Voyage of the Volery





By Laura Peters


Being the Transcribed audio of Commander

Anna Louise Smith-Nowell

documenting the Reawakening.


From an original radio play available at



What Rises

From the Depths

Cannot Help

But Break the Surface


- From Shipwreck Study Notes, by Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson







Those who planned humanity’s escape from a doomed Earth didn’t wait for crowdfunding or positive public opinion polls. Construction on the UESS Volery was well underway when stories about Apophis colliding with Earth began to move from pseudo-science blogs to the front pages of the Associated Press. That was lucky. There wouldn’t have been time, otherwise.

The ship was assembled in space, secretly, on the far side of the moon, and they finished her ahead of schedule. That was lucky, too. The world was running out of time.

On the very day video imagery of the Remote Manipulator System’s robotic arm breaking a bottle of Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar Champagne against the nanocarbite steel of her saucer section flashed across the Net on Earth, Apophis was sighted in the night sky.

Soon afterward people could see Apophis with their naked eyes, but the Volery remained hidden. Even though the moon shrouded her in secrecy, she was talked about all over the Earth.

People knew she was huge. Photographs of her sections, under construction, were leaked to the Net. People knew she was assembled in space. There were witnesses when one section or another launched past the Earth’s atmosphere. Finally, people knew she was the most expensive craft humanity ever built. She took a multinational effort, funded by various governments and a few prominent billionaires.

George A. C. Voler spent his entire fortune on her. At first, his family and friends mocked him, but he figured he got the last laugh. His money bought him a first-class berth and the honor of having the ship named for him. Her name was officially recorded as Volery, but George had VOLER'S FOLLY emblazoned on her side in 24-carat gold leaf. The lettering was large enough — he ensured it — to see it clearly from observatories on earth.

When the world gathered to watch his ship swing out from behind the moon and shoot toward space, George made sure a few people he knew were invited to sit in front row seats at Atacama.

Anna Louise Smith was aboard that day. She escaped from Earth in cabin 347 on Deck 5. That was lucky, too.

Somehow Anna had been accepted as a Deckhand Second Class in the Volery’s Civilian Conservation Corps even though she hadn’t officially qualified. (Her test scores were a single point too low.) Anna suspected her boyfriend engineered a clerical error or pulled in a favor to get her name on the roster, and she knew better than to ask too many questions.

When it was time to leave Earth, Anna rode the shuttle transport to the Volery, and then she sank obediently into the deep freeze.

It was going to be a long trip, and luck had run out.





DURATION: 00:00:03.197

[Garbled audio]




[Message lost or redacted]



DURATION: 00:00:27.391

[Garbled audio]



DURATION: 00:00:45.503


Hello. I’ve hit “record.” I hope this is working.

This is Anna Smith,

I’ve melted out, and I’m trapped in here.

Something’s wrong with my legs. I … I can’t stand up.

I … I can’t reach the keypad to open the door or the com handset.

I managed to pull the console onto the floor. I … I don’t think I broke it.

It … uh … booted up.

It took a long time, but it did boot up, and …

uh …

I keep tapping on “MT” and nothing happens, but the VM Send program has loaded. I’m hoping it will actually send this voice mail.


I hope someone gets this.

I need help in here.

Please hurry.

I’m going to click “send” now.




DURATION: 00:00:08.537


I … I sent the VM.

Why aren’t you here?

I don’t [know what] to do …

I can …




DURATION: 00:00:07.192

[Garbled audio]



DURATION: 00:00:46.583


Hello? Is anybody out there?

I thought that when the melt started we were supposed to be tended by droids.

Where … Where are they?

And … um …

My legs don’t work. I can’t stand up. I can’t reach the commset or the keypad by the door.

My feet are tingling, and there’s shooting pain all up and down my legs when I try to move.

I sent a message before.

Didn’t you get it?

I need help in here.

Please help me.

Send somebody right away!

Send them to …

I don’t remember where I am, but my name is Anna Smith, and I’ve melted out, and I’m awake, and I’m all alone in here.





[Message lost or redacted]



DURATION: 00:00:41.571


This is Anna Smith.

Please, is anybody out there? Ah … It says I’ve sent out voicemails. Where are you?

I tried to stand up so I could use the bathroom, and I fell. There’s blood all over the place. There’s a lot of blood.

I put pressure on it, but it’s still bleeding. I … I wrapped a towel around it.

I haven’t got any hair.

Where did my hair go?

I’m scared.

Please, come as soon as you get this.


But … where’s the …

I need somebody to get here right away.

I don’t know … Please.

Please, come help me.




DURATION: 00:02:47:041


Hello. I’m trying again, but I don’t think my messages are sending.

I’ve rebooted the console.

MT still doesn’t work.

I knocked the console on the floor before so I could … um … reach it. I couldn’t pull myself up to the desktop, so I pulled the console down to me. I wonder if I broke something?

I wonder if there is some interface that only connects to the network if the unit’s positioned up there?

I don’t know how I can get it back up there.

My name is Anna Smith, and I’ve melted out down here.

My legs aren’t working, and my hands and arms are uncoordinated.

I think I remember something about possible temporary paralysis? From the briefings?

My legs are numb if I lay still.

Whenever I move, there is a shooting pain that is strong enough to knock my teeth together.

My fingertips are numb, too, but there isn’t any pain in my hands.


[Recorder noise]

I’ve got a pretty serious head wound.

I think I fell in the bathroom, there’s blood in there.

Everything is very muddled in my memory.

I do think I fell in the bathroom, but I’m not sure.

One thing I’m sure about …

I’m positive there was something about amnesia in the briefings.

I don’t remember the briefing at all, but I remember Way telling me afterward that he’d never forget me. Even a five-hundred-year deep freeze was not going to be enough for that.


Another concern I’ve got, how long was I under?

The date on my console is 25 December 2793, and the time is 1900 hours and twenty-seven minutes.

That hasn’t changed since the first time I noticed it.

It’s frozen, which, of course, I find to be brutally ironic.

Is it possible that something in the fall from the surface of the desk made the clock stop working?

At least the touch screen works …

So, Merry Christmas to all you people over in control. Can you please send somebody to help me down here?

I’m going to send this off now. Oh … Oh! I’ve got messages!

[Noise consistent with mechanical pushbutton usage]

[Previous transmissions are audible in the background]

Well, they’re just my own messages bouncing back.

I’m scared, and alone … and is there anybody out there?

How can I get help?

Please, somebody help me.

I’m clicking “send” again. Please work.




DURATION: 00:03:08.262


This is Anna Smith.

I’m in big trouble down here. I’m having circulation problems. My extremities are tingling and my heart races … I think there’s something wrong with my blood pressure.

I’ve got a wound on my head and maybe some kind of amnesia.

Anyway, something’s wrong with my ability to recall. I’m not remembering things properly

[Short laugh]

But I still remember that the definition of insanity is supposed to be something like: you do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

Well, I guess I’m insane, because I’m going to try to send a message again. But really, I’m not expecting a different result, I’m just hoping for one.

So far, I’ve got ten bounced messages in my inbox. A few of them are incoherent. I don’t remember recording those. That is a concern.

How serious is this memory lapse problem? Is it a kind of insanity?

How often do I get it?

… And when it happens, how long am I like that?

It’s been some time since my last message, but the clock still reads: 25 December 2793, and the time is still 1900 hours and twenty-seven minutes.


My legs are working now — barely, they’re sea legs — but I stumble around. I can stand up, and, of course, I’ve tried the door and the comms.

I don’t know if the keypad by the door is working. I can’t get the door to unlock. I know that the doors were all set with the code: “1-2-3-4-5” when we entered the rooms, and we were supposed to reset our key-code.

It was “high priority.”

My memory is so foggy, but I seem to remember … I think that Way called me, right before the freeze, and reminded me to reset mine.

I … I think I remember standing naked by the door just as I was about to submerge. The droid was supposed to arrive at any moment, and I was exposed and nervous. I … I might have made a mistake with my entry. My normal pass-code — the one I use for everything — isn’t working … and neither is 1-2-3-4-5.

That’s bad news number one.

I can’t get the door open.

Bad news number two:

The comm line is down. I picked up the handset, and I don’t hear anything. I’ve pushed every button on the keypad … nothing.

I don’t know what to do.

Is there a reset button on it somewhere?

I … I can’t find one.

I did put this console back up on the desk, but it still isn’t connecting to the network. There aren’t any cords to plug in or unplug. It’s got a Tess-connect. Obviously, that’s functioning since it powers on, so it’s getting juice from the air, I suppose. There doesn’t seem to be any other way for it to be disconnected from the network. I’ve powered down, and powered up a half a dozen times.

Still nothing.

I’m scared.




DURATION: 00:07:24.807


This is Anna Smith. I’m not sure what’s happened. My thoughts are jumbled.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been in here.

I’ve melted out and woken.

I’ve repeatedly tried to send messages and call out in the last few da … days. No, it must have been weeks.


I don’t know how long I’ve been awake in here, but I’ve only got food for a few days left.

If Main Terminal is down, I wonder how I ever imagined that VM Send was even going to work.

Um … I’m recording this message because, even though I can reach the keypad now, It just makes random characters when I type.

I have no more delusions that I can get a message to anybody, but I need to keep myself on track. I’m battling some kind of recurring, dementia-like state.

I’ve got several messages that say basically the same thing in my outbox, and some of them I don’t remember recording, and a few of them don’t make any sense.

So this is — for me now — a personal log.

I need to keep track of my own mental state …

… keep myself grounded.


But, it’s for you too, whoever you are, listening to this. I’ve got this idea that somebody will find this someday, even if I don’t make it, even if I die in here.

Way might find this.

If it’s you, Way, and you’re listening, I’m sorry I melted out like this.

I love you.

Anyway, I know who I am …

Anna Louise Smith.

I remember where I am now. It came to me suddenly a while ago, and I’m pretty sure it’s correct.

I’m located on Deck 5, Cabin 347.

I’ve got problems.

One problem, I’ve been passing out … I think.

I don’t remember passing out, but I … uh … wake up in odd places with no memory of laying down, so it stands to reason. Also, I’ve got a pretty bad head injury.

Maybe there’s a concussion or something?

Well, let me start at the beginning and tell what’s happened so far, as well as I can.


I don’t remember much about the melt. The first memory I can pull up is: lying on the floor and being very wet and very cold.

There was a terrible, nauseating smell. I tried to crawl out of the puddle I was in. I tried to get up on the bunk, and under the blanket.

I get it that they have to freeze us naked, but the human body needs the protection of clothes, right? I was freezing in a puddle of defrost.

I think vomited into it. The smell was bad.