Derelict

by joetwo

We found the derelict nearly twenty light-days off the main trade-route between New Chicago and Cicero. The emergency beacon had so degraded that the signal was barely enough for our sensors to pick it up. That meant that it must have been there for a long time, a very long time.

Approaching, I took a look at it. It was a standard bulk-carrier. One long shaft between the engines and command section with an assortment of cargo pods stuck along it. Not many places to hide I thought.

I suited up and crossed to the derelict. I had to jimmy the door but made it through and started to explore.

The crew left reminders of their presence everywhere, a ghostly phantom of habitation, posters on the walls, unwashed dishes in the galley, even hand-written notes on a board. “Movie Night, The Princess Bride, Thursday” said one, I wondered if they’d escaped.

They hadn’t. Moving carelessly in the zero gravity I accidentally bumped into the first body. It showed the dessicated look of something that had been exposed to vacuum. It was wearing half of a spacesuit. Whatever befell them must have caught them with their pants down.

I found three more like that and two strapped in bed. I found the captain last.

She was in a suit hunched over a console as if trying to bring life to systems long dead. The suit she had can keep you alive for a week. She used up every second of it, never leaving her post. They say astronauts are a different breed of people. She is the proof.

I carefully retrieved the flight recorder from the console and headed back to my ship.

I watched as we cast the derelict back out into the abyss. I took time to switch off the beacon so it couldn’t be found again. That seemed fitting. Her crew died there, it was only right that they should be allowed to drift, forever through the cosmos, at peace.

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Written for trifecta week one hundred

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