by Floyd Looney
She was lying in the grass looking up at the stars wearing a simple cotton garment, almost like a thin cotton one-piece swimsuit. She did not worry about modesty out here alone. She could hear crickets and a bird and smiled, okay not totally alone. Surrounded by grass, trees, shrubbery and small creatures she felt more alive here than anywhere else on the ship.
The ship, which she could barely feel vibrating through the soil beneath her, was moving at half the speed of light. It piloted itself, it maintained itself and her only function to be the designated human that wasn't frozen. One human at a time was always to be awake during the entire transit.
She knew that hundreds of people would live their whole lives alone while doing this duty, she never thought she would be one of them. The odds were against it, she thought, with more than a quarter of a million frozen humans aboard. Just lucky, she thought, after all she did win the lottery to be aboard the ship in the first place. Leaving behind a fast-dying Earth, with its dwindling oceans and its thickening atmosphere as it turned into another Venus.
5,000 years had passed since then. Was Earth already dead by now? Was there any way they could ever know? Probably not, they were nearly 2,000 light years away now, the ship had turned around and was decelerating now. This would take hundreds of years. The ship was massive, she never explored more than a small percentage of it.
Most of her time was spent here in one of the large biological habitats. She couldn't complain about much, she had all the food she could need, the med-com kept her perfectly healthy and it was a much more comfortable life than the living hell she left behind on Earth. By comparison this was heavenly.
It was just lonely. More than once she had thought about taking a dog out of cryogenic suspension or maybe a person. It wasn't allowed and the computer was certain to try and stop her. If she succeeded though, she had no idea what the computer would do then. Would it try to kill the other person or animal? Both of them maybe? Choose another passenger to unfreeze after dumping her corpse in a recycle tube?
After taking a swim and drying off while lying under an artificial sun, she left the habitat and went down a corridor and then took a transit tube down to the main control center. There she pored over crew records, pretending to check out their cryo-status. Yes, she was going to need a companion, there was no way she was going to live the next thirty or forty years like this. Sure it was perfect in every other respect but humans were not made to be alone.
Crew member #23243 was going Chapter Twelve. Inevitable, but many years ahead of prediction. The computer found this... fascinating.
Should I post a longer story, part by part, instead of these short stories? I could still post the occasional short story, of course.