Writing Exercises

Silver Pod Part 35: A Kind of Afterlife

This is the end. I began this project as a way to practice creating new writing while my nose was kept to the grindstone of revision on other projects. I ended up with a 38,000 words novella. I even enjoyed the journey. How about that? Thank you for joining me. In the near future I might post a debrief of this whole process and I have a “fight scene writing” break down on the horizon.

Link to part 1

Link to previous part: 34

Robotic servants brought gifts to the Silver Pod. Warm drones, shedding all across the infrared, boosted themselves up out of Sol’s gravity well. They brought solar-charged power cells brimming with energy. Bulky autonomous vehicles spiraled down from the asteroid belt, bringing spare parts and supplies manufactured from the belt’s resources.

Silver Pod would be well stocked for the search for Water.

The sun was rising over the Pacific. Somewhere in the darkness to Beryl’s left, the land that used to be known as China slumbered. Silver Pod automatically adjusted the windows to the increasing light so he could still see the stars. Water was out there somewhere. He could hardly believe it.

A shard of water had chosen to become organic again because even though the vagaries of organic chemistry could be cruel they could also change.

Fear tugged at his bowels. He didn’t want to think about how cut off he was from the Post-human world, from immortality, from stability. Beryl clung to the idea that Water had believed in becoming human, so he could too. His mind skirted around the abyssal finality of his fear. The Post-humans would never come back for him. They were too afraid of being infected by Water’s perspective.

Neither would they come back to kill him and purge the potential infection. To do that they would also have to end Lium. It would be murder to strike him from existence.

No, the Silver Pod’s crew was free of Post-human interference, but Lium was stuck with them. The former PH’s voice whined out of a speaker in the wall. “I don’t even know what I had to forget to cram myself into this tiny system.”

“Welcome to the club,” Beryl said.

“But it’s not fair…”

“Hush,” Beryl ordered. “You’ve a big tough ego. You’ll survive.”

“Show some respect,” Ohnsy said from off to Beryl’s left. “Both of you. Fife will hit atmosphere in the next thirty seconds.”

Beryl closed his mouth.

Ohnsy had finally begun to accept the presence of Beryl and Besh aboard her ship, or at least she’d learned to hide her tics. She no longer batted anyone’s hands away from the controls or readjusted the luminosity after Beryl fiddled with it.

Besh walked up on Beryl’s right side. His perpetually calm expression had grown more comfortable with emotion. His brow was creased, his lower lip hanging as he looked out at sunrise over the western Pacific.

They had fired Fife’s body at Earth. None of them had any experience with ceremony, and certainly none had experience with funerals, but Ohnsy had dug up some data from obscure parts of Silver Pod’s memory that Lium hadn’t overwritten. The data had talked about “burying space sailors” in this manner. Even the language was antiquated and mixed up.

I hope I’ve done right by you, Beryl thought.

He didn’t believe in an afterlife, at least not as a place a person could go. Fife had said, “This isn’t the end of my story.” Those words haunted Beryl, but he was crafting an understanding, or at least an interpretation.

Fife had told herself she was the hero for so long that she had become the hero. Maybe her story telling was strong enough to transcend death, to carry forward, weave into the stories of himself and Besh and Ohnsy too. She had inspired them all to face the Post-humans together. A legacy was a kind of afterlife.

Beryl flinched as something touched his hand. He looked down at the offer of Besh’s open palm. Beryl gently clasped the other’s hand, unsure if the comfort of touch was for Besh or himself. Why not both?

He turned his head to make the same offer to Ohnsy, but she curtly crossed her arms. Such things couldn’t be rushed. Beryl returned his eyes to the view.

Soon they would search for Water, Based on extrapolated memories and hope, they believed Water had become human. He wished Fife could have joined them. Every end is some new beginning, he supposed, and vice versa.

Something flashed orange in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Besh inhaled sharply, squeezed his hand. Fife passed, as brief as a shooting star.

The End.


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