Author : cchatfield
The child hovers in the doorway, reluctant to abandon the light of the hall.
“But it’s dark…” she whispers, “I don’t like the closet. Or the bed.”
Her father pats the pillow and proffers a gently humming comfort-bot. “Don’t worry. I promise there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“But what about the monsters?”
He cocks an eyebrow. “They wouldn’t dare. Would I ever lie to you?”
“It won’t hurt you.”
The girl is crouched on the couch, broomstick at the ready.
“It’s just a helper-bot,” says her father, “It’s here to clean and take orders. It won’t even come near you.”
Slowly, she lowers her plastic weapon. “Are you sure?”
Father and daughter stand in the docking zone, lugging suitcases fit to burst. The interplanetary ships loom overhead, buzzing with the activity of labor-bots, crews, and passengers.
“Dad, I’m not sure I want to do this.”
He pauses to rest a hand on her shoulder. “We don’t have a choice.”
“Will life be better there?”
He drops his baggage to wrap an arm around her.
“Life will be different, and we’ll have to work hard. But we’ll be happy and it’ll be worth it.”
The alarm’s shrieks are replaced by a lone strobe-light flickering from the hallway. The man murmurs into a handheld screen: “Thanks, but no. We’ll stay here. We’d rather be alone.”
He signs off and sits beside his daughter on the bed.
His face is haggard, but his voice calm. “It’s the air systems. The bots destroyed the fuel reserves. They’ll breach this end of the ship soon.”
He opens his palm and the two pills glint in the light.
“If we’re unconscious, it won’t be bad at all. The air will stop and we won’t even know.”
The young woman’s voice quavers. “Will it hurt?”
His lips twitch and he shakes his head, “Just like going to sleep. Would I ever lie to you?”