Let us be thankful

“Let us be thankful for the glory of the Sun.”

Hashim watched Janine from the other side of the flight deck. It had just been her at first, but then Patrick and Ingrid had joined her ritual sometime in the second year. Now only he was maintaining his sanity.

There had been five of them, but Thierry had not lasted long after they lost contact with ground control. He started showing strain almost as soon as the engines failed, and the sudden mocking static of the radio two months later was the final straw.

They jettisoned him before he started to stink. It was Patrick’s idea.

Behind Hashim the solar generator hummed. It was all that kept them alive: electrolysis of water to provide oxygen, and heat and light for the plant nursery.

It was luck, of a sort, that they were drifting sunwards. There was less risk of collision with debris or asteroids, or of the gradual weakening of the sunlight. They had all known there were risks involved, but they were immediate, explosive risks. None of the presentations they had attended had mentioned this.

Their families appeared on talk shows, wrote memoirs, and watched nightly the silent grainy footage, hoping indiscriminately for their deaths, their return, or the relieving loss of the video connection.

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