Joy spent the majority of her time the next couple weeks flipping through the giant pictures of the next Sol. Two gas giants floated in rapid succession very near the sun, which was slightly larger than the Earthen sun. One gas giant was vibrant orange and the other held swirls of blue and white. They circled like giant broken pupils searching forever in succession.
No real name existed for the Sol and its planets, but every time she saw these gas giants on the screen it reminded her of her childhood dog, Bart. A overgrown husky with two different colored eyes, one auburn, one blue. She now had a habit of referring to the Sol as the Husky System for that very reason. The planet itself they were headed to was nothing special from the eight others they've passed through the years. A vague look at the atmospheric compounds and a blue-green aura shone on the screen. The orb floated fourth from the sun, including the gas giants.
'Those orbs in space, what are they searching for? Or, for that matter, what am I searching for? Why here, in this ship, is it accident or chance or fate-dwelling demons?' Her mind raced around in circles. Angus had fallen asleep on his cot, tossing and turning at fits of some bad dream. Crowley was passed out beside her, his stubbled chin lifting up off his chest with each breath.
'It's hard to see someone that bad off,' Joy thought glancing around the room that fed on their silence, 'but we're all in the same ship. We're all that bad off. No more stars to stare up at, only out at, and only sometimes at that. No more new faces to meet for the rest of your life. This is death. Nothing new. Alive and Death intermingled. This was petrification.' When she was in school she turned to words like these to explain her life. New words, archaic words, words dead and gone and forgotten but somehow important to her. Sticking like adhesive and ready to use at any rightful opportunity. Petrification was the act of organic material that turns to stone forever encasing it. She used it spiritually, to stop all growth inside and cycle on like the machine that encased her.
'Am I even human any more, really human? I can't create, I can't change my surrounding, I seemingly can't love, what's happening and what's it all mean?' She never noticed the tears that came down in streams and streams as she blankly stared into the two twirling orbs dancing in their third dimensional representation. 'It's sure a hard pill to swallow,' wiping at under her eyes with her long shirt sleeves, 'with no good benefits, a pill with nothing but side-effects, a placebo with a stomach ache.' She missed Bart, she missed those open nights on the West Texas nothing where she lived. She missed the Portland coasts and the mist and the rain.
Shock came when the only light, what Crowley referred to as the oversized bug-zapper, changed abruptly from that dull blue to bright red. No sound accompanied that light change. Paced at second intervals, it blinked rapidly, leaving the feeling of being too fucked up at a rave. Joy nearly jumped to her feet, still wiping at her tears with anger, as if she didn't know what caused them. Angus remained unchanged, his head covered blissfully by a small blanket. Crowley spit up some saliva onto his shirt, a small spot forming, but otherwise remained in hunched sleep. She knew what that meant. It had almost been three weeks since the last message, they must be pretty far away. Another person, someone different, right when all those desolate thoughts broke through her mind. It's enough to make one believe in fate, with times like that, but her focus remained on recording the message and less about the metaphysical things that paced her sunken mind on a daily basis. The glass screen also shined red, ready for the hand motion to send the newly received message into action. She walked over to the large screen that stretched around her like a half-moon on its side. Joy turned down the brightness, as if not to wake the nearly comatosed ship-mates, and switched on the machine.
A brief 'whir' was heard underneath her in the bowels of the ship and the screen was lit up with a broad white line through the middle of it, which jumped up and down in the middle in unison with the incoming voice. It was not a video message, but a new acquaintance heard through a sound message was better than nobody.
"Captain Crowley," All voices sounded the same coming through the screen, they had all noticed this after a few of the first messages. The S.I.T.I did all translating underneath in the hardware and just spit out the words like they were nothing like they all had the same disembodied voice, a half broken sound of someone reciting a dictionary word for word and then placed together with no editing or sound fitting. The voice often came through with each word in a different pitch. Joy had joked earlier in their flight that it would of been easier to just learn their native language rather than try to decipher what came through the screen.
"This is Escobar Weeks residing here in Probe 42xya. It is nice to hear someone is out here, it's been years since I've heard a voice. Let us try to keep in contact as much as possible, it would be great to meet another soul out here." The human-less voice paused for a moment, then continued, "It is just me and my wife on the probe now, we had a third member, Richie, Richie Stevenson, great guy. He just up and died of a hard attack about half a year ago now, and we let him go off into space. We're doing fine now though, and look forward to your next message. Tell us about yourselves, your hopes and wishes. It gets really lonely out here sometimes and it is good to know someone still resides under God's watch. We'll leave you in peace now, please return a message and God Bless."