When your eyes open in your house, all things light up and become active. It seems your whole house sleeps when you are gone or when you sleep, and is only awake when you are in its presence, if it could be said your house HAS a presence. Caleb Angus' eyes flipped open like shutters to the sounds of coffee that just started to boil and the distant sound of an excited person vaguely heard from the screen.
"Good morning, Caleb, would you like to hear what the man on the screen is saying?" the A.I. always had too much of a peppy attitude. Always.
"I'm not even awake yet." the large man muttered and dragged his way towards the kitchen, a belly dragging over the loose slacks.
"That is quite alright, sir, I've got your coffee perking and your breakfast is warm in the heater." The cheerful artificial voice did not wait for him to respond before asking, "would you like cream and sugar in your coffee?" Even in this day and age, everybody still likes to be called sir. You have to be better than somebody.
Colors blinded Angus' face as he appeared in the doorway of his kitchen. When his eyes got accustomed to the light he finally was able to look up. A glass screen showed a politican, the disembodied voice he had heard from his bed. His wide, bearded face showed no emotion as he rubbed his eyes. The fan started to turn in sync with the constant jabber of the A.I, the less you talked the more your A.I. did. His head pounded with a hurt from the last night, or a couple nights, he wasn't sure. The man felt still asleep, yet conscious. A waking dream, his every day life. To this this man there was no difference. The artificial voice, which sounded like every weatherman in the existence of the news, started to repeat itself.
The man snapped for it to turn off, alarmed by his voice. The fan stopped instantly and all lights but the kitchen one turned off. The politician that was heard on the screen dissolved into the glass screen and now all Angus stared at in the doorway was himself. He gazed into his reflection, his overweight, dissolved self. Behind him there was a backdrop of San Diego, emblazoned in an everlasting inferno of yellow lights.
Angus slapped his head when he awoke. Again, the same dream. AGAIN. Why couldn't the recurring dream been of the first day on the probe, not the last day on Earth. "I wouldn't even call it a dream," were the first thoughts that roared through his newly awakened mind, "more like a nightmare." He groaned and pulled himself out of his twin cot bolted to the wall. Black hair stuck up in some spots and was deflated in others, restlessness cursed his eyes with a perpetual sullen look. His gray-brown slacks dragged across the floor to the bathroom, he reopened the door a few minutes later and walked back to his cot to lay down. Plopping on his back, he closed his eyes again.
"What are you doing up so soon?" A rough, slurred voice called from the other side of the room. Angus peered at the three chairs that pointed towards the one window of their ship. One was inhabited. Crowley was an older man, gray and wrinkled by age. Even so, he was full of wisdom and a hell of an engineer/mechanic.
"Why," Angus groaned again as he lifted himself up to a seated position, "what time is it?"
A cracked smile appeared on the old man's face, "Dark, I reckon, by the looks of things." He paused to light a thin cigarette, "It's always dark, that's why I can't ever sleep any. There is no such thing as time out here boy, you should know that."
"I guess you're right, old habits I suppose." He stared at Crowley, something about him reminded Angus of the ancient dramas he used to watch all the time on Earth, "Red October" or something along those lines, he couldn't think. "Get me a drink, Crowley."
When they sent out the probes, they stoked them with as much liquor and drugs as they did food, because if there is one thing that'll keep a person sane in the face of complete hopelessness, it was drugs. Crowley muttered something sarcastic as he headed towards the counters that housed the liquor. As far back as you could reach and as far as you could spread your arms bottle after bottle were placed. This didn't even account for the same size drawer next to this one, which housed all the other drugs, most of which Angus & Crowley both avoided, on their good days.
The old man pulled out a 5th of Southern Comfort, laid a generous amount in two tin cups, and threw a couple of ice cubes in each. He wheeled himself around a took a couple steps before handing the container to Caleb, who quickly swigged some down. Crowley, on the other hand, held his hand high in the air, "To the saviors, the heroes and the visionaries."
"And the damned." Angus finished, Crowley smiled and sipped his cup. The younger man knew exactly what he was talking about. He remembered the slogan as clear as he remembered his blue sky. On account of overpopulation, lack of oxygen, and a lack of self-sustaining suitable colonies in the solar system, all the Earth's governments held meeting and decided a draft was the best way to handle all their problems at once. The poor, to whom Angus was included at the time, called it the Anti-Lottery. Just about everyone loses, but a handful wins, just like the lottery. Of course, all the governments had assured everyone it was equal chances for all. It was just a coincidence that every single person out of the two billion drafted were under the poverty line. The slogan Crowley repeated so sarcastically was what they screamed for months on end so you actually had a sense of patriotism for what you were doing. "Blind leading the blind," Angus considered in his thoughts, "should of known better."
"You boys are sure starting early," Joy stepped out from the bathroom nearby and stared at the men drinking. Skinny, redheaded. A girl that was usually cheerful, but someone who could turn instantly spiteful when you pissed her off. Angus knew.
"Starting late." Crowley corrected her with a small smirk, "there is no such thing as early in space, me and my friend, Angus, were just speaking of these matters." His wide, yellow grin stretched across his speckled white and black beard. His grey eyes disappeared under wrinkles.
"Early, late, it's all the same time, you both just got out of bed, don't you have chores to do or at least something?" The girl looked around the main living area, dust scattered everything, the three chairs that stared out into blackness were covered in both cigarette burns and spilled drink stains. Even if you weren't an alcoholic when you left Earth, something out here turned you into one. An enjoyable death maybe, lost memories, who knows. Each person out here on one of these ships carried an entire soul full of ghosts. Drinking was a good escape, an easy way to break the monotony of the day. This is what passed through Joy's mind shortly before speaking, "Ah, fuck it, Crowley, pour me one." Joy looked dishearted as she fell into a chair.
"Now, now, little lady." Crowley headed again over to the bar after picking up Angus' empty cup, "That's no way for a woman to speak." The old man perpetual smile was lit up as he poured them each a new glass of the same drink.
"Shut up." Her response was little more than habit. She took the glass and with a visible effort let some of the liquid disappear.
Angus was still half-asleep on his cot but when the old man held out his drink some unknown power reached out and held it up. "To the saviors, the heroes and the visionaries." He said with half-closed eyes, "And the damned." He mumbled as the darkness took hold. His dreams remained black for the rest of his sleep.