27 Years

Spaceship

The award winning short story 27 Years was written in 2013 for a writing contest. Required elements for the contest included: 750 words or less, Betrayal, some element of fire, moral compass, sci-fi.

By J.R. O’Neill

Copyright 2013

Spaceship_1It was a miracle; right? That is what Michael heard; ah yes the miracle of childbirth. His first child, due to be delivered by his beautiful wife Natasha today, it was a good omen according to his best friend Chen Lee. Today was the twenty-seventh anniversary of the day the good ship Eden had left Earth orbit. He had no memories of the home planet, being just three years old on that historic day when two thousand pilgrims, and three hundred crew-members began the thirty year voyage to their new world.

Eden was a miracle itself. A two kilometer long cylinder rotating on a central axle that for fourteen hours a day was filled by the reflected light of the fusion reactor that supplied all power to the ship. With a self-sustaining biosphere, all food was grown or raised on the rich farmland, all waste recycled. There was no disease, no birth defects, and no crime.  The twenty three hundred humans selected by the strength and diversity of their DNA represented the best the Earth could muster.

“Come on! It’s time.” Chen Lee said to Michael when he arrived at Michael and Natasha’s home.

At the birthing unit, they found Michael’s mother Celeste already there.

“What an exciting day!” Celeste said. “I’ll bet you’re nervous.”

“Not really, we have been preparing for this day for so long now, I’m sure there will be no surprises.” Natasha said.

Celeste was not so sure. She remembered the day thirty years ago when she had been lying in the birthing pool, hoping against hope that her terrible secret would never come out. One night of passion, one night that changed everything. Then the sudden death of her husband while she was pregnant with Chou Lee’s child, her best friend and research partner’s husband, if the truth came out, she would be stricken from the mission, condemned to die with the Earth. Then her child Michael was born, no trace of his Chinese father could be detected. Over time, she convinced herself that Chou Lee was not the father, that it was just a bad dream. Natasha moaned for the last time when the infant finally left her body.

Celeste thought it had to be God’s will, as she looked at the face of her granddaughter and knew that it was time to pay for her crime.

Michael’s joy turned to horror, betrayed by both his wife and best friend, he ran from the room, followed by Celeste.

Meanwhile Chen Lee stared mesmerized at the infant.

Natasha was just confused. What was wrong with everyone? Her baby was fine, Right? Then she saw what everyone else had seen. She stared at Chen Lee. “What have you done? It was that night that I came to you when Michael and I were fighting, right? How could you have raped me? Did you drug me?”

“No, never, I…” Chen Lee bolted from the room.

Michael ran after him, the anger burning, the fire consuming his soul.

The day of his execution was at hand. He felt no remorse, he had, had his revenge, oh so satisfying he had watched the life drain from Chen Lee’s eyes. His only regret was leaving his beloved mother, and his poor victimized wife to fend for themselves. For the bastard child he felt nothing.

Leaving the hall of execution Celeste held Natasha’s hand. Together they would raise the child. Celeste would help to instill the moral compass the girl would use in life. Her secret was safe for all time.

Evil had followed mankind to the stars.

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