Sustainability One: Chapter One
Herein lies the first chapter of my free online book offered chapter by chapter. Return weekly to see what happens next.
Sustainability One: Chapter One – Captain Compeau
Captain Francis Compeau and his crew were a month out of space dock when his first mate came to him. Tearfully, she stood in front of him, rocking back and forth in the low gravity. She was pretty enough, but the captain knew it would have been risky to make a pass while they were on earth. They were making history, the first humans to go to Mars. They couldn’t afford emotional mistakes while they flew at thousands of miles per hour to a location they would call home for months if not years. No, sleeping with the woman would have been a colossal mistake personally and for the mission.
Now, however the woman stood wringing her hands as if she were a school girl about to tell the teacher she’d drawn on the back wall or worse, pushed over the TV screen sending it crashing to the floor. What could you possibly be about to tell me that would cause you such grief? And why is Carter with you when it’s his sleep cycle?
Lieutenant Zack Carter was their mechanical engineer. Francis stopped short of calling him the mechanic. The young man was good at his job, but protocol required him to be sleeping at the moment so they didn’t use up all their air and resources. On a ship like theirs, the resources were finite.
Francis remained silent and motioned for his first officer to continue. When she spoke, her words caught in her throat and her tears broke, cascading down her face unchecked. “I… I… I’m so sorry, sir. ”
“Sir? Chelsea, since when did we return to titles? We’re in a two thousand foot long barrel on a ten year mission to Mars. Titles are for the geeks planetside where someone cares. And what are you sorry for? Did you two break the cryochamber? Is that why you’re here Zack?”
” N… N… No sir,” the man stuttered. Zack had always been a nervous cadet, stuttering in the presence of his superiors, especially when they were women. It was obviously different with Mun however. They were like school kids, traipsing off into the depths of the ship for what they called tests. Likely been christening every console they can find, Francis thought. That was another reason he would never make a pass at the woman. One relationship onboard was bad enough, a love triangle would have ended the mission before it started. Even as it was, Francis was tempted to put one of them to sleep long term and revive one of the other members of the crew.
Chelsea stood with her fists balling and then releasing for almost a minute before she blurted out, “I’m pregnant.”
It was a finality Francis couldn’t handle as he glanced at each of the officers in turn. Letting out his held breath, Francis finally said, “You’ve killed us.”
He stood, silent tears of his own glistening on his face as he stepped around the pair and made his way towards the hatch. He turned back as he laid his hand on the handle. “You’ve killed us.” With that he pulled the airlock handle and stepped over bulkhead, pulling the hatch closed as he left.
To read Chapter Two, click here.