Capsule Echo

This is my entry for May’s Blog Battle – the theme or word for this month is Airtight.


There was no light, just the darkness of the space around him. The only sensation that Mitchell knew was his breath. In… out… in… out.
Thank God I’m breathing his mind started coming around. Then there were more sensations, light. That flashing red light is damn annoying!

Weightlessness.

Then warmth, running down Mitchell’s leg. What could that be?

“Arrrgh!” Pain seared through his body, gasping at his thigh Mitchell could feel ait sticking out of the back of his leg. Sweating madly in the humid atmosphere created by his own body in the airtight capsule, made worse by his heavy breathing caused by the searing pain in his leg.

The light turned from Red to a gentle blue, a soothing female tone could be heard “Heavy breathing is causing excess oxygen use – please slow your breathing and calm your body.”

Mitchell paid no attention, whatever he did and how he moved his leg the pain seared through him. In a final desperate attempt to cure the pain he gripped the object, screaming as pulled at it. Slowly, excruciatingly it moved until it was free in his hand.

Then nothing, unconscious again Mitchell floated. Droplets of blood floating around the capsule. Time passed, in what was totally meaningless to even the local part of the universe Mitchell just breathed.


Gently Mitchell opened his eyes once more, his hole body shaking, shivering. Looking at his his hand the fingers were a pale blue. Sheepishly he checked his body over. His leg was sore but the object was gone.

Where is that thing and what was it?

Floating just on the inner surface of the capsule Mitchell reached over and grabbed it. Trying to steady himself in the Zero G he grabbed it and examined it.

What is this? Damn thing is sharp.

He couldn’t identify the intended use of the object, just that it was long and sharp, while he hated the object he realised it must have come from the blast that knocked him into the escape capsule. In a twist of irony he thought himself lucky that it ended up in his leg, if it had missed it would have easily penetrated the thin skin of this little life bubble. Mitchell looked around it, examining what he had available.

A survival suit, that will help with the cold and the heat when it comes!

Before putting it on he examined as best he could his wound, it had stopped bleeding thank God but the place was a mess with blood. As he pulled the suit on he ripped the arms off his long sleeved shirt and used one to mop up what he could of the mess, the other he tied around his leg. Finally zipping his suit up, hood and all he felt warmth returning to his bones.

Still shivering he mumbled “Computer status report.”

The calming female voice returned “Capsule is fully functional, no errors to report.”

Well that’s helpful, what faults can there be with a self propelled 2 metre diameter blow up survival balloon?

“Status of Lunar station 2”

“Lunar station 2 is disabled, last transmission to Earth indicated loss of structure and life support systems. Human inhabitants no longer able to survive there.”

Really? I love the understatement of these things.

“How many capsules were launched from Lunar station 2?”

“Capsule Echo was the only capsule to launch from Lunar station 2 before catastrophic malfunction occurred.”

Mitchell took a moment, remembering in that moment the fellow explorers that only hours before he was working with. Now gone. Kalli and her insane humour with and dark hair, Mickie and his youth and genuine excitement over everything. Gibson, that man was a….

Nevermind

“How long have we been travelling?”

“It has been 27 hours, 42 minutes since Capsule Echo was launched from Lunar station 2.

“How long until we enter Earth Orbit?”

“We will enter Earth orbit in 4 days, 7 hours and 21 minutes.”

I should have stayed asleep. Assuming I encounter nothing that will puncture the skin of the capsule and there’s no solar flares to roast me and the guidance or micro thrusters fail, As well as the million other things that could go wrong I’ll be fine.

Mitchell looked around for supplies. There was always ten days of food and water with these things, but only five days of oxygen. The irony was not lost on him and even as he tore open the sachet which read Day 1 on it he allowed himself a wry smile. Day 2 was going to follow shortly, he had been asleep for over a day after all.

Four days of this? What can I do with fours days stuck in a balloon? I’m going to go totally mad!

Sachet 2 followed, taking his time with it he worked out he took ten minutes to eat it.
God this was going to take ages!

Mitchell’s leg still hurt, he checked the life support of a few minutes, asked the computer a few stupid questions and then after some hours that felt like eternity, he slept.

For the next few days Mitchell slept and stared into nothing, a small window allowed him a view of Earth and its shining blueness slowly getting closer. A few radio messages from control broke the monotony, but even that only lasted thirty or so minutes at a time.

What worried him was that he was somehow low on oxygen, maybe it was from what he did when he took that thing out of his leg. Somehow he had got used to the capsule after these few days, when the 12 hour approach warning came up he thought he would actually miss it in a way. Mitchell took a sleeping pill, The reduced body activity and stress would save oxygen and cause him less stress. He could be rescued and not even know it. There was nothing he could do anyway.

“See you on the other side!” Was Mitchell’s final message.

He looked out on Earth as he slowly drifted off.


What happened six hours after this is a matter of much speculation. The official report says that that Capsule Echo lost its integrity from an unknown object and exploded. But to disappear without a trace, even in space is not an easy thing to do.

What isn’t in the report is that even two years after the event spacecraft going to and from the Moon often hear messages from Capsule Echo, some report the interception of automated status reports from the onboard computer. Others report the screams of a man, screaming for home, screaming for someone to respond.

Screaming for them to stop.

The fate of Moon station 2 and Capsule Echo is still unexplained is now considered a classified subject and not to be discussed… For now.

© Simon Farnell 2020



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Planet Simon’s Weekly Orbit – Blog Date 21-2019

Planet Simon – Me and the World

Hi there bloggies!

I’ve been quiet these last couple of weeks and I’ve been thoughtful. That’s why this post is out on a Wednesday rather than the usual Monday, I wanted to ping something out becasue if I’m honest – I have no idea what the hell I’m doing!

I got thinking about the Planet Simon brand, the content and the message I’m trying to communicate and audience and I can’t escape the feeling that there’s a big issue with it all.

So the first thing I did was look at the home page of Planet Simon, what does it say? Is it a Sci-Fi Blog, yes but No, Is it a site about writing, digital art, creativity or some kind of weird philosophy? Yes…. and no. This then fed into a bigger issue – me. We’ve been told to write or blog about our passion and sure why not becasue that’s a clear message and your brand is then you and your passion. But I don’t know what my passion really is. I could say that creating stories and taking others people to other places with word and art is the thing and sure you wouldn’t be wrong but Planet Simon doesn’t actually convey that!

So I’ve been in discussion with a few people and it’s surprising that I’m not alone here. There’s a few things seem to be cropping up:

This is what’s cropping up


1) What we feel we need to say or do changes, identifying that change and finding traction can be a struggle.

2) What is our message?

3) Who is our audience? Will the audience we’ve built up be connected with that change?

4) Valuable content – one of the things I’ve been thinking is that what I post needs to have value, so for example if I put up on Pinterest or share it in some other way would others see value and want to invest their time looking at the content?

5) How my of me personally needs to be in here? If your message demands that you need to be more personal for the reader then fine but what if not – is it even necessary and as someone said to me – unless you’re Kim Kardashian or Tom Hardy – who cares?

My goal isn’t in sight…


For me and I think for many our goal is to make an impact on the world with the passion that we feel, I think most of us know that this is hard work and any success is to be celebrated we all invest time to create or post stuff for others to see to connect with the world so that readers invest time in reading – to be that change we want to be in the world.

When you have that you have value, when you have value people listen which created more value and so on….

While no doubt (I hope some of you) will say that there is value in my content and that’s always good to hear, I have to ask if it really is valuable, if it really is worthy?

I’m ok guys, I’m not going anywhere but I’m realising I need to work out what I have to do, I have some ideas but this place, this temple of me as it were needs to be much, much better than it is.


Have you guys got any thoughts???

So… I don’t know what’s going to happen now. I need to re-group and re-think once again what it is I’m going to do with Planet Simon, it might become something else, I’m not sure. Yet.

I’m going to have to think about it and take a break to do it, but then I might be back next week with new ideas. Who knows?

But if any of you have thoughts on this – I don’t mind if they’re challenging I would love to hear them.


I need to say thank you to Sam who has helped me a lot this week to try and work out a few of these things out. She’s been very helpful.

I’ll be about answering your comments and reading posts and stuff like that, I’m always grateful for your visits and your kind words. I hope to be back real soon!


Keep smiling and writing!


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Planet Simon’s Weekly Orbit – Blog Date 20-2019

Hi there bloggies! Over there it’s a public, holiday the first of two that happen in May, just because it’s May. It’s kinda nice really. But that also means there’s logistical challenges to getting getting the weekly orbit out. But here we are and it’s going well!

How are all your Monday’s? What challenges do you have?

During the last Orbit

Last week saw the end of the A-Z Challenge, for April, with just Y and Z to complete the lot:

So as the A-Z Challenge ended, there’s been a few less posts. Even so a couple went up.

The first was a bit back to old ground, posting some space news stuff. This one was about how the Insight Lander on Mars has taken its first picture on sunset and sunrise – it’s a tradition thing apparently.

Mars Insight lander captures sunrise or set (one of them)

Later on last week I managed to get out a post on Fictioneering, this is something I’ve not done much work with recently but I thought it was about time and I looked at the power of consistency.


Post from Planet Simon Past

I used to put up a few quotes in the past and here’s one I think is poignant:

Chewbacca Quote


Out of this World Bloggers:

As a way of giving back to the blogging world and the great bloggies that you are I thought I would start featuring some of the great bloggies I know or have come across.

So this week’s lucky bloggies are:

Rachael Ritchey – Rachael is another writing warrior that runs the blog battles. If you don’t know what they are have a look and join in!

Sacha Black – Sacha has just started out on her own in writing, with 5 awesome books out there and a writing warrior you need to make sure you’re following her!


Since last week I have also been working on the look and feel of Planet Simon. I’ve had a bit of a play and there is a new look and the menu’s have been tweaked to help you bloggies find things easier.

I need to create a cool logo for Planet Simon and that on the list of things to do – but asking you bloggies what do you prefer – a front page to a blog site or a list of blog posts?

I’ve got mine as blog posts and I was toying with the idea of a front page but I couldn’t make it work how I wanted it to, I’m keen to know your thoughts. I guess with posts open you have something to see straight away but with a front page that’s been well done you can hopefully find what you want easier. Oh the quandary!

Keep smiling and writing!


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Fictioneering – The Power of Consistency

World building is hard at the best of times, creating news worlds, rules people, inventing a new society with all it rules is quite a challenge. As a writer this world there for the reader to discover in stories and through characters. This world need to be consistent in all the stories that are written, to assume the reader won’t notice small details is dangerous – because they will!

This kind of thing seems to happen more in TV I notice where a large amount of stories are needed. Let’s take Star Trek as an example, they’re good friends the Klingons have taken out their warp drive and they have to rely on only impulse drive.

The Starship Enterprise (No ownership claimed on image)

The impulse drive is able to take the Enterprise across a solar system in hours normally but suddenly in this case the story needs it to limp for weeks to the nearest worl, so limp it will.

It’s not limited to this – in a recent rather well known film that’s recently been released called Avengers Endgame (you may have heard of it) I noticed some inconsistency.

(Not really spoilers here but just in case look away now.)

Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR..Thanos (Josh Brolin)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

My problem is this, one minute a few of the Avengers turn up and quickly and easily restrain and disable the purple ogre. But later in the film we’ve got Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Captain Marvel and a load of them on his and guess what? The little shit stands there laughing it off nearly.


Inconsistencies are really irritating! They just are, and while a writer can never represent their world perfectly avoiding them is a must is possible! In a podcast I was listening to recently Andy Weir the author of the Martian expressed this saying that anything can happen in the world of Sci-Fi, if you can have faster than light drive or whatever it’s cool – but make sure that your story is consistent with how your world works.

So here’s a question – do you consider consistency in your world building? Do you have rules and limitations and do you know them so you can stick to them?

Or do you wing it?



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InSight Captures Sunrise and Sunset on Mars | NASA

A camera on the Insight’s robotic arm snapped the photos on April 24 and 25, the 145th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In local Mars time, the shots were taken starting around 5:30 a.m. and then again starting around 6:30 p.m. As a bonus, a camera under the lander’s deck also caught clouds drifting across the Martian sky at sunset.


NASA’s InSight lander used its Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on the spacecraft’s robotic arm to image this sunrise on Mars on April 24, 2019, the 145th Martian day (or sol) of the mission. This was taken around 5:30 a.m. Mars local time.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/insight-captures-sunrise-and-sunset-on-mars

Note: No ownership claimed on images.



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Planet Simon’s Weekly Orbit – Blog Date 19-2019

Hi there bloggies! Over there it’s a public, holiday the first of two that happen in May, just because it’s May. It’s kinda nice really. But that also means there’s logistical challenges to getting getting the weekly orbit out. But here we are and it’s going well!

How are all your Monday’s? What challenges do you have?

During the last Orbit

Last week saw the end of the A-Z Challenge, for April, with just Y and Z to complete the lot:

Y is for the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Z is for Ender’s Game


It’s been great to do this, find more followers and the odd closet Sci-Fi fan. What did you all think of the A – Z should I do this again sometime?





Other posts from Last week:

After the exhaustion of the A-Z there wasn’t much more on Planet Simon this week. But there’s piece that I’ve been thinking about for a while. The Pale Blue dot is a picture of Earth taken in 1990 by Voyager 1.

So I had some thoughts on the significance of the Pale Blue Dot in this post and what means for humanity and and in the future – whether we’re around or not.


Post from Planet Simon Past

This week I’ve chosen to highlight a post on some of my creative artwork using Gimp:

Creating a Planet with Rings in Gimp


Out of this World Bloggers:

As a way of giving back to the blogging world and the great bloggies that you are I thought I would start featuring some of the great bloggies I know or have come across.

So this week’s lucky bloggies are:

S.C. Jensen – A fellow creative writer, mainly in Sci-Fi and blogger with great tips on writing in general. Go and look her up!

Out and About Blog – Miriam is always about and about down under and giving her thoughts on life… If you don’t know her make sure you have a look!


This week I will try and fill the blog with some great and good things… I already have ideas so keep an eye out for them 🙂

Keep smiling and writing!


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The edge of the Universe isn’t the end.

This is another great post from Steph of the Irresponsible Blogger. What lies at the edge of the universe?

What lies at the very end of creation and is it the end? It’s inspiring!

🖤 Steph's Poetry and Such🖤

I’m Mesmerized… Guys this post is a long one but stay with me!!♥️♥️🌹

Ya know what it is for me…I NEED to understand infinite. When we talk INFINITE, forever, never-ending..it triggers the word ‘recycle” in my mind. I immediately begin to ask myself WHERE does our universe end. Through intricate calculations using Astrophysics, Astrologists have determined that there could indeed be an ending to our universe BUT this “ending” would be located no closer than 46 BILLION LIGHT-YEARS from our own galaxy. (I know many Astrologists prefer Parsecs which is basically just working with a larger number of light-years- like 3.26 light-years-but those numbers go way over my head so I stick to the basic “distance of light traveled over a year” light-year)Now we already know that 1 light-year is about 5.9 trillion miles so let’s multiply 46,000,000,000 by 5,900,000,000,000 and what the flip is that number!
Well I’ll be…

View original post 993 more words

Pale Blue Dot




After Voyager 2 had made its history making flyby of Neptune the Voyager probes were being prepared for the ‘Interstellar’ phase of their mission. Carl Sagan who at the time was on the Voyager imaging team suggested that Voyager 1 look back at the solar system and take a range of pictures of the planets as it could in a final farewell. So in 1990 Voyager 1 took the pictures and beamed them back to NASA.

One of the pictures taken was this one. It’s Earth. The picture dubbed ‘The Pale Blue Dot’ . When the images were taken Voyager 1 was 40 astronomical units from the sun at this moment. One astronomical unit is 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.

Trust me it’s there, in the third (and brightest) dull stripe about two thirds down there’s a spec.

That’s us. Well us in 1990.

Earth from Voyager 1 – Credit NASA


Sagan wrote in his “Pale Blue Dot” book:


“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. … There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”

Carl Saga – Pale Blue Dot

But what does this pale blue dot really mean, for us as humans?

The Pale Blue Dot represents a goal not just point of light. When man can look back and see that same pale blue dot with his own eyes, it’s will be the first step in truly understanding the place of humanity in the universe.

It will be the first glimpse what humankind is meant to be and where it is going and that those dreams could be achieved.

The pale blue dot will be there even if man is not, whether something is there to see it or not. That insignificant spec will either be a cradle of life for a race that became so much more than what it started as or the crucible for a race that could have been and so nearly was.

The pale blue dot is not just a picture it was the final farewell, a look back of by a machine that took the hopes and dreams of a race to infinity. Carried by an ambassador for a race that is may outlast.

It is timeless for us, for the Earth and the universe. The messenger that took the Pale Blue Dot may one day be one of only a handful of artifacts in the universe that will testify humanity ever existed.

In a way the pale blue dot shows us all that we are allowed to dream the impossible and try and realise the improbable. We are more than just human, we are the universe looking at itself and wondering…. “What if?”


© Simon Farnell 2020


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