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You’re a woman who’s woken up out of stasis and you find out you’re onboard the spaceship Aubade. Last thing you remember is going to bed. On Earth.
Aubade is the story I can’t let go of. Every now and then I return to it, read through the whole thing, make a few changes, and then put it back in stasis. The reason I keep returning to this story is because I adore space adventures with strong female leads. I’ve had fun building a complex adventure. A story I personally would love to read or watch on the big screen. Do you know what I mean? Do you have one of these stasis stories too? Today I’m sharing with you the opening of Aubade. Let’s give it some air and see what you think. Would you like to read the rest of this story as a serial? After all, what good does a story do in stasis?
"The good not done, the love not given, time torn off unused" — Philip Larkin [Aubade]
A voice came from somewhere far away.
"...cold? It's better if you keep your eyes closed. Lay still and let me guide you through this. Continue to keep your eyes closed until my voice sounds clear to you. It is very important that you focus on my voice."
The bed was shaking so she reached out to stabilize herself, but her arms did not obey. Her muscles would not move. She recognized how fear began to spread in her chest, and the pain increased. She had to open her eyes now.
"It is absolutely normal for your muscles to spasm as they reconnect with the nerves. You will feel better within five minutes or so. During this time you will sense pain and a feeling of coldness. Just remain as relaxed as possible. It will decrease the reconnection time."
The bright light forced her to shut her eyes. The rough hands were holding her wrists, and they were the only warmth she could feel. As she slowly tried to reopen her eyes she could feel the grasp of those hands tighten around hers.
"You're doing very well. Don't attempt to speak yet. Here, take a small sip of this liquid and swallow several times. It will lubricate your throat and voice box, and alert your intestines." She obeyed and opened her eyes.
A woman was sitting next to her, holding her hand. She noticed that the woman's hair was short, and that she was wearing very plain and functional clothes. The woman leaned forward to give her another sip of the liquid.
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"Welcome back. And a very impressive one at that. Ten minutes is one of the fastest ones so far."
"Who are you?" Her throat was burning dry and she took another sip of the oily liquid. Her arms and legs had now stopped shivering and instead a prickly feeling had taken over. She could support herself on her arms, and propped herself up on one side.
"What are you doing in my house?" she asked the woman. Something was wrong, and since she had no recollection of what might have occurred she knew something was seriously off. This must be a medical technician, she rationalized. She must have had a medical emergency and someone had alerted the MT.
"Well, I live and work here too," the woman replied, "and as soon as you're feeling stronger you can take a look around." The woman's face was the kind that revealed every mood. It was slightly square shaped with a small mouth and thin brown eyes. The short hair fell on her head in disorganized clumps. Her complexion was clear, and she looked very much awake and pleasant. She did however reveal a distinct feeling of nervousness.
"In my notebook you will find a list of people to call. Please call!" She forced herself to speak even though every word hurt. She did not like strangers in her apartment.
"Sara? Sara, I'm Evelydia, and I'm one of the medical officers here. I know it's difficult to wake up but it's important that you stay with me. It's very common to experience false awakenings and a sense of dislocation, but as soon as the reconnection fluids have spread throughout your system you will feel much better. I am very pleased to meet you, finally, and look forward to working with you."
Nothing made sense to her. She did not want to wake up. She had heard about these types of dreams before, false awakenings. She knew no one with the name Evelydia and she was not going to collaborate with any medical officers.
Her anger gave her enough energy to swing her legs over the edge of the bed and sit up. She became blind for a few seconds, and while the white dots cleared up in her field of vision, she began to detect some odd changes in her room. In fact, this room wasn’t her bedroom.
What she saw in front of her was a light-colored cubicle about the same size as her bed. She looked to the left and realized that her bed-cubicle was one of many others in a long corridor. Her bare legs dangled down toward the bare floor. A low buzzing noise sounded. Evelydia smiled.
"Where am I?" Sara asked while fear began to crawl around in her chest.
"We're about three weeks from our destination." Evelydia has a slight puzzled look on her face, and she moved up to adjust something on a control panel near Sara's bed.
"No, I am serious. Where am I? I want to know right now. What happened to me? Where's my daugh..." She broke out in a coughing fit. Evelydia gave her another liquid that felt soothing and refreshing. The cough vanished within seconds.
"Sara, it is rare, but sometimes the body does seem to wake up faster than the mind. I would not be too worried if I were you. It will come back to you. Your values are great." Evelydia looked at a screen while she spoke to Sara. "In fact, I think it's time we tell Doctor Renni about your awakening."
"Doctor Renni? Evelydia? That is your name, right? You have to tell me where I am. I have the right to know if I'm in medical care. I cannot remember anything unusual happening before I went to sleep last night. Who brought me here? Why am I hooked up in this strange bed? Is this a test?"
Sara's thoughts were racing with panic as she looked down on the tubes and scanners that covered her pale body. Evelydia stopped and looked at her. A quiet and impatient laugh formed somewhere deep in her throat.
"And they told me your were the Historian, and you can't remember why you're here. How ironic! Usually all memories return within five minutes, but since you seem confused and a bit shaken let me review the basics. We will of course have the first crew meeting in about 24 hours."
For the first time Sara began to understand that she really was awake. This was it. She was not in her own apartment, and this stranger woman knew who she was.
"You have been in deep sleep, like all the rest of us. The computers were set to wake us as soon as a hospitable planet was detected. And it has."
Sara stared at her bare feet. Her toe nail were still painted dark blue from the party last week.
"We've been in deep sleep for about 100 solar years. We have not received any messages since we left, not even from any of the other ships."
Sara raised her head to look at Evelydia.
"Yes, it took a while. We all were a bit surprised at the length of time."
"I am no longer on Earth?" Sara could hear her own words sound out as if someone else was speaking. Evelydia laughed.
"See? I told you. You’re beginning to remember things!"
More to come…
Did you enjoy this story? What are you most curious to find out after reading this intro? Please leave a comment below and let me know if you’d like to read the rest of this story as a serial.
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