Chapter 1: Remember Your Training

Part 5

I think about saying more. About saying I have no idea how the ship is laid out, and I’m just in medical-white boxer briefs, and I’m not sure I don’t have brain damage, but instead, I decide to just go.

Moving in zero gravity is not new to me. I attended the MIT space-borne college campus for two years. Having to weave through hundreds of starry-eyed students along tight space-station hallways makes you learn very quickly how to move without gravity. It’s all about momentum and learning how to direct that momentum. I enjoyed it then, and I was looking forward to a year of it before we land, but now I’m just hoping I can stay alive.

I kick off from the pod and, starting in the direction of the blue restroom lights, I just go. A bunch of paths converge here. If this ship was discovered by aliens, they may conclude that the restroom was a place of worship for humanity. I move straight passed picking up speed. A few dozen meters later I encounter a wall. Without missing a beat, or losing much speed, I spring off a handrail with my feet, forcing my trajectory right. They tell you to avoid words like right and left in space. Instead use fore, aft, starboard, port, and your deck number. That assumes you know what the hell you’re talking about. I don’t at all in The Dreamer. Not in the least.

Most likely, that wall I just encountered was the hull, so turning either right or left would get me to the bridge. It was a 50/50 chance. My eyes we’re becoming accustomed to the twilight of The Dreamer. Data pads here and there and the occasional illuminated sign gave me enough to move by.

Cryo pods are everywhere. They litter the hallways, they are crammed tight in every room. It’s stifling, claustrophobic, and unsettling. In every pod a person. A person who has no idea what’s happening on the ship that they have been on for centuries. All goes well, these pods won’t be here for long. The others will be awoken, and the first order of business will be to make some room. Start tearing out these pods. They can be disassembled quite easily, folded in on themselves and stacked out of the way. Rooms that were filled would turn into galleys, med-bays, labs, rec rooms, dormitories, and anything else a space traveler could ask for. It was an economy of space to just shove the pods everywhere, or more accurately, as this was a spaceship, it was an economy of mass and materials. The less the ship weighs, the easier it is to make it do what you want it to do.

I see a very familiar illuminated symbol at the next intersection. A red cross. First-aid. I snatch the package off the wall as I go by thinking about the open wounds on my spine, and how much I would love to be able to walk when this is all through.

I stop cold when I hear it. Stopping cold in zero gravity doesn’t really work. Instead, I just keep drifting as I listen. It sounded like an animal. Like a grunt. Visions of the crocodile wolf danced in my head. They aren’t really so much dancing as they are snapping at me from the darkness, from down every corridor I can’t quite see down as I drift passed. The sound comes again, only louder and more guttural.

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