by S.S. Hampton, Sr.

You can run, but what if you find yourself aboard a space faring Flying Dutchman?

Luther Raynor is a son of one of the world’s wealthiest and politically influential families. When the Etava Virus appeared, and spread across the world, mankind’s very survival was in question. Luther used his family’s wealth to construct a sleeper spacecraft to take the family into space, to orbit in safety around Jupiter for a thousand years while in suspended animation. At the last minute, he changes the plan after calculating that upon awakening, survival supplies for one would last far longer than for two dozen or more people. He flees into space alone except for the Mobile Artificial Intelligence Image—May, responsible for operation of the spacecraft. But, Luther had no idea of what awaited him out there.


The dream was always the same. He floated alone in an unknown darkness until a pale dot emerged in the distance. He wrinkled his nose at the smell of burning wood and something else, something that smelled like sizzling bacon. His hand opened, fingers spread wide toward the dot that became a blue-green world, blanketed with dirty white clouds that sailed across a starry blackness. Dark, smoky clouds with a flickering yellow heart trailed the world whose colors were fading as if losing their vitality. An unfamiliar low, deep keening sounded from an unexplored depth.


* * * *


“This is the Deep Space Sleeper Spacecraft Hope. Can anyone hear me?” After several moments of silence, he closed with the by-now routine, “Hope out.”

In the cramped, dimly lit cockpit cabin Luther Raynor covered his mouth with a trembling hand. Beyond the surrounding windows above the numerous instrument panels lay a primordial night blacker than that of an unlit cave.

He listened intently. Beyond the dull hiss of circulating air, he heard a stealthy creak issue from the narrow corridor through the open hatchway behind him. The sound would have been more at home on a haunted wooden sailing ship drifting aimlessly on a mysterious ocean rather than in a brightly lit spacecraft of which he was the only occupant. He was certain, after several frantic searches, that he was the only one aboard. But still...

Luther swallowed uneasily and ignored a faint groan. He touched the screens set in the control panel before him to activate another sensor and visual scan.

Lost in the depths of unknown darkness, he knew the ship was a long way from Jupiter and the four moons discovered by Galileo—Galilei: Callisto, Ganymede, Europa, and Io. After his months long journey, the Hope was supposed to slide into position behind the moon Europa with a possible planet wide ocean beneath an icy crust. The experts thought it to have the best possibility for life outside of Earth. From there, the gas giant, almost 700,000 kilometers distant with its myriad of misty blue, gray, orange, white, and purple pastel bands, would fill the windows of the spacecraft. He would have a bird’s eye view of the mysterious Giant Red Spot, the hurricane-like storm that always was and always would be, as it grew and shrank according to its whim.

For a thousand years, the five Galileans would circle that failed sun, after which the automatic flight systems would activate the return sequence and with a flare of rockets the powerful Zama Drive, descendant of the early 21st century Cannae Drive, would fling Hope away from its companions. Because of the speed generated by the Zama Drive, the world of his birth would soon appear in the spacecraft windows again.

At least, that was what was planned.

S.S. Hampton, Sr. - "Monologue"



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