is very narrow.

He checked his watch.

It... it's time.

Turning away from the violent vista outside, the mission director staggered to his console.

I guess I'd better get the launch checklist over with. Not that it will make me feel any better.

"First stage status?" He asked his team.

"All systems nominal," came the reply.

"Good. Second stage status?"

"Fuel tanks and engines nominal... but... hmm... abnormal power fluctuations in electrical subsystem three."

I guess we'll have to live with them. We don't exactly get much of a choice.

"Ignore them. Payload status?"

This part of the checklist worried Gene the most.

"All systems nominal."

"Stabilization field acceptable?" Gene desperately wanted to be sure.

"Stabilization field holding."

He breathed a deep sigh of relief. I guess we're good to go, then.

"We are clear for takeoff. Launch will commence in T minus thirty seconds."

I hope we didn't miss anything. Abbreviating the pre flight procedures was probably a mistake. The spacecraft was rushed... but our entire civilization will surely be doomed if we fail.

This is our only hope against the Towering.


He remembered vividly the transmission the deathly pale, twisted creatures had sent. It was unforgettable, horrific...

I guess I’d better focus on the present.

After all, the final countdown was nigh.

 

 

Edited by randint07

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Not a prose-form story, but a song. Hope this counts:

“He Ain’t Gonna Fly No More!”

(Inspired by “Blood on the Risers”, sung to the same tune)

 

He was just a rookie pilot and he surely shook with fright,

He was trusted to land on Eve, his prospect’s looking bright;

And so the thought have never crossed his mind,

That he ain't gonna fly no more.

[Chorus]:

Lonely, lonely, what a horrible way to die, (3x)

He ain't gonna fly no more.

 

In that tiny capsule alone Player sealed him up,

Two-stage, right delta-Vs to land and get him up;

With just two clicks his craft come undocked,

But he ain't gonna fly no more.

[Chorus]

 

One deft maneuver and the craft was pointing back,

Ready for retrograde and for the lengthy drop,

Player hit staging twice and realized his mistake,

And he ain't gonna fly no more.

[Chorus]

 

Panic sets in as the lander drifts into space,

With no quicksave, he thought hard on what he could save;

Perhaps he’ll land and then some science could be gained,

But he ain't gonna fly no more.

[Chorus]

 

Like a bright comet he streaks across the sky,

Thrusters at maximum, his tanks are running dry;

Chutes deployed, he splashed down onto a lake,

And he ain't gonna fly no more.

[Chorus]

 

Going out in his suit, many samples he collect,

Temperature, gravity, and pressure he also log;

With remaining power, he sends all back to base,

But he ain't gonna fly no more.

[Chorus]

 

The science did came in, enough for next unlock,

“But rescue’s too costly,” thus Player wisely judged;

So to be terminated there was his fate,

And he ain't gonna fly no more.

[Chorus]

 

[Solemn, at half tempo]:

At the Tracking Station his flight they terminate,

The Player finally says as he leans back and smiles,

“With this sacrifice, I hope the Kraken’s satisfied!”

And he ain’t gonna fly no more!

[Chorus, still at half tempo]

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SS1v3k1, that one made me sad! :( Well done, though. And welcome to the forum!

I wanna go rescue some kerbals now. I'd hug 'em if I could.

I'm a real softie huh.

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A ship, called Protos, floated towards Jool. Jenny and Jako Kerman were on the board. They went to do a well detailed expedition to the Joolian system.

"- KSC, this is the Protos. We are getting closer. Over."

"- Protos, this is KSC, roger that. Just keep the periapsis well above the atmosphere of Jool! The Jool-1 probe reported a huge, intense storm, with a mid-intense magnetic anomaly in the magnetosphere!"

"- Alright KSC, copy that. Raising the periapsis with another 200.000 meters."

 

Around the periapsis the Protos started to shaking.

"- Protos! Protos! Are you OK?!" - the signal flew across the Kerbol system with the speed of light, until it reached the receiving antennas of the ship.

"- This is the Protos! The vibrations getting stronger! We are trying to push up the periapsis as much as we can! Do you copy?!" - flew the answer back to the KSC.

"- Hold on guys!" - screamed Gene Kerman. "- You will be soon out of the storm! Hold on!"

"- We are trying, but the ship can't take any more, stronger vibrations!"

The vibration suddenly stopped, but all the electrical instruments went wild.

"- Protos! What happened?!"

"- I don't know Gene...!" - answered Jenny Kerman. "- Jako is shaking! Something is wrong with him!!"

Jako's head slowly turned around again and again, then his eyes went red, then pooped out. Jenny send her message what she sees:

"- It's scary! ...I don't... don't...! Jako! Stop! STOP!!" - screamed Jenny, the headquarters at the KSC heard all clear and loud.

A last, loud scream came through the sat link, then silence fell on the HQ.

Then a stretched picture appeared on the main screen - a huge monkey head with tentacles from it's eyes and it's mouth stared at Gene - he heard a horrifying voice in her head: "THE KRAKEN IS BACK! I WILL PERISH ALL OF YOU ONE BY ONE, LEAVING ONLY ONE BEHIND. ONLY YOU, TO WATCH AS I ERASE THE KERBALKIND FROM THE SURFACE OF KERBIN!"

Edited by SudAntares

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Revenge of the Kraken: but I'm not copying someone else:

Spoiler

There was a place east of the KSC, a haunted, horrible place, where years and years ago, countless tragedies (allegy) occurred. At least, that's what everyone says. It was in the middle of the ocean, the spot where the first splashdown in a capsule by Jebediah Kerman himself, the site of that time some mystery goo was spilled, the place where the first Kraken sighting took place. It was called the Kraken's Lair.

Well, that's what the kids on the playground always told young Billy-Bobdo Kerman. Children played a game of seeing who could swim farthest near it on a dare, but everyone chickened out before they got there. Billy (as his friends called him) was determined to never, ever have to go to the Lair. He was a bit of a wimp.

   "C'mon, Billy, it'll be fun!", chided his friend Jeffrill Kerman. (He held the record for the closest swim so far, about a kilometer out. It takes a long time to swim out there, so the people with the best endurance always had it.) "Don't be such a wimp!"

   "Shut up, didn't you hear the stories? About that plane that flew over it and was never seen again?" Billy replied. "I, for one, would definitely like to be seen again!"

   "You know those are all fake. If I go out with you, will you try?"

   "I guess..."

So, the next day, they put on their swimsuits and began the 50- kilometer long swim. They were silent for the first hour, when Billy felt something brush against his leg. 

   "Did you feel that?" he said, clearly afraid.

   "Feel what?" Jeffrill said, a bit annoyed.

   "I just felt something brush against my leg!" Billy screamed in terror.

   "It's nothing, you're just scared. It's all in your head." Jeffrill replied cooly.

Neither of them knew how wrong they were. (To add dramatic irony: very, very, very, very wrong).

A few kilometers later, about fifteen minutes too, it happened again, except this time to Jeffrill. He didn't scream, or even take notice. After all, it was all in his head, right? Nothing else happened for another 45 kilometers, when they were just 40 meters from the Kraken's Lair.

   "Hey, Jeffrill, I fell like something's wrapped around my leg...!!" Billy yelled.

   "Me too! AAAAAAHHH.." His screams peirced through the night as he saw it. The giant form began taking shape underwater, smooth and green, with six hige tentacles, a break, and two yellow eyes. It was the Kraken. They were never seen again.

Some say that it actually happened, while others dismiss it as a stupid story made to scare 8 year olds, but only one things for sure: no one has tried to swim out since.

 

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alright, my entry.

In the deepest parts of laythe, Jeb was calling home.

"hello? h-hello?"

a spooky voice screamed and broke the radio.

"huh, this might be an issue."

Jeb called Bill to see if he could fix the radio.

Overtime, Bill fixed it and was able to call home.

"Hello, KSC, Are you there?"

a perturbating silence from the other end was coming.

"huh, i had the same issue earlier, Jeb."

A sound came from a Wall.

"Huh?"

As the walls Crumbled, they did nothing more than frighten themselves.

"What was that?"

"H-h-he-hello?"

"BOO!"

"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

Jeb ran with Bill to a spaceship and docked into the Jool-1 Station.

"Open the airlock, Jeb"

They opened the airlock.

The ship was all dark, and nothing was functioning.

"Wha-What happened here?"

"i don't know."

Sounds of footsteps sounded on the hallway.

"LET'S GET OUT OF HERE!"

And so, they fled to Kerbin.

The end.

Edited by Pascovian
Forgot to add station

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Okay, I've got one. Now edited for length.

 

"And they found it the next morning...inside his locker."

There was a long pause and then a chuckle. "Nice. You almost scared Wernher with that one!"

"Thought it would," replied Bob, ignoring the muffled protests from the radio. "Hey, Jeb - you want that pumpkin juice?"

"Yep." Jeb snagged the bright orange squeezebulb drifting across the cabin, and took a long swallow. "Time for another one, Flight?"

"As long as it's not a Jebediah special."

Jeb affected a wounded expression. "I don't know what you mean." He put his drink within easy reach. "Anyhow - did you ever wonder why you can always hear birdsong around the KSC - but you never, ever see any birds?"

"Can't say I have."

"Well, neither had I until last Hallogreen. Bill and I were driving back from Kerbin City that night, when suddenly we were surrounded by lights and the noise of thousands of birds. Bill put his foot down, the car shot forward and then - just like that - the lights vanished and everything went quiet. Now that seemed a bit odd so we backed up a way and - snap! Noise and lights. Drive forward again - nothing. We tried it two or three times and..."

"Very scientific," said Gene dryly. "And spooky of course."

"That's not the spooky part," said Jeb. "We went back out there in the morning and - as near as we could work out - the lights had appeared just as we drove past the ruins of the old burned down propellant research complex. 

"So all the birdsong around KSC is made by ghost birds," Gene yawned. He leaned over his console to retrieve his coffee when he caught a glimpse of something on the main monitor. Frowning, he took a second look. "Oh very good, Jeb."

"Huh?"

"That was pretty good but you can put your props away now."

"Gene - I have no idea what on Kerbin you're talking about."

"On the couches, Jeb. Get rid of them!"

"Get rid of what?" 

"I'm not seeing anything either, " Bob chimed in. He unstowed the TV camera from its bracket on the cabin wall and pointed it at their acceleration couches. "The camera never lies, Flight."

Gene's jaw dropped open. On one screen, he could see a shaky image of three empty couches. On the other, tucked into the webbing of each of the pilot's and engineer's couches was a single, charred feather...

Edited by KSK

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