She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the stars. She traced her hand along the wall and tried to imagine what the universe looked like just beyond her reach. It had been five years since they’d left Earth. That’s a long time to go without the sky.
“Hey Flo, you in there?” Mark yelled from the other side of her door.
“You know I hate it when you call me that,” she said, standing from her bed and opening the door to his smug face.
“What do you want?” she asked. Florence had been irritable all week. The ship was huge, sure. It had to be in order to transport them all for such a long period of time but lately it felt like the walls were closing in on them.
“Oh, Flo,” Mark said, staring down at his feet as he traced one along the dusty floor. “Always such a pleasure. I guess you don’t want to hear the good news then?”
Her eyes narrowed at the mention of the nickname she hated. Mark had been gracious enough to bestow it upon her the first week of their journey. Unfortunately for Florence, it stuck.
“Unless we’re approaching our new home, I don’t care,” she muttered, turning and flopping back down on her bed. Mark stared at her for a moment as a grin made its way onto his face.
“Then I guess you’re going to be pretty happy,” he said. Mark turned and walked away before Florence could even comprehend his words. As his meaning took hold, she jumped up and ran toward the center of the ship where everyone was slowly gathering in anticipation. It had been years since they’d seen the outside world beyond the ship’s hull. You could feel the energy wafting off each of them as they realized they would soon be entering a new world; their new home.
“I told you you’d be happy,” Mark whispered in her ear. She waved him off and stared up at the podium where their captain made his announcements. When Florence boarded his ship five years ago, she honestly didn’t think they’d make it. She couldn’t believe that this one man could get them safely across the universe to a new planet. But he’d done it.
The sound of a door closing above created a chain reaction of silence throughout the room. Everyone stared upward as the Captain came into view. The look on his face, however, was not one of success. Florence couldn’t place it but the sudden flip of her stomach told her something was wrong.
“Friends,” the Captain started. “As you have probably heard, we have made it to Nebulus. Five years. Can you believe it?”
He shook his head in wonderment as the crowd chuckled along with him. Florence stayed quiet.
The Captain placed his hand on the railing and rubbed his eyes. This was not a vision of a triumphant man. A stillness crept over the crowd as they waited for him to speak. Florence could feel the air changing. What had once felt like hope now reeked of disappointment and failure. Florence felt Mark’s hand slip into hers and for once she didn’t jerk it away.
When he tried to speak again, his voice cracked and Florence couldn’t take anymore.
“Just tell us, Captain. We deserve to know,” she yelled up to him.
He looked down at her and smiled but the dreadful feeling coursing through her body didn’t go away.
“Unfortunately, Nebulus is no longer habitable. We will not be able to disembark as originally planned.”
He said it so matter-of-factly that Florence nodded along as if it were expected. Cries flew out from the crowd as others wept and held onto their familys. She looked around the crowded room until Mark squeezed her hand, bringing her attention to only him. She stared at him as tears welled in her eyes. She turned back to the Captain who remained at his post as the tears fell over onto her cheeks.
“Captain!” she yelled.
He found her eyes but said nothing.
“Captain, what do we do now?” Florence asked.
He looked at his hands as if the answer would be written upon them. When he found Florence’s gaze again, all the color drained from his face.
“I have no idea.”
Come get Sloshed at the Speakeasy!