It was as though the air got thicker with Asher’s words. I could feel the interior of my clothing start to get uncomfortable from the thin layer of sweat that now coated my whole body. I turned my attention back to the cryo pods. I tapped on my handheld scanner and reviewed the data. They were starting to rouse.
“Can we move them?” Emeric asked.
“No,” I said with an exaggerated exhale. “As much as I’d love to be back on the LD, it would be hazardous to move them at this point. They have been in long term cryosleep, we need to treat them as gently as possible.”
Emeric nodded, his lips pursed tight and his eyebrows scrunched together.
“Think of it like a person who had done a deep sea dive being pulled to the surface. If you do it too quickly, then they’ll die from the pressure change.”
“Yeah,” Emeric said, “I get it.” He turned his attention back to the console in front of him.
“These pods are not only waking them up, but also helping move their vitals to a more regular level. They will likely need to stay in them for a little while even after they wake up so they can reach their optimal health.”
“Okay,” Emeric said. I could hear the exasperation in his voice, but I said it all just as much for my own benefit as for his. Concentrating on the crew of the Raven reduced my anxiety about being on this ship.
The male began to shake. His legs and arms were twitching slightly, and a panicked look was stretched across his face.
I grabbed his shoulder tightly, hoping that he could feel me there, but as I did, he started shaking more. The twitching grew more violent, and sporadic, until it looked like he’d find a way to propel himself from his pod.
“I could use some help here,” I said.
Asher looked at me, his head tilted.
“I need someone to help me pin this guy to his pod.”
“You want my help for that?” Asher said pointing at his chest while floating effortlessly near the door to the engine room.
Emeric almost slammed into me as he flew into the pod. He set his knees on either side of the man’s chest in the cryo pod, and grabbed ahold of the pod walls, effectively immobilizing the still shaking and wincing man.
“Shouldn’t we give him a stim?” Emeric said.
“I don’t think that’s wise. I have no idea how that would affect him.”
“Well, I think I’m going to head back to our ship.” Asher said while trying to hide a shy grin.
“You’ll do no such thing! Get over here and help Anaya. I have to go over their computer system,” Emeric said.
I looked at the female, lying quietly and still in her pod. She was just as far along in the process to be awakened, but looked like she was comfortably sleeping. I wondered what she was feeling, and why there was such a stark difference between her and her crewmate.
Emeric dismounted the young man, and floated off back towards the Raven’s bridge while Asher begrudgingly slid along side the cryo pods and placed one hand on the chest of the still quivering man, trying to hold him in place with very little leverage.
“It looks like I found some logs here.” Emeric said, his tone much lighter.
I pushed myself over towards him and looked over his shoulder at the screen. There was a woman’s face there. Her cheeks were a little more plump, and her skin a healthier pink, but I could tell it was the woman from the cryopod.
“This is Willow Smith. I am one of the two occupants of the Raven. A spacecraft sent out by Orbit Excel. Today is -” Willow sighed, her eyes searched around the cabin for a moment then returned to the screen. “Well, actually I don’t know the date, not that it really matters. The system logs tell me that it is six months into our twenty year journey to one light year from Earth. I was woken by the automated revival system about an hour ago because the ration storage system was having a minor issue. Left unchecked, it would have meant not having any fruit or vegetables. It wasn’t enough to require me to scrub the mission. I just cannibalized some components from the power distribution system for the secondary display consoles. Not like we will ever need more than one or two screens to manage this ship.”
After a few moments of watching her explain, Emeric closed the recording and opened the next.
“This is Willow Smith,” she began again. Her mousey brown hair was floating loosely around her face, and her eyes had bags under them. “We are now one year two months and four days into our journey and I have spent the last twenty hours repairing the solar sails. Instead of aligning them correctly for maximum power and speed, the computer wanted to keep spinning them around and around.” As she spoke she twirled her fingers miming the sails. She took a deep breath and let it out. “I really hope I don’t have twenty more years of this crap.”
Emeric scrolled through the logs and picked one about half of the way through the list. He turned and glanced at me before clicking on it to play. His eyes seemed sad, and I sensed he felt the same thing I did: pity.
“It’s Willow.” Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, her cheeks noticeably sunken. The video was different. The ship was completely dark behind her, and only the lights from the display screen were illuminating her face. “I’m awake. Again. Almighty Skyler is snoozing away blissfully unaware of how close to death we are out here. We are eleven years five months and two days into this… Well, it’s barely a mission if you ask me. Hurled out into space in a… Oh, what does it matter. I’m only keeping these recordings for some semblance of sanity. If anyone is watching this, don’t you have something more important to be doing?” There was a break in the recording, but after no more than a second her image reappeared. “Anyways, I had the longest stint of cryosleep yet on this trip. Eight whole months!” She smiled, but it did not seem filled with joy. “And, well, I have had to get creative. The life support system was failing, it wasn’t getting enough energy. Corrosion.” She rubbed her hand across her brow. “I had to disable the inbound communications relay. Not that it matters, I think pretty much everyone on Earth has forgotten about us anyway.”
“By the looks of these logs,” Emeric said, scrolling up and down the list, “I’m guessing she’s probably spent about three of the last twenty years awake.” His tone was one of awe, and maybe a note of sadness mixed in.
“Can you imagine…” I said, and my voice trailed off. I didn’t want to imagine spending even a few moments alone on the Raven. But with her crewmate, Skyler, in cryosleep that was what Willow had done. My heart broke for her, but I admired her resilience.
“I gotta give her credit,” Asher said from his position holding Skyler in his pod. “It’s amazing she was able to overcome all those issues.”
“I thought you said this place was a death trap!” Emeric snapped.