The voice and screen dissipated and the light returned to that barroom blue. Those last words were left like an arrow in Joy's chest. So much coincidence, thinking about Bart, then hearing those loony Jesus-freaks. 'To even imagine someone so much as thinks a being is watching them way fuckin' out here in the black.' Joy pondered, seated again, deflated by the blow of that disembodied voice on her tired mind, 'If us three are anywhere, we're far outside of God's peripherals.'
Maybe growing up with baptist parents scarred her, she had enough of that by the time she had left high school, let alone now in her new life. Joy just couldn't handle another preacher. Still staring, she was taken back to she could still see that barren desert sunset. Her meek father, eyes never ceasing to gaze cautiously, as if the entire world were out to eat him. Back when Bart's face wasn't something seen through planets, but actually seen and felt. Something tangible and real. Remembering calm nights under spotted up skies. Small groups of friends huddled around fired in the summertime. Her recollection was vague, as it withered away in the small space where her feet crept for years. High school was all a shifting scene of friends, emotions and faces. She thought about how badly she held onto the memories of the last few days before she left in the orange and red and purple of the city lights. Yet, Joy had let the rest slip away like river rocks in the currents, leaving her brain seeking answers from her college days and not her early life.
She had dropped all relations with her parents straight out of high school. Leaving small town western Texas for the lights of Portland and the sounds of the Colombia river. College, however, got her nowhere. Just two yearning years for answers in English courses, the slap that comes along with finding out there are none, and the familiar longing for not having the debt. This was, of course, six months before the sudden announcement of the draft. Nobody in their right mind would of left school if they'd known, it was a death wish. There were whispers among the staff and sparingly among the public, and she knew the world leaders were having Summits and meetings. Teams trying desperately to solve the evergrowing air, water, food and space crises. She just wasn't expecting them to go, most recently, the way of Nixon.
Jump to a house full of stained glass pictures, the smell of burning candles, and brown wallpaper. A dog was barking outside, the small, red-headed man paced back and forth in front of a even browner couch. He was on the phone with someone, all Joy, whose small, not sure how small, remembers is the next sentence,
"Fool me once, Marc, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." No idea who Marc is.
Sizzles and talcum powder explosions. White and then bright white then blue. Her mind rocked like waking up by falling out of bed, Joy ran her hand through her long hair and sighed. Once of her first memories, and a quote she thought was perfect for the situation that pooled in her brain. 'Wasn't the world smart enough to not make the same mistake twice?' In fact, Joy didn't even think of it as the way of Nixon. No, she was too quasi-educated. When the news came in, her mind went to Montezuma and the Aztecs, sacrificial heads rolling down the stairs one after another. Cortez carves his way north while the Aztec crowds flow in roaring ecstasy, feeling the power of the Gods in their flesh, sacrificing their own people.
Then she was chosen, and all the light inside her faded. She no longer felt. Petrification. She was a fossil for someone to find in a far away future, human or not, it would not matter to her. She wasn't ready, but Joy had prepared herself for the inevitable after the first week of news. Dropping out of school just a few months earlier WAS her ticket. Sign, sealed, delivered. Anger permeated through her when she was in school, though.
"Just gotten upset at the way it was headed," she had told her parents the last time Joy had talked to them. It was no more for education, the way was vocational. Education for practicality, not for knowledge. No more learning for the sake of actually using it, but as a stepping stone to a placemat job you know you will still be doing until the day you die. Now, still, out here, Joy wished she had stayed.
"Rather a live dog, then a dead lion." Another quote among a stack from her learnings that she couldn't place a name behind. He mind switched constantly between deciding on whether or not she had done the right thing. Every week she had a different outlook on life. Now, though, she didn't feel much like a lion, but more like a gnat. One out of a swarm, one out a swarm.
"God bless," She spoke aloud, "the man had said, 'God Bless' " She chuckled out loud, shocking even herself and pulled her out of her mind and back into the ship. The screen had been once again replaced by the twirling of the 'Husky' system. She gazed at black abyss outside.
"What's so funny?" She jumped, it was Angus. He sat up, rubbing his eyes. They got wide when they saw the screen. "Is that the next Sol?" He sat next to her and ran his index finger through the 3-d visualization of the gas giants, disappearing in the middle and reappearing on the other side.
"It's pretty neat." He finished.