Part 4: The Black

Prologue:

                When one is deep in space, far from any star, all one sees is black. Everywhere one looks, every direction you turn, it is simply black. No way of knowing where one is, no way of knowing where one has been, and no way of knowing where one is going. At times like this, one has to pray that they are heading in the right direction, because no one wants to get lost in the Black.


 

Chapter 18: Wake Up

                The ringing brought Saul out of a troubled sleep; the nightmares still hadn’t left after two years of counseling. He couldn’t remember the last time he had slept through the night without seeing her beautiful, brown eyes.

                Saul sighed and reached for the alarm. His arm felt like it was dead; it wouldn’t move. The ringing didn’t stop.  Saul blinked his eyes, and for a moment nearly screamed. Then he remembered where he was. He was floating in a cryo-stasis unit on a spaceship that was flying through space.

                The alarm was blaring in his ears, louder now and more intense. He could feel the liquid around him draining slowly, so he assumed it was just the alarm bringing him out of stasis. He was wrong.

                When the pod finally opened, he stepped out into the corridor and was surprised to find himself actually walking on the ground. The ship had an artificial gravity; he should have asked about that. The alarm was still ringing, so Saul looked around for the source. What he saw gave him chills.

                Something had gone wrong with Emmy’s pod. Saul could see Emmy struggling against the hard Plexiglas casing. Her breathing unit must have come off and she had woken up fully submerged in the container’s thick liquid. Emmy was drowning.

                Saul rushed to the container and tried to open it as Emmy pounded her fists against the glass. The pod’s controls were not responding, clearly the problem went far beyond the mask falling off.

                Just as Saul was about to give up hope, he heard a voice from behind him yell.

                “Move!”

                Saul moved just as a large ax smashed into the glass merely inches from his face. The glass cracked, and then shattered to pieces. The liquid rushed out, along with Emmy’s motionless body. Saul feared they were too late.

                Saul crouched over Emmy’s body and felt for a pulse. It was faint, but it was there. He could save her. Saul rushed to perform CPR on her, and after two tries, Emmy suddenly coughed up a lungful of the viscous liquid. She continued to cough, and Saul was relieved to see that she was ok.

                The voice from behind him spoke again.

                “We have a bigger problem.”

                Saul turned to see Johnson standing behind him, who continued.

                “We were hit by a meteorite during transit. I don’t believe it knocked us off course, but it did wipe out some of our computer systems.”

                “Like what?”

                “Like our communication satellite and our manual controls. Luckily the autopilot remained intact, and that will carry us to our planned destination as long as no other surprises interfere.”

                “So we have no way to contact Earth?”

                “Come see for yourself.”

                Saul saw another pod open, and Jaiden Long stumbled out. He was breathing heavily, but he seemed to be alright. When Jaiden saw the other two men watching him, he quickly cleared his throat and snapped at them.

                “What are you looking at?”

                Saul felt rather than saw D’Artagnan’s presence, and KC was quick to join them. After making sure everyone was ok, Saul had D’Artagnan carry Emmy to her room to let her rest and recover from her incident. When D’Artagnan returned, the crew raced to the bridge to see the impact of the meteor. Saul hoped that Johnson was wrong.


 

Chapter 19: The Bridge

The bridge was a mess. Open circuits were sparking everywhere, the few lights that were intact were flickering on and off, and a whole bank of computers was totally destroyed. KC ran to the broken computers, but she sighed as she confirmed Johnson’s observations.

“He’s right. It took out the entire communications grid along with our manual steering.”

“So what are you saying? We’re just a giant hunk of metal flying through space dead?”

“No, the life support systems and the autopilot survived, along with our engines. Considering the impact of a meteorite, we’re lucky the hull is intact and we’re not all floating in space.”

Saul saw one of the broken monitors flicker and stared at it as KC continued. Something seemed strange.

“Truth be told, I have no idea how we survived that impact or kept our course. At the speed we are travelling, even the slightest impact should cause us to drastically alter our trajectory.”

As Saul stared at the monitor, he could swear that he saw the pale feminine face flicker across the monitor. Saul turned to see if anyone else had noticed, but everyone was focused on KC. Everyone except Jaiden. Jaiden was staring at the monitor, a look of pure horror distorting his features.

Before Saul could say anything, Jaiden was quick to stammer out something.

“I’m going to go to my room and lie down. Catch you suckers later.”

He turned and quickly left the room. Johnson sighed and spoke up.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Jaiden has a good idea. We are all tired and worn out after our trip, perhaps it’d be best for us to rest and meet back here in a few hours.

Everyone agreed, and went their separate ways. Saul and D’Artagnan walked towards their rooms as Johnson stopped to look at the carnage of the bridge. Saul watched Johnson as he stared at his watch before leaving by another door.

When Saul and D’Artagnan reached their quarters, they saw that Jaiden’s door was open a crack. From there, they could just see Jaiden sitting on his bed. Saul saw Jaiden take a small container from a pocket and take out a small white pill. Saul and D’Artagnan watched Jaiden swallow the pill and lie back on the bed, and then they walked towards their rooms. Before they parted, they turned and looked at each other. Saul knew this couldn’t be good, but the crew had more to worry about right now than Jaiden taking pills, so they would keep silent for now.


 

Chapter 20: Sinners and Saints

Saul couldn’t sleep. Perhaps that was because he had just slept for nearly two years. Perhaps it was due to the recent unexpected events that had somewhat altered their mission. Perhaps it was simply that he didn’t want to dream about her again.

Saul got up and started to walk the halls. He was tired, very tired, but possibly he could walk it off. As he walked, Saul was surprised at how small the ship truly was on the inside. He walked to the women’s quarters to check on Emmy; she had really scared him. Saul liked Emmy; something in her reminded him of Rachel.

When he got to Emmy’s room, he found the door open. Emmy was asleep in bed, and KC was there comforting her. He could see Emmy was having a bad dream, and KC was holding her tenderly, whispering to her. No, not whispering, singing. Saul could hear KC softly singing a lullaby to her. He could just barely make out the words.

“When the sun has set and skies are grey

“When the moon has swept the clouds away

“When the stars are left to wait the day

“Hear my lullaby

“When the sky is dark and rain drops fall

“When thunder barks and shadows crawl

“When lightning sparks and lights the wall

“Hear my lullaby for Emmeline

Saul could feel a tear start to roll down his cheek as KC continued

“Don’t be scared of what night may bring

“Just hear me sing your lullaby

“Do not cry, hear my lullaby

“For Emmeline, my love”

When KC finished, she kissed Emmy lightly on the cheek and got up. When she saw Saul, she put her finger to her slips and motioned to the hallway. After KC had left Emmy’s room and closed the door behind her, Saul asked her a question.

“Where did you learn that?”

“My mother sang it to me a long time ago. I just figured Emmy might like it. She had a rough day.”

“That was very nice of you.”

“Emmy is a really nice girl, she just has a lot going on and she can’t see how nice she is.”

“Isn’t that true for all of us?”

“Perhaps. What are you up to?”

“Couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d check on her, make sure everything was ok.”

“That was very sweet of you.”

“I like her. There’s something about her that reminds me of…someone I used to care about.”

“Well I’m going to try to get some rest. It sounds funny, being tired after sleeping for two years.”

“I understand. Best of luck, and sweet dreams.”

“Thank you.”

KC looked at Saul, as if she was going to say something more, but changed her mind. She simply smiled and went to her room. Saul continued walking around the ship.

As Saul approached the bridge, he could hear the sound of metal against metal and someone very angry. Saul slowly and quietly stuck his head through the doorway to see who it was. It was Johnson. He was working with some of the broken computers, and Saul gathered from the flow of swears that whatever he was doing wasn’t working. Saul was surprised to find that he couldn’t understand some of what Johnson was mumbling; it felt like another language.

Saul left before Johnson could notice him. Saul wondered what Johnson had been trying to do. It looked like he had been working on the communications equipment. It made sense that their government liaison would be upset about not being able to contact his people. After all, what else was he here for?

Saul returned to his room, finally tired enough to sleep. As he got into his bed, he wondered whether he would wake up to find the ship had been hit again, for that matter, he wasn’t even sure if he would wake up. Saul sank into a trouble sleep, too worried and confused to dream. The ship continued onwards deeper into the Black.

The End

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