Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lost Convoy, Part XV: The Signal

One of the few pieces of normalcy that remained for this particular remnant of humanity was the concept of time, which was vividly represented for each passenger on the monitors that faced each of them, mounted on the backs of the seats, just as had been common in some commercial airliners, for those who still remembered such things. There was the time, in perfect synchronicity with what everyone had been familiar with back on Earth, the day split into A.M. and P.M. There was also the option of viewing anything from the limited archive stored in the ship's database, but few seemed to have taken advantage of that. Jim Brewer, however, kept finding himself checking the time, so that it barely seemed to advance at all, and that was a kind of comfort. The less time there was, the more predictable life might be considered, even now.

He switched through the options on his monitor, what was currently available to him, anyway. He was supposed to be able to track the ship's position, its progress through space, but that had been knocked out, just as the pilot's own navigation system had been hit, by whatever event or glitch had put them in this predicament. He supposed he was the only one to have even bothered to check. He noticed that he had tangential access to the satellites he had helped set up, which intrigued him. He wondered if even the pilot knew what was blinking across his screen now. The satellites had worked. At least, that was as far as Jim could tell. His knowledge of these things only went so far. He wondered if he should flag down the flight attendant, or maybe just go to the cockpit directly, having established something of credentials for such behavior, such access.

He looked around, just to see what other people were doing, but by Earth time, it was well into night, when even the worst procrastinators would have turned in for the day, regardless of how that day was defined. No one else was stirring. Jim himself hadn't been able to sleep for about the past week, since he'd first heard the corroborated reports of the planet's final prognosis. Even Clive was fast asleep again. This was a good sign, Jim figured.

At any rate, he didn't see the flight attendant anywhere. He stretched in his seat a little, experimentally, to see if his body felt the same way his mind did. Everything moved exactly as it should. He slipped past Clive and made his way up the aisle, brushing past a number of dangling limbs, felt a few of them stir. He kept checking the time on the monitors he passed, just to keep a pattern in place, for reassurance.

He was about to knock on the cockpit's hatch when it opened on its own.

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