01 Feb I know why we never returned to the Moon
My search for the truth had finally yielded some success.
Oh, where do I even start. I’ve mentioned that my grandfather knew some people here and there. He even introduced me to some of them, and I convinced myself to contact one such person who works at NASA. Unfortunately, he couldn’t help me, but he gave me a contact for someone who possibly can. The other person didn’t help me either, but they bounced me back and forth between about 10 other people, until I’ve finally met this guy who actually knew what I was talking about. Well, I mean, I didn’t meet him, only on the internet, but you get it. Obviously, I won’t reveal his identity or any more information than what I’m going to write here.
He wasn’t very friendly when I first got in touch with him. When I asked him if he knew anything about Dawnbreaker, he almost hung me up straight away.
“Who told you about this?! You’re playing with things you don’t understand, young man.”
“Jacob Miller was my grandfather,” I explained.
He went silent for a few seconds.
“I see. I suppose we wouldn’t be able to hide this forever. I can help you. Not because you asked me, but because it’s time. But I warn you, there are things you don’t want to know.”
He mailed me a flash drive, and in a very complicated way explained to me what to do with it. The drive was actually just a dummy, and after I took it apart, it revealed a microSD card.
I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing by posting it to the internet, because what you’re about to read is going to give you many answers, but open even more questions.
The SD card contained a transcript of what was probably an audio recording in Russian. Same as with my grandfather’s message, I’ll rewrite the contents below.
Source: Record #EM13 @ First Dawn One
Notes: Transcript, Translated from Russian by ████████ █████
Damn piece of crap. Is it working? Oh, thank god, it is!
Apologize my rude introduction. My name is Leonid Ivanovich Tarkov. I am … I was a cosmonaut on the Kamchatka station. Now let’s cut the crap and get straight to point. You know that we are here and you’ve been spying on us with your little stayputnik for a while, and while I hate giving this to you, I hope you’ll use this information well, because I have no other hope.
In case you’ve really been living under a rock, I’ll explain what’s going on. We’ve been here for 2 months now. Me, Lenko, Novak and commander Poliakov. God bless their souls. Our station is tiny but serves us well. It is a small dome with 4 rooms: a laboratory, a storage room, machine room and a central living area.
Our purpose was to research the Moon and its structure. Long before you, Americans, found out, we already knew about the crater anomaly. On every other celestial body, the size and depth of a crater vary depending on the strength of the impact, but their shape should stay consistent. But on the Moon, it is not like this. The craters here are too shallow. They never extend below a certain depth. We placed this station in one particularly large and deep crater with hopes to learn more about this curious phenomenon.
All was going well until we started digging.
It was the 64th day of the expedition. We all gathered there, to watch the result of our hard work. The drill was a true engineering marvel, designed specifically for this mission. The plan was to drill a hole as deep as we could.
“Ready to start rolling, comrades?” excitingly asked Lenko, our engineer.
We all cheered and after he hit the switch, the drill came to life, silence transitioned to buzzing, buzzing transitioned to spinning, and spinning transitioned to drilling. I was very proud of being here, doing a service to the Union, but I looked forward to returning to Earth. This was the first step to our journey home. After we made sure that all was going well, we started packing and heading ‘home’. Naturally, Lenko was last, since he behaved like if the drill was his little child he must watch over.
“What do you guys think is down there?” he asked as he rushed to catch up with us.
“Our equipment couldn’t pick up anything below some 5 meters under the surface, so there must be a layer of some very dense mineral, or maybe some unknown element. Who knows?” elaborated Novak, our geologist.
“I think we’re going to find cheese” I said and we all laughed, even commander Poliakov chuckled.
I was wrong. We all were so wrong.
The drill jammed the next day. Lenko and Novak went there to elaborate, while I stayed at the base with the commander. He didn’t talk much, and when he did, it was mostly to criticize someone. He was the kind of person who wasn’t satisfied no matter what you did, but deep down, he cared for us and we respected him for that.
Lenko and Novak later returned with a handful of sharp black rocks and rather surprising news.
“As we predicted, about 4 meters below surface, there’s a layer of this immensely hard black material. It is so hard in fact, that it broke the drill head, ” explained Novak.
“So, do you have any idea what it is?” asked commander.
“Not yet. It might be some metastable crystalline mineral formed under high pressure. But we won’t know what it is until I’ll have a look at it.”
The next few days were very interesting. Me and Lenko spent almost all the time by replacing the drill heads. Novak was completely consumed by studying that strange material. The fact that he didn’t make much progress only fueled his amazement. I was just doing some maintenance on the drill with Lenko, when the drill suddenly plummeted down the hole, almost taking us with it.
“Did you see that?” asked Lenko with confusion.
“Of course, I did you idiot! It almost pulled me into that hole, in case you didn’t notice!” I responded.
I then realized he probably didn’t mean the drill and I thought that he was going to say something, but he didn’t.
I looked into the hole. I pulled a glowstick out of the pocked of my suit, cracked it and dropped in into the hole. It fell into some sort of a cavity.
The rest of the team arrived shortly after, and the commander started cursing at the drill, then at us, and finally he congratulated us to making the first major discovery on this rock. I knew what was going to happen next.
“Prepare your gear and get some sleep. We’re going down there tomorrow, “ said Poliakov.
When we returned to Kamchatka, Lenko insisted that he needs to service the exterior equipment. I thought that it was a bit odd, because he serviced the exterior two days prior, but our equipment breaks all the time, so I didn’t consider it as a big deal. I wanted to stay with him, so he wouldn’t be left alone outside, but he refused with any possibility of convincing him, so I gave up on that.
He returned inside some 30 minutes after we did, anyway. However, a couple of minutes after he came back, we heard a bang from the airlock. Then another. We rushed there, and Novak took a look out of the window. He widened his eyes and scanned the outside with a blank expression on his face.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Uh, I don’t know,” he replied.
“Lenko, do you know what’s going on? You returned last” inquired commander.
“No, I swear I have no idea what that was,” he answered.
Novak continued watching the outside for a few seconds and then went back to continue his work, so we did as well.
The next day we descended down the hole. The commander went down first, and then I followed. I rappelled down some 4 meters when I reached the layer of the black material. As if it wasn’t hard enough already to fit through the narrow opening with the suit on, I had to be careful not to cut the suit on the sharp jagged edges of the dark substance. I then got into a hollow section and descended some further 10 meters down, until I hit solid ground. It was pitch black, but with my headlight on, I saw that we were in a sort of cavern or dome. The walls were out of sight, but the floor was the same material like the ceiling. The drill was down there, it had collapsed down the hole when the ceiling gave way.
We waited for the rest of the team, and then headed into the darkness. After a few minutes, we sighted the wall. It was made out of the same material as I expected.
“Do you have any idea what this is, Novak? asked commander.
“I can’t figure it out. It’s like a really tight-packed crystal, but I couldn’t find out what it is made out of. It’s completely inert, doesn’t melt and doesn’t conduct heat very well.” he explained in return.
We followed the wall and circled the whole cavity until we came back to where we started. The walls, the ceiling and the floor were just this completely smooth black material. We headed back to the opening. However, on our way back, we came across another opening in the ground. There was a ramp that went down, like a spiral, and after hesitating for a while, we walked down.
We descended into another smaller cavity, where tunnels extended in four directions like crossroads. Nobody asked the obvious question. This wasn’t a natural formation.
There was four of us and four tunnels. One might think we would split up to cover more ground, but again, we were soldiers, not a bunch of stupid schoolkids and so we stuck together. We walked for maybe 40 minutes. We passed several other intersections. The whole place seemed like a maze or a web of tunnels, and it would be really easy to get lost here, so each time we passed such intersection, we left a glow stick in the mouth of the tunnel we came from. The whole place was eerie and the farther we went, the more uneasy I felt. Somewhere deep in my mind, I felt that we are not supposed to be here.
We just came to maybe the tenth or eleventh intersection. We continued straight, but after a couple of steps, I noticed that Lenko wasn’t by my side anymore. I turned back to see him looking into one of the side tunnels at the intersection.
“Guys stop!” I spoke to the radio. “Lenko, what is it?”
He turned to face us and said:
“I… I don’t know. Guys I don’t feel well. We need to go back. Something is not right down here.”
What followed happened so fast, but I felt like watching a slow-motion video. At one moment, he stood there, looking at us, but in the next moment, he was gone. Something pulled him into the tunnel.
We ran back, and I wanted to follow, but commander pulled me back.
“What are you doing? We can’t leave him behind!” I shouted.
“He’s gone! We need to get out, otherwise we are all dead!” he said.
He was right. This wasn’t our world. Whatever took Lenko was still down here with us. We needed to get out.
We ran back from where we came from. Running in such low gravity was really awkward, but at least it was easier, so we didn’t need to stop and catch our breath even with our heavy suits on. However, when we reached the next intersection, we stopped nonetheless. The glowstick wasn’t there. As we soon learned, all of them were gone. At first, we remembered the way, but at some point, we probably took the wrong route, because we never reached the spiral ramp.
We eventually reached something that seemed like a dead end. We wanted to head back, when we all heard and felt a thumping in the distance. There was obviously no air, so the sound probably traveled through the ground.
Thump, thump, thump, thump…
Novak was the first one who panicked.
Thump, thump, thump, thump…
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, what now? What are we going to do, commander? Please we have to do something. I want to go home!” he shouted across the radio.
Thump, thump, thump, thump…
The pounding got louder and louder. Or perhaps closer and closer.
Thump, thump, thump, thump…
I was on the verge of panic as well, when I noticed that the wall in front of us wasn’t a single piece. There was a groove running from the top to the bottom at the center.
“Help me with this!” I said.
Thump, thump, thump, thump…
With a combination of various tools, we managed to pry it open to reveal that the wall was in fact a door. The sound was now so close, that I thought that if I looked back, I would have seen the source. But I didn’t want to. We squeezed through the door and let it close behind us.
“Fuck, that was close. Are you alright?” asked commander.
“How are we going to return back now? asked Novak in response.
“Well find a way,” said the commander.
“How? We have no idea where we are, and there’s…”
The commander cut him off: “We’ll find a way.”
We walked through another tunnel for some time, until we reached a room. It was circular in shape, maybe 15 or 20 meters in diameter. It was filled with concentric rows of black boxes or tables perhaps. In the center, there was a black three-sided pyramid. Again, four tunnels continued into the unknown at each side, like at the intersections.
What was that place?
We decided not to waste time and went into one of the tunnels. We probably walked for hours, but our oxygen was almost gone and not long after we left the circular room, I started to feel it. My mind became cloudy and my legs felt like jelly.
I remember that we eventually reached a room. It was circular in shape, with concentric rows of black tables and a three-sided pyramid in the center. I didn’t have any energy left to realize that we returned somehow to the same room we came from. I collapsed to the ground, breathing heavily, struggling for any oxygen left in my air. In the final desperate measure, I detached my helmet. I took a deep breath and cold air filled my lungs before I collapsed.
I saw something while I was unconscious. I can’t remember it clearly, like when you wake up and you remember your dream, but you forget it in a couple of minutes. I remember that I saw some kind of being. I can’t remember how it looked like, but I knew that it was sleeping. Then it woke up.
“Tarkov” a voice said at the edge of my consciousness.
I woke up to see Novak.
“Wake up, Tarkov!” he repeated and shook me. I saw that he had also removed his helmet. Somehow, there was air and we could breathe it. But after all that’s happened, it was one of the less surprising facts.
“What happened? I asked
“Thank god you’re alright! I don’t know but something is not right with Poliakov,” he answered.
I stood up and saw him standing in front of the pyramid.
“Commander Poliakov!” I shouted. He didn’t respond.
We started walking towards him with Novak.
“I passed out when we got back here. When I woke up, he was already standing there, he wouldn’t respond and he didn’t move an inch. Then I found you and woke you up,” explained Novak.
Poliakov moved his arm and touched the pyramid.
I don’t know why I didn’t notice it before, but anyway, his helmet was still on. There’s no way he had any oxygen left.
Suddenly, the surface of the pyramid went black. I mean it was black even before, but now it was so black that I couldn’t even see the surface anymore, only the outline. It was like if somebody simply torn away a part of space itself.
Some sort of black, hand appeared in front of the pyramid. I can’t comprehend where it came from but it seemed to extend out from the pyramid itself.
It grabbed Poliakov’s arm and in a brink of an eye, it pulled him into the darkness.
We turned and ran into the tunnel to our right. A few dozens of meters into the tunnel, I stumbled and fell face down onto the ground, breaking my lamp in the process. The last light in the tunnel disappeared with Novak as he sprinted away, and then I was plunged into darkness.
I then heard heavy footsteps behind me. I wanted to stand up and run, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t take it anymore. I just lay there and awaited my end as the footsteps got closer.
Thump, thump, thump, thump…
The thing got right next to me, and I felt a hand touch my leg. It touched my suit several other times and advanced towards my head. Then, to my horror, it touched my face. It was cold. I imagined the same hand that had just pulled Poliakov into the pyramid. I imagined it dragging me backwards and pulling me inside the pyramid to do terrible things to me. This was it. This was my end.
But that didn’t happen.
“Who is this?” a shaky voice asked.
I was startled and I didn’t know what to do. It was Lenko’s voice.
“It’s Tarkov,” I said after a while.
“Thank god I’ve found you. I thought I would die here, alone,” he said.
I stood up and we walked through the tunnel together in pitch darkness.
We roamed the tunnels for hours. Maybe days? Weeks? At first it wasn’t so bad, because I wasn’t alone. We filled the time by speaking about various things. We talked about our families, about our jobs, and about how we became astronauts. At one point, I asked him what happened after he was pulled away from us. He didn’t answer and went silent ever since.
It wasn’t long until the silence forced me to started questioning each step I took. How did Lenko survive? What happened to Poliakov? But there was one thought that was much stronger than the others.
Was it really Lenko next to me? Was it him, or that monster with the black hand? I would’t know because I coudln’t see. Why didn’t he have a light? How did he find me? My gratefuness of not being alone shifted to terror.
Each second, my desperation to see any light was stronger. I couldn’t bear it anymore.
I suddenly tripped and fell.
“Are you alright Tarkov?” asked Lenko.
“I tripped on something,” I explained.
I turned and with my hands proceed to feel the object that caused my fall. It was highly irregular, but sometimes symmetric. At some places, it was soft and flexible, while at others it was cold and smooth. I then realized what it was.
A space suit.
I eventually found the lamp and after some struggling, I detached it from the suit. At first, to my surprise, I was afraid to turn it on. I was afraid to see what was in the darkness all around us. I was afraid to see who was in the space suit. But I did it anyway.
The brightness blinded my eyes, and after they adapted to the light I saw Novak’s face in the suit and Lenko standing over us. Our eyes met and for a brief moment, I felt that his eyes were somehow unnatural. Something wasn’t right about them. I was just on the verge of realizing what it was, when the body beside me twitched and took a long, deep breath.
“Novak, are you okay? How did you get here?” I asked. He was very disoriented.
“I… I don’t remember. Is that…” he said and looked at Lenko. He then looked at me and we both stood up.
“I thought you guys were dead,” he said.
“So did we,” I answered.
I was delighted to finally see a human face. But it wasn’t over. We still had to find a way out.
“I ran as far away as I could, until I realized that you weren’t following me. I wanted to head back for you, but I thought that you were gone as well. I… I can’t remember what happened next. My head hurts just from trying to think about it.” explained Novak.
After managing to get a closer look at him, I realized that he was looking terrible, sick perhaps. His eyes were red and he was completely pale. Something was wrong with him as well.
After a few hours, we decided to stop and take a break. I finally drifted into sleep. This time I didn’t have any dreams. Just pitch darkness. It was that more terrifying, because it reminded me of the time I spent in the dark.
I was woken up by something. It was Novak. He gestured to me to stay silent. I saw Lenko sleeping a few meters away.
“Tarkov, listen,” he whispered. “We need to go now, we need to get away from him.”
“What are you talking about, are you crazy?” I whispered back.
“Tarkov, do you remember the banging back at the station?” he asked.
“When I looked out of the window, I saw something, but at that point I thought that my mind was playing tricks on me, so I stayed silent,” he explained.
“In the far distance, I saw a figure, standing with its back turned to us. It was walking away, but it stopped when I focused my eyes on it. It turned and looked at me. It was him. It was Lenko,” finished Novak his revelation.
I took a minute to process all this. I then nodded and silently stood up. We proceeded to carefully walk away.
Something was wrong with this place. Something I can’t explain. People disappeared, people appeared. If what Novak was saying was true, was the person behind us Lenko? If not, what was it? Was Novak telling the truth? Was it really Novak or something else?
I couldn’t trust anyone. I didn’t even trust myself. It all felt so unreal, but so real at the same time.
I had so many questions I didn’t want answers to. I felt like I would break at this point. I felt as if the walls of the tunnel were collapsing on me, getting tighter and tighter each second. I wanted so desperately to get out. I wanted to go home. But I was so far away from home.
Then I heard a voice behind me.
“Are you my friend, Tarkov?” Asked Lenko.
I turned to see him standing right behind Novak, who was just behind me. I didn’t know what to do.
“I… of course I’m your friend,” I responded.
“Good,” he said.
I looked in his eyes and realized what was wrong with them. They were pitch black.
“WHAT ARE YOU?” I shouted.
“We are … everything” he said in an unsettling, unnatural voice.
He then opened his mouth in an impossible way and clamped around Novak’s neck, engulfing his head in its throat.
Novak screamed in agony, but his screams were muffled by the thing’s flesh.
I turned to run while I heard ear-piercing roars and screeches behind me. I was too afraid to look back.
But I felt that it was getting closer.
Thump, thump, thump…
I ran through the tunnel for a while, until I reached an intersection. In the center, there was a spiral ramp. My heart dropped. This could be where we came from! It had to be.
Thump, thump, thump, thump…
I ascended the ramp, but the higher I got, the harder it was for me to breathe. I put my helmet back on and reached a big room. In the ceiling, there was a small ray of sunlight coming from a hole.
Thump, thump, thump…
I climbed out. I was finally out, but I didn’t have time to celebrate. I was out of oxygen. What was left was only the air that became trapped in my suit as I reattached my helmet, my reserves were completely out.
I went to walk to the base, when I froze. I dropped to my knees.
The base was gone. Like if it was never there. Both of our landers were there, but the base itself was gone.
I crawled into one of the landers. I almost suffocated on the way, but I made it.
To whoever receives this, I’m presumably the last survivor of the Kamchatka expedition. I’m sending out this transmission in case I don’t make it. I think that whatever is down there was asleep for a long time, but we woke it up. The engine is warming up now, but I’m afraid I’m out of time. I can see him outside. He’s getting closer. God help me.
END OF RECORD
To think about it, I can’t sleep knowing that our own Moon is something unnatural, something hiding so many terrifying truths.