Thursday, September 8, 2011

Friday Fiction for September 9, 2011

Welcome to Friday Fiction. I’ve been a bit out of the loop the last couple of weeks, between a death in the family, and being swamped at work. This week, however, I’m hosting, so I figured I’d better pick something good to post.

For NaNoWriMo 2010, I wrote “The Erickson Exigency,” which was the “prequel” to the rather light-hearted story “Hogs of the Heavens” (the first part of which posted for Friday Fiction almost exactly 2 years ago). Anyone who read that story would already know the basic ending of “The Erickson Exigency,” so I don’t feel too bad posting the Epilogue here. I need to do a lot of revision work to the story, but the Epilogue isn’t going to change much. I still like how it worked out. When you’re done, please follow the Linky tool to the other terrific submissions this week.



The Colony was growing. The fields extended farther than they had a year ago, and new buildings had been constructed a short distance away from the modules. Violet could see it all on the orbital surveillance cameras, and yet, it had been over a standard year since that final communication from Georgia.

The solitude was getting to her. The previous day, she had thought she’d seen Brunfeld in their old duty berth. He’d made one of his typical cutting remarks to her, before she’d blinked and banished the imagined ghost.

“System,” she said, feeling foolish before even making the request. “Status of ‘com link.”

“All attempts to restore ‘com link have failed. It has been three hundred and eighty two standard days since the last active ‘com link.”

“Terminate attempts,” she said, resigning herself to the fact that whatever problems prevented the communication, were not likely to be fixed so long after the fact. “Respond if interrogated, but end all planet-based communication attempts.”

“Confirm instructions: Terminate drop-probe data reception?”

“Confirmed. Data is now redundant and unnecessary.”

“Communications terminated.”

“Continue broadcasting distress message into space for thirty minutes, once every twenty four hours.”

“Duration of instruction?”



She left the observatory, and went first to the centrifuge. She took the weapons that she had kept close at hand for months, and packed them away in one of the exercise center lockers. She made her bed, and shut down the terminal on her workstation. Back at the transfer shuttle door, she turned and took one last look at the makeshift berth. “System, extinguish main exercise center lighting.”

The centrifuge went mostly dark, with just a few scattered auxiliary lights to keep it from becoming dangerous for crew to navigate through. She boarded the transfer shuttle, and rode it back to weightlessness.

With fluid grace, she floated down corridors and flipped around corners, arriving first on Deck Six. Once there, she moved purposefully towards the SusAn compartment. Chamber six dash kilo forty two was hers, and she’d lost track of the number of times she had made this trip in the past year.

She floated over the chamber, thinking for perhaps the thousandth time how much it looked like a coffin, and how surrendering to the idea was just one step shy of suicide. In her training, her instructors had told her a human could survive for centuries in SusAn, though no one had ever tried to prove it.

If no one ever came, she would sleep in the chamber until her body could no longer sustain itself. She would die in her sleep, never knowing just how long she had waited in vain.

If she continued as she was, madness would eventually take her, and she would likely kill herself by making a stupid mistake during some delusional moment, or kill herself intentionally because she couldn’t take the loneliness any longer.

SusAn beckoned, because the loneliness was already unbearable.

She removed her clothing, and placed it in the storage drawer at the foot end of the chamber. “System, open chamber six dash kilo forty two.”

The cover slid away, and a warm light filled the interior. “Chamber diagnostics normal,” the system reported.

She dropped into the chamber, facing up towards the lid. With a feeling of calm surrender, she folded her arms across her chest. “System, induce SusAn.”

“Wake-up criteria?” the system asked.

“Wake upon external request.”

“Confirmed,” the system said, and the lid slid closed.

She had prayed many prayers in the past year; some eloquent, some ordinary, and some anguished cries. As the light in the chamber changed to pale blue, and the field started to build, she recited one final prayer.

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord…”

Before she finished, SusAn held her.

1 comment:

Sara Harricharan said...

What a beautiful piece. It's really bittersweet and captures an excellent feel for this--I can't remember what you posted two years ago, but this fits this weekend just perfectly. To end it with such an emotional wallop--kudos. Love it! (and thanks for hosting this week!) ^_^