Duty Calls

5,000 word short. When a brother and sister are assigned to a 5,000 year trip they’ll spend mostly in hibernation, it’s sad when you see each other aging through the glass… Download this story in .PDF.


For the first thirty Wakings we made a game of it, didn’t we, Ella.

In the message I Woke to, you would describe what you saw yesterday, in some part of the Ark newly formed. You would tell me about the bright sheen of its engineered nanocarbon, noting the angles between the gleaming polygons of its substructure.

Your measurements were always precise. I was perhaps the better Mathematician. But you, dear sister, were the better Engineer.

Then, in the few days’ grace between Waking and Work, I would take your sizings and sketchings, and set out for the far reaches of our fragile vessel. Dead reckoning across hundreds of kilometres of structural diamondoid, in the comforting folds of my nanosuit, I would search. Aiming to find the exact spot where you stood among those fresh-grown folds and surfaces, yesterday.

Twenty-one times among thirty, I found it.

And gazed at sheets and struts long dulled by pits and pockmarks. At structural folds loosened by inertia, at surfaces scarred by a billion specks of stardust.

Twenty-one times, I stood where you once stood. In your yesterday, a hundred years ago.

I am four thousand years old.

I am a hundred and ninety-one.

I am a boy of seven.