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I am running out of food, so...
Marvel Chukwudi Pephel
The writer imagines what it would be like for anyone to be lost in space with no help in sight.

I eat mushrooms. Really, I'm supposed to be dead as stone. But a miracle saved me. Losing my spaceship was never part of the plan. But now I'm stuck on Planet Zellin. Professor Zeppelin was right. "Life is so unpredictable". Hell, right? Dead so!

Before I made the trip, I had argued with my left and right brain – whatever that means, let's just continue – that there was no planet as Zellin. I thought I knew so much. I thought I knew I was right. Hey, what's that line? I don't even know. I play with my English sometimes, and oftentimes it sounds so right. So now I'm right here, with a vessel that's going nowhere, and a guy who's totally lost his mind. If not, why would he be eating mushrooms.

You see, appearance can be deceiving; and the plain absence of choice turns a person into a zombie. Please take this in the literal sense. It works like the rule of thumb. And nobody knows this is true.

The mushrooms on Zellin are nothing like the ones on Earth. They are squares with slender rods. Organic fibrous squares, I mean. So as my rice and noodles took a trip in a transit called "Shortage", I turned to these things having tested them for potential toxicity. The result was satisfactory. And that is why, my friend, I am eating mushrooms.

These mushrooms don't taste like raw things do. It's surprisingly delicious. Which makes them edible. And just when I'm done, I go to the back of the spaceship and excrete green stuff that's like little balls of semi-solid matter. This is the part where eating these mushrooms don't seem so nice.

I take a glass of water and try to reach the control room on Earth again. But the signals don't pick. Which has been the case, and why I am still not able to return.

I don't know what's happening now, but it sure looks like it's raining. Brown liquid stuff falling massively. I run into my spaceship, abandoning the patrol.

From inside my spaceship, I survey the outside where I am not. The "rain" is quite messy and is beginning to gather on the floor – pooling like a mass of gluey stuff. And as I watched the "rain" flow gently like a patient thing, I saw certain creatures wading their way through the "pool of glue".

I try to reach Earth again. This time the signal stays firm. I clench my fist, almost punching the air. I wait patiently until the receiver's voice bellows out.

"Hey, Gino! Are you alright?!"

"Yeah!" I answer, almost chuckling. "My spaceship can't return. The rocket shuttle to propel it down got cut off. I need help."


"Yeah. We knew of this possibility. It's a new spaceship. But we are glad we can hear you again. Stay connected. We will send that part asap. Johnny and Dave will come with another spaceship."


"Alright." I say, nodding my head and smiling into the screen of my computer.

And for the twenty-five hours it took to rescue me from Zellin, I dreamt I was a mushroom

Image by Thomas Griggs

Marvel Chukwudi Pephel, also known as Poet Panda, is a Nigerian writer and biochemist. His writing stays in the intersection of weirdness and the familiar. In 2021, he was invited to the Sixth Chinua Achebe Literary Festival. He has synaesthesia.

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