Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Dara rolled out of her bunk and onto her feet in a smooth, practiced motion. On the way to the door she winced as the tightness in her calves made each footstep painful, but by the time she’d hit the column midship the ache had mostly receded. Aging in low gee sucked just as hard as aging planetside.

Grabbing the ladder loosely with both hands and using her boots for stability on the outside of the rails, she dropped the six stories to the lower observation deck and galley in a few measured breaths. The landing brought her aching joints back to the forefront of her mind, but only for a moment.

“What in Spanner’s Starweld is that?”

Turing turned from the beverage dispenser he’d been fiddling with and admired his handiwork. “It’s a Christmas tree.”

Dara walked suspiciously around the two meter tall green cone that filled the center of the room, the tables having been pushed back around it to make space.

“That’s no tree,” she poked the green surface of the thing tentatively, “I’ve seen trees in my day, and that sure ain’t one of those.”

Turing sipped from his mug while maneuvering to stand beside his Captain.

“Technically it’s not really a tree, it’s foamed vegelite, suspended on a cellulose frame. I’ve been growing it for the past few weeks, when the lighting switches to darktime, it fluoresces.”

Dara had never thought much of the religious holidays, nor had her crew, and that Turing had put such apparent effort into this thing surprised her.

“Why in the weld would we start celebrating Christmas now? We left the jolly fatman behind decades ago with everything else.” The smell of whatever Turing was drinking was starting to itch a part of her memory long unvisited.

“We have children on the ship for the first time this year, and it will be nice for them to have something to look forward to each year. I mean, we still acknowledge birthdays, and they’re just marking arbitrary revolutions around a star that we’ve been running away from for ever, so what’s the difference?”

He had a point, and Dara had to admit his handiwork was impressive.

“What in the weld is that smell, is that –”

“Coffee. Yes it is.” Turing cut her off, handing her a mug of her own. “I’ve been growing synthetic beans for months, I think I’ve finally got it right.”

She held the mug under her nose, breathing deeply of the aroma and letting it unlock that part of her brain she’d put in a box so many years ago. Morning rituals, sunrises over the bay.

“Merry Christmas Captain.” Turing stared past the tree and out into the expanse of space beyond, flecks of light slowly receding.

The Captain stood beside him silently for a while, savouring the coffee and admiring the view. Maybe somethings shouldn’t be left behind after all.

“Merry Christmas Turing,” she spoke finally, “Merry Christmas.”

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows