Author : Roger ale Trexler
The proximity claxon awoke him from a dead sleep. He jumped out of the storage container he used as a makeshift bed and yelled, “Buddy!”
He ran down the corridor that led to the secondary communications center. As he opened the hatch, he heard a familiar metallic whirling sound behind him. He turned to see Buddy, his only companion for what….two years now?…ambling down the corridor. It seemed impossible it had been that long.
“Buddy,” Jeramie Landof said. “Buddy! They’ve finally come!”
He would have hugged his metallic friend, but he knew better. In the weeks following the accident two years ago, Landof managed to scrap together enough spare parts to build Buddy. He was constructed out of the remains of a service droid, one of those designed for remote controlled repairs outside the ship. But, Landof had retrofitted him with one of those holographic emitters that were so popular with the kids back on Earth. A few other scrap parts found here and there on the wreckage of the ship, and Jeramie Landof had himself a companion. They were inseparable.
He ran into the communications center once the door opened, and flipped on the view screen. For a second, he saw nothing. Then, off to the left of the screen, he saw the flicker of navigation lights.
“They’ve come! At last!”
Buddy whirred and clicked.
“I’m surprised they heard the beacon,” Landof said. “We’re so far out.” He ran to the console but knew there was no way he could communicate with the incoming ship. The asteroid had disabled his ship. The rest of the crew had been sucked out into the vacuum of space, leaving Landof alone. Only a few small sections of the ship were left habitable.
“Oh Jeez! They’re coming!”
For the next hour, he and Buddy waited impatiently for the other ship to dock. They had to use one of those universal docking clamps because all the hatches had been blown, exposing the innards of the ship to space.
He could only listen—but not see—as they docked, covered the damaged section of the ship with a docking clamp, pumped in oxygen, and came aboard.
When the hatch opened, he started crying.
Buddy lurched toward the intruder.
“Buddy! Stop!” Landof yelled.
Buddy stopped just short of the man, his talon-like fingers extended.
The man stepped inside, closed the hatch, and took off his helmet. “Who are you?” he asked.
Landof told him.
“My name’s Captain Kisat, of the survey ship Antari. Are there any other survivors?”
The man shook his head. “Jesus, you’ve been alone in space for two years?” he asked.
Landof nodded. Then, he looked at Buddy. “I had Buddy,” he said.
The man scrutinized the haphazard concoction of servos and circuit boards. “It’s a miracle you’re still alive,” he said. “This deep in uncharted space. You’re lucky we heard your distress beacon. It was pretty weak.”
“Thank God,” Landof said.
Captain Kisat sent a message back to the ship. A few minutes later, another man with an extra spacesuit stepped through the hatch. He handed it to Landof. “Here,” he said. “Put this on.”
Like a kid at Christmas time, Landof put on the spacesuit.
“Let’s get back to the Antari,” Kisat said. “I’m sure you’re ready to get off this crate.”
“I am,” Landof replied.
They opened the hatch and Landof stepped through. He stopped and turned. “Goodbye Buddy,” he said. “Thanks for being there for me.”
Buddy clicked and whirred, but did not reply, as they closed the hatch and left him alone in the cold void of space.