Author : Sean Wallace

“Now, we all look forward to entering the Archangel when we retire, but what about those people who go there before then? Constance Vyke reports on the people who keep Archangel running…”

Constance, pretty in a thin, blonde sort of way, starts her report through a practiced smile. “Thank you Milo. The Archangel Station, owned and run by the UN, has been running for almost thirty years; taking us in when we become elderly and giving us a life of pleasure and joy in our most fragile years. Not everyone who comes here does so for the Grace Chambers though. I’m here with Nigel Howard, Chief Engineer for the Archangel and he is, as you can see, a great deal younger than 65.”

Nigel offers a small smile, slightly confused. “Hello there Constance.”

“First of all, I’m certain our viewers would like to know how you can cope with being so close to the Grace Chambers?”

“Well, I’d be lying if I said it isn’t tempting, but thankfully you need specific implants to be able to join the residents; implants stored and inserted planetside. So there’s no way for me, or anyone else here, to ‘dip in’.”

“But how can you cope with it? Bliss and joy happening so close to you and you cannot take part in it… even I’m feeling the pull, and I’ve only been here a few days.”

“Firstly, if you work on the Archangel you get to retire five years early. Plus, without people like us, no-one would be able to enter Gracie…”

“Gracie? Is that what you call them?”

“Oops, sorry.” Nigel wipes his hand down his eyes and coughs. “Yeah, it’s the nickname we gave the Intethlon Quantum Core GC20. It’s a lot less of a mouthful. But yeah, we do an important job, maybe the most important job there is, so you get a lot of satisfaction out of it.” The increased numbers of suicides and high level of substance abuse went unmentioned, especially after Head Office had some serious words with him about ‘appropriate responses’.

“Anyway,” Constance says, slight annoyance peeking through her media-friendly tones, “what’s a typical day like up here? What do you do every day?”

“Well, we don’t work every day Constance. But for me, a typical day involves nothing more than your usual space station Chief Engineer; I read reports, ensure the tech is all in working order, manage the new arrivals and deliveries…”

“And it’s really not difficult to see hundreds of people enter the Grace Chambers, Gracie?”

“Really, it’s not a problem.” Nigel coughs and balls his fists. “… but anyway, we get everyone in, give them the introduction and then fit them into the chambers for their new life. Then we send back any deceased for planetside burial and ensure that the next day’s work is prepared. That’s about it; as I said, nothing more than the typical station.”

“Alright then, Nigel, just before I go I’d like to ask what the first thing you’re going to do after you retire is?”

Having thought long and hard about this over the decades he’d worked on the Archangel, the truth sprang to answer the question itself; “I’m going to Solar-sail to Mars.”

“Thank you very much for your time Nigel.” Constance turns back to the camera. “There you are viewers, normal people doing amazing work up here in the Heavens. For MSN-BBC, I’m Constance Vyke.”

“Constance Vyke there. We’ll see you after these messages…”

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