Author : Eric Spery
The starship’s Captain stood in the causeway between the dining module and the guest berths. As he stared at the observation port, one of the guests came through from the berths.
The captain knew every passenger he carried on the two month run between Sol and Betelgeuse. This passenger was an old retired military officer from Terra. Just a few years older than himself.
He stopped and stood beside the Captain and stared through the glass at the tapestry of unmoving stars.
“They’re so much more beautiful here,” he said with a slight trace of an accent that the Captain couldn’t place.
“The stars. I’ve never been outside the Earth’s atmosphere. I’ve spent my adult life in cold foxholes looking up at the twinkling stars through the smoke of battle, praying I would live long enough to see the stars again the next night. Praying some day I might leave for good. Leave for the stars and never return.”
“Are they everything you hoped for, sir?”
“They are, Captain. I thank you for taking me on my last journey. To stars that no longer twinkle.”
The old soldier solemnly shook the Captain’s hand and then continued on towards the dining module.
After the portal closed, the Captain turned back to the observation port. How long had it been since he’d noticed the
stars outside? The only thing he saw anymore was his own reflection: old, tired and ready to go home. Hoping to never look again at stars that didn’t twinkle. To go home and never return.