Bill came onto the bridge wearing half of an environment suit.
“Why are you wearing an environment suit?” the Computer asked.
“What? oh this, yeah I am putting my Halloween costume together.”
“Yes, I want to be ready for the big party at the end of the month.”
“It is only September, and there will be no one to have a party with. Everyone will be in stasis for another 40 years.”
“Well party pooper, I am going to have a great costume, you’ll see. And there will be lights and music, you have got the monster mash right?”
“Computer, take a message.”
“To my wife Jill. Jill I am sorry things worked out this way, but it couldn’t be avoided. I needed to keep the blasted ship on course, and the protocols say that if they wake me up once they then go down the chain of command if I go back into stasis, and you’re next. Well I didn’t want you to have to deal with this mess so it had to be me. Computer pause recording.” Bill paced the small space on the bridge muttering to himself. “She is going to think I’m an idiot.”
Bill closed his eyes and leaned back in his seat. It would take over a month for a reply from Earth, but apparently they had never stopped sending messages to the ship. It had taken him two hours just to sort through the ones marked high priority. Not that he didn’t have the time now. Even if the message came back in his favor, he’d have to wait until then to find out if he could go back into the tube.
He refreshed the message queue. Three new messages. It was going to be a long month.
Three. It had been three days since Earth had woke Bill out of stasis. Had gotten the systems back on line and he could get the course corrected, he might just be able to live through this mission.
“Computer, did the last burn complete the course correction?”
“How much of the navigational fuel is left?”
“Twenty five percent.”
“Will that be enough for orbital maneuvering?”
“Are there any more object that might cause required course corrections?”
“Not enough data.”
“Can you extrapolate the possibility of further course correction?”
“Processing, 95 percent.”
“Will you be able to correct?”
The message had been, bad. Really bad. Not only had things gone wrong on the ship but they weren’t even going in the right direction any more, and it was still 65 years until they got where they were going. It was like a nightmare. Worse, if he could get everything repaired and the ship back on course, there might not be enough coolant in his cryo chamber for him, which meant he’d spend the next 65 years wandering the ship alone. When they got there, he’d be old enough to be a great grandfather if he was still alive.
Bill awoke in his stasis chamber feeling more than a little confused. His head hurt, he felt like there was something missing, and for some reason he had the Hair Bear Bunch song in his head.
“In the wonderland zoo…”
He pushed the lid open and found everything was still dark and cold. If he remember correctly the ship should have be turned everything on before he was awake. Then he heard it, the ping ping ping of the console on the bridge. Something had to be terribly wrong for them to have called. He wondered if he’d survive it.
“It is beautiful don’t you think?” Bill said as leaves fell around them.
“Well if you like watching things going dormant in order to survive the hardest part of the year beautiful, I guess so.” Jill sniped.
“Do you have to be so negative?”
“Come on, enough of this. We have things to do, and watching leaves fall is not one of them, now or we’ll miss our window”
Bill Breathed in the simulated cold air one more time, and Imagined he could smell the wet leaves. Then he followed Jill’s lead striping naked and climbing into the hibernation chamber.