“Wow, it is COLD out there today.” It has been 32 Hours since they left. If I hadn’t gone into the vestibule to clean the lenses of the camera we have in there, I would be frustrated, squinting now, the cold can ice over the camera in the time it takes them to enter the lock. As it is the picture is good, sound too. I tell him it looks beautiful out there from the array.
“Lots of activity in the sky again.” I tell him. I think I see him nod through the suit. He asks me what’s for dinner and I tell him. I hover at the terminal, standing, waiting. It’s not quite ten minutes. It’s not long enough to walk away and do something else and it’s just to long for it to be a comfortable wait. He is scrubbed next. We figure out it can be done while he is getting the suite off. I always start it when the reverse collar spindles. I think of it in terms of body area. It’s soon but not too soon. He says hello to me when he comes inside. I made new fish today. I have accepted that this hobby of mine is not his chief interest, so I keep it short and just kind of let him react to them, then I drop it unless he makes an observation.
“Leda and I wanted to be here for your birthday but it looks like we won’t be able to.” He hasn’t removed everything. He usually has by now.
“Will she be back tonight?”
He waits before shaking his head no. I ask him if she is ok.
“She’s fine Justin.”
“What’s going on?”
“Justin, we didn’t plan on this.” He glances at one of the reader boards, the iglacti one, I still can’t read a lot of it, I guess I just never tried hard enough. I tell him it’s ok. He says it’s not but there is nothing he can do about it.
“Justin, were leaving.”
“You just got back.”
“Were leaving for good.”
“Ok. Where are we going?”
“Justin, we can’t take you.”
“What, outside, I know, you never take me.”
“No Justin, we are leaving, all of us. All of us but you, maybe some others.”
“I can’t go into the ships. You said so. Can I? You told me they don’t work like this, like where we are.”
“They don’t Justin. In fact, most of this is for you.”
“Most of what? No. No, we live here.” But he is shaking his head no again.
“This is not the best thing that has ever happened. It is also not the worst. We will think of you a lot.”
“What will happen to me?”
He doesn’t say anything. He is looking at the reader.
“You don’t have much time do you?”
“I love you. I don’t really understand but you have been so good to me. Are you going to kill me?”
“No Justin. I thought about it. I wanted to do it while you were sleeping last night. Leda refused me. Maybe she was right to do so. It would have been painless of course, you just would not have awoken.”
I sit now. I think of the ships I love, leaving. I think of my family, leaving. Leda, Ran. “What will happen to me.”
“Justin, you cannot go outside. You cannot operate the lock, and it takes two. We talked to certain others, ones that were sympathetic. The best we can do-” He said rising and my heart fell from out beneath me. “-is make sure you can operate the sieve, the kitchen too. Justin, we love you but there is a reason not many other than Leda and myself come here. You need to know this, in case you are in danger. Hold this, put it on. Ok, yes, I know it doesn’t fit like it does but you can shift the weight here like this. See?” I do. The metal is cold and alive with energy. It almost hurts to touch it but not completely. He has me hold it in a most awkward way. It seems wrong. He continues. “Anyone can use it but this light, this one here, see it go away if you let the weight pull it to this way, move your head with it, there, see the light fade right there? This light makes you safe. Keep like this, you can press here if you need to but you don’t have too, anyway it will not help if the light isn’t here ok.”
In only moments my wrist hurt bad enough that I held it with my other hand for the rest of our time together. “Someone may come, Justin. You will know if you can trust them if you can speak with them. If they do not speak, find this, do like I told you.”
“Leda wanted me to tell you that we tried to find where you came from. We tried to find your home Justin. You have asked before, but we can’t. You should know that we did not take you from there, from your home. She said you should know that too. You were born here.”
“I love you.”
“We Love you too Justin.”
“What should I do?”
He is dressing again. The recursor howls in a phantom of sound covered in that beautiful blue light and Ran moves to it. “There is food enough for you. This shelter, your home, this place will be ok. We have powered it for longer than you will need.”
“Am I going to die here?”
“I believe so, Justin, but I hope that will not be for a while.”
He starts a sequence on the Terminal I have not seen. “It will be a little darker for a while, you will get used to it. You can use the dials now, the will help you move around.” He stops and puts his hand upon my head, pulling his wide finger across my forehead. “There is so much I want you to know. Most of it you can find in the terminal. It’s open now. You’ll see when you look at it later. Justin, we don’t know where you came from.”
I nodded. It was so much, so fast. I understand more now. Of course, in these dark long years I have learned so much that I did not know then, but now, where is Leda to exalt my triumphs, or Ran heavy warm hand on my head. I miss them. After that day I only ever saw one other ship. In these years that have seen me weaken and slow, I have never needed the silver shell, as I called it once. The reader stopped days after they left. I know they said it, but I am going to do it anyway, tomorrow. There was a time I remember when I was a child. I remember Leda face, I was held so high above the ground. I was outside. I am going outside again. If you come back, if you find this? I am not mad, I just miss you both so much. I know you must have done all you could. I do not believe I will find you but maybe, outside, maybe there is something else, I am just so lonely Leda. I am so lonely..