This story was inspired by the game "Among Us."
“Everyone has their tasks for the day, yes?” Deangelo looked around the room at our small crew. We had officially left orbit that day, starting our journey into space. Sitting around the ship's meeting table, we nodded at our captain.
“Well alright then, dismissed.”
I headed immediately to navigation, plotting our course for the day. Just space, nothing special. An infinite, empty vacuum that we were speeding through at thousands of miles per hour. A simple day...until I heard the piercing scream that echoed through the metal halls.
I jumped from my seat, activating the ship's autopilot before running to figure out what was wrong. I could hear yelling coming from nearby; Delilah came bolting from around the corner, headed away from the noise.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. She didn’t slow her pace, only taking the time to shout, “Jones!” before turning the corner. I ran into Communications, where Jones worked, to see three figures all bent over him, a red pool slowly accumulating around them.
Everyone was silent around the meeting table. We very quickly said our goodbyes before sending his body out of the spacecraft..
“So.” The Captain's voice was the first to break the silence. “We lost a good man today.” he looked around at us, “However, we can’t let this deter us from our mission, I know it’s hard, and we will continue to investigate how this unfortunate-”
“I know what happened.” Patrick interjected. He leaned on the table and stared at everyone, daggers in his eyes.
“One of you killed him.”
“What?” I looked frantically at Deangelo, he simply stared at Patrick.
“Hey, we are a crew, we aren’t going to be accusing anyone of anything.” Forbes spoke up, glaring at him. “What happened was awful, but no one killed him-”
“Listen Forbes,” he interjected again, the air of mourning was completely gone now. “I saw him right after he died, you may not have seen it, but he had a gaping hole in his chest. I mean he worked in Communication guys. What’s gonna stab him in there? And, the vent was wide open!”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Azure asked.
Patrick shrugged, “Easy escape for one of you murderers-”
“That is enough.” Captain Deangelo was standing now. “We have entertained this thought for too long. Ling, Juniper and I will investigate, but I will not have any of my crew members accusing each other. Is that clear?”
A chorus of ‘yes sirs’ were mumbled out, and as I left the table, I looked at the Captain. He gave me only a slight nod.
I couldn’t sit still at the helm, so I walked around the ship, wanting a distraction from how abruptly our mission had sunk. My head was spinning with questions. Maybe Patrick was right, maybe there was a murderer among us. As I walked past Electrical, I heard frantic whispering coming from inside. I stepped up to the door and listened, only making out a portion of their conversation through the wall.
“...Patrick…I know...lose control...”
“...doing?...stay back...they’ll know-”
The conversation abruptly ended as a muffled cry rang out followed by the sick sound of a body falling to the floor. I bolted into the room. Forbes’ body was sprawled on the ground, a large gash in his side. Struggling, he reached his hand toward the wall, pointing to a wide open vent...big enough for someone to crawl through.
I called a meeting, explaining everything I heard, fervently believing now that he was murdered.
“Wow, now you guys believe me. Great.” Patrick smugly leaned against his chair. “Well you were conveniently right there, maybe it was you, Vega.”
“What?” I asked, my heart dropping to my stomach.
“You heard me.”
I was about to say something I would regret, but luckily, Deangelo, Azure and Juniper defended me. Ling then accused Delilah, who didn’t have an alibi. We were overrun by fear and grief, accusing each other over anything and everything, Patrick being the biggest instigator.
“What about you Patrick. You argued with Forbes after Jones died.”
“Yeah I did, but I didn’t kill him”
“Well what are we even going to do about this, anyways? I don’t feel safe with a murderer onboard.” Juniper looked with disgust at Patrick.
“How about a vote?”
We all turned to him, the room growing quiet. Patrick was standing up now, making some of us scoot back.
“Vote for what?”
“On who is the murderer, since you all seem to think it’s me. Everyone who thinks I killed them raise your hand.”
I couldn't believe what I saw. Everyone at the table slowly raised their hands. Patrick looked shocked, I’m sure he didn’t intend for it to be unanimous.
Lings voice spoke up. “Now what do we do?”
Patrick looked around the room like a deer in headlights, then broke into a sprint from the table. We took chase, sure now that it was him. It didn’t take us long to corner him, and then...well, I’m not proud, but we were scared, exhausted, and with nothing to defend ourselves. So, we sent Patrick out to join Jones’ and Forbes’ bodies in space.
Instead of feeling relief, though, I only felt guilt. I just hoped and prayed that we had gotten rid of the right person.
But it was Azure’s body we found next.
We were hysterical. There were only five people on the ship now, so accusations were flying. We had to be right this time, there could be no more casualties. Ling was right outside the room where Deangelo found Azure, so Deangelo, Juniper and I voted for her, Delilah voting for Deangelo. Ling won, or better said, lost, and was sent out.
It was just the four of us left. I had us on course for the closest space station, but we wouldn’t reach it for days. So many of my friends had died that day, most being or partly due to me once the voting began. We were scared. We made blind guesses and gambled human lives on them, but it was too late to go back now.
I secured myself in navigation, trying to stay as far away from everyone else on the ship as I could. There was no way to be certain if we had chosen the right person until, well, until another body was found. I just had to stay alive until we reached safety, or another spacecraft reached us.
My thoughts were interrupted by a small sound nearby. I had barricaded the only vent, just to be sure. I heard the sound of thumping from inside of it. I stayed dead silent. Someone was trying to get in. The noise stopped, and the sound of sliding slowly receded as they continued on through the vent, headed towards the hallway outside my door. Every instinct in my body told me no. To stay hidden, to let someone else get hurt. But...I couldn’t. My legs, as if acting on their own accord, took me to the door, which I quietly opened and followed the sound. I heard a scream echo from the cafeteria in front of me, and foolishly without a plan. I ran into the room.
I watched in horror as Delilah's mutilated body fell to the ground. The Captain was standing above her, covered in her blood, holding only a primitive knife.
“No-” the word slipped out of my mouth, revealing what I had seen. He turned to me, making my stomach turn. Whatever sick game he was playing, he had won.
“Look, Vega,” he stepped toward me, my heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my head. “It’s nothing personal. I just have my own mission that needs to be finished.”
He continued walking forward, slowly, as if enjoying the chase. I stumbled back, my eyes scanning the room for something to defend myself, but of course there was nothing.
“It’s Deangelo!” I shouted, even though I knew it was probably too late for Juniper too. This seemed to spark something in the Captain, and he came running toward me at full speed. I ran to my left, narrowly avoiding the knife that came swinging by my head.
“There’s nowhere to hide, Vega” he taunted, regaining his balance and continuing his stride towards me. “Nothing but space all around.” The only exit was behind him now, there was nowhere I could run, and he was getting closer and closer, blade glinting in the fluorescent light. Suddenly he was knocked to the ground with a loud cry, revealing Juniper standing triumphantly behind him, a metal pipe he had loosened from the engine room in his hands. Deangelo’s knife skidded across the floor, and as he stood up fuming towards Juniper, I ran for it. Deangelo had disarmed him now, a much better fighter than either of us. His hands clasped around Juniper's neck, who was clawing and gasping for air. I came up behind him, knife poised to attack. I had never used a weapon before, but my adrenaline guided me as I plunged it through the Captain’s neck. He sputtered, hands falling limply away from Juniper. His body crumpled to the floor, his own blood now mingling with Delilah’s.
It was over. I desperately wanted to feel relieved, but my nerves were still shot from all that had happened today. Too many lives were lost during our search for the killer...how on Earth would we explain our anarchy to the rest of the fleet. I looked over to Juniper, who was now shakily rising from the floor. I saw him, and he saw me, and in that moment of shame and fear, we both turned and silently walked away.