Glass Stars [Part I]
A surreal post-apocalyptic romp through the universe and back.
A Word from the Author
Within the "Glass Stars" universe lies a complex world of characters and places, as well as alternate versions or perceptions of reality. The premise of the series is that a cataclysmic event wiped out 99% of humanity, and a mysterious stranger called Indrid recounts how the First Fall of Man "really" came to pass. From there, a great and wonderful search for Humanity’s place in the Universe begins.
Indrid explains everything that has come about between 2099 until "now" (sometime in the 22nd or 23rd centuries). For a prequel series, you'd want to read "2047". This explains and covers the timeframe between 2020 up until 2047. It helps move the plot forward to 2099, when the Six Suns appear on the horizon. "Painted Blind" serves as an origin story for Elinor Glass, as well as a companion to the 2047 prequel series. "Glass Stars" picks up about 200 years after the First Fall.
Indrid's introduction turns out to be a message inside a signal emanating from an unlikely source: Venus.
I hope you enjoy it! There will be much more to come as this story continues to develop and unfold.
My name is Indrid, the Harbinger, and this is the telling of Mankind‘s Fall and Rebirth. I have come to bring you Home.
In the year 2259, after decades of sending out signals and receiving only silence, an underground team of scientists, scholars and theologians suddenly receive one, but it appears to be emanating from Venus.
Time passed. No one can say how long.
Mars was always the primary focus for NASA in those days. Venus had unmanned missions coming up, so that means there can’t be anything or anyone on Venus-or so anyone thought.
In 2099, six suns mysteriously appeared in the sky--or what everyone believe were six suns--mysteriously appeared the sky.
A contingency plan long abandoned had allowed for probes to continue to be sent to Venus and so missions to Venus continued but were abruptly halted by the appearance of six suns in the sky and the desecration of the Earth. The probes were secretly launched the day before the six suns appeared in the sky.
No one knows for sure whether it was a terror attack of some kind or natural cataclysm. The planet was so scourged and the death toll so high, there were few left when it was over. It is estimated that all but about a few thousand humans remained. Each retreated to wherever was darkest and wars for resources and territory began. Everyone believed it was the end of Mankind.
There didn’t seem to be evidence of nuclear apocalypse anywhere to be found. It was a complete mystery. Some people even thought the public had been duped into believing the probes were ever even actually probes at all, but nukes that were launched by our own people against us that somehow backfired or accidentally destroyed the world. The sheer number of theories was impossible to quantify.
Everyone who made it through and wasn’t raised to believe in anything or follow any particular faith leaned on the Coalition for understanding, hope and even survival. The Coalition was a humanitarian entity as much as it was invested in the survival and restoration of the human species.
Ava and Faraday had always said that NASA and JPL only ever really wanted to ensure humanity’s survival, but that wasn’t enough for them and they knew it.
No matter what any of the remaining religious sects believed, Ava and Faraday were going to use Elinor’s research to charter a course for Arcadia, and they were going to need Venus to find it.
Faraday went to Venus, but Ava was able to get her ship offworld. She did not have FTL capabilities when she went to Mars. Contact with Mars was lost on The Last Day, so Ava is officially missing and presumed lost.
It was a “divide and conquer” strategy that was brilliant but would be doomed to fail.
But of those who survived, a scant few decided to band together and form a coalition founded on science in order to determine what had happened. They could not always agree, but they did agree on one thing: they had to find a way off of planet Earth and soon; the catastrophe had somehow accelerated the merging of the Milky Way Galaxy with Andromeda and the only hope was the secret, long-abandoned manned mission to Venus. Or so they thought. For some of this team, their faith had been shaken. They did not know what to believe. Had the anti-Christ and the Great Satan succeeded after all? How could they know for sure? They had to work together to find out.
A private company, similar to SpaceX, formed a business partnership with a wealthy entrepreneur’s AI startup. They created a small fleet of ships serving various purposes, a few prototype EVAC ships for escape from Earth that were never completed, two that were to carry small contingencies of human colonies, and one that actually went to Venus-the first manned mission was a Hail Mary that took place in absolute secrecy. The President of the United States was never briefed on Arcadia, only Artemis (the Mars project).
They sent one EVAC ship and one colony ship. They sent 1 ship with all of the supplies they would need, including plans to evacuate from the Milky Way to another possible safehaven galaxy (though it is all based around guesswork and seemed unfinished).
There were 200 crew, engineers, the scientific elite and all their children. For some, their deaths were staged or they disappeared and no one seemed to notice for a long time. No one knows what became of Sheerin.
Until now, this has all been a closely guarded secret.
There were no plans made to evacuate leaders of governments. There were no written plans or constitutions prescribed for society to live by after Venus. No one ever believed we’d make it there at all. Except Faraday. He always believed because he always knew his mother, Elinor Glass, had found a pathway for humanity beyond the Milky Way. But he also secretly believed religion should have no place in Arcadia.
The two figureheads of the two entities that orchestrated this were Avalon Strayer of CatheXis and Elinor Glass’ Futura Industries.
Avalon Strayer, or Ava, used to work for NASA but was kicked off the Venus team for previously undisclosed reasons. Later, everyone said it was because she was so vocal about manned missions to Venus. She was irreligious, although she came from a wealthy Jewish family background. She was secretly gay until she reached the age of majority and had built her own wealth out of saved earnings from NASA.
She even worked for JPL before leaving and continuing to consult with their Mars teams. She was a radical optimist and believed FTL was possible; she was quite an inspired engineer. In spite of her potential, she really only considered herself a theorist and visionary at heart. She appeared humble on the outside, and she was, but she was ambitious.
Ava met Faraday at JPL and they hit it off. Faraday had heard about Ava’s receiving constant admonishment of her theories about FTL and even time travel. She wanted to really make a difference. After all, it was Ava who had designed and invented the entire infrastructure of the 23rd century! It was because of her that human transport and logistics changed completely and ushered in a new era of possibilities for human travel and interconnectivity.
And then you had Faraday, a brilliant AI guy with muscle to match. They seemed perfect for each other.
The day came when their mettle would be tested.
They met often and in secret, making crazy plans to save the world from every possible conception of catastrophe. They dreamt up the wildest things. Even teleportation and warp drive, just like in Star Trek. Could any of it really happen?
Then, Ava and Faraday both suddenly resigned from JPL. They committed themselves to their future partnership and people noticed. The press was all over it.
NASA had said no to manned missions to Venus. Mars was the golden child for everyone. Venus was all but scrubbed. They decided to allow JPL to complete the Azazel and Astracaea probes since so much taxpayer money had already been poured into them. In 2199, they were launched.
The last signal anyone received from Azazel was 2215, and the last time anyone heard from Astracaea was 2225. By this time, the signal was so old and decayed, the coalition science teams weren’t even sure they were even getting a signal at all or just echoes.
What about Mars?
No one knows.
They lost contact on The Last Day. The day of the First Cataclysm, the day of the Six Suns.
Six suns appeared in the sky. But no one ever appeared. The world simply burned to ash and soot. Some survivalists had underground bunkers and nuclear shelters, doomsday preppers, and crazy mad scientists who had been right all along but declared insane all survived. Barely.
There was talk of a second apocalypse, a fresh prophesy began to manifest itself. The changes to the planet had been strange and everything happened so fast.
Ava and Faraday had gone underground, but
Elinor Glass’ Futura Industries was being run by the son of its namesake, Faraday Glass. He inherited it from her after she was killed in a car accident leaving Palm Springs for Las Vegas. Faraday was an Air Force guy; after leaving the Trump’s gimmicky Space Force, which had become a national joke. His transfer to the Middle East was eventually approved and he returned to Earth.
At the time of the accident, he was on deployment, so all operations were left to the Vice President, Sheerin Five, a highly sophisticated AI-driven android. People respected Faraday’s leadership because they saw him as a true patriot, and because had had created and programmed Sheerin to understand and execute based on his own ethical subroutines. His company appeared to be one of the most transparent in the world, and it remained that way until it simply was destroyed by the Minor Cataclysm, or First Fall as the employees who survived called it.
Sheerin was endowed with Elinor Glass’s appearance as an homage to his mother, though Faraday could not bring himself to name it after her. The namesake would forever rest, instead, within brand name of the company itself.
Elinor the woman was a unique character. She was witty, compassionate, a staunch believer in God and the End Times. She believed Satan had already set the anti-Christ down upon the Earth. She had been raised by Jehovah’s Witnesses, but they had been killed in a mass shooting carried out by far-right extremists who viewed them as evil cultists. They had been in Bible Study when a man broke in claiming they had been brainwashing him. They tried to calm him down, but he claimed to be a “true Christian”, and opened fire.
Elinor was 7 when it happened and had been their only child. She became a Christian Scientist for a large portion of her youth and into her twenties before officially renouncing all forms of established religion. She believed the scriptures had been tainted by men, so it could not be trusted fully, but she believed in an afterlife.
She was convinced paradise was a new Earth-like planet somewhere outside of our galaxy, and she proposed insane ideas and ways of getting to it, but she died before she could complete her work. Faraday never quite had the opportunity either, but he wanted to ensure it was stored safely so he made sure Sheerin would have it in case he was killed.
Altogether, 1500 people were sent to Venus. 500 were people selected by secret lottery, mostly those who were wealthy and well-connected, but also those who inherited their slots from those who passed before reaching Venus. They were suspended but not cryogenically, it was almost a form of wax.
Half of them died under mysterious circumstances, and no one ever reported back to Earth, but it was never known whether anyone made it to Venus.
It was called Arcadia, and it would serve as the future laurel for humanity, our last best hope for survival before the Minor and Major Cataclysms ocurred.
The idea was to create floating cities in the space between the extreme hell of Venus surface and it’s uppermost atmosphere.
It was a long shot. A very, very long shot.
What no one ever knew was whether they even came close because the project was scrapped.
A strange repeating signal begins emanating and attracts the attention of linger survivors in Palm Springs, CA.
These are some of the brightest folks, a batch of MIT grads and JPL alum who managed to outlast the Minor Cataclysm or the Seven Suns as most locals call it. The Major Cataclysm was still not projected to occur for another 200 years.
Six suns had appeared on the horizon that day, and the world was torn asunder for the next 200 years. But there is a greater threat, one no human being could ever imagine, and I must be about my task.
My name is Indrid, the Harbinger, and this is the story of the ultimate quest for Arcadia. I have come to bring you Home.
CAUTION: FUTURE AT PLAY
In 2152, a classified communiqué is received from Venus in the form of binary text. It appears to be a letter to someone called Indrid from one of Futura Industries’ top FTL theorist and extra-orbital starship designers, Nirhys Elessayn Strayer. The communiqué was dated around the time of The Last Days, sometime in the Spring of 2099.
I want you to know I haven’t given up. I know He is waiting for us. I know something is coming. Something beyond our comprehension.
But I must tell you. I must tell you what has become of us since our last encounter. I am leaving a recording of this message to behind for posterity.
Today, life is about discovery and the advancement of the human race. But I’m not thinking about any of this right now. Right now, I’m on my way to start a shift and I’m already ten minutes late. I’m also thinking about the next chance I’ll ever have to show the Board of Governors what I can offer to the upcoming design program.
The life I live is a humble one. I want nothing more than to make a comfortable salary and fall for the right person. The future is one of hope for me as humanity presses forward into the exploration of that endless sea of igneous white stars. Times have changed a lot since I was a little girl back in San Francisco, the daughter of a French schoolteacher and American aerospace engineer. The world is so much more convenient and yet the scent of death is in the cool morning air as I head out for work.
I’m just in time to catch the 8:15 shuttle to Atlantis International and I find myself struggling to breathe after having to literally claw my way up the steps to a seat by the left side window. In the year 2088, shuttles no longer run on four wheels and the traditional coach transmission. Today, the shuttle is the sleekest, quickest mode of mass transportation available to the public. Similar to the retired Concorde jetliner, they are built for orbital and even extra-orbital space flight.
My name is Naomi Strayer and I’m a spacecraft designer and engineer for an organization that is trying its damnedest to put NASA out of business. That company is the Federation for the Advancement of Space Exploration, or FASE as it has been so apathetically and typically nicknamed by the press. Then you have the fully private sector.
It’s the Interstellar Space Race of the century.
We’ve heard of others on the rise, and it is for the best. The Mars missions are coming about just fine. The colony is thriving now, thanks to Faraday’s work at EG Futura Industries; the partnership with Ava’s CatheXis can spell nothing but forward progress in the field of interstellar space travel.
Unfortunately for agencies such as NASA and FASE, political conditions have forced the new United Nations Security Council to cut back on the financial spending that funds our space programs and concept design projects. Sadly, the world in this day and age faces the threat of a possible full-scale nuclear mass genocide. North Korea, along with several other armed terrorist-based Islamic countries, are prepared for a missile strike that could potentially destroy both Europe and the United States in the blink of an eye if the current peace talks should fail.
In other words, if the demands of the Axis (a classic name) are not met to its full and sufficient satisfaction, we can all kiss our shuttles goodbye, as well as our loved ones and lives. Somehow the threat of complete and utter apocalyptic destruction of whole peoples hasn’t, not surprisingly enough, kept rich American investors from continuing to pour lazily-earned money into their precious free market economy gone awry.
My mind is jolted back to reality as the shuttlecraft rumbles gently to a halt at the docking ring of the Atlantis International Space Station, or AISS. One thing you’ll have to quickly come to terms with is that everything these days is abbreviated in some form or the other. Anyway, Atlantis International was co-established by both FASE and NASA six years ago, and was the last and only venture by either space agency to work cooperatively toward a common goal. Ironic, isn’t it? Again, I find myself having to stay seated for a few moments, even after the craft has docked. Space travel, no matter how local it may be, still sends my head spinning and my reflexes firing.
“Naomi, you’re late!” The even-toned voice of my close friend, Lily Hawthorne, greets me as the front door to my apartment slides open and I step inside the cool, air-conditioned living room. “I thought we agreed 8:30?” She brushes back a stray lock of blonde hair, scolding me like a child. Her cool British accent cuts through the stillness of the late evening.
“Naomi, you know how it is! The boss wouldn’t let me leave until I turned in my final report, program design and everything. It looks like the idea for an interstellar spacecraft may have to wait another ten or fifteen years-” It hits me, the realization that Lily had been standing outside my door for more than half an hour, “Oh, love, I’m dreadfully sorry to have kept you on hold for so long. It won’t happen again, I promise.”
Lily smiles, a guilt-filled smile. She chides herself silently for being so cross about my tardiness. “Oh, darling, of course I forgive you! Anyway, it’s late enough already and we’ve both had an excruciatingly long day, why don’t we treat ourselves to a sit-down for something to eat instead of skulking about in the kitchen? Your meals always taste terrible when you cook on less than eight hours of sleep and a strong cup of black coffee, anyway. I should know, so do mine!” On this note, we share a few moments of agreeably light laughter.
“It’s quite true, of course,” I add as we climb into my Audi Slipstream Dual Craft. I suppose this would be an opportune time to explain about this remarkable vehicle.
In the world now, freeways are controlled in a fashion that is quite like that of railroad tracks, run and monitored by computers and Traffic Control Supervisors. In fact, I would hardly call them freeways at all. Like the speed limit, the term freeway has become rather archaic because cars, now called Dual Crafts are equipped with power systems whose computer cores are linked directly to a web of Traffic Control Towers and Traffic Advisory Mainframes. Now, I caution you, for this is about to become quite a load to bear, as far as terminology and details go.
The Traffic Distribution Network consists of the three most successful and trustworthy, not to mention powerful, Dual Craft manufacturers of the current times: Audi, Daimler (formerly Daimler-Benz or Daimler-Chrysler and Benz), and Renault of France (or simply Renault). So, if we don’t have freeways, what do we have? To be accurate, a global network of Streams, referred to as the Autobahn System, has replaced freeways. The Germans thought up the Autobahn System, surprise surprise, and its Authority (Headquarters) is located in Berlin.
Now, transatlantic travel by Dual Craft is possible, but highly discouraged as being extremely time-consuming and unnecessary. This is because the Autobahn System provides mass transit, highly specialized Concorde-like shuttles so that commuters all over the world may fly to and from any continent on the planet within the span of a day or less. Impressive?
The Germans certainly believe so.
Not surprisingly enough, the rest of the world would have to agree that the Autobahn System is quite convenient and virtually inexpensive. As mentioned earlier, there are also extra-orbital shuttles, but they are not under the jurisdiction of the United Autobahn System Cooperative (UASC) and/or the Autobahn System Authority (ASA); rather, NASA and FASE are responsible for the invention and of said crafts, which are commonly referred to as Stratus Carrier Jets (operated by NASA) and/or StarJets (operated by FASE).
Then you’ve got Elinor Glass and Futura Industries. And Faraday. And Avalon Strayer. CatheXis. I’ll get to all of this soon. It’s really quite simple. But things are changing. Fast. I am sure I don’t need to tell you about them. You were the one who brought us all together.
I’m trying not to confuse you about all of this new-fangled technology, but I am afraid I really cannot offer much consolation. Sometimes even I myself, a child of the technological revolution and proponent of its advancement, find it to be quite overwhelming at times.
Sadly, it gets worse; however, I shall do my best to make sure you can follow along as painlessly as possible as we move. There is so much to tell.
Lily Hawthorne and I have been friends for close to twenty years now. She is perhaps the most enchanting creature ever to have walked the planet and the nicest part about the really good part of her is that she would probably say the same thing about me in an instant, if given the proper opportunity.
She stands at about my height, which is nearly five feet, ten inches tall. A trim, athletic figure graces her delicate frame. Her most extraordinary physical feature, in my humble opinion, is the alluring colour of her eyes. One could quite possibly, at any moment, simply slip away into those incandescent sapphire pools of blue crystal and drown. Aside from all the superficialities, Lily also possesses the wittiest, cleverest, and the most random sense of humor of anyone I have ever known.
She sits beside me in my black Slipstream, waiting patiently on me again and tossing a few comments in the air while I try to finish programming our desired destination into the DC’s Route Database. The request is sent directly from the vehicle’s computer database to whichever TCT (Traffic Control Tower) is closest to where we intend to go.
“Sociale, right?” I drop the question before pressing the Confirm Route and Destination key on the console in front of me. Lily nods and then starts to stretch out as the Dual Craft pulls out of the driveway and glides onto the nearest Stream, which is AS-Epsilon 1. As long as I’m simply relaxing while the Audi hurtles quietly toward the Sociale, perhaps I should give a few more details about how the Autobahn System works exactly.
The intercontinental network of Streams, as I mentioned before, which is guided and monitored by divided Traffic Sectors. In each sector is a Traffic Control Tower, which are strategically located all over the globe. It was proposed by Germany at the United Nations in 2048, but wasn’t completed until 2068, so it is still relatively new. Anyway, whenever someone purchases a Dual Craft, or DC, the vehicle is automatically guaranteed to last at least ten years and is charged for use. At time of initial activation, it is also added onto the Autobahn System Authority’s Vehicle Registry Database and Traffic Control Mainframe. Registration of all Dual Crafts is compulsory under international law.
The Autobahn System is quite a piece of work, to say the least. The standard velocity on a High-Speed Stream at any given time can be as fast as two hundred miles per hour. Surprisingly enough, there has not been a single accident since the Autobahn System was completed and implemented worldwide. There are three types of Streams, while I’m on the subject: High-Speed, Low-Speed (used by tourists, routes that have guided parking for recreational plazas, business and residential districts), and Class A. Class A is exclusively reserved for international diplomats and other political officials (i.e. presidents, princes, kings, ambassadors, etc), military convoys and medical/emergency dispatches.
My favorite feature that the Autobahn System provides is its Traffic Control Mainframe, which you can pull up on your console and it will show you all the possible routes and then narrows them down to the most time efficient ones and lets you program your most common routes of travel. This is especially favorable because it is quite troublesome to spend fifteen minutes searching the network’s entire mainframe and database for the quickest way to work every morning. Most of us just don’t have that much time to spare these days.
By now, we have docked into a space just outside Sociale, my favorite restaurant in San Francisco. They have the best Manicotti and Pinot Grigio, not to mention the warmest, most buttery soft breadsticks you’ll find in the entire Bay Area. Lily adores their Chicken Alfredo Parmesano and this is exactly what she orders when Vinny, our usual waiter, arrives to our table clad in black with a sparkling smile to boot.
I shan’t bore you with needless descriptions of the décor for it is quite a simplistic, Italian-inspired eatery. They even have genuine Italian servers, chefs, and music! The ambiance is relaxed, which I find to be pleasant considering I spent the day being subjected to six grueling hours of endless conferencing up at Atlantis International Space Station (pronounced “ACE”).
That is so ridiculous! Honestly, I don’t understand these people! We aren’t at war, at least not yet…so why should NASA and FASE have to put themselves on the financial chopping block, not to mention the fact that they’re putting off their potentially progressive programs for another, what, ten years? It’s sending a message to the public that says North Korea is in control. The missile strike probably won’t even take place within that time-span!
They’re just a lot of cowards, that’s what they are! If they didn’t have anything to lose by sending those nukes out, they would have already done so back when shit was falling apart. Think Lil has a strong opinion about this? She takes a small break only to look over the dessert menu. I realize that she makes an interesting point and I, of course, am obligated to speak up now or else she will continue ranting and I will have lost the opportunity to have a word in edgewise for the rest of our time here at Sociale.
“I feel like chocolate, don’t you?” I say, pretending not to have been listening.
“Are you listening to me?” Her eyes pierce right through me and yet she still sits there, opposite of me, awaiting my response. Again, that feeling of being disciplined by my mother creeps into my mind.
Of course, love, hanging onto every word — what about a gelato? Ooh yes, that would really hit the spot, I know it would…” With this, and having noticed Lil’s reproachful glare, I toss a playful wink her way and she starts to laugh. She attempts to say something, but her words are incoherent and slurred as the laughter becomes slightly hysterical. Soon, I feel myself beginning to giggle uncontrollably, which is striking behaviour for someone of my composed stature, and I haven’t had more than one or two glasses of wine the whole evening.
At last, after several minutes pass, we manage to pull ourselves together so that Vinny may put us down for a serving of chocolate gelato each. It is closing in on eleven-thirty by the time we finally reach Lil’s apartment on the Castro side of San Francisco. I’m not too worried right now of jumping straight into bed so that I can wrestle my mind into eight hours of much-deserved and unadulterated sleep.
Tomorrow is my day off and, coincidentally enough, Lil’s also. Subsequently, we come to a consensus that leads to mutual acknowledgement of the fact that we are both much too exhausted to take me home tonight. Alas, a sleepover sort of arrangement is agreed upon.
Lil, as I call Lily often, is kind enough to enquire as to whether or not I need to run over to my place for any reason, but I’m feeling rather lazy so I shake my head. It’s quite a moot question, considering that neither of us is up to going back out for anything at this point but I know she’s just trying to be her polite self, as usual.
“Very well, I’m sure I’ve plenty of pajamas to share; come over and pick out a set for yourself lest ye wish to leave the decision up to your tired and ornery best friend.” She motions for me to join her in the master suite’s obscenely large walk-in closet.
“Why thank you, Milady!” I courtesy playfully before stepping inside what might be misconstrued as another whole bedroom.
Daylight breaks evenly and painfully strong through the navy blue, star-motif curtains in the living room, wherein I am found sleeping or rather, trying to sleep on the black velvet sofa. It seems that both the brilliant light of the sun and the blaring sound of the television set have struck my senses just as I am trying in all futility to wake myself, body soft and relaxed, unrelenting in its attempt to lull me back to sleep.
I smile, however, because a friendly, familiar scent finds its way up my nostrils. It creeps throughout the room with its incredible, intoxicating aroma: coffee, fresh and waiting for me to devour its fragrant black goodness wholeheartedly, without cream or sugar. Just black coffee, pure and strong — the best kind.
“You’re up early,” Lil’s soft, warm voice is a welcoming sound upon my raw ears. She beams, offering a cup of coffee to me as she makes her way over toward the couch. I accept it, thank her, and then take a few moments to really enjoy this cup of coffee. I inhale the aroma, closing my eyes to allow all my senses to focus solely on the hypnotic black fluid. The staggering light that had offended my eyes earlier dims as I sip gingerly away with the utmost level of contentment.
“How can it be that something as deceptively simple as a fresh cup of coffee has this almost paranormal ability to still time?” I ponder aloud, continuing to enjoy the steaming hot liquid in a state of almost child-like reverence.
“No idea, ducks, that’s part of its charm…and mystery, I suppose.”
“Indeed!” I smile again, savoring the coffee’s bold flavor. “Speaking of time, what’s the damage?”
“Oh, don’t work yourself up too much, it’s only about nine o’clock or so. At any rate, it’s not like we’re in any rush to get to work.”
Lily works for the UASC as a Traffic Control Supervisor in the San Fran area, which is how I learned enough about the Autobahn System to be able to repeat it back to someone else. She used to work for FASE, but quite after twelve years of exemplary service landed her nowhere on the agency’s corporate ladder. Despite the fact that I was promoted the day she left the company, our friendship has not been damaged or even affected- something for which I remain truly grateful.
“I have an idea! Why don’t we fly over to Europe, spend a few hours in Paris and then in London shopping and visiting everyone?”
Lil’s eyes light up; it’s a rare treat these days for either of the two of us to have time to go home and pay a call to family and friends we’ve both left behind. The only reason that she didn’t go back to England after quitting FASE was me, bless her heart. ‘We’re such good friends,’ she told me, ‘I could never bear to leave you here in the States on your own, and I know how much your work at FASE means to you.’ It was probably the most selfless choice anyone has ever made for me. Usually, it’s the other way around. It’s times like those that remind me of why she and I have been practically joined at the hips for all these years.
“That’s a brilliant idea, I’ll call the Line and book us a flight for, oh let’s say about one o’clock — sound good to you?”
I smile, nodding while I continue to sip at my coffee. “Yeah, and we should probably let everyone know we’re coming. I’m sure they’ll be surprised enough to see us at all, no need to show up to an empty flat. It’s been so long and you know how my parents are; they’re never home anymore, not since I left for America.”
“Good point, but what about the time difference? I totally forgot about that! We’ll be there awfully late, will we make it back in time for work do you think?”
She’s right, I think to myself, and then it dawns on me that I have the entire week’s worth of personal time off. “Well, I just remembered…I’m off the rest of this week and…wait, when was the last time you put in a bid for some vacation? Didn’t you request a few days off for around this period?”
Lily reflects on my question for a minute or two and then hurries over to the Wall Screen in the kitchen to check her Planner. She returns shortly, a weak grin trying madly to mask her embarrassment painted across her rosy-cheeked visage. “I completely forgot about that, it was so long ago that I put in that bid! Still, I can’t believe I forgot, but even more to the point, I can’t believe that you remembered! I mean…it’s my vacation; you’d think I would remember something as important as that. Curious, though…” Her brow furrows into an expression of suspicion.
“Hmm? What’s curious?” I reply, feigning ignorance.
“Well, we hardly ever wind up with the same vacation periods off, ever since I quit FASE. What are the odds of it happening so conveniently now?” She takes a Sherlock-like stance and swings her cup of coffee around to take a swig, gazing at me as if I can really offer a meaningful, plausible explanation.
“Touché,” I retort simply, “but as long as it’s happening, why not make the best of our time off together by spending it with the people we care about and miss most?”
Lily tosses her head back, smiling as a way of acknowledging my point, and polishes off the last of her coffee.
“Let’s do it!”
I’m sorry, Indrid, I will have to submit my next transmission at the next interval. I will share more soon.
Author’s Note: This story is meant to be a series multi-part installment. Please check back often for new parts!