Five years into a multi-decade deep space mission, a team of eight scientists—four women, four men—explore a dwarf planet near the Kuiper Belt, loading soil samples, rocks and artifacts onto their spaceship, Gretel. Inadvertently, they bring aboard a stowaway, an unseen entity which has grown exponentially in a very short time, and is trying desperately to escape from Cargo Hold 4.

The ungodly howling, hammering and screeching coming from the hold on Gretel becomes unbearable, affecting the crew’s sleep and work cycles, and threatens the integrity of the ship itself. Captain Desna knows they must take action to survive, but is unsure how to get the alien life form off the ship. To learn more about the disruptive organism, she decides to execute a dangerous spacewalk. However, she is the only one small enough to enter the exterior purge vent leading into Cargo Hold 4.

Battling her cumbersome spacesuit within the claustrophobic vent tube, and running low on oxygen, Desna finally manages to edge herself close enough to the small intake opening to glimpse their unwelcome visitor … and can’t get her mind to accept what her eyes are seeing.


Print length: ‎ 254 pages


Read by Patricia Shade

(15 hours and 45 minutes)


“A masterclass in suspense writing and a riveting examination of the human – or not so human – condition.” – Rohan O’Duill author of COLD RISING

“Draws on elements from the classics of 1950’s sci-fi horror as humanity makes their first steps to explore the galaxy. Superb.” —Nick Snape, author of HOSTILE CONTACT and the Weapons of Choice Series 

“Riveting! A slow-burn nightmare unfolding, testing the moral fibres of humanity, right to the terrifying end.” T.K. Toppin, Science Fiction Author.

“Fast-paced, unrelenting, and inevitable—this nail-biting, space-romp will have you gasping for air.” — Bryan Chaffin, author of ACCIDENTAL INTELLIGENCE




Lonnie Busch is an award-winning author whose work has also appeared in Southwest Review, The Minnesota Review, The Baltimore Review and others. His awards include the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize, finalist for the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction, and the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Award. He is also a painter, illustrator, animator who has created artwork for many companies including the “Greetings from America” stamps and “Wonders of America” for the USPS.

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