Not a Creature Was Stirring

Terran floated down the empty main corridor—two kilometers long—occasionally bumping against the walls. He laughed as he flailed his arms. He laughed at the fat liquid bubbles in the air as he slurped them up. He laughed at his own ridiculous name. Terran. Ha!

He was drunk, but not unhappy. Alcohol was prohibited for on-duty crew, but it was a hard policy to police with only one crewmember awake at a time. Besides, there was nothing else to do. He’d smuggled the brandy aboard in a shampoo bottle, and the eggnog he’d made himself by scrounging odd ends from his month’s rations. His shift still had a week remaining; seemed like a lifetime.

The chronometer said it was Christmas back home—or back on Earth, rather. He caught another thick bubble in his mouth and shook the thought from his head. There were no memories worth dwelling on. Start fresh. Look forward.

Terran found himself in pod 18, L-Mi. He brushed his free hand along the rows of capsules full of sleeping passengers. They were all upside down. Or he was. Either way, it made him chuckle. It wasn’t a restful sleep they were in—he knew that—but the calm expressions they held brought him comfort. He longed to join them again. His pouch of eggnog was empty and he let it drift away. He wiped his face with both hands and looked into the passenger berth in front of him.

Ladew, Alaina E. How did he end up here again? He was more drunk than he thought he was.

Terran was suddenly in complete darkness and he heard a low metallic whine like the call of a tormented whale. The passenger capsules clacked against each other in response to the ship’s rattling. A uniform redness filled the pod as the emergency lighting kicked on.

Terran panicked. He needed help, and fast. But the crew capsules were on the other side of the ship, and he’d have a hell of a time explaining his current state. Shit! Before he fully registered what he was doing, Alaina’s capsule was rapid-warming. The lid opened, and she tumbled gently into the air, gasping and shivering.

“Terran? What’s going on?”

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