SUNSET


This is an idea I got after I heard about the discovery of Gliese_581_g, a planet that could possible hold life. This was previously posted in two blog entries and hopefully I will get it ready in time for the next L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest . Hope you enjoy it. Comments welcome and any other thoughts. Thanks.

SUNSET

Tuesday, April 25th, 2519: 1300 hrs.

Hey Pops, thought I’d send you this little run down of my day, hope you enjoy it.
For the past month, I and the other twenty-four crew members of the exploration ship Vogt have been in the Sim-chamber so our systems can get use to the space travel we will be doing for the next twenty years.
It will really seem like about six months since we will spend most of the time asleep. Each member of the crew will spend a month awake doing all the random stuff, what I like to call ‘grunt work’, that goes on around a ship. General maintenance and making sure we are not off course.
Well to continue, today is the day we get to head off for Gliese 581g, or more loving revered to as Sunset. When the first probe landed there it found a spot almost on the line where the day/night break is. Sunset happens all year round, and a beautiful one too.
At 0600 hours they moved us from the chamber and down a long corridor where we could look above a sea of humans. I felt like I was on display at one of those old fashioned zoos Grandpa kept telling us about. Thousands of people came to see us off and wish us good luck. I couldn’t make out anyone specific, but I knew you would be there.
The sealed pleztube stretched out about forty feet between the building and the shuttle that would take us to the ship, fifty feet above the maddening crowd. We stood in the middle of the tube and waved to the peeps down there, just because we were told to. We knew we would never see anyone again, unless someone cured aging. They have practically cured everything else – even cancer. Our life spans have doubled, once we could only live to around 70 to 75, now most women live till they are 150, most men only last till they are 130.
Even with the excitement of being the first manned ship to leave the solar system – it was still a little scary – body numbing and stimulating at the same time. I saw the mix of emotions running through my crewmembers faces, fear, happiness, concern and wonder. Jim was showing no expression at all as we fastened ourselves into the seats on the shuttle.
Oh, I never told you about Jim. Well dad – your daughter has a new boyfriend, it isn’t really anything serious – but he is awesome at almost everything he does. The crew is split up evenly – 12 men, 12 women. The 25th is an android – his duty is to walk the ship encase there is an emergency on board that the two crewmembers need help with while everyone else is asleep. We call him Wesley. One of the many things he can do is hook into the ships computer to do a system check. This comes in very handy if we have any issues.
Any way – I don’t have much time to finish this little note so I may have to talk fast. My sleep cycle starts in 10 minutes.
Once planted firmly on the shuttle we lifted off without any problems and circled the giant ship Vogt once before entering the massive belly that serves as the cargo hold. The ship isn’t really that much – the news services are making more of a big deal than they need to about it. Most of the bulk of the ship is the AFTL drive (we cal it the Almost Faster Then Light-drive); it takes up at least 60% of the ship. Wesley has all the specs and owner manuals in case there is a flat tire or something, and I gave him your message – “You better not run out of gas.” Remind me never to tease an android. Everyone has read the manuals at least twice. (In my opinion they are pretty dry for reading materials, but at least we know how to fix it if it breaks.)
Connected to the engineering section is the container that has all the sleep chambers in it, twenty four in all – each scheduled in 12 month cycles, waking two crewmen – male and female – for a month at a time.
Before they put us in there, they shaved all our body hair – even if only one day passes for us, our hair will still grow at the regular rate. Basically we sleep for a year, wake up for a month and then go back to sleep – so only 20 months will go by for us, but you won’t hear from me for a year.
You will only have to imagine your little baby girl bald – I ain’t sending you a picture.
I’m really looking forward to this and please tell everyone I will miss them.
I’m falling asleep now – catch you later.

Love you all,
LT Commander Tia Bourbon
ESS VOGT

…message sent…

Wednesday, January 30th, 2520: 1950 hrs.

I’ve been really busy since I woke up on the first of the month, or I would have sent this earlier. Once the capsule opened it took me thirty minutes to fully wake up. During our training, they told us we wouldn’t dream. They were wrong. I still remember some of it, flashes of pictures, like watching an old disc out of the 21st century. Scratched and pitted with only the occasional clear picture. One is the vista of a dangerous looking alien landscape, charred and broken, blanketed with a cloudy reddish orange sky. Could this be Sunset, or just something my imagination came up with? Another scene is a bloody reminder of human nature,
I’m still trying to make since of it.
Any way, they only wake us for a month at a time, I think I mentioned that, and that month is spent checking up on ship systems, making sure everything is still working like it should.
Jim and I spend about an hour each night getting acquainted again, even if it feels like yesterday we still missed each other.
The pair before us, and all the others, did a pretty decent job keeping the ship in good order. Nothing much happened out of the ordinary this month. Thirty days floating at the speed of light with only one man as company, there wasn’t much we could do except get caught up on what’s happening back home and each other.
As to our android, Wesley, he spends most of the time walking the ship – if he finds anything at all, he is supposed to tell us, this happens occasionally.
Nothing unusual in our sightseeing duties, we did see a few solar systems that may have a habitual world if Sunset doesn’t pan out like we are hoping.
There was one strange thing; our sensors noticed something off our stern, port side, which seemed to be matching us for speed and trajectory.
I ordered Wes outside to check it out – after spending almost three hours tethered to the ship he came in and said it must have been a shadow of our ship. “A glitch in the sensors,” he said. I didn’t think androids believed in glitches. But I suppose it could have been a shadow of our selves.
Since we are the first humans to travel at light speed, no one really knows what we will experience. That does seem a little scary now that I think about it.
Yesterday we woke two Lieutenants, Dona Tussey and Ted Rathburn. They will keep an eye on the “shadow” as we continue our journey.
Guess I will write again as soon as I can, which should be in about a year.
Night Dad, Miss you.
TB

….message sent….

Friday, February 28th, 2521; 1845 hrs

Wow, some people are just consumed with lazyness. The first part of my letter to you this month is a rant, in case you haven’t noticed that yet.
Before I start I must say I am glad you took another injection, now I know I will see you when I get home.

Anyway, the rule is, you wait for your relief to fully come out of sleep so you can pass off any information on anything that happened the past year or more. Well the Singlers, the only two married people we have on board, Tania and Darryl, decided it would be funny if they disabled Wesley and lock him in an airlock, keeping the outer door open. It took a whole day to find him. I’ll tell you, some people never grow up. And they are 34 years old. To add to the insanity they caused, they didn’t check any ship systems and returned to their sleep chamber two days before we were scheduled to get out. Because they didn’t do their job, we went off course by half a light year – so it will take a little while longer to get to Sunset than we thought we had planned.
This is the not the first time I’ve had trouble with these two, sometimes I wonder how they made it this far. They didn’t even bother to clean up after themselves, the galley was a total mess, even the self cleaning sinks and counter tops were cruddy. Those two were this close to getting disconnected, but after a message burst to mission control, it was suggested that we pass on them the next time their turn to defrost comes up.

Once we got Wesley back in the ship, it took two weeks to defrost, recharged and reprogram him. During that time James and I switched off for twelve hour shifts. That put both of us in a bad mood, but we hung in there until it was time to wake the next ones.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Our shadow is still with us. Wesley and James still think it is only a figment of our own ship. The Science Officer, Wade, and I think it is something else, maybe like a space traveling creature living off our exhaust. Well that is what I told the Captain, and he just laughed. I want to thank you dad for making me watch all those Start Trek space operas.

…message sent…

Saturday, March 31st, 2522; 2046 hrs

Hey Pop’s, yeah, it’s me again. I’ll tell you, this sleeping a month at a time is something I could get use to, but my body can’t. I am so hungry I feel like a ravenous monster when I get up. We woke on the first of the month, everything appeared normal, like it was supposed to, that thing that was following us is gone, if it was following us. It seems a lot colder now than it did the last time we were awake. I wonder if that is my imagination or if it really is colder. Wesley claims it is the recommended temperature and always has been.

Hey, guess what, we had to come to a full stop at the beginning of the week because one of our hull plates was loose. It was real fun walking in space to repair it. I felt like a slug on steroids because of the excitement of the moment and the slowness of my moving. It took three days to get this monster back up to full speed, so we are about a week behind schedule.
As to the Singlers, they behaved last time they were out, even waited for their reliefs to fully awaken. I am so glad they learned their lesson.

…message sent…

Sunday, April 4th, 2523 0700 hrs

Happy Easter Pops! I know they did away with that holiday once Christianity was over thrown for the more peaceful regime. I was reading some old history books I found packed away and found out about this one. I still can’t figure out how the rising of a profit would bring about the arrival of a huge rabbit that gave away snacks that were bad for you. I suppose we brought the books with us to share with any intelligent life form we find. I hope they can read English, or even read at all.
One thing I really shouldn’t tell you about – but don’t worry – I am sure it is just a fluke. We can’t get any readings from our aft sensors. It’s more like a blind spot, and one you can’t crane your neck around to see. There is one little spot where you can look down and watch the area. Unfortunately it is at the rear of the ship and closer to the engine housings. The heat is unbearable for a human – but perfect for an android. If you guessed that we threw Wesley back there to fix the issue – you would be right. The problem is he was sent back there six months ago, and we haven’t heard from him. Jim tried to go back and find him, but we must have been hit by a small piece of space dust because the only way back there is sealed. Whenever our hull is injured the bulk plates come down, cutting off that section, so the whole ship won’t lose any air.
If I could only get a visual of the area, I would be able to tell if it’s okay. Since we are behind schedule as it is, Jim isn’t stopping the ship. There has got to be another way back there. Or so he says.

…message sent…

Thursday, April 29th, 2523 1805 hrs

Okay, now I am starting to worry. Jim went back to double check the area that Wesley is stuck in. We still have not heard from him at all. He’s been gone three days without a word and it’s time to wake the other team. I will have to go into my sleep chamber not knowing if the Captain and my one true love are safe.
I am dreading waking up again, scared of what I might find out.

…message sent…

…message received…

Wednesday, November 17th, 2523

Tia, I wanted to tell you that I look forward to your letters more and more every day. However, I have some bad news. Please remember I will love you always and I will be here when you return or the next ship comes to take me off this overcrowded ball of rock. I had no problem at my rejuvenation last week; however your mother wasn’t so lucky. Somehow the infernal machine went crazy and fried her brain. I know this is a horrible way to find out you lost your mother. I wish I was there to grief with you, but I hope that Jim is okay and helps you in your time of need. I will be here when you get back.
Your loving father,
Admiral Jackson Bourbon (Ret)

…message sent…
Monday, May 1st, 2524 0600 hrs

Dad, I am so sorry I wasn’t there when mom died. They just woke me up and this was the first thing I saw. I think Jim has been up for a while, his chamber is empty. I am sending this against regs, so I have to stop here and catch up with you again at the end of the month,
With all my love; Tia.

…message sent…
Monday, May 29th, 2524 2345 hrs

I can’t stay up any longer. I have to sleep. Jim was nowhere to be found on the entire ship. The crews before me claimed they thought he was in his chamber. But his chamber is empty. I found out, by back reading the logs for the past year, that he never returned from the stern of the ship when he went in search of Wesley. I have tried desperately to wake up the new Captain, Sean Jacksen, but with no luck. I have combed every part of this ship for Jim, and have not found him. Even the sensors are not registering him anywhere. He is either dead or trapped in the stern section of the ship with Wesley. My own reserves are low, so I am abandoning my search. I have been the only one awake for the entire month and Captain Jacksen is not scheduled to awaken until September of this year. I left him a note and contacted Mission Control, but haven’t heard back from either.
I’m waking the other crew at the moment so I’ll check back in a year.
(By the way, this place is scary when you’re the only one awake. You can hear every creak and grown this vessel makes. It’s enough to send chills up your spine.)
Love ya, Tia

…message sent…
Sunday, June 17th, 2525

You’ll love this, on the first of the month I woke to the sound of a scratchy song from the 21st century called “In the year 2525.” It was appropriate. Mission Control programmed that song to go off every time someone wakes up this year.
Well, my new team mate this month is Capt. Sean Jacksen. Even after spending a month with this guy – and I knew him during the training back on Earth too – I have come to the conclusion that he is very insane. If I had the guts I would relieve him of duty, which I can do. His true colors came out the second day we were awake when I found him in the command chair wearing see through boxers. When I asked him to put some clothes on he reluctantly agreed.
I know it gets hot on board this vessel, worse when our trajectory brings us too close to a star, but that is no reason for behavior like that.
The next few weeks were loaded with all kinds of questions, usually the same one repeated to the point of driving me mad. Plus he was treating me like a slave, asking me to wait on him hand and foot.
By the time I thought he was really insane, he ordered me to over ride the bulkhead doors that prevented us from going into the damaged part of the ship. I knew if I did that chances were I would not come back. I refused and he put me on disciplinary action. Using the force field generator he rigged a shield that prevented me from exiting my cabin.
He just called me on the intercom a few minutes ago and told me I was going to be put to sleep early. I think he is here now to…got to go.

…message intercepted….
…message sent….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: