Death On Saturn’s Moon
An ungainly spacecraft descends through the frozen orange mist of Titan’s atmosphere. We are on a moon of Saturn far, far from planet earth. It is the year 2057. Special investigator Hayes, a former military man, watches uneasily as a pilot rocks and bumps the craft through the howling winds to the surface below. They approach a mining research base – an ugly, weathered structure half-buried on the surface below. Hayes has been sent by the current political regime on earth -a regime that supports endless war as a means of economic and political survival – to investigate the death of base project leader Barnett.
Hayes meets up with the two remaining inhabitants of the labyrinthine station – Lippert, a melancholy scientist and Sterner, the abrasive, not-so-competent chief engineer. He is stonewalled by both as he tries to determine if Barnett’s death was the result of foul play. Hayes is told that Barnett took a casual stroll outside into the poisonous atmosphere – with no suit, no protection – but why?
He learns that Lippert and Barnett had been studying the atmosphere of Titan and the storms that come and go unpredictably with ferocious intensity. They spent a lot more time on this research than on the methane gas study they were supposed to be conducting and seem to have become obsessed by the elements.
As Hayes pushes on with his investigation, the storm outside intensifies, making departure impossible. A series of mysterious and bizarre incidents occur making him question the stability of his strict, emotionless military mind. He sees repeated flashes or waking dreams – a child running in a snow-blanketed landscape – and observes a bright glowing ball of light outside the station’s observation port. Barnett’s lab reveals no clues or explanations – there is no journal and no record of his scientific work. However Hayes finds a strange crystal with inexplicable allure. Like the Sirens of myth who lured sailors to come ashore, something seems to be ‘calling’ him from outside the station – willing him to leave, to step out into the raging storm.
Sterner has also heard the ‘call’ but reacts instead by methodically weakening the structural integrity of the whole base, waiting for the whole structure to implode. By neglecting to log any new records he felt comfortable that nothing would be discovered until after the station’s demise. Was this to cover up Barnett’s death? Lippert, too, is entranced by the ‘call’ and she believes it will offer salvation.
Finally as the outer walls shudder, the true nature of the storm is revealed to Hayes – it is a living organism, capable of influencing the thoughts and actions of those at the station -this is the reason Barnett left. He followed the seductiveness of the calling rather than continue his bleak existence in the war torn society to which he was due to return. But what of Lippert, Sterner and Hayes? What will they choose? Barnett is sending powerful images, postcards from the ‘other side’ tempting them to join him. Hayes is confused and fearful. He makes a last desperate attempt to save himself by activating an emergency beacon but is it too late? Will there be another death on Saturn’s Moon?