A handsome young man, late twenties, laid out on his bed in a small enclosed room. The walls were clearly made of some kind of weird metal alloy, although it had been padded, painted, and decorated a long time ago to look much more friendly.
He grabbed a small hand-held recording device off the nearby shelf, pushed a button, and began speaking. He was all alone in his room.
“Jason’s personal journal. September 15, 2218. This is my first journal entry. The wellness counselor felt it was a good idea we all started doing it. Document our lives and journey. Stuff like that. So here we go.
I was born and raised on a starship. Spent my whole life traveling through space.
Not in the adventurous, explore-the-galaxy kind of way. My starship, the Voyager VII, has been traveling in a straight line for the better part of 90 years. We’ve got another 120 to go before we reach our destination.
Yup, you heard me right. We’re on a one-way, 210-year-long trip half way across the galaxy. Me, my parents, and my parent’s parents are part of a New World Colonization Team, or NWCT. For some reason the government loves acronyms. And it’s not just my family that’s here. There’s about a dozen other families riding this same hunk of metal at .45c through space. 452 people in total, to be exact. And as you might’ve guessed, there’s a Voyager I through VI too, all ahead of us. We were the last to leave Earth for our new home.
By the time our ship gets there, colonization will have already begun. Scientists found this planet like a hundred years ago or so. Its conditions were perfect. Right atmosphere, ideal temperature, plenty of vegetation and water. An untouched, Eden-like second Earth.
But 210 years, one way, is a long trip. And despite all the incredible advances in medical technology, people still don’t live much past 70 or 80 years out here. I mean, the rich people back on Earth live longer. But being out here in space your whole life, you don’t get natural sunlight. You breathe recycled air. Food selection is very limited. Artificial gravity takes its toll on the body. Not to mention receiving a higher dose of cosmic radiation every so often, despite our protective shields and anti-radiation fields. In fact, living to 70 or 80 on a journey like this is quite an accomplishment.
Most people don’t make it past 40 or 50.
Me? I’m 28 right now. That means, on average, I’ve already lived half my life. That’s a sobering thought.
But it’s not all bad living on a long-range starship like the Voyager VII. Everybody knows each other. We all get along. We kinda have to. Everyone’s got their quirks and idiosyncrasies. I know I do. And at first, it’s easy to get on each other’s nerves. But after a while you just get used to it. In fact, after a while, you get comfortable with it. A while after that, you start to depend on it. It’s weird living in limited space, with limited food, and limited entertainment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen every movie on file. At least a hundred.
Right, where was I? I was talking about the good sides of living on a starship like this. Well, you never have to worry about finding a job. Everyone chips in. The captain and his wife organize everything. They make sure all jobs get done. They track how fast we’re going through and re-growing our food. They even – and here’s my favorite part – make sure there’s going to be a full crew by the time we get to the New World.
There’s four girls for every one guy on this ship. Remember how I said people don’t tend to live that long out here in space? The captain and his wife have to make sure we start new families, keeping the crew alive. No sense in traveling all this way to deliver an empty ship.
Now, when we left Earth, there were almost 2,000 people on board, including the captain and his wife. Some women were already pregnant when the ship launched. Why are we down to just 452 now? A few months back, we passed a little too close to an uncharted pulsar. We managed to avoid most of the beam, but enough residual radiation overwhelmed our protective measures and flooded the ship. The 452 of us remaining were either naturally more resistant or just luckily happened to be standing in the more densely shielded areas the particular nanosecond we got hit.
I lost some of my best friends in the following days and weeks. Radiation poisoning is a horrible way to die. And about two months later, everyone had either fully recovered or, you know, didn’t. These are the dangers of traveling in deep space, in a straight line, your entire life. We – or rather, our parents’ parents – knew the risks and signed up for it anyway. Those of us who settle the New World are guaranteed political positions, large tracks of land, and our names in the New World’s history books.
But did my parents sign up for this? No. They were born on-ship. Just like me.
Just like my kids will.
The loss of so much of the crew was a tragedy. But after a couple days of silence and grieving, the captain reminded us that the mission must go on – or else their lives would have been lost in vain. Work still had to be done around the ship. Food had to be grown and managed. And new families had to be born.
I’m a man. Remember how I said there were four girls for every one guy? It’s for times like these. Girls can only be pregnant with one baby at a time. Nine months pregnant, plus four to six months rest, and then they’re allowed to get pregnant again. Captain’s rules.
As for the guys, we have to make sure all those women are getting pregnant.
I’ve been getting so much sex these past few months. It’s exhausting. As soon as another girl is fertile, it’s my turn to sleep with her. It’s actually a lot of fun. And even when she’s not fertile, the girls like to have sex all the time anyway. They, too, have seen every movie on file at least a hundred times. So, see, it’s not all bad living your whole life on a starship like Voyager VII. You may not live long, but all your needs are taken care of and you have sex, literally, almost every day. Sometimes two or three times a day.
Being a guy on this ship is great.
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