The Tuesday Tales feature continues with a new story this week. The previous story was Shadow of the Beast To read the story, click on each link: Shadow of the Beast Part 1 | Shadow of the Beast Part 2 | Shadow of the Beast Part 3
This story is a a departure from fantasy for me and into a bit of science fiction where the science is more setting and the fiction is nuanced with it. Click this link to read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
by P. H. Solomon
The lights in the corridor synced with Jake’s ID and led him through the station’s maze. He passed people his age and older, some bustling and others with halting gaits but all on some duty. The uniforms varied in design and color that left him bewildered as to their functions. Each time Jake passed an intersection, he consulted his ID for directions as it blinked in the direction of his quarters. When he arrived, Jake pressed his card and hand over the sensor and the doors swished apart. He stepped over the runner into the room where dim lights glowed over a neatly made bed.
An automated voice spoke in soothing tones. “Greetings, Archangel. Request what you need and it shall be provided.”
Jake cleared his throat. “Ah, turn on the lights.”
The lights brightened at a gradual pace.
He moved to the closet and found several uniforms pressed and hung. Jake touched them in turn. He nodded at the sharpness of each set. “Good enough.” His old one was not present. Probably lost or discarded when the transport was unloaded.
“Please repeat the request.”
Jake inspected his quarters further but found nothing beyond his basic necessities. He sat on the bed and slapped his thighs with a sigh. “What to do now.”
“You have a message waiting.” A chime sounded. “Your requested stylist has arrived.”
Jake let a shuffling woman into his room. She motioned him to a chair in front of his mirror without introduction. “How do you want it?”
The stylist’s wrinkles distorted with a smirk. “Didn’t take you for one of them with that mop. But you move like one. You new? Well, I’m Dot.”
“Please to meet you, Dot.”
She shrugged and set to work. Dot proceeded to monologue through the few minutes it took her to crop his hair. “I’ve got two years ’til I’m eligible for mods. I want new knees first but most of the other stylists think small–their hands.”
“Yeah they give those out for good service awards. You got to be here five home-years to get one, then it’s something every year. They call it incentives. It’s really bribery against just acting retired.” She shrugged. “What do I care? They start fixing things and I feel better. It’s better than staring out the window and moping.” Dot continued by telling him gossip about people he didn’t know and probably wouldn’t meet.
Jake listened but his eyes drooped by the end of the haircut.
“There, done.” Dot snorted. “Bored you to sleep, did I?”
“No, really, it’s the trip.” And her–but no sense in being impolite.
She crossed her arms, cocked her head and pulled a half-smirk of disbelief. “Not just new but fresh off the ship?” At his nod, she leaned close. “Well, hon, just take your time. It’s not retirement but there’s no hurry here in forever-ville.”
Jake showed her out. “Thanks for the advice.”
Dot shrugged and hauled her equipment away in the corridor.
“Now, where was I?”
His automated friend answered, “You have a message waiting.”
He shrugged. “Show me the message.” Jake stood at the projection console.
A man’s face, lined with age but chiseled with an air of command, projected over the desk and spoke. “Officer’s meeting agenda-”
“Silence and scroll for reading.” The words scrolled in the projection in silence. New assignments rolled past. There was a welcome for Jake. He arched an eyebrow. They already knew he was there. Someone possessed military efficiency. An assignment rolled past. “What’s this?”
“You are viewing the officer’s meeting agenda. Assignment 221984 has just-”
“Go back to that assignment and hold.” Jake leaned forward. He squinted with his mouth open.
“Do you require a larger font?”
“Uh, no.” He swallowed. Three ships lost in an unexplored quadrant and another needed to fill the mission. A long-range sweep to rendezvous with The Jesús. “Mark this assignment for follow-up.”
The marker appeared in the projection.
Archangel Jake stood and paced the floor, his hands clasped behind his back. He tucked his chin as he walked. Something interesting already. Surely others would take it or claim seniority over him.
“Dim the lights.” There was plenty of time before the meeting. He undressed and lay on the bed. Jake stared at the projection as it hung over the desk. He’d check the status when he woke.
Jake closed his eyes and shifted into a comfortable position. It was a good bed and adequate quarters. A memory hovered behind his closed eyelids of a trip taken during his months of preparation to leave home forever. He’d stood beneath a natural arch of rock and stared at the night sky, what was to become his new home and here he was. The stars flickered endlessly then, like fireflies, as he’d wondered what his future held. Jake remembered those moments, the unfamiliar uncertainty mingled with the approaching finality. He inhaled, then exhaled, and released memories of his old home now thirty years past and slept in new his new one.
Thanks for reading today. For more information about my writing, please see the page about my epic fantasy series, The Bow of Hart Saga, which includes two award-winning books.
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