Author : Morrow Brady
Live again, said the cruise brochure. It should have said lie again.
The lift vessel arrived carrying my personal pod cabin and minutes later, PrinceStellar, an orbiting trans-galactic cruise ship was in view and my mid-life crisis journey had commenced. With the pod docked, I ate strawberries and drank champagne while the ship prepared for deep space departure. As acceleration commenced, I settled into my sleep chamber, excited with the thought of waking in twenty five years to see a black hole rip a binary system apart. My live again experience of a lifetime had begun.
Twenty two years later, my upside down chamber ejected me onto a debris strewn floor where I landed in agony. After getting my bearings, I soon learnt that PrinceStellar had crashed on a barely habitable planet and my reinforced pod had been rammed deep into the ship’s infrastructure. After squirming through crumpled metal, I discretely ventured throughout the ship and saw how the survivors were forced to remain onboard due to the desolate planet’s extreme heat. Although those lucky enough to make it were happily living off the ship’s abundant supplies, I knew in time things would change for the worse. Reluctantly, I decided to wait them out from the safety of my pod. After linking my chamber to the ship’s emergency beacon so it woke me should a rescue ship respond, I settled down to sleep for a short while.
Six months later, I woke. Supplies had dwindled and life onboard was getting tough. I cowardly returned to sleep. Five years later, I saw that a number of attempts at farming had failed miserably. The planet’s sunlight and air couldn’t support a damn thing. Those that remained were spindly thin and had formed tribes, each battling it out for survival. I retreated again to my pod and lay down in my chamber to conserve resources.
Twelve years later I woke and ventured across the ship. In the cargo holds I found their graves, covered in a veil of white dust. Refuelling my chamber’s nutrient tanks, I returned to sleep. Fifteen years later, still no change. Sleep.
After twenty years, a low power warning woke me from an age of darkness. Reluctantly I dragged my atrophied body through the ship in search of a replacement power source. In a darkened corridor, I was spooked to see ghostly footsteps in the deep white dust that led to a hidden pod. While the young girl peacefully slept inside her chamber, I mindlessly opened her pod’s service panel and extracted her power cell. Her chamber’s lights faded. She would dream a silent death. Time to sleep again.
Three decades later, the beacon triggered the chamber wake program. Personal belongings were excitedly gathered, followed by a short trip through a dusty storm to meet the rescue ship as its gargantuan form touched down. In the rescue ship’s galley, the crew made space for Captain Boscobel, a cigar nestled in his bristled knuckles.
“So you’re the only survivor?” Boscobel enquired.
Glistening eyes looked up. A silent nod.
“There was another person” A quiet voice sounded. Fracturing a strangling pause.
“When I woke up. My chamber wasn’t working. So I started walking and that’s when I saw the footsteps. I followed them and found another pod” A dirtied chin started to quiver.
“She was dead. I think she fell. Her chamber still worked, so I climbed in and woke when you arrived”
She started to weep uncontrollably and reached out to Boscobel for comfort.
Boscobel squirmed. He wasn’t used to dealing with eight year olds.
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