This is the first part of a sci-fi short story series called “Good Night”. It is my first story, so don’t expect much…but I actually think that there is a slight probability that you will like it. 😀
The large spacecraft certainly did not look like the more fashionable ones from the old science fiction movies; indeed, one journalist had commented that it looked like a cross between an umbrella and a bicycle tyre. Nevertheless, the Starry Messenger would take them to where no man has ever gone before: the triple star system of Alpha Centauri, a place sundered from the Earth by more than four light years of vast interstellar space. The reason for spacecraft’s awkward shape was that it was one of the few solar sails in existence: its large, pentagonal and flimsy sails would employ the tiny pressure from sunlight, giving it a subtle but sufficient acceleration. Peter Floyd liked the ship very much, and did not feel like agreeing with that journalist. However ugly people thought the ship was, he likened it romantically to a strange, beautiful, and silvery flower.
A second thing that the Starry Messenger did not have in common with its romantically imagined science fiction counterparts was that it was not spacious – a sad fact that had been the cause for much grumbling from the astronauts since the beginning of space travel. The Ring (as it was called, which consisted of the main living quarters, the observation deck and the toilets) had barely enough room to walk. Out in the movies, a spaceship’s interior often resembled the insides of a luxurious five star hotel, while inside the Starry Messenger, some of the taller crew – Peter included – actually had to bend in some places to walk through. This was of course, necessary. Providing more room for the crew meant building a larger spaceship, which meant more mass; which would be much harder to accelerate – to say nothing of the costs involved. The hundred odd companies – public and private – that were responsible for the ship’s design and fabrication thus made sure the ship did not carry what was unnecessary.
However, Pete had to admit that this was something of an improvement from the cramped spaces of the Pegasus, with which he and three other crew had travelled to Saturn. That was almost six years ago, but Peter could never quite forget the moment when he first set his eyes on the ringed jewel of the solar system – the curiosity of the night sky that had mystified astronomers since the time of Galileo himself. But it was one thing to see Saturn and its rings with a telescope. It is entirely an other to see it with your own naked eyes, right in front of you…
A distant but perceptible jerking sound brought Pete out of his reverie. As the ship’s Chief Engineer, his senses had developed almost a mechanical bond with the ship…his years long training – which involved simulations, underwater spacewalk training, and hours of programming – had bought him into intimate familiarity with each of the ship’s many subsystems. Now, he could sense something was missing, something was different from the ordinary functioning of the ship. What was it?
After what felt like a decade, fear rose once more in Pete’s mind. Something was terribly wrong with the ship, and it certainly was not the lack of space.