The stars mocked her. Twinkling through the porthole. Visible. Distant. “You’re lost,” they shimmered. “Did you really think you could find yourself?”
Amelia glared. “What was I supposed to do? Stay there till I died?”
But was this any better? Drifting through space with no idea of where she was? She’d left the familiar bulk of the planet weeks ago. It had given no solace back then, having deprived her of everyone she knew or cared about. Now she would give anything to have it back in her sight.
She trudged upstairs and crawled into her bed. Not the captain’s bed she had been using, but her bed. A bed too small, a child’s bed, a child’s room. It was where she belonged. She’d been a fool to think otherwise.
Amelia didn’t know how long she lay there. Her stomach protested, begging for food; she ignored it. She left only to use the toilet and that too became less frequent. Unmoving, unthinking. She didn’t sleep. She just lay there.
She was Amelia Echo. She had left her family on that planet or they had left her on the ship. Either way they’d never returned. How many years? She refused to ask the computer. The first years were awful, but finally she’d taken charge of her life and taken matters into her own hands. She’d learned how to fix and fly the ship. Then she’d left.
A lot of good that did. Now she was just as alone and twice as lost. Had she flown the wrong way deeper into the unknown? Perhaps she’d entered the wrong coordinates? Amelia thought about eating, but it was too much work.
A buzzing sound penetrated the not-quite-sleep she drifted in. Unfamiliar and faint. From the hallway? Curiosity overcame her lethargy and she rolled out of bed. She staggered to the hall, muscles protesting any movement.
The noise was louder now. She headed downstairs to the console. Had something broken? Did she care enough to fix it?
“-requesting identification. Please identify yourself.” Amelia froze trying to comprehend what was happening. That was a voice. Male and somewhat mechanical, but an actual voice! Someone was trying to talk to her!
She collapsed into the chair eagerly, but hesitated, her hand over the callback button. Was this the end to her solitude?
“Unidentified Transport Ship, this is station Dulex, we have you on our sensors, please identify yourself.” The voice repeated.
Amelia tried to remember the protocol. What would the Captain have said? “This is um…Amelia,” she said as she pressed the call button. It felt strange to be talking out loud when someone else was listening. This time when she spoke, someone else could hear her words. “This is Tighar. License 7835.”
“Roger that Ship 7835. Where are you licensed out of?”
It worked! She was having a conversation! She didn’t care that they sounded mechanical or annoyed at her. She was actually talking to someone. She hugged herself. Where was she? She turned on the exterior camera.
A huge space station hung before her like a giant star. Tantalizingly close.
“Ship 7835?” the voice repeated. He’d asked her a question.
“Ah – Mialea Station?” she replied. That was their home station, or it had been, before.
“Roger that. Please hold.”
She waited. What now? Would they turn her away. Panic filled her as she thought. What if they asked her to leave? Would she be alone on this ship forever?
“Ship 7835. You may dock. Please proceed to bay 17C.”
Amelia hesitated eyeing the huge station. Her fear of being alone turning in on itself. Where was Bay 17C, the whole station was a mass of pointy edges and shining lights. “Um…sorry. I’m new to this – “
“Put your pilot on, girl,” the voice growled. Even Amelia could tell he was angry at her.
“Um..they’re not -” Alive. Her mind supplied. “-available,” she substituted.
The silence that followed that statement was excruciating. She wanted to leave and fly away. This was too much too fast and too strange. But she feared leaving. Would she find anyone next time? No, she had to do this.
“We are sending an auto-docking program. Please accept the transfer.” A new voice broke in, brisk and authoritarian. A voice used to getting its way. The captain used to speak that way when she was unhappy with a situation.
“Yes.” She typed in the confirmation code.
The ship beeped twice as it read the instruction. Then it tilted down towards the ‘bottom’ of the station. While she watched, the station grew larger until it took up the entire view port. Then it grew even more until a single spine was all she could see. The station had been farther away than she had thought and much larger.
Her mouth was dry. How many people lived here? Could she find her way in all that space. Her ship didn’t dock at Bay 17C. Instead the she passed a sign reading 3A. Then the ship gave a quick jerk, coming to a halt into the dock. She felt it shudder as clamps locked on. Amelia flipped through the exterior cameras until she found what she was looking for.
Three people stood near the bay doors that lead into the station. Amelia hesitated. One of them had a gun.
The intercom buzzed again.
“Amelia, is it?” Another new voice. That was three voices talking to her in less than an hour. However, this one was female. “Can you hear me?”
“Yes.” Her own voice was almost a whisper.
“Can you turn on your camera?” Amelia didn’t want to. She didn’t want to see this woman or have this woman see her. Not when –
“There’s men outside.” She replied instead, thinking of the gun.
“They’re not going to board.” The woman assured her. “No one is going to do anything. I just want to talk.”
Amelia turned on the camera and faced the tiny screen. She was an older woman with a cheerful smile and dressed in some type of uniform. Amelia realized she hadn’t brushed her hair, or washed since she’d gone to bed. Her clothes were rumpled.
“Hello, I’m Peggy,” the woman said.
“We’re just concerned because when we ran your license, it had expired.”
Amelia froze, what did that mean?
“And that ship, the Tighar, was marked missing after it left port five years ago. You’re not listed as crew.”
“I – I know.” Amelia said. She’d been too young to be crew when they’d left. Five years? That meant, she-she was nineteen now?
“Where did you find the ship?”
Amelia began to panic, did they think she’d stolen it? That it had been lost in space for anyone to run across?
“No!” she blurted out. “No, I didn’t. They, they left me and I stayed behind.” She tried to explain. She wasn’t a thief. “I’m Amelia Echo. My parents were crew and they went to the planet, and they called me at first. But then they stopped calling. So I waited and waited. But they didn’t come back. There were the books and I learned how to do everything and then I came here.”
Her tongue tripped on the words as they crowded her tongue and her mind scattered in all directions. She was pretty sure she was crying.
The woman, Peggy, was silent a long time. Probably trying to figure out what she’d said. Her eyes flicked off camera a moment then returned. They were now filled with something Amelia couldn’t interpret.
“Your parents were Grace and Samuel Echo?”
“You’re all alone on that ship?”
She nodded again. Now she was sure she was crying. She wanted to go back upstairs where it was safe. To her bed. She wanted to fly away where no one would find her.
“How long ago?”
“I think…f-five years.”
The woman’s smile was gentle. “Don’t worry Amelia, nothing bad is going to happen to you. No one is upset with you. You’ve done nothing wrong. Are you safe, right now? Do you need anything? Food?”
Amelia shook her head. No. She didn’t need anything.
“This must be confusing, right now. We’re going to get some people to figure out what we need to do to make sure you’re okay.”
Amelia looked up alarmed. Was the woman leaving? Amelia knew she didn’t want Peggy to leave. If the woman left…then she’d be all alone again. And that, that would be unbearable.
“Don’t worry, I won’t go anywhere, I’ll be right here while we figure everything out.”
Amelia felt a tight knot begin to loosen. She tried to give a smile back to this woman who looked at her with such kind eyes. She knew it had been a pitiful attempt at a smile.
“And Amelia?” the woman said. “Welcome back.”
Credits & Special thanks to:
- Rory’s Legacies of the Sims for her two thugs. They starred as our doorman thugs.
- Munterbacon’s grandmother Peggy, who stared as Peggy the Psychiatrist.
- The other extra characters were created by me, but as extras for Rory’s story. They may or may not appear there someday.
- The spaceship image was taken from a site with spaceship concept art.
- The space station image was take from star trek artwork.