Journey to New Earth
A millennia-long journey runs into a serious problem
Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. I could push anyone out of this ship into space and no screams would emerge from their mouths. Silence would be all they would hear as space consumed their lives. My head cocked to the side as I stared at the pods in front of me, imagining all the ways they could end. It may be morbid or cruel, but these people represented everything I couldn’t stand. They were all sleeping peacefully, awaiting the day they would finally awaken in their new home. Their new galaxy. It wouldn’t be my home; it was never intended to be mine. Nor any of the caretakers. We weren’t wealthy enough to pay for a pod. We were hired to be servants, forced to care for those in the pods for generations.
I glared at the young girl in the closest pod. Her blonde hair fanned out around the silk pillow; her face expressionless as she slumbered in dreamless sleep. Why did her life mean more than mine? Why was she allowed to live in a new galaxy while I was forced to live out my entire life trapped on this ship, born to care for their lazy asses and destined to die long before we reached our destination?
Thousands of people slept within pods just like hers. Suspended in time as we travelled through space for centuries. One day we would reach New Earth, but I would not live to see that day. Some distant descendants would active the pods and revive these people, seeing them through to their new world and new life. A new galaxy to inhabit.
My hand hovered over the keypad as I studied her face. Would she scream if I deactivated her pod? Would her voice carry through the barren metal halls, echoing down the corridors until it was silenced by space outside? I sighed and forced myself to step away. I felt so much bitterness and anger towards these people. I’d spent my entire life aboard this ship, forced to maintain their pods as we hurdled through space. I had no future ahead of me. No destiny. No hope. They were destined for great things in a new land while I would die having accomplished nothing. What a pointless existence.
I flinched as my mother’s voice snapped behind me. “Mother,” I replied curtly. “How can I help you?”
“Are you finished cleaning the pods?”
I turned, staring into her deep brown eyes. “I finished a while ago.”
“Then why are you dawdling? We are on dinner duty tonight.”
My mother was a solid believer in the hierarchy. In our duties and destiny. She’d taught me and my siblings about our place in this world, what our lives would be like and what we would be contributing towards. I’m sure my siblings were all sucked into her lies but I saw right through it. We were nothing more than indentured slaves, forced to care for those richer than us. We were forced to live aboard a ship for generations, surviving in artificial gravity and attempting to grow our own food. No one aboard this ship was healthy – how could we be when we had no exposure to sun or nature? The closest we ever got to plants was the vegetables we grew to survive. Our days consisted of nothing more than caring for the pods and ensuring all the ship's systems were operational. Monotonous and pointless.
My mother knew of my displeasure. She used to try to encourage me and change my mindset, but now I think she’s given up. She only cares that I uphold my duties now. Keep to my set tasks each day and eventually have children to keep the generational ship going until we arrived in the Andromeda Galaxy.
“Stop dawdling,” snapped my mother. “You can dawdle tomorrow on your day off. Meet me in the kitchen in 15 minutes.”
She stormed away from me. I knew I was the disappointment. The youngest child and the only rebellious one out of seven. At least she had good odds, one bad egg out of seven wasn’t so bad. I hated this life while everyone else bent to the will of others. Was it such a crime to want more in life? To desire to accomplish something more than maintaining a ship so it would arrive in a new home not meant for me?
The ship lurched to the side, sending me tumbling to the ground. “What the hell?” I yelled, awkwardly pulling myself up. The ship continued to rock dangerously, alarms echoing around me.
I carefully made my way through the corridors; people being flung in every direction. No one seemed to know what was going on and panic filled the air. We were on a specific trajectory that would not have any obstacles in the way, why were we being flung around in space?
Shockwaves reverberated through the ship as I finally made it to the control centre. As I opened the door, I saw people scurrying around, unsure of what they needed to do. I grabbed a boy as he ran past.
“What’s going on?” I demanded.
He trembled. “We’re under attack,” he stammered.
He slipped out of my grip and continued to run to a nearby station. Under attack? Aliens were real?
I stumbled to the captain. “We’re under attack?” I questioned, wide eyes staring at the older man. His brows were knitted together, green eyes filled with concern.
“They came out of nowhere,” he said, voice hoarse. “Take the weapons station, Claire, you’re the most capable of fighting back.”
“I guess those lessons will come in handy after all, right dad?”
He rolled his eyes. “Get to it. We need to fight back before we’re all blown out of the sky.”
I stumbled over to the weapons console, gripping the desk tightly. Sensors were going haywire at the desk – I’d never seen it so alive. Three ships were swarming around us, shooting strange beam weapons at us. The shields were holding, but who knew how long they would last under this unending attack?
I took a deep breath, calming my mind as I tried to remember everything my father taught me. Not many people learnt the weapons controls – it didn’t seem necessary, but my father wanted me to learn. He said it could be invaluable one day. Who knew he would actually be right? My memory fired into action and my hands brushed over the controls, deftly firing our torpedo weapons at the enemy ships.
“Direct hit,” echoed the man at the station next to me. “We’ve taken one of the ships out. The other two are leaving.”
“Thank god,” breathed the captain, my father. I was the only one of his children to inherit his looks – red hair and green eyes. Unique traits amongst all the people on this ship. I also seemed to be the only one to inherit his passion.
“Will they come back?” I asked, shuffling towards him. “What did they want?”
“I don’t know. Let’s just repair the damage and prepare for a possible counterattack.”
“We have a problem!” yelled one of the technicians, eyes flashing with concern as he stared at my father. “There’s a malfunction in the pod controls. They’re going offline!”
For the first time in my life, I saw fear cross my father’s face. “Send everyone you can, we have to repair them!”
Keeping those people alive was our one and only duty in this life. If the pods went offline without the proper wakening protocol... they would all be doomed. We would have failed our only task in life. How pathetic would that be? Although, with those people gone we might be able to find a new purpose in this life. Was that too selfish?
"I'm going down there," snapped my father. "We cannot fail at the one this entrusted to us. Let's go, Claire."
I nodded and quietly followed my father out of the control room. We had to fix the pods before everyone died. They didn't know it, but they were counting on us. We couldn't fail.
About the author
I’m studying my Masters in Creative Writing and love to write! My goal is to become a published author someday soon!
I have a blog at emilieturner.com and I’ll keep posting here to satisfy my writing needs!