Author : Larry Hinkle

The ship had brought her out of stasis three hours ago, which meant the A.I. had finally found something worth checking out. Nothing could override its programming.

Vanessa checked the log and found she’d been in cryo-sleep for almost 87 years, making her roughly 122 years old, give or take a few weeks. Except for a slight stiffness in her neck and an unexpectedly full bladder, she didn’t feel a day over 30. “You’re only as old as you feel,” she heard her father say. She wished she could talk to him, but according to some quick calculations in her head, he’d been dead for well over 90 years now.

She turned on the monitors to look outside. Nothing. A quick test told her the camera and monitor were fine, but something had to be malfunctioning. She’d figure it out later.

Scanners said the air was breathable. That was a plus.

She turned the speakers up, hoping for some hint of what was out there on the other side of the hatch.


# # #

Four hours and a full diagnostics later, she still couldn’t figure out why nothing was showing up on the monitors. There’d been no noise from outside, either.

No sense waiting around for an invitation, Vanessa thought. She took a deep breath, opened the hatch door and looked outside.

There was nothing there.

No sky. No clouds. No moon. No stars. No mountains. No plains. No forests. No oceans. No people. No animals. No light. No shade. No… anything.

In a word, nothing.

She looked up, then down, to the left, to the right.

Everywhere she looked, there was nothing.

Vanessa stood perfectly still and listened. Listened to the emptiness.

“Hello?” she whispered into the dark.

Nothing answered.

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