Harmony Chapter 2: The ship

Filed: Harmony @ 6:33am on October 19, 2010 No comments yet! :(   Word Count: 1,736
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This entry is part 2 of 27 in the series Harmony

There are three main types of space ships. Shuttles are only used for carrying people between the ground and a space station. They were generally rather smaller and completely entered inside space port docking stations.

Stellar ships are used to quickly carry people within a solar system. The Earth-Mars ferry for example, takes between only 2 and 7 hours, depending on the position of the planets in their respective orbits. They were a lot larger than shuttles but also smaller than space ports, allowing them to dock directly to the side of the ports

Inter-stellar ships however, were huge. A single ship rarely made direct back and forth route. In general, they had a route lasting a few years, hoping between star systems, allowing colonies to trade with each other without requiring a single trade system.

On Earth, rich kids are used to taking vacations on other planets by taking a cruise around the solar system. Reaching Saturn in the right season usually took only a few days, giving access to several of it’s resorts moons and still allowing to be back to Earth less than 2 weeks after leaving.

But reaching another solar system was a lot trickier, even taking into account that inter-stellar ships were much faster.

The closest star systems took a few weeks and by then, many of the fresh commodities on board were already thinning out. My first stop was Alpha Centauri were fresh milk, fruits and meat re-appeared in the ship’s cafeteria.

My ticket only allowed 2 meals per day, but it was enough to survive considering I didn’t ┬áhave much to do. I didn’t have access to the movie theater but I still could use the exercise room 1 hour per day in the morning and the library most of the time. Those facilities were otherwise reserved for the business class.

Fortunately, almost all of the ship’s passengers left on our first two stops, leaving economy class almost empty after a month of crowdedness while all of the passengers from the business class disappeared completely.

It wasn’t an accident. The most populous colonies were close to the solar system allowing quick travel back to earth and leaving the outer colonies to perform mining and agriculture.

Most inter-stellar ships visited two or three inner colonies before attempting to reach the outer ones and this one was no exception.

As soon as we left our second system, we embarked on a two month journey in deep space before we would reach our third stop. I would only disembark on the fifth one, more than 14 months after leaving my parents.

That meant another 13 months carrying my empty shell across the long desolated hallways of the ship almost devoid of life.

On the up note, I already had better living conditions. If I entered the exercise room during my allowed hours, no one would kick me out, allowing me to remain inside for as long as I wanted. Of course, if I left, the door it wouldn’t open again until the next morning, but I quickly discovered that no one gave a damn if I jammed the door to prevent it from locking.

After all, the exercise room was only locked to prevent economy class passengers from bothering the business class ones, but there was no longer any business class on the ship.

Sadly, it meant that the rare economy class passengers, mostly immigrants travelling toward our third destination, no longer exercised in that tiny one hour window, reducing further my social interactions.

But at least, after a few days, I got into the habit of exercising in the nude with the door closed. This meant my only set of clothes no longer got wet from perspiration and no one could bother me as long as I didn’t open the door.

Less than a week after our second stop, fresh food was all gone and we were down to ration packs which is dried food re-hydrated by the ship’s recycled water and heated unevenly in an industrial size microwave.

If you were the first in line for your food, it was too hot in places and frozen elsewhere. If you were further away from the front, it was cold in places and still frozen in others.

In 2 months, after our third stop, the lines would have thinned out significantly, but until then, I just arrived over an hour before each meal to try and get hot food.

Some of the other passengers started to pity me. It was clear I only had one set of clothes and since I didn’t have a lot of money to waste on laundry, they were only washed in the sink every few days, leaving them in a weird state.

One of the families gave me a shirt. It was ugly, but at least I had a spare now. The one I had when I left earth had began changing colors already because of my earlier exercising.

You might think it was ridiculous to sweat as much in my situation, but you have to understand that the only gravity on the ship is caused by the ship spinning around it’s axis.

First class was entirely on the outermost levels, allowing for the maximum gravity, but most of the economic class sections were a deck closer to the center.

In both cases, it wasn’t enough to keep our muscles in shape for such a ┬álong time, requiring exercise even for the first class travellers but they had their own set of exercise rooms I didn’t have access to.

They also had a commodity we didn’t have: observation windows in almost every room while we had a single observation deck.

At first, I rarely went because it’s the most popular spot on the ship for our class and I didn’t want to talk to all of the people going on vacations or business trip and admit I was basically homeless and hopeless.

But the family who gave me a shirt often hung out there and we quickly became friends. They had young kids, which is why they were emigrating away from earth and I offered to watch them.

In exchange, they offered me friendship, sympathy and a few additional pairs of panties. They were a little too big for me but I finally was able to change my underwear.

I had stopped wearing shoes and socks a few days after I came aboard, gaining me the nickname of “the barefoot refugee” but panties were not as easy to live without.

The biggest improvement to my life was laundry. They had to use the laundromat every week and adding two shirts, a pair of jeans and some panties didn’t cost them anything more. They even lent me one of their bathrobes during the laundry cycle since my entire possessions where kept away from me.

I often took too the opportunity to exercise, since I did it in the nude anyway, and even shared the exercise room with the mother a few times while her husband watched the laundry and the kids.

Days went by a little easier now that I had friends. We laughed, told stories and played with the kids. It was a well appreciated distraction from my problems but that too, came to an end.

After a few weeks of happiness, the Clark family left the ship with the rest of the rare passengers of economy class to settle in a newly founded colony where a new bright future was supposed to wait for them.

I knew better. New colonies take a few generations before being functional. Bare necessities are missing everywhere and land conditioning isn’t over yet.

When we settle a new planet, there is nothing on it. It has oxygen and water, otherwise we wouldn’t be settling it, but it doesn’t have life. We need to import it. Plants, bugs, microbes and moulds required to create new ecosystem.

Slowly, the seeding point would enlarge, growing until the whole planet, or at least the whole continent, is teaming with life.

Then, animals would be introduced, including cows and lambs proving meat, leather and milk to the inhabitants.

It was a rough life despite having new materials and food being dropped on the planet every few weeks by the colony organizers.

I had never heard of their planet or even of their star. I doubted my father’s company managed it. It was most likely a kick-starter management fund which took the risk and once it would be self-sustainable, they would most likely sell it at a profit to a conglomerate, possibly father’s.

But I wished them luck. I would have preferred going with them rather than subjecting myself to almost a year alone aboard this cold ship, but my ticket didn’t allow it.

Tickets rules everything. When you bought one you also bought your meal plan on the ship, your visa for your destination and your shuttle fees for going to the surface. They were not transferable.

The portion of my ticket which allowed me to land on my new home couldn’t be used to go down with my friends to their planet. In fact, the little shuttle which carried passengers between the ship and the orbital space station wouldn’t even accept me because my ticket didn’t include a portion for them.

On board of the ship, my fingerprints were used to grant me food, access to my room or the various activities and I could pretend to leave with them, but once I would leave, my ticket would clearly state my destination, keeping me on the ship.

As soon as they left, a deep silence froze me in my bones. No more kids laughing. No more elderly couples asking me to fetch them something they had dropped. No more arguing with a fat gentlemen because I had locked the exercise room to hide my nudity despite him and I knowing I was the person who figured out how to use room all day long.

I no longer had people paying for the laundromat but at least, there were no lines for food at the automated distributor.

After a few weeks, I stopped wearing clothes altogether when I wasn’t on my periods. At least, maxipads were supplied for free even for our travel class, no doubt a consideration they made only to save on cleaning costs.

Well, if they can call that cleaning. The whole area had one cleaning robot which followed a predetermined route amongst the common areas. He was my only company but I had to steer clear or it would just stop to avoid hurting me.

Fortunately, I had plenty of books to read, allowing me to complete my education.

Series Navigation«Harmony Chapter 1: ExiledHarmony Chapter 3: First Class»

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