As I left the pool, I encountered a young man near the gym area of the ship. He spoke politely to me and introduced himself as Brad. It was a shame we couldn't talk longer but the door to the gym closed just as I called out my name.

The lunch bell quite startled me, I have to admit. It was so loud and at first I didn't realise what it meant. But then I saw everyone heading in the same direction so I followed and found a table had been set. The lunch was salad which, while tasting okay, wasn't very filling. I didn't really pluck up the courage to talk to anyone, eating in shy silence.

Afterwards I went to my little cabin and fetched a book. I intended to find out if the spaceship had a library or a quiet space where I could sit and read but I was distracted from this plan by a second encounter of Brad. He seemed to be chatting contentedly with the mechanic - Becky, was her name - making her laugh occasionally and so I went to join them. I figured it wouldn't be so hard to talk to people if there were two of them already conversing.

Brad and Becky were happy to let me join them and I introduced myself to the latter, nodding an acknowledgment to Brad because we already knew each other's names. Then they continued on a talk they seemed to be having about aliens. Becky said she hadn't once seen an alien and this wasn't her first time on a voyage through space but Brad speculated about scary monster aliens who probed you like they did in the movies or ate your vital organs and another species whose members were beautiful and whose women seduced men like some creatures I'd heard of in some Greek legend or other before either eating them or implanting some sort of device in their brain which controlled their mind. I didn't really have any ideas on what aliens could exist so lamely suggested that maybe zombies were aliens and had left the Earth to seek new planets to terrorise. As I had suspected it wouldn't, the idea didn't really go down well and we were left in an awkward silence. I remembered my earlier intentions and excused myself from the conversation, leaving the room with slightly flushed cheeks.

I found the perfect room to sit and read in - it was full of comfy armchairs and beanbags and bookshelves lined the wall. I sat in a soft black chair and forgot about the humiliating alien idea, opening the novel and losing myself in the story of a girl who finds an angel trapped on Earth and falls in love with him while trying to help him get back to Heaven.

I didn't know I'd fallen asleep until a hand touched my shoulder and I woke up to find the rest of the crew sitting on the floor starting the 30th century version of Monopoly. Becky noticed my movements and seemed startled.

"Oh, we didn't realise you were there, Sorrell. Would you like to play?"

"Sure," I replied, suppressing a yawn. I put my book on the arm of the chair and walked over to sit between her and Brad. I chose the robot dog for my piece and won the dice roll to choose the first player. It was quite fun to play a game with everyone, even if I still was too shy to say a lot to people.

After Becky won, Roxanne left to go and cook dinner, grumbling about a lack of ingredients or something, and I returned to reading my book in the armchair I had previously occupied. Becky and Brad left to go and do their own thing. I wasn't unhappy about being alone - in fact, the comforts of a habit made me feel like I might still be on Earth, which was much easier to swallow than knowing there were only the walls of the rocket between me and endless space. I retired comfortably that night (Was it night? When is day if you're constantly surrounded by stars?) and dreamt of playing Monopoly with Brad and Becky and Earth-trapped angels.

The End

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