Flash Fiction 17

Stretching through the open cosmos to a momentary pause, the helm of their ship  lumbered into the outer ring of a foreign worlds sun. The rays washed in a yellow film of light into the chambers where the engineer stirred from the sleep chamber. In the dome hood over the reclined chair — a countdown focused before him from his optical implants.

The massage motor hummed beneath the warm leather padding of his sleep pod. He managed to sleep three hours into his 13 hour planned time off. Following the 36 hour shift, between breaks for protein, lavatory and rests, a full day from work felt safe.

He hadn’t anticipated on being this restless.

“Alexia.” a pleasant charm noise replied, awaiting his next voice command. Biting down on his lower lip, he searched for the words.

“Status report on our guest aboard please.” a delicate chime followed her robust report,

Status report: subject a – 12497, no change, vital signs regular

Status report: subject a – 12498, no change, vital signs regular

Status report: subject a – 12499, no change, vital signs regular

Alexia cited another 240 subjects, all of their vital signs regular; riding through the blackness of space in the equivalent of a 21st century galactic ambulance.

“Alexia, I show I have 10 hours until my vacation is suspended; are we in the area of our next jump to Theta-7?”

A pause as the A.I. computed — nearly two years out; the ship had been dilatory in calculations between jump stations.

Theta-7 JumpStation unavailable. Approximate arrival time to Theta-7 outpost, 2,058 hours.

The engineer sat upright, stretching towards the end of his cloth jumpsuit and touching the ends of his feet. Staring past the navigation console into the furthest star offering the synthetic morning light he sighed.

“I am feeling rather melancholy,” there was silence as the A.I. awaited a clear instruction,”Play me a song that fits my mood.”

A device roughly the size of a pea and formed to the inner sanctum of his ear vibrated to life, a small tune, starting with an acoustic rhythm then expanded into a drum machine accompanying the tune. Over the cymbals and the drums, a few other soft chimes swung in with a low whisper before a voice he recognized as Alexia broke into a broken digital voice earlier than he could remember.

Nobody wrong, nobody’s right

Everyone cheats, everyone lies

Nobody cares,nobody minds

Night turns to day

And then the sun shines

After the lyrics faded further into the melody a final reverb hit the ensemble and the song faded out echoing the acoustic. The engineer felt a tear run down the side of his cheek; the songs name and artists accompanied the end.

REPEAT Y/N ?

Drying his eye he waved away the prompt.

“Thank you Alexia.”

Two hours and a bit of change remained for him to rest and return to the other pods in the lower rooms of the station, following their testing and calibration he would see to the bed rotations of those on board.

The world, no, the universe would continue on without him onward and work out the citations of his assignment once they reached the next outlet. Another job completed after the diagnostics were all recorded and their families were notified.

Thinking of all this, the routine, the pod, the assignment made him tired. He drifted off to sleep in the silence of the pod.

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