Goodbye Sol – Page 14

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“I was up a bunch of times in the past twenty years,” Willow began explaining.
“Why does that matter?” Skyler asked.
I spent the next few minutes explaining to Skyler about long term cryo sleep. I was pretty sure most of what I said went over his head. I couldn’t help but yawn more than once as I filled him in. I repeated myself over and over again, trying to simplify the science behind it. I explained what we had found out on Earth, and answered and re-answered his repetitive and simplistic questions. It was exhausting. Finally, after five minutes, I felt like I had said everything I could, so I paused and hoped to see a lightbulb above his head, or a spark of understanding in his eyes. There was neither.
“Wait, why does any of that matter?” Skyler asked.
At first, I thought he was joking, but after a few moments, his head tilted slightly to one side.
“It doesn’t matter,” Willow interjected.
“Are you feeling better?” I said looking at Skyler.
“Yeah, I guess.” Skyler scratched his head. He started on one side, and much like a dog having its belly rubbed, a warm smile grew on his lips. He continued to scratch his own head with vigor. It was strange to witness.
Emeric walked back into the room, and raised an eyebrow at me. “So, how are our guests?” He asked.
“It’s a process,” I said with a tight smile.
Skyler stood up a little straighter and glared at Emeric. It was like watching two predator animals sizing each other up, and trying to assert their dominance.
Willow smiled at Emeric. “Thank you, um…” She paused as if waiting for someone to fill in the blank of his name.
“We usually just refer to him as captain,” I explained.
Willow nodded and smiled warmly. “Captain,” she said, “thank you for rescuing us from the Raven.”
Emeric nodded. “We’re going to have to discuss what happened to your ship.” His voice had taken on the authoritative tone he’d had the first time he spoke with Willow.
“Hey,” Skyler snapped, “What are you insinuating?” His voice raised at the end of the word and I wondered if he was unsure that he had the right word. “You think we broke the ship on purpose?”
Emeric shrugged. “Did you break the ship on purpose?”
“No.” Skyler folded his arms defensively. “This is my destiny and Willow needs this.”
“Are you kidding me?” Emeric said, turning his attention to Willow. His expression was incredulous.
Willow rolled her eyes.
“I can’t deal with this now.” Emeric turned to walk back toward the door to the bridge. He tapped on a display panel and the lights dimmed.
“What’s going on?” Willow asked.
I looked at Willow and then turned to Skyler. “We are heading to bed. If you guys would like, you can sleep in the bunks tonight, or your cryo pods. Whichever you think you’d be most comfortable in.”
I turned to see Asher wave in our general direction before disappearing down the stairs.
“I’d rather sleep in a bed,” Willow said.
“Is it a queen sized mattress?” Skyler remarked, his eyes fixated on me.
With an exasperated sigh, Emeric answered. “Follow me.” He swivelled on his heels and started towards the stairs.
I grabbed Skyler’s arm to try to support him, and he squirmed to try to slip away.
Willow followed quickly, only a few steps behind Emeric. Her gait was much more stable than it had been a few hours before.
Each of the metal stairs glowed slightly so that they weren’t a tripping hazard when the lights were dimmed for sleeping. While we didn’t necessarily need to save power, a more natural lighting schedule seemed to help our sleep cycles from becoming inconsistent.
Skyler tried to take his first step down the stairs, and stumbled slightly. Thankfully, I was right next to him, and quickly steadied him. He looked at me, embarrassed and angry.
“Are you okay?” I whispered.
Skyler only scowled and took another step. He was much more careful, but still very unsteady. He grabbed the handrail and continued down the stairs. I kept myself close, just in case he stumbled again.
Emeric and Willow were already at the back of the ship, near the entrance to the lower level of the engineering section. The open area they were standing in was our rec room, complete with a pool table in the center of the area. In the far corner was a makeshift library, and on the nearer wall were bunk beds.
“Here’s where you’ll be sleeping,” Emeric said as we approached.
“Looks much nicer than the cryo pods. Thank you. Would you rather the top or the bottom, Skyler?” Willow said pointing at the two single sized mattresses bolted to the wall on a metal frame. A small metal ladder at the foot of the bed lead up to the second bunk a few feet above the first.
Skyler stumbled backwards. I thought it was because he wasn’t confident on his feet until I noticed his expression. It looked as though we had told him he would have to sleep in a pile of garbage. His nose was visibly upturned at the prospect of sleeping in the bunks. “Where do you all sleep?” He said scanning the open area where the bunks were hung.
Before I had a chance to say anything, Emeric responded, his intonation getting more forceful with each word. “We sleep in our quarters. This ship wasn’t built to house five people for a sixteen year voyage. They only gave us what we would need to bring you home if you were alive. You are lucky they didn’t just expect you to sleep in your cryo pods the whole way home.”
“You guys have rooms?” Skyler squeaked. “And you expect me to sleep here for the rest of the trip?”
“You can sleep here or in your cryo pod,” Emeric replied. His voice was stern, but fairly monotone.
I could see Skyler breathing heavily. The lights weren’t bright enough to see details, but there was definitely a noticeable red shift in the colour of his face.
“I don’t think that’s fair at all. If you three all have rooms, we should rotate. That would be the most fair.”
“Skyler, leave these people alone. We are lucky they rescued us,” Willow interjected.
“I am not sleeping on this. He slammed his open hand into the metal frame of the upper bunk, and it reverberated. “We should put it to a vote. Who thinks we should rotate quarters to make things fair?”
Skyler was the only person to raise his hand, as the rest of us watched the awkward exchange continue. I wanted to just walk away from the situation and go to bed, but I felt to act would only draw the wrong kind of attention.
Emeric tapped a pouch on his belt. I hadn’t noticed it before. It was holding his weapon. It was a small electric probe that could temporarily stun and disable an attacker. It was standard issue, but not something we normally carried around.
“You can sleep in your bunk or your cryo pod. I don’t care which, but I won’t have you causing problems on this ship. Do you understand me?” Emeric looked at me. His expression was one of exasperation and frustration. It was like he was trying to psychically tell me to ‘control him’.

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