Author : Matthew Forish
It was cold. Of course it was cold. Now though, I could feel the cold.
Feeling returned to my body, and a faint light was starting to filter in through my closed eyelids. I was waking up. Thoughts filled my mind. I was shivering, hungry, thirsty and quite stiff. A hum vibrated through the soft plastic beneath my bare flesh.
I opened my eyes, which took some time to adjust to the light. As my vision cleared, I felt a click and saw the transparent lid of my cryo-tube lifting upward. Warm air rushed in. I stopped shivering. I heard the sounds of movement all around me; I heard gruff voices not far away, coughs and groans, shuffling plastic.
Sitting up, I saw dozens of other men doing the same, looking as groggy as I felt. I heard one young man asking for a few more minutes of sleep. I laughed at that – we had slept for nearly ten years.
A door whooshed open at the far end of the chamber, and a uniformed man entered, a member of the command crew.
“Good morning gentlemen,” he said, “We’ve arrived at our destination, and we’re currently in orbit around the planet. You will find fresh clothing at your assigned refresher unit. Get dressed and proceed to the commissary for the Mandatory Replenishment Meal.”
A few men groaned at that statement – I guess that they had travelled via cryo-sleep before and already knew about the “Mandatory Replenishment Meal”. I took a quick sonic shower and donned my new utility coveralls, then discovered the reason for their complaint. The M.R.M. was rich in vitamins, calories and everything we needed after a long cryo-sleep, but was greatly lacking in flavor.
As I ate, I looked around the commissary. There were about three hundred of us, both men and women, which represented the first of ten waves of sleepers. Of course, the vast majority were young like me, barely out of our teens.
Young people make the best colonists. We don’t leave much behind, especially the single ones like myself. We have more years in us to help build up the colony’s infrastructure. We’re more likely to start families. Many hands make light work, as they say. There’s lots of work to do starting up a new colony.
I struck up a conversation with the pretty young woman seated across from me. She sounded as excited as I was about the opportunities ahead. It would be hard work, but it was better than living like sardines back on Old Earth or one of the orbital habs. Her enthusiastic chatter helped me endure the M.R.M.
As we were herded out of the commissary toward the shuttle bay, I walked beside the young woman, who had introduced herself as Oriana. I managed to secure a pair of seats for us at the front of the shuttle’s passenger cabin, near the forward viewport.
I felt a lurch as the shuttle left its bay. Startled, Oriana nervously reached out to take my hand. I smiled. The viewport filled with stars and the night-side of the planet below. We descended rapidly, the sleek shuttle cutting through the clouds. I could see the dim outlines of mountains speeding past far below.
The horizon took on a reddish hue, slowly brightening into a full sunrise. I gazed in awe at the unspoiled beauty of the woodlands revealed in the growing light. I looked over at Oriana and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. I knew the future – our future – was as bright as this new dawn.