Author: Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Felix rolled out of his bunk and immediately regretted every decision he’d ever made.

Well, at least those of the last dozen hours or so.

The steel deck plate was cold against his feet, and he considered pressing his head against it on the off chance the cool would relieve the pounding in his skull.

Alcohol he could synthesize up here, but effective painkillers for the migraine it had brought on he could not.

He stuffed his feet into his boots, zipped up the front of his coveralls and forced himself to a standing position, regretting doing so immediately.

He braced himself against his bunk with one hand and waited for the blackness to fade and his vision to return, then he slowly worked his way up from the subterranean sleeping quarters to the galley where he brewed himself a mug of coffee.

His reserves were dwindling, but it was the start of a new quarter, so a supply launch would be commencing shortly.

Not just a quarter, but the start of a new year. That was his excuse for celebrating the night before. He couldn’t remember the excuse he’d used three nights previous.

Cradling the steaming mug in both hands, and emboldened by the warmth and the caffeine, Felix wandered out through the connecting tunnels towards the greenhouses to survey his crops.

The hardier food-stock plants grew without issue, once the soil mix was dialed in, and the air and water levels settled down, and as a result, he had a fairly steady supply of boring but edible plants.

Flowers, however, had proved to be much more difficult.

He worked his way around the perimeter between the rows of planters, avoiding the hanging drip lines. The sun’s heat beat through the windows, highly opaqued though they were as this was the hottest point of the day. The delicate plant life would be scorched this close to the full power of the sun’s rays, as would he be.

At the end of the rows, beyond the regulation planters, were his experimental ones. Planters he’d tended with far more care and concern than those on which he was dependent for giving him life, as those he took for granted.

In these, he’d been planting the seeds of a dozen varieties of flowers, all approved by the scientists at mission control, but none of which had developed. An entire year he’d spent, doing nothing but planting seeds, nurturing them and waiting for something to grow.

This morning, to his delight, there were tiny tendrils of green reaching up from the dark soil towards the light, little threads of life reaching hopefully from the dirt.

Maybe the year’s effort hadn’t been wasted after all.