Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
Humans are crazy. This is a long voyage.
I pretend I’m a greedy Noah sometimes. I pretend that I brought two hundred humans and said ‘fuck it’ to the animals.
Transporters have given the human race the ability to flicker from post to post at speeds previously believed to be impossible. Good for us.
However, a human can’t just beam to Alpha Centauri. There needs to be a receiving station there.
There are long-range ships peopled with volunteers like myself that take centuries to reach far-off planets and set up a transporter sender/receiver. Input/Output posts, they’re called, or I.O. towers. Fitting, since the first transporter was invented on Jupiter’s moon Io by the poor, doomed, Doctor Swanson. The one that took a bite out the gas giant, adding an extra eye.
The ship is huge and mostly automated except for us humans. There are two hundred of us. Only one is awake at a time and we work in two-month shifts.
There are astrophysicist and engineering specialists amongst others that have downloaded their brains into A.I. constructs that we can awaken if an emergency arises.
Other than that, we are free to stare out the windows, eat, and just monitor the passing Doppler universe as we skate under the milk-skin thin ice of lightspeed.
Personally, I think us two hundred volunteers with a penchant for loneliness are completely redundant. I mean, if a true emergency happened at these speeds, we’d wink out of the universe in a flurry of greasy atoms and be none the wiser. We wouldn’t know what hit us.
I think we’re included as lucky charms. We’re the prize in the cereal box. The drive to include humans on the ships is verging on nostalgia. It’s inconceivable to have a space mission without humans, regardless of how superfluous we are.
But hey, that’s why I signed up. I like the isolation. Sometimes, I turn on the lights in the crew room. 199 full green tubes and one empty one; mine. I’ll walk down the white alley and look into the green tubes. I’ll see my co-workers faces, sleeping in fluid, suspended like they’re falling. I’ve only ever met Jared and Tina, the one who comes before me and the one that comes after me. There’s an hour of overlap. I wake them up, they put me under. It’s brief and we don’t talk.
We’re all the same, picked for our sociopathic natures. We prefer to be alone.
Communications at this speed are nearly impossible. Sometimes, I wonder if we’ll get to where we’re headed and it will already be populated. Like we’ll be regarded as antiques or that day’s curiousity. Maybe there’ll be a parade.
Or maybe it’ll just be a rock system and we won’t be able to find any planets to hook up our terraformers to. We’ll just spend our lives in the spaceship, out of fuel for a return journey, winding down like a handmade clock.
Most likely, everything will go textbook. Computers are hardly ever wrong.
I’m a passenger and I’m happy about it.
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