The pumps were working day and night, emitting a low (and not unpleasant) humming sound and the faint stench of rotting flesh. Since the discovery three years ago of the first large deposit, thousands were attracted here by the promise of steady work and maybe even a chance to become wealthy fast. For those of us living here already, the change has been difficult to absorb, but there are benefits too.
I run a small shop that sells basic provisions to the line workers. Even with my family helping, we can barely keep up with the demand—it’s all hands on deck all day long, unpacking shipments, stocking shelves, ringing up sales. Before the rush, we had a sleepy little store that served our needs and those of the community—a few hundred folks in all. Since the surveyors found the vein, we’re a major outpost. Continue Reading
“It’s okay,” Sean reassured me. “Focus on the silence, feel it around you, let it keep you safe. One deep breath, then another. Good, keep going. Almost there,” he whispered.
“Okay, thanks, I feel better.” This was the third time this month that I had a problem during the service, but so far only Sean knew about it. I guess that’s what best friends are for: protecting secrets.
It was hot in the power plant today, even more than usual. People think space is cold, but not in here. The whole ship is like a sweaty, tropical moisture bubble. It’s a good design, one that recirculates water (human-produced and otherwise) through the system all the time, and which makes it possible to grow food and plants everywhere on board. Like being in a floating greenhouse traveling at high velocities.
But the paradox was sometimes hard to handle, being so warm in here but surrounded by the frigid near-vacuum of space. For some of us, just a few really, the tension was difficult to bear, while most of the others seemed completely fine with it. I was, too, until recently when the breathing issues started. Continue Reading
It has been said that realists see the world as it is, and idealists see the world as it might be. Count me firmly among the ranks of the latter. I project as a glass-half-full, rose-colored optimist living out loud. But I had neglected to consider that seeing things as they might be doesn’t always mean it’s all good.
I only mention this because the arc of recent events challenged my rosy worldview. I suppose you could say that it was a crisis of faith that animated my journey to this place. But that’s too convenient, casting the blame outward and making it seem as if faith itself had some sort of crisis. It didn’t. It was me. . .
The day began like any other, with the usual buzz of impersonal interchanges (black or with cream? plain or glazed? paper or plastic?) as I negotiated the sidewalks of the metropolis. People bounded along in an oddly rhythmic yet uncoordinated routine, gazes cast downward into their palms, with stolen glances approaching the horizon only intermittently in order to avoid stepping directly into traffic. As one of the few left scanning the scene with my head up, I could see the patterns within the multitude’s chaos. This perspective usually felt satisfying, morally superior even, and provided a kind of authorial omnipotence. Continue Reading