I told you a few weeks ago about “The Waters Above,” a new short story I’ve been working on that blends sci-fi and theology. Now I’m almost finished with the first draft and I want to share a brief snippet of the story with you. In the next few days, I’ll be making the first draft available to my creative team for feedback, so if you’d like to get on board, head over to Patreon and join!
The thin electronic voice of the Star Duster’s on-board computer cut through his stupor and dragged him back into consciousness.
The voice was calm, almost soothing, and Waqaz’s body begged him to ignore it and go back to sleep for just a few more…
He came fully awake as he remembered where he was. And how long he had been “sleeping.” Of course, there was no way to know how long that had been. Sleeping wasn’t really the right word for it. What the body went through in carbon hibernation was nothing at all like sleep. If Waqaz had ever doubted that before, he certainly wouldn’t again. There was no REM in hibernation, no real rest at all. Only suspension. In fact, he was still plagued by the same headache that had been with him when he went down.
Waqaz spent a brief moment wondering how long ago that had been. The question was a useless one. When time was measured by the earth’s sun, it had little relevance beyond the solar system. And they were far, far beyond the confines of the solar system. It was impossible to say how long he’d been under in terms that meant anything at all.
Still, his eyes were drawn toward the place he knew the clock was positioned.
Except that he couldn’t see the clock.
Or anything else.
Before his rational mind could catch up and assure him that hibernation blindness was a perfectly normal reaction to spending so much time in suspension, the panic set it.
He had designed the pod he was in. He knew that once the outer barrier had retracted, there was a raised edge of about four centimeters to step over. He knew that the cylindrical hibernation pod rested at an angle of about ten degrees back from vertical.
He knew all of these things, but, in his desperation, it didn’t matter.
Waqaz surged forward, tripped over the edge of the hibernation pod, and went sprawling onto the cold floor of the Star Duster. The impact jolted him back to his senses and he closed his eyes — unnecessarily — to take long, deep breaths.
“It’s normal, it won’t last long.” He spoke the words out loud in an effort to reassure himself but the sound of his voice was so hollow and dry that the last word almost didn’t make it past his lips.
The ship’s mechanical voice intoned its warning again and Waqaz pushed himself to his feet. Traveling in hibernation meant they didn’t need much room, so the Space Duster was small. Even though he’d only been in the cabin for a few days before going under, Waqaz remembered the layout well enough.
The pods were in the back, about five meters behind two chairs that were situated in front of a bank of controls he knew little about. Beyond the control panel, a broad, flat view screen would be pointed out into empty space. If had been able to see, he would’ve had an unobstructed view of countless stars.
The thought led to another spike of panic and he stumbled forward. His knee slammed against the hard base of the chair and he smacked my face on the firm, upholstered back rest as he doubled over from the pain. The combination of blows sent him reeling backwards and onto the floor again.
“Waqaz?” Another voice, this one thin and nasal, but definitely human. “Waqaz, are you alright?”
Waqaz got his feet under him and stood on shaky legs, ignoring the throbbing pain in his knee. A moment later, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Waqaz, what’s the—” Faadi’s sentence ended a gasp, probably as he saw Waqaz’s blind, vacant stare.
His hand moved from Waqaz’s shoulder to his elbow and he guided him into one of the seats.
Waqaz hated being led around like a useless old man, but what choice did he have? When he was still a few centimeters away from being settled in, Faadi gasped again and released his arm. Waqaz could hear his boots striking the floor as he staggered back two steps.
“In the name of Allah…”
“What?” Waqaz demanded when Faadi didn’t say more. “What is it?”
That’s all I can share for now! The full story will eventually be available in a magazine if things go the way I’d like them to. But you can also read it early (and even improve it!) by joining my creative team at Patreon.