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As a Command Module Pilot of Apollo 19, I never understood the two earlier missions that were protracted to be kept secret from the public. The government specifically told us that if we told anyone about our mission, we would regret it. I didn’t see any reason though, It’s not like we were on a top-secret mission. Others have been here before us, right? Our crew flew to the moon in June 1954 under the command of Commander George Harrison. Our friend, Steve Bently, was the flight’s Lunar Module Pilot, and myself, Jim Mcgraw as a command Module Pilot.
The goal of Apollo 19 was to land our flight on the lunar far side. As you can see, speculations are concerned that the Department of Defense received information that the Russians were observing to land on the Fermi Crater, so NASA, as well of the approval of the United States Government gave permission to contribute the mission to make a landing in the Tsiolkovsky Crater, directly to the east of Fermi.This isn’t the job I desired to have in the National Space Program. My purpose however, is to stay in orbit of the moon while George and Steve explore the surface below. While I swing back to the lunar near side, I’ll report back to HQ on their progress. As everyone will be out of direct contact with mission control while on the other side. Apollo 19 blasted off from the space pod on June 16, 1973, and made its Orbital injection after orbiting the earth twice. Four days after we left earth, we entered lunar orbit. George and Steve voyaged through the tunnel that connected the Lunar Module. After checking the LM toward the triangular CM window, George and Steve began to make their descent down to the far side. The descent was moving rather smoothly, As I watched anticipatory as the LM slowly fell to the surface. Soon, my friends were out of sight.
As they descended to the moon, you could hear their excitement in their voices from a million miles. The closer they approached, the more rigid they sounded. Eventually, I heard on the radio a loud stump, which sounded like an elephant stomping on the ground. “We have confirmed reports of officially landing on the far side!” George yelled. “Engine shut down”, Steve calmly announced. For a brief moment, all was dead quiet. Then, when they realized what they had accomplished, I heard my two friends burst out laughing. They had successfully landed on the moon! Within an hour, they had completed their EVA checklist and I gave George a “go” for the first spacewalk of our mission. No time was wasted in opening the hatch. As George appealed to be emerging closer to the surface while descending the ladder, he was silent. Soon, he reached the footpad of the LM, and stepped off onto the moon. Still, no sound was uttered. No poetic phrase, nothing. “Jim, do you copy?” “Yeah George, what is it?” “I’ve touched down” he said, not quite comprehending it himself.
Wide eyed, I stared at the last bit of Tsiolkovsky, as it made its last peak over the horizon. I laughed and clapped my hands. “Bravo, George! How’s the weather down there?” He chuckled a bit. “Clear skies, no clouds, bright sunlight everywhere”. George replied. Time passed as I entered back over to the near side, out of communication with Steve and George. Last report I heard, Steve was coming down the ladder and was going to do some exploring with George in the Lunar Rover. After the planting of the flag, of course. Within moments, I had established communication with Houston Mission Control and reported the progress of our mission thus far. Over the radio, I heard the thunderous claps of the 50 men monitoring our flight. Gus, our mission’s designated CAPCOM, congratulated me. “Be sure to tell us of what they find on your next swing around!” Gus said to me. “That’s about all I can do up here”, I sighed.
Seconds later, I flew from the near side night into the bright daytime of far side. “What’s the word, guys?” I asked eagerly. There was nothing but silence for a few moments. Then, Steve said something. “Jim?” “Yeah, Steve?” “We’ve found something”. “Well, what is it?” There was a pause. “We- We’ve stumbled across Apollo 18”. Steve stuttered. How is this even possible. Apollo 18, reportedly to have crash landed back in February in the Tycho Crater on the near side of the moon, with the loss of its CMDR and LMP. The CMP attempted to return to earth, but the heat shield separated upon reentry. If the LM had crashed on the other side, what was it doing here in Tsiolkovsky? “You guys sure it’s 18?” “Pretty darn sure, we went inside to exam” “Inside?” I cried. “You mean it isn’t crashed, it came down intact?” “Perfectly fine, but the two pilots are missing. Their rover tracks lead somewhere deep into the crater. I think we’ll follow them”, George said. It took me awhile to process this bombshell. When my craft returned to the near side, I didn’t know how to explain this find to Houston. “What’s the news from George and Steve?” Gus asked.
After contemplating what to say, I finally decided to be truthful. “They found 18”.Silence greeted this. A while later he came back on. “You’re serious?” “Oh c’mon, Gus, don’t play games with me! You must’ve known about this! How in the heck is something that’s supposed to have crashed in Tycho located on the opposite side of the moon?” Another pause. Then, “It’s probably just a failed satellite, Jim, that crashed. One of those early Canaveral jobs” I cut him off. “Don’t give me some bull excuse from the DOD, it was a LM! They are vastly different from any sort of satellite. Now talk!” I angrily demanded. Radio cutoff was coming up in a few seconds. Right before I lost communication, Gus mumbled “I don’t know what to tell you, Jim”. Daylight flooded the capsule as I drifted back to the far side. “George, Steve, what’s your status, over?” I said into the mic, obviously irritated. “Listen”, was all George replied. “What?” “He’s right, Jim”, Steve intervened “Listen to the radio”. I decided to tag along, I stopped talking and pressed my ear to the circular speaker on the control panel.
That’s when I first heard it. There was an absence of static, replaced by a nearly inaudible whisper, along with some sort of mixture of sounds, ranging from clicking to crushing to smacking. The whisper part of the sound was inconceivable, horrifying me in instant shock. “What on earth is that God-awful noise?” I cried, shaking with fear. “We’re not too sure, but it started twenty minutes after you lost communication with us”, George explained. Nothing much else had happened when I was on the near side. Ten minutes after I became aware of the noise, Steve said “The rover tracks seem to be going over to that crater over there”.As they approached the edge of the crater, the static screams and whispers among the radio drastically increased in volume, almost to a ear piercing shrill. I covered my ears and clenched my teeth. “What’s going on down there!?” I screamed.
Suddenly, the noise died down. “It’s as if the nearer we go to that craterlet, the louder the noise gets”, George said. “Where can it possibly come from though? There’s no sound in a vacuum so it must be on the frequency”.They had no answer for me. Soon, I was back on the near side. When Gus asked me for an update, I decided not to tell him about the noises. I told them that George and Steve were after the tracks of the previous astronauts and that was that. Within 40 minutes, I was back on the far side. But something was different this time. Tsiolkovsky was black. Only Tsiolkovsky was black. All other craters were doused with the blazing light of the sun. For some reason, this massive crater was jet black, darker than the night sky. It was supposed to be noon-day on the surface there. “It started as soon as you swung around to the near side”, George explained. “We’ve been navigating back with the lights on our helmets. We had to give up on the search for the crew of 18”. The noise was still there.
I looked down at the foreboding crater of night. It looked like a pit that led all the way to the deepest recesses of Hell. I struggled to see the peak of light against the dark that would be my friends. It was like the darkness itself forbid light to enter. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, not until it swung out of view over the horizon. “What’s your status, over?” Gus asked. “Tsiolkovsky is enshrouded in darkness”, I said furiously. “Why?” The telltale pause was back, then the bull excuse. “Maybe it’s some sort of light phenomenon? Like how the poles on earth experience night for six months?” I switched off the radio. Not long later, I was back on the far side. As soon as I entered range of communication with the ground crew, I heard heavy panting, as if somebody was running frantically. Something was definitely not right. “George, Steve, what’s the matter?” I yelled into the mic. “George is dead!” Steve cried between gasps. “They got him!” “They?” I screamed in terror, “Who are they?” “Things, beings, eight feet high! They’re blacker than the night shrouding me. These things rise up from the dust. They flipped the rover and got George”. “Rise up from the dust?” “Ascending from the ground to kill us! I’m on my way to 18’s LM, I’m a quarter of a mile away, I may make it!” “You’re not making any sense!” I was crying by this point from confusion and fear. “What are they?!” Before Steve had a chance to reply, he screamed in agony. I heard him screaming, entreating, begging for mercy that whatever had a hold of him to leave him be. I concentrated the sounds as the thing tore his suit to shreds.
As oxygen seeped out of his suit, I could discern some sort of stomach turning crack, as well as the sound of ripping flesh. The last sound that came in from Steve was his last incontrovertible sob, followed by a pop. I suddenly heard the strange noise, louder than ever, blasting through the radio. Instantaneously I ended any responses from the radio, shockingly the noise sustained, I concealed my ears until I was back on the near side where it ceased.Switching the radio back on, I screeched at Gus “They’ve been slaughtered! George and Steve have died! Steve said some sort of things rose up from the dust to kill them! What were they?!” However, Gus replied. All he responded to was “It’s the phenomenon… it’s starting again”. There was static… mission control ended contact with me. I realized they were going to leave me in orbit to die. I’m guessing that’s what happened to 18’s CMP. Either that, or they gave him the wrong reentry coordinates, causing him to burn up on purpose.
When I swung back around to the far side, the noise was back to a silent whisper. Soon, I reached the ideal point to send 19 home. As I switched the thruster on, nothing happened. I began to laugh hysterically. I came to the conclusion that, anticipating this would take place and not wanting to risk us spreading word of what happened, the NASA supplied us with insufficient fuel to get home. There was no hope of my returning to the earth. This transpired two days ago. Since then, I’ve just been sitting here, contemplating what to do. Meanwhile, the voice has continued to speak to me. I don’t like it. The words make more sense now. They tell me bad things. I don’t know what’s worse, the static from near side or the whispering voices of far side. Rather than enduring this torture, I’ve decided to open the hatch without my space gear intact, as soon as I finish writing this down. Hopefully, one day, it will be discovered. Before I do so though, I would like to issue this one last warning to the earth, I prohibit anyone from returning to Tsiolkovsky. In fact, do not return to the far side of the moon. All that one will get from here is death. This is Jim Mcgraw, Command Module Pilot of Apollo 19, signing off for the last time.
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