Here's a little first draft short story I've written to help inspire the mindset of my characters in the Young Adult Sci-fi/Romance Novel I am working on. This is a story spurred from the subplot of the little universe I've created. It began as a dream and developed into it's own being. My characters live and breathe inside my head and I hope I can do them justice!
…Different in the morning.
It happened again, doubt, sorrow, and cold sweats, followed by that awful feeling of wondering what woke me.
I wasn’t really curious, though, even my subconscious mind was full of this awkward brand of pity. It was always the same pattern, I had screamed myself awake. It was barely even a question by now, I was quite certain I had. Same time, same sinking feeling, all of it identical...
I snapped my eyes open trying to push the awful imagery out of my vision. I knew my eyes were working because I could see the clock, but nothing else greeted me, darkness. It was still night, the inky blackness and stuffy recirculated air were almost more than I could bear. The night was no savior for me. 0300, just the bottom of the bare asscrack of morning but I already knew what I was in for today.
It was the same this ‘morning’ as any other of the past six weeks or so. Time was almost blending together now. As I came to my senses and rubbed the slumber and sorrow from my eyes I was almost surprised when I realized my palms were moist. Still deluded, I told myself it was sweat.
I had plenty of time to learn to accept things though. There was no sign of the fake-ass sun rise, in the fake-ass window, near the fake-ass corner of this ridiculously tiny closet of a room. I still had another couple hours until the shift change, the only real difference between night and day for humanity now. There was no morning anymore.
Isn’t it funny when the mind plays tricks on you? When something seems so wonderful that you almost begin to miss it, even knowing that you’ve never experienced it. It was not easy. Coming to terms with precious sleep being squandered away was just the opposite of easy, but, the imagined feeling of the warm sun seemed such an ideal consolation.
As I went to the control panel and entered the manual override code for ‘sunrise’ a full three hours early, two concepts captured my mind by force. I wouldn’t be able to shake myself free. Both thoughts so alien and unknown: Morning, the real earth kind as I imagined it, and as always, the face.
These were the reasons why I was jarred awake at this same time, every damn night. I doubt that coincidence is to blame that this exact hour was the one in which I made up my mind a month and a half ago. I decided that I would turn her in.
The evil little picture haunting me slowly began a harmony as it mixed with my perception of morning. I shared a love/hate relationship with the artificial weather system in my cabin, but I knew I’d keep going back to it. For it kept alive the quaint delusion of waking up to the sight and warmth of Earth’s sun, an ideal I’d never truthfully lived.
That was the new plan for my subconscious now, I guess. These two concepts swirled in my mind, it was truly ridiculous. Yet, I longed for them…
As a fresh round of visions hit me I knew it was true. Just the same as the darkness, I too was no savior. All the applause and back-patting, and worst of all the attention… I loathed it and it was all a huge lie. Yet for some reason, I sought it, in that one instance. I’d gotten my wish; I’d achieved a state of notoriety, alright. My little half-cocked idea of bravery, it bought me everything I now hated.
This morning it seemed to come clear, I was evading the truth.
I loved her. I love her.
All I could imagine is what I was to her, in her eyes. The awful reflection of myself I caught in those mysterious orbs when I last saw her punctuated my truth. I knew what I was the moment I’d committed the ferocious atrocity everyone else saw as heroism. The odd glow in the pupils of her beautiful inhuman eyes shed the perfect light on what I already knew was fact. I looked into those eyes and knew I was a pariah.
I slowly staggered over my memory and across the room to the urinal port to relieve my bladder. I knew shaking this new routine would be impossible. I sure was putting myself through hell, and for the sake of what? A damned refugee!
My mind was trying to put her aside, excuse the actions I’d committed for the sake of duty and the choice I made. Shit, she’s not even a part of the GDC!
“AHAHAHA”, I’d began laughing out loud at the dialog in my head, maybe they were right, maybe I would end up just like him.
The Global Democratic Coalition, what are you talking about, Spiny? Of-course she isn’t a part of the G-D-fucking-C! SHE ISN’T EVEN A HUMAN!
WHY did I keep doing this to myself?
Resistance is futile… and then the wave of nostalgia wrapped me momentarily. That feeling of a wet blanket on the skin, the melancholy was spiraling now.
We weren’t even permitted to pursue love, not anymore. According to interstellar protocol amorous relationships were “nearsighted and irresponsible”. Love was a crime. It was punishable by various levels of E.V. maintenance detail according to the degree of offense. I was beginning to think that she may be worth at least that, but there was so much more to consider. She was down in that miserable gut of the ship, probably shackled, thanks to me. And going and telling her my thoughts weren’t only useless, they would make me a traitor. Still the pain insisted further investigation.
As I put on my uniform that line kept repeating in the back of my head, where had I heard it before?
“That’s it,” I hushed myself as I buttoned my standard issue trousers and I felt a shiver erupt from my spine. Then it hit me.
Wasn’t it from that brainless old sci-fi program Pops used to watch? I exhaled a sigh, and allotted some fresh pity for myself. It seemed so fitting though, when you apply the concept to what I’d done.
I fought with myself, trying to keep my pitiful existence something recognizable. I hadn’t thrown caution to the wind and embraced my desires yet.
“GODDAMNIT,” I roared,”This has to stop!”
I probably would have kept on yelling like that, like a crazy man, like Pops…
But the sharp bang on the wall brought the noise in my mind back down into focus; I had to maintain appearances despite the tumult inside my skull. I couldn’t go waking the ensigns, not when they looked up to me so damn much…
I was not worth their admiration.
Making decisions and even just caring for the processes of everyday life aboard the Ark was becoming hard to handle. I am Captain Aden “Spiny” Simms, I won’t bend to this pressure. I am better… I have to be… I thought to myself,
I’m not, I’m nothing.
I was trying to convince someone, I must have been, because I sure as hell wasn’t convincing myself. Sure, I was the youngest man to even become a GDC officer, never mind a Captain, but that boisterous statement was not going to work today. The feeling was so artificial, an appearance, just a role to be acted out while on duty.
Somehow as the next hours passed I made my way down to the bridge. As ‘second in command’ I needed to show face to the crew and issue the morning’s action plan. How could I do that when I couldn’t figure out what I could do to get through the midmorning? All of my brainpower was at war inside.
Screw the damn ship.
It’s hard enough to grasp these new and dangerous feelings and thoughts invading every waking minute of life. I ought to report to the infirmary, I would have, if it wasn’t so damn full of refugees.
And that was it. That was all it took. As I grasped my head I knew my conscience had heard enough. The mere registering in my mind of the word was all it took to lose grip of the crumbling ledge of composure I so desperately clung to.
“Refugee”, I’d said it aloud now, accepting the responsibility for my actions for the tenth time this morning. If they were ‘refugees’, what the hell was she? I will never be able to fully share the picture scribed into my mind as in reply.
I fell off this proverbial ledge. As I tumbled down the caverns of sanity I stormed off the bridge and away from the deck I knew accepting responsibility wasn’t nearly enough. Her face, that look of betrayal and lost trust, while they pulled, no, dragged her away. The pain it caused me was worse than anything I’d ever experienced.
Isn’t it funny the way things always seem so different in the morning? This morning was both the first and last. Today I’d stopped being captain, I’d become a traitor.
© Copyright 2016 Fred Eric Michael. All rights reserved.
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