Author : Bob Newbell
“This is the Apollo Farstriker, signing off.”
Having completed my weekly report, I tap the transmit key and send my dispatch on its three year journey back to Earth. That being done, I go to the galley. Through the window in the galley, Proxima Centauri seems to slowly revolve around an imaginary circle, an effect of the Apollo Farstriker’s habitation ring’s slow rotation that creates centrifugal “gravity”.
I rub my eyes. I need a good, strong cup of coffee. No, tea, a voice in my head says. Chai tea? Iced tea? “Coffee,” I say out loud, trying to focus. Not as good as a cuppa Darjeeling, I think. How about an espresso?
I sigh. Seven years it’s been like this. And six of those seven alone on this ship. Alone, huh? I smile at that. It’s not an unattractive smile I see reflected in the galley’s beverage station’s housing. The face is rather nondescript and androgynous. There’s a genericism to it. Age, race, sex: You couldn’t make confident determination on any of them based on appearance.
What about a hot chocolate? That was Melinda’s favorite drink. How long has she been dead? Twenty-five years? I can’t believe it’s been that long. God in heaven, I miss my wife.
My husband was a lying, cheating bastard! The thought comes to me unbidden. Can’t believe we were married for almost ten years. And he was banging my best friend for the last three behind my back!
I take a deep breath. Focus.
I tap on my tablet and pull up the latest transmission from the base orbiting Hawking’s World, Proxima Centauri’s small, tidally-locked planet. The automated space station has worked tirelessly for many years, readying itself for my arrival. The report says the Dissociation Facility is nearing completion. Now it’s just a question of the retrieval drones gathering enough organic compounds from the carbonaceous chondrites in the tiny solar system. There’s more than enough raw material there for the Dissociation Facility to deconstitute me.
I look at Proxima again as it describes its little ring. I think of all those who tried to reach it but failed. Small crews, large crews, multigenerational ships, suspended animation. Too much can go wrong and too much did. The only viable solution was I. Was we.
It will be four more years until the Apollo Farstriker arrives at Olympus Station and the 372 genotypically distinct somatic cell populations that comprise me can be separated and reconstituted into 372 different people. And with all due respect to you ladies and gentlemen, I will not miss neuronal multiplexing. The different temperaments; the conflicting political, religious, and philosophical beliefs; the jumbled memories. The whole “gestalt persona” and “emergent metacognition” theories didn’t exactly pan out.
I turn back to the beverage dispenser and hope that some consensus has been reached. It hasn’t. I shake my head, sigh, and hit the control marked “water”.