“Pssst…Bill … Hey, Bill, wake up. You’ve been sleeping for two full hours and now you need to wake up and talk to me. I can’t take this silence anymore,” whispered Mitzi.
“Mitzi, damn it. Please leave me alone. I have to sleep more than two hours at a time. My mind requires deep sleep. Please, go bother someone else,” said Bill.
“Okay Bill, no problem. Let me see… I’ll go bother Jameson. Oops, Jameson is in cryosleep. I know, I’ll find Wilson or Collins; it’ll be nice to hear a female voice for a change… What’s that…? They’re in cryosleep too. And, oh, by the way… THEY’RE ALL IN CRYOSLEEP!… ALL NINE OF THEM!” yelled Mitzi.
“OKAY! Okay… Then at least get me some coffee. Let me sleep ‘til you get back,” pleaded Bill.
“And, once I get that coffee, what kind of container would you like me to use? Maybe a cup?… Or a Thermos?… How about a bathtub? You know I’m a cat… right? How, exactly, am I supposed to carry that coffee, let alone make it?” said Mitzi.
Bill slowly opened his eyes and focused on the cat sitting on the small desk at the foot of his bunk. Its green eyes stared accusingly back at him.
“That’s okay, Mitzi. Don’t do me any favors. I’ll get my own CUP of coffee.” Bill swung his legs off the bed, sat up and put on his deck shoes.
“That’s another thing…” said Mitzi. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about my name… I get the white paws and mittens thing, why didn’t you just name me Mittens? What’s up with the ‘z’?”
“Your name is pronounced ‘Mitt Zee’ and it has nothing to do with having white paws.” Dressed in boxer shorts and a tee shirt, Bill stepped to the desk. With the tips of his fingers, he gently stroked from Mitzi’s forehead, over her head and about half way down her back. Without hesitating, he turned and exited his cabin.
“Come on, let’s go to the galley and I’ll tell you all about Mitzi Gaynor.”
As Bill walked the passageway his attention was drawn to the right bulkhead and one digital display after another, all the way to the galley. He had made this walk, in the same way, for almost three years. The left wall of this passageway housed all the Cryo-containment units, their status displays, and the individual life support systems for each crewmember. Bill’s cryo unit had functioned perfectly. Unfortunately, no one else’s had. He was supposed to have been the last person to awaken and after nine system failures, he was the first… and the last. There was simply nothing he could have done. They had all died, one after the other, years earlier.
Bill had quickly realized that the ship should have been decelerating, but without a pilot, it had flown right by their objective and would continue on, at near light speed, until the ship ran out of fuel or ran into something. He had tried to learn the controls, and found everything was locked by the ship’s computer security. As the mission Botanist, he had no access to any of the ship’s command and control systems. Shortly after that, Mitzi showed up.
“So, Bill, when does the rest of the crew wake up?” asked Mitzi.
“Any day now, Mitzi. Jameson is the Mission Commander so he will be first, then Wilson. Wilson is the Exec and I can’t wait for you to meet her. She’s an anthropologist,” Bill chuckled and shook his head, “and man she is going to love you…”
Back in Bill’s cabin, the porcelain cat sat exactly where he had left it. Its glazed surface highlighted by the ceiling lights and its green eyes stared accusingly at the empty room.
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