I've searched and searched, and I can't, for the life of me, find out who wrote this story. I discovered it my senior year in high school (11 years ago) in a science fiction class I took. The story wasn't in our textbook, but was copied (maybe from a magazine?), stapled, and passed out to the class.
The story goes like this (forgive me if the details are off):
A group of scientists crash landed on Mercury and somehow survived, but their lifeline is shortened to the extreme, in that they age extremely rapidly. They manage to procreate, and their offspring shares the same affliction. They are born, and die of old age in six days, and they survive the extreme heat and cold by living in caves. When the story begins, it's many generations after the scientists crash landed there, and one curious inhabitant hears a legend of a rocket ship located far away (at least it's too far away to reach before the sun rises), and tries to get there in hopes that he can save the rest of the people.
Can anyone tell me the author of this story? I'd really love to have a copy of it.