Sandman

Good morning. You are on rotation 10. You have three outstanding tasks.

You wake up. It’s your turn again. The pod door opens, just as it has every time before.

Micro-cracks in Sections C12, C13 and C14. Priority high. Low-oxygen in Section C22. Priority medium. Opened pods in Section D00 and E00.

Groggily, you sit up and swing your legs over the sides of the cryopod. You shiver and wipe the beads of condensation off your forehead. You barely register the simulated, artificial voice. You’re still recovering from the effects of cryostasis. Your vision is still a little blurry. Your chest heaves, your lungs unused to breathing on their own after thirty years.

You do not notice this. You know it will pass in time.

You are naked, just like when you went into the pod. Your clothes are where you left them, in the notch in the wall just beside your pod. Your name is there too, displayed on a slightly staticky screen.

You have one message.

You frown at the computer screen.

You have one message.

Play message?

You tap on the screen. A man’s face appears on the screen. He is you, and he is not you. He has the same hair as you, the same eyes, the same nose, but you know he is not you. You know he is not you because that cannot possibly be you. You were asleep for thirty years. You did not leave this message.

The man who is you but who is not you is wounded. He is clutching his stomach, red blood blossoming from underneath his hand and staining his pristine uniform. He tries to speak but he stops. His head swivels towards his left. His eyes widen, his mouth opens in a snarl, or is it a scream?

Message Ends. 

You do not know what to do. What just happened? You want to find out but the computer interrupts you.

Micro-cracks in Sections C12, C13 and C14. Priority high. Low-oxygen in Section C22. Priority medium. Opened pods in Section D00 and E00.

It is the last task that stands out to you. Another pod? Section D00. Section E00. You know that no other pods should be open by now. You swallow. A short trip away if you take the onboard rail system.

But you’re not allowed to go into the other sections. Not unless it was an emergency. There are other technicians in those sections. It’s their job to work on that.

However, there are other things that require your attention first. The micro-cracks in Sections C12 ,13 and 14 must be attended to immediately. Any weaknesses in the hull could turn out disastrous for the mission.

You think back about the man who is you, but is not you. You push that thought out of your mind. You have to work, you tell yourself. You cannot let this distract you.

You walk towards the living quarters, just a few minutes away from your pod. You don your white uniform, crisp and clean just the way you left them before the long dark of sleep.

You’ve always kept your quarters nice and clean, as neat and as tidy as can be. However, as you enter the quarter, you notice something is a bit off, a bit strange, a bit different. That cup should not be in the sink, it should be in the cupboard. A plate is still on the table, a chair had been pulled out. The bed in unmade. But you tell yourself, it is okay. This must be from the cryosleep, you’re just imagining things, you tell yourself. There cannot possibly be anyone else awake on the ship, cannot possibly be another you because you are you and no one else can be you.

You walk up to the food and drink dispenser. The familiar soft-blue glow of the screen comforts you. You tap out an order and the machine spits out two pills, and dispenses a small paper cup with cold water. You take the pills right away. You feel better immediately.

After eating, you check with the computer for your outstanding tasks.

Micro-cracks in Sections C12, C13 and C14. Priority High. Low-oxygen in Section C22. Priority medium. Opened pods in Section D00 and E00.

Maybe you should check again.

Micro-cracks in Sections C12, C13 and C14, priority high. Low-oxygen in Section C22. Priority medium. Opened pods in Section D00 and E00.

You check again.

Micro-cracks in Sections C12, C13 and C14, priority high. Low-oxygen in Section C22. Priority medium. Opened pods in Section D00 and E00.

No.

Opened pods in Section D00 and E00.

No.

You don your protective Hazards Environments Suit and grab a flashlight. You strap a toolkit to your waist. It must just be an error in the computers in that section, you tell yourself. A simple error. But there cannot be any errors on a ship designed to last for a thousand years.

You board the rail system, nothing more than a simple cart that hurtles through the gargantuan spine of the ship. Within minutes, you arrive at the great bulkhead at the entrance to Section D00. A door to a gargantuan vault, an imposing piece of metal and steel, it looms above you. You check the console at the door and run diagnostics on the systems. If this was an error, you’d be able to find it here.

Error. Unable to perform remote diagnostics.

You frown. You try again.

Error. Unable to perform remote diagnostics.

You look up at that great, hulk of metal and steel and feel a sense of dread build in your mind. You tell yourself it cannot be anything other than a mistake. Surely, it must be a error. Why would there be anyone else awake? You realise you must go in if you are to see if it truly is just an error. You hold a wrench in your hands like a club and desperately tell yourself that you will not need it.

The door opens with a great, metallic shriek that makes your heart start to beat faster. Anxiety builds. You enter the section and the door closes behind you.

You wander the halls, walls lined with the same hexagonal pods, again and again and again and again. You hear the gloves of your suit creak as you grip the wrench even tighter. You wander and wander. You suddenly feel as if you were lost, even though you know exactly the layout of every section in the ship. You could’ve sworn you’ve seen those names before. You backtrack and find yourself reading the same names over and over again. Your heart starts to beat even faster. You can feel sweat build on your brow.

You start to run, not caring about the noise you’re making, not caring that your clanging footsteps could be heard from anywhere in the section. You run back towards the door from whence you came. Then you stop. You have found the pod. It’s open. You look at the name. You shake your head, you cry, you scream.

It is your name.

You hear footsteps. You turn.

It is you.

His face is caked in blood. Flesh rots in his long, scraggly hair. Pieces of meat are caught in his teeth. He howls and launches himself at you.

You are not fast enough.

Good morning. You are on rotation 11. You have three outstanding tasks.

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