These things tend to be short pieces that may or may not be the beginning of something else. Originally they were 101 words only. I’m less strict about that now. They dont always finish, I just like to try and evoke a certain feeling or scene.
Spencer stirred slowly as the cryo pod hissed and opened, his head pounding and the cabin lights causing him to reach up and cover his eyes. He breathed deep trying to quell the nausea. Hauling derilium ore across the galaxy was great money and the chance to see the colonies was something so few Earth born would ever experience but he’d never get used to the effects of coming out of deep sleep no matter how many times he did it.
Still squinting he checked the readout on the small display on his wrist. Coordinates and timings checked out, he was back home. Excited, he pulled himself from the pod, head spinning and stumbled over to the bridge, desperate to get a glimpse of the planet he had left behind nearly 150 years ago.
“What the…” he mumbled steadying himself against the back of a large chair. He looked down at the control panel in front of him, lights blinking.
“Calista, confirm destination coordinates reached.” He said stabbing at a flashing red button. The proximity sensors were on overload.
A flat calm voice responded. “Coordinates for Earth orbit reached, local year is 2187.”
They had to be wrong. “Calista please recalibrate and verify coordinates.”
“Coordinates for Earth orbit reached” she repeated.
Struggling forward he walked slowly over to the long wide window at the far end of the deck. Where there should have been a planet all there was rock and debris as far as he could see.
“Calista where is Earth?” he asked. There was a brief pause.
“Coordinates for Earth orbit reached” she answered. “Records show no transmissions from Earth for 30 solar cycles.”
“Scan for local signals” he instructed. Something must have survived whatever had happened.
Ore freighters didn’t have a crew or captain, programmed to track to their destination coordinates and only wake the solitary crew member – the engineer – in the event of significant technical difficulties. Obviously Earth being rubble was for some reason not classed as a significant.
“No signals across any frequency detected” she answered. “Scanning complete”
He stood and considered what to do next, his head still fuzzy from the effects of spending 70 year frozen as he tore across the galaxy.
“Calista, estimate return route to nearest Earth outpost, factor in remaining cryo reserves.” HE knew he didn’t have enough for a full trip back to the nearest colonies but reserves should get him somewhere he could refuel and refill the cryo.
It took her longer than he had expected. “Calista?”
“Estimates indicate that with current reserves and running STL drives at 10 percent to maximise remaning fuel it will take approximately 22 years to reach the nearest outpost at Sentauri.”
“And how much capacity have we got in cryo? I really don’t want to be awake for 22 years with just you for company, no offence intended”
“None taken” Calista responded. “Reserves will permit 5 years of additional deep sleep.”
“That’s it? Five?”
Spencer sat down in the large chair and stared out into space and wondered whether the ships computer had solitaire built in…