Author : Andrew DiMatteo

I stared out the viewport at the other ships in the fleet. Contact was infrequent – a few transmissions a year, telemetry exchanges, stuff like that. Never my deal since all I did was water plants all day, but we were a fleet, goddammit. It wasn’t fair for them to leave us behind like this.

The cold hard truth: Our velocities weren’t that different, even now. Nevertheless, they were accelerating at a steady one gee and here we were, adrift and off course. Engines and maneuvering rockets destroyed, leaving us stuck at one third c and going nowhere fast. No shuttles left of our own and no other ship willing to risk hers rescuing a derelict. Why waste resources on something better forgotten?

Every few hours I swear I can see the rest of the fleet pulling away, even though I know it can’t be visible yet. For all I know, it’s the meds. I’ve got the med bay all to myself because technically I was the only one injured – everyone else was either pulped instantly or in stasis. Evidently I was sneaking a nap on the crash couch in the garden supply closet when it happened. I had the stasis field at 2/3 strength. Very relaxing.

The docs that came out of stasis after the accident say I shouldn’t take the bandages off anytime soon. Even with most of its inertia gone, the rack of cutting shears did quite a number on me – especially the one that punctured my skull.

The newly woken crew said it was a miracle that the ship wasn’t simply vaporized on impact. They asked me about trying to get the hydroponics back online in case we can coast someplace. I choked back bitter laughter. I can’t remember my own name, let alone plant nutrient balances, but it doesn’t seem worth it to tell them that. Let them think there’s something to live for. I know better.

The gaps in my memory seem like the view outside. Bright sparks separated by cold uncaring emptiness. I can feel that emptiness growing. I can feel the other ships forgetting us, relegating us to the past as we fall further behind. The docs said my memories would come back slowly, but they’re not. I remember less of myself every hour that passes, and they check on me less frequently now – probably accepting the inevitable themselves.

I’m a damn cautionary tale just like our poor ship: Don’t nap next to gardening shears on an interstellar ark. Don’t get lax on collision avoidance maintenance and hit something while doing a good fraction of the speed of light. Simple really.

I notice that the med bay has stations similar to mine set up. The docs must have been disappointed when it turned out I was the only one not needing to be placed in the recycler. I wheel around and grab any syringe that looks the same as my pain meds – one for each ship still out there.

Back at my viewport the lights grow further and further apart. Memories of the last few days swim by and get added to those already lost. Lesson learned. On to greener gardens.

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