It takes me hours to fall asleep and even when I do, I’m just reliving the memories of him. His mother always said he took after me with his strong jaw and blonde hair. But it was the way he acted and responded to things around him that I knew he had more of his mother. He was more gentle and patient with people. Even when he didn’t get his way. And his eyes. His eyes were exact copies of hers. Yellow rounded circles followed you. Reading every move you made. His head would tilt to the side to tell you he’s listening. Not just hearing, but understanding.
The dreams always started the same. They were in the backyard. The morning suns locked in the sky. Pink light rays bounced off their faces as I walked out. Their smiles started to fade. They rushed into my arms, crying and digging their faces into my coat. I cried with them. The whole world did.
I told them it’s going to be okay. Like every father does. That we were going to the same place. To a new home. Of course, they knew that already. He knew. And yet, he didn’t let go of my coat until I had to rip his hands off.
I held them again at the boarding platform. The monitor called out, but I ignored it. When the time came, I didn’t have to break his grip from my coat. He just let go. His yellow eyes stared at me. Glowing in the dark as the rest of his body faded. And then I would wake up. Every. Single. Morning.
It’s been 10 years since I saw them. My life was reduced to a town sized celestial carrier. A last effort to find a new home. Our search began with bright hope and drifted into despair. Solar system after solar system. Planet after planet. They were all useless and time had run out. We had to decide. One last solar system or return home. Just in time to say goodbye to our families and die along with our planet.
There were five of us, including me at the table. Chrome seats stood by it matching the floor below. One side of the wall was just a glass window. It offered the best view of the stars. I would come in late at night when I couldn’t sleep or just when I felt like I needed “air”.
The leader in charge of our onboard military unit, Charles, waited until everyone was seated. He slammed his fist on the table.
“Our resources are short. Our people are tired. We turn back now. This should be the easiest decision we make on this damn ship.” He said.
“If this was so easy we wouldn’t be here. You know how the polls work. There is a chance. There is hope.” protested Nuke, the planetary Scientist.
“Blahh.” Charles grunted. He retreated his hairy fist into his lap.
“It’s a suicide mission. These fools would rather die alone than spend the last moments they have with their families. Lunatics! ABSOLUTE LUNATICS!” Charles yelled.
“We’ve given this mission 10 years of our lives. Time we’ll never get back. I refuse to give another minute and I know men in this room feel the same.” He stated.
His proclamation made the men shift in their chairs. The head Medic, James, put his hands on the table.
“I mean no disrespect Nuke, but your words are biased. You have nothing to lose at home. You have no family.” He said.
“Just because I have no biological anchors at home, does not mean I underestimate what’s at stake. I care for our planet and our kind. The reports indicate the best chance of a heaven. An atmosphere, neighboring planets, and a sun.”
“Yes, just one sun.” Charles interrupted. “We’ve read the reports. Those neighboring planets are of no use to us. This “heaven” is based on the hope a single planet would be suitable for us. ONE PLANET. OUT OF MANY.” Charles’ face started glimmering red.
“Let us stop wasting time. I call for a vote. You men have the information you need. Decide.”
The poll screen took up the surface of the table. Two choices were displayed on the screen. “Home” or “Solar System E80003”. There was little hesitation. They decided within seconds.
The room went quiet and all talk seized. I had my head down, I didn’t have to look up to know eyes were on me.
“Well, get on with it already,” Charles demanded. “Please, Charles.” pleaded Nuke. “Ken is devoted to our cause more than anyone on this ship. He has a family at home. Let him have a moment.” He said. Nuke was always my favorite. I put in my vote soon after. The table displayed the results and set our course.
The room had been accumulating gas from the object between the human’s fingers. He inhaled again before speaking.
“So, what did you vote?” He asked, blowing his gas to the side.
“I voted to go home,” I replied. “I wanted to see my son again.”
“But then you would be dead.” He stated. He took the thin object and smothered it in a black container.
“Yeah, I would be. With him. And my planet.” I replied.
“Well, we can’t always have what we want. Shame really.” He said. He waved his hand in the air and more humans appeared to take me away.
These humans look like us. Talk like us. But they’re not like us. They keep me in a glass chamber. Dressed in white clothing. Refusing to tell me the name of their planet. I just know it as “E80003.” Faces from the ship’s crew pop up every once in a while. But for the most part, I’m alone. Enduring the human’s cruel torture. Their devices hurt, but the dreams…they hurt the most.
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