Author : David Burkhart

Where the hell is she? Joel searched everywhere for her. The cargo hatch was still securely sealed so she couldn’t be in the cargo bay. She couldn’t have opened the forward hatch or they would have been sucked out into space. It was only a small forward cabin on a space cargo ship – there was not anyplace for her to hide. He looked behind every panel, in every cupboard, under every floor tile, and inside each piece of equipment but she simply wasn’t there. Ellen couldn’t have just vanished like that.

Maybe I’m finally going space crazy, thought Joel. Maybe Ellen never really existed. He tried to remember the training and advice he had received to prevent going space crazy. But he couldn’t recall the shrinks mentioning anything about how to deal with a situation like this. In particular, he remembered Dr. Johnson, who had spent a considerable amount of time talking with him and coaching him. Ellen looked very similar to Dr. Johnson and the thought of the two of them made Joel even more desperate to find Ellen.

He checked the instrument panel. The clocks showed that they had left Earth 836 days ago and would reach their destination after another 283 days in space. Unloading the mining equipment from the cargo bay would take about 2 weeks and then they would begin the long journey back to Earth. He noticed one instrument with a red light on. The corresponding screen said ‘Error 45920. Rebooting from backup 36G’. Joel knew every screw and bolt, every instrument, every knob, every panel, every circuit, and every wire on the ship. He could take the whole ship apart and reassemble it by himself. But for some reason he couldn’t remember ever seeing the instrument with the red error light. I’m really going space crazy mad, Joel thought.

Suddenly the red light went off and the error screen went blank. Confused, Joel stared at the screen wondering what to do. Suddenly he felt her presence. He sensed her standing behind him.

“Where have you been? I’ve looked everywhere for you!” Joel asked.

“I was ill. I feel fine now.” smiled Ellen.

“Don’t ever disappear again. I‘ll go crazy without you.”

“I’ll always be with you, Joel. Trust me.”