Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Flight Attendants: Cycle 1

I tried distilling a much longer story down to it's main conflict. The long version may come back in my new collection.


Flight Attendants: Cycle 1

The sound of the fingernail clippings bouncing down the suction hose on their way the fission reactor were as satisfying today as they were when their mission started five hundred Earth day cycles ago. The shaved hairs didn’t make noise, but those nails ricocheting off the walls of the vacuum were delightful.

Twenty fingers and toes done. Smooth face and scalp. Francis closed the chamber and floated over to the next waiting pilgrim.

“We need to talk about this.”

Francis ignored her, which was surprisingly easy considering they were the only two people conscious on the spacecraft. They’d grown to be mutually amiable the way they would have it stranded on a desert island. The chamber door hissed open and presented the next pilgrim in need of a trim.

“Francis, this is important. We can’t wait another cycle.”

Yes they could. Even with the impending collapse of the Earth within itself, the planet’s best engineers had thought through everything in their race to jettison a representative sample of humans to the closest inhabitable planet. They had to have considered whatever it was Estelle was so worried about.

“At lease let me get through my shift.”

He had five more pilgrims to clean. The suspended animation chambers were great at keeping their occupants alive with the lowest amount of oxygen and nutrition possible, but they hadn’t found a way around the hair issue. It didn’t stop growing and clogged the machinery. That’s where Francis and Ester came in. They would run first shift for the initial fifty years of the mission, trimming the hair and nails of the 1,008 remaining humans from Earth.

When their shift was up they would wake up the next pair of custodians for the remainder of their journey. Esther and Francis would clock out, so to speak. There was only enough oxygen to go around.

“Francis.”

“Four more Esther.”

She floated over to him and he finally turned to her. A bead of water lifted up from her eyelash.

“Francis, I’m pregnant.”

He froze. “No, the engineers. . . we’re sterilized. . . I.”

“I’m pregnant.”

“But, the oxygen.”

“I know.”