Editor’s note: This is the conclusion (for now!) to guest author Raja Thiagarajan’s flash fiction cycle. Start from the beginning with “Amelia”.

Chapter 4

By Raja Thiagarajan

Agra said, “We can’t thank you enough. If you hadn’t correctly identified the problem, things could have gotten a lot worse.”

Katrina chuckled, “No thanks necessary. If the ship failed, I would have died, too.”

“That’s gracious of you. But I still want to apologize for Wakening you early. I also need to apologize because we can’t spare anyone to reset your hibernaculum immediately. It might be a couple of days. Is there anything we can do to make you more comfortable while you wait?”

“A place to rest and full access to my files should be enough. Oh, wait a minute; could you let me pick my own meals while I’m awake?”

Agra smiled. “I can rearrange the cycles for that, yes. You sure you don’t want fresh protein on the wing?”

Katrina shook her head. “I told you, I can’t stand eating bugs.”

The next day, Agra talked to Katrina again. “I’m sorry; getting the automated feeder working again is taking longer than expected. The most recent software update from home turned out to be incompatible. The next update should arrive in six days, and we’re pretty sure that one will work.”

Katrina said, “Don’t worry about it. In fact—“ She took a deep breath. “In fact, I was thinking … could I change my schedule, and finish out this shift Awake?”

Agra cocked her head, then made a gesture and absorbed the results. “It looks like we have the capacity.” Agra smiled. “You would have to eat the same diet as everyone else. But you know we don’t usually reschedule. Why?”

“I … I’ve been catching up with the news Earthside, and messages from home. I’ve come to realize—” Katrina took a deep breath. “When I signed up for this mission, I said I had nothing more to prove Earthside, and wanted a new challenge. But seeing the messages my granddaughter sent me in transit, I’m wondering if it also had something to do with my relationship with my daughter. What’s that ancient song they played when we first got underway? ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us’?”

Agra hesitated. Katrina hurriedly said, “I know; I’m not stupid. She’ll probably be long dead before we arrive, and unless she sent me a message in transit, I won’t know the whole story for years after our arrival.”

Katrina took another deep breath. “My daughter was many things. But she was definitely dutiful. I’m willing to bet the next packet six days from now will include a message from her.” Then Katrina smiled. “And even if it doesn’t, I’m sure it will include more messages from my granddaughter.”

Raja Thiagarajan is grateful for his family and gets along very nicely with them. Well, most of them.

I hope you have enjoyed Raja’s stories. Find links the whole flash fiction cycle below:

You can read more of Raja’s flash fiction in Loop Garou, an SF e-zine. Click here to download EPUB and PDF files of Loop Garou 6.

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