The Song of the Sea

The silence got to me first.

The darkness was nothing new. Space was dark, only punctate illuminations at an infinite distance. I rather liked that.

The nagging of the ship’s body was only a trifle. The AI had predicted retaining hull integrity with only a few percentage points of possible error. I’d had worse odds.

The food was par for the course—rehydrated, recycled, retextured, amalgamated, hydrogenated, gluconated crap. I was used to it.

The silence ate at my soul. The comm system died on reentry. A failed back-circuit fried the auxiliary memory banks, the place for nonessential things such as movies, personal logs, and music. I longed for my music most of all, the sweet familiar strains that soothed.

By the second week I heard the song, that siren’s call. At first I resisted. Then I rationalized, scoffing at the men of yore stuffing their ears with wax. Finally I embraced the tune, a whistful smile on my haggard face as I waltzed alone in cramped quarters, down walkways, and on an empty bridge.

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