I don’t blame anyone really. Sometimes I get angry or depressed and curse my friends, my family, the company, the system, the church and anyone else I can name. But it’s a short madness and like all things, it will pass.
I haven’t slept very well in the last few days. Bouts of lethargy and a resolute stubbornness seem to possess me on these cold mornings. The coffee is too bitter and the crispy flakes of golden corn taste like ashes and feel like razorblades. It has been the same with every meal in the last week. The meat is dry and powdery, the vegetables hollow and watery. I leave most of my food untouched, I clean the plates and I plan my next repast.
I read my mail in the morning but today I let it wait until after lunch. Such is my decadence and freedom. There were some offers of cut-price firmware, live-feed porn and a flyer advertising pressurised space on a new station about five million miles from me. We wouldn’t be alone in the dark any more.
Of course, none of it does me any fucking good.
This station won’t go online for about two years and I’ll be long gone. I logged onto ChatNet and scrolled through the thousands of messages. One read, “Space Age Boy seeks Earthy Girl for Zero-G Hijinks”. That made me smile. Ten million years of evolution and still men were firing out crap chat up lines to lonely women. Was this more or less effective than a wooden club?
There was a long thread about some poor shithead stuck out in the dark, spinning around Jupiter in a damaged pod and a quickly decaying orbit. Some pitied him, some laughed and I really wanted to say something smart, something cutting that would make them blush, make them shut up, make them think. Someone had even managed to get a picture. It was a poor likeness, stupid office party from six years ago. One another thread they were running a numbers game on how long it would take for the pod to burst, how long it would be until Jupiter was seeded with my blood, sweat, piss and tears. I took a few moments and used a few tears. Nothing dramatic.
The problem with this situation is that there’ll be nothing left. I hadn’t been to the Clinic, hadn’t left my legacy in a little cup so there wouldn’t be another me. There wouldn’t be enough left of the pod to scratch an obituary and so the ChatNet onlookers would be my only witnesses. I tapped out a quick message to anyone who could read. Something simple, something regal. It would take a week to hit the Net but by then I’d be spread into a fine mist by hurricane winds in the upper atmosphere of a star that nearly was.
I can’t be saved.
Earth and Mars are months away. The closest transport could get here in time but then wouldn’t have the fuel or the facilities to effect a rescue. And if they tried, they’d join me in this slow doom. At least they are close enough to actually talk to me. I hate the heavily punctuated conversations with my family on Earth. My family haven’t called in two days. I was the black sheep of the family when I took the job and staying i touch seemed nothing more than a formality. The Company was good enough to provide me with a Counselor. She’s in her mid-forties and very good at her job, telling me to express myself, that it’s alright to cry and that it’s wrong to bottle up my anguish. After the third session even she stopped calling.
There’s a girl on that transport. She’s lovely. I know she’s just trying to comfort me but we have long talks in the evenings, we play chess and I dream of her when fatigue finally overtakes me, Her signal is getting weaker as Jupiter creates too much radio noise. I’ll see her tonight, tell her I love her and say goodbye. I’ve never said that to anyone before. Never wanted to. Never needed to. But if I don’t say it tonight then I never ever will.
Through the three-inch reinforced plastic windows I can see Jupiter with it’s great glaring red eye. I’ve never seen it so large, stretching to create an everlasting dusky plain beneath me. I’m not within the orbit of Callisto on the way down. Spiralling down.