Author : Waldo van der Waal

“Don’t worry,” she had said, “I’ll be there to take the straps off once we come out of stasis.” She had smiled at me. A pretty smile. She was pretty all over: Dark hair, pixie-like features and perky breasts. I could see her nipples through the thin fabric of her jumpsuit. I just smiled and nodded. That’s what men tend to do when they’re confronted by perky breasts in a tight jumpsuit.

She’d carried on explaining how the Pursuit of Pure Knowledge had no real passenger seats on board. So our stasis chambers had to double as acceleration couches. Made sense at the time, but I did get a bit worried when she started cuffing me to the ‘couch’ inside my chamber.

“It’s just to make sure that you don’t flail about once you go under. You don’t want a limb out of place once the acceleration starts. Quit worrying.” Again, the smile. She was one of a hundred stasis techs on board. Each of them had twenty chambers to look after. And her own chamber was right next to mine.

All of that happened nearly seventy years ago. I was twenty then, and figured I had a shot at her once the Pursuit reached Sirius. But now I know she won’t be interested in me. Mainly because I’ll be dead more than a hundred years before she even wakes up.

I would’ve been dead long ago, if this sodding machine hadn’t kept me alive so well. And anyway, how do you kill yourself when your hands and feet are tied to a slab inside a sterile chamber? I’m pumped full of nutrients each day. Ha! I still think of days, when all I have is endless night. But I can’t seem to fall asleep at all anymore. Hopefully my body fails me soon.

I wish I could lose my mind. Somehow make myself go crazy. Reminds me of the joke about the kid who asked his gramma if she’d seen his “pills” with the letters LSD printed on them. “Screw your pills, sonny,” she had screamed, “I’m more worried about the dragons in the kitchen.” The things you think of when you have decades alone in the dark…

Oh, don’t think I’m coping well with this. God, no. I’ve gone through the entire gamut of emotions: Hate, rage, desperation, sadness… I’ve cried and screamed and tried to get my hands loose. But in the end, I always end up the same: Alone in the dark.

Anyhow, if there’s one bit of wisdom I’d like to pass on to you, it would be this: When they ask you, during the pre-stasis check if you are allergic to anything, try and tell the truth, never mind how pretty the tech might be. Ain’t no use to try to be a man when you end up like this. ‘cos God knows, this is no way to die.

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