Author: Steve Smith, Staff Writer

When you’re hurtling through space, distance and time become distorted.

Celestial bodies appear, and disappear, sometimes in the blink of an eye, the instrumentation the only proof they existed. Sometimes they seem to drift past over the course of several days, or weeks.

If not for the sensors, and the computer doing the math, it would be impossible to know exactly how far, or how close these dangers really were.

There’s nobody here to look now, to stare into the void with me. There’s nothing to see from here anyway, nobody’s missing anything.

In the cafeteria, if you’d lived here as long as I have, you would recognize the evidence of Petra and Olaf having had breakfast together, as their meal trays are where they left them on the table. Again. You would also know that Scott hadn’t made it to the cafeteria today, because those meal trays hadn’t been cleaned up, accompanied by the racket of his loud and incessant fussing.

The command module is similarly devoid of life, and one might confuse the mess as evidence of a struggle, but honestly, the Captain and his First Officer had devolved from their ‘everything by the book’ lifestyle to being little better than slobs over the last year. Had it been a year? More than a year? Time, right?

In the crew quarters, what was once pristinely organized now looks like a bomb went off in it, clothing and vac suit components strewn on the benches, bunks, and floor. Weapons, once neatly stored in locked compartments in the event of a landing, or intercept with a hostile foreign vessel, now lie scattered and abandoned in the hallways.

That sound is the nightfall warning. In thirty minutes the ship will gradually dim all but the essential lighting to simulate night. It’s one of the systematic mechanisms designed to enforce a regular schedule in a vacuum with no sun, no natural day or night. Structure. Familiarity. Routine. All very important on these long haul missions.

I remember stories of the land of the midnight sun, in the North on Earth where the sun was visible in the sky for months without setting. I remember how some people struggled if their days went unbroken by real night for too long.

I remember Earth too. Seems like a lifetime ago.

Through the viewport at the rear of the ship, I can no longer make out the remains of the crew. They may be out there, just beyond the limits of my vision. I can still hear them, I think. I can’t get their voices out of my head. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that they were here, but when you’re hurtling through space… Distance and time, did we talk about this already?

It doesn’t matter.

It’s going to get dark soon.

Will you stay with me?

Otherwise, when they turn out the lights, there won’t be anything left between myself, and me.