Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Marshal’s great grandfather had taken up the guitar as a older man, and played it as though he simply always had done so. He had passed this love onto his son, Marshal’s grandfather, before the Departure. Marshal’s family had always been tradesman, and his grandfather used his degrees in micro-fabrication to get on the ship, and his skill at coaxing sounds from his stringed instrument to secure not only a wife, but a place in the social scene on Discovery when she set off into the stars.

Marshal’s grandfather had one child on the voyage, a daughter, and she grew up always at her father’s side, basking in the warmth of his music. She took up chemistry, and divided her time between misusing chemicals in defiance of the ships authority, and caressing deep rhythm and blues from the guitar her father had left her.

When Marshal was born, it was clear his mother’s chemical abuse had affected him, but she didn’t survive his birth to make amends.

Marshal grew in the care of the crew to be a stoic but directionless young man. He dabbled in chemistry, in microbiology, and settled on psiono-sonics as a field of study. He found he had a heightened sensitivity in communications, and was tasked with reaching out across the void of space to the other star ships en route to new star systems.

In time, the voices grew harder and harder to find through the darkness, and communications duty became an eternity of projecting into nothingness, deafened by the silence returned.

When the star drive began to fail, Marshal felt it before anyone. He tried to describe to the Captain how the engine was losing its rhythm, how he worried it would stop beating.

He’d been thrown off the bridge, and confined to his quarters.

When the star drive went out, the captain locked himself in his own cabin, refusing to acknowledge it was true.

Marshal had spent very little time in his own cabin, having not grown up there, and finding it unsettling to be in the room this mother he had never known had once called home. He could never connect himself to the space, but now, confined there as he was, he found himself idly picking through her things, discovering the woman who had made him and then left him here alone.

He flipped through frames of images, some single and still, some sequenced and moving. He heard laughter, saw a smile he recognized sometimes from the mirror, and felt a rhythm that resonated somewhere inside.

When he found her guitar, it fit his hands like well worn gloves, filled a hole he hadn’t realized existed. His fingers found the chords to a song he’d never heard. A to C sharp, to G sustained, back to A. Words drifted into his head with impossible clarity, “If you can just get your mind together, then come on across to me.” Across the ship each psionicly projected note from Marshal’s guitar turned every surface capable of vibrating into a point of amplification. Everyone stopped, and listened. “We’ll hold hands and then we’ll watch the sunrise,” people spilled into the hallways, “from the bottom of the sea.”

Marshal felt long closed doors open in his mind as he reached out into the depths of space. He felt the wave come back a hundred strong, and the Discovery reeled as unseen voices chimed in “But First, are you experienced?” In his cabin, the Captain closed his eyes, tears streaming down his face. They may be lost, but they were no longer alone.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows