Hope in a Bottle

Author: Isaiah Stott

The ship drifted through the starry sky. Its engines long cold. The walls on the inside of the ship had been stripped, cables and mechanical parts littered the halls. The emergency lights on the floor flickered, as somewhere in the ship another generator failed.
A synthesized voice echoed through the ship. “You haven’t started your daily tasks yet. Are you feeling well Ensign? Shall I play the video again?”
All the operational screens showed a beautiful young woman. “Hi, honey. I imagine you are busy right now, So I decided to leave this message for when you have a bit of free time. Addie was asking about you again today. I keep telling her that her daddy is off on an adventure saving people from pirates and thieves.” A gleeful squeal rings out off-camera and Addie runs past the camera in an onesie holding a toy. “She really loves the gifts you sent her from the outer colonies. I know we talked about this, but I think once your contract is up you should transfer into the private sector.” She sighed and leaned back in her chair. “We miss you and hope you can make it home soon. We will be waiting.” She signed off with a smile.
“I know, I know. I’m almost home, Sam. I’m almost home.” The Ensigns voice thin and weary. His footsteps heavy and methodical as he moved around the ship.
“Ensign, another generator has failed, we are down to 32% power. Restoring the generator may not be possible this time. I had to turn off some auxiliary functions. Currently, life support, heating, water purification, nutrient reclamation, and the distress signal are functioning at maximum capacity. Should another generator fail, I will have to begin cutting those off.”
“How many days until we are in Federation Space?”
“28 days, 13 hours, 12 minutes, and 58 seconds. Be sure to do your daily exercise as well, you need to keep in top physical form.”
“Generator first don’t you think? If it is fixable, I’d like to get that up and running as soon as possible.”
“Good call, Ensign. I feel it has been a while since your last psych eval. How are you feeling today?”
Ensign picked up his toolbox and made his way through the skeletal remain of the ship. He could still see the bridge no matter where he was. “Did you remember today is Addie’s birthday? I hope she has made some friends. She won’t want a cake, she’ll want . . . a pie. Yeah, a blueberry pie. Sam will wake up early to make her one. It won’t turn out well at first, she was never very good at baking.”
He groaned quietly as he bent down to look at the generator. “She won’t give up though. She will keep trying until she gets it right. She will probably drop it off and have lunch with Addie.”
“Ensign, that does not answer my question.”
He looks up from the generator his beard rough but kept short, he runs his hand through his salt and peppered hair. More salt than pepper these days. His eyes gleaming. “Hopeful, I’m feeling hopeful.”

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