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Mathilda W


It was not the first time during this Journey that he sensed such an awkward Falling feeling, but this time it was worse than ever. He was still blind, deaf and dumb and only half conscious, but there was definitely something wrong. In theory, he, or what was left of him after the Procedure, secured inside his shell, his “Can”, should not experience any such effects. But that was only in theory.

Disconnected from the outer shell and any input signals, he could not receive audio, video, tactile or any other sensation that could tell him what was going on. During the course of the seven months, how long their journey was scheduled to last, rows and rows of cans stacked in the storage area, were supplied with preprogrammed intake of “sweet juice”, artificial drug that kept them in a state of pleasant oblivion. He assumed that such episodes occurred when his dose of juice was at the end, and he needed a new one. Some estimation went to state that in an unmanned spacecraft like this one, up to 2500 “Cans” could be transported. There had to be some queueing involved in supplying all the necessary juice on time for each and every one of them. Then it is always a question of quality of the raw material and following the recipes. It would not be a wonder that he got used to receiving a dose from the middle of the batch, and the effects appear when he got something from the beginning or the end. But for such a shake like he experienced now it would have to be something wrong with the entire batch.

“You will be transported with minimal unease and maximum certitude. There is zero chance of something going wrong.”

Well, this was the case of “something went wrong” if he knew one. But for Allenby things went wrong long time before and never got straight again. This is nothing more than just the final step. Once the doors of cooler slammed behind him, it was a downfall all the way. While serving the first year of his sentence in a special facility on the second moon of his birth planet, he got himself in a middle of the Prison riot. In addition to being stabbed and beaten, he was sentenced on additional twenty years without a possibility of parole. He was transferred into the maximum security prison on a Zhelda 13. Murder in self defense; additional ten years. Attempt to escape five more years.

It is no wonder that he so eagerly accepted their offer when they came to recruit men for the colonies. Some say to live in a “Can” is not the life. Well, those guys were never in solitary confinement of the Zhelda 13 prisons. He signed all the paperwork and joined the group of other convicts awaiting the procedure. Within a few hours they were submitted to the Procedure and become a precious cargo. At the time he thought of it as a smart decision.

Up to this very moment he felt no regret for giving up most of his body. After his ten year contract for working in a colony expire, with the kind of money they pay he could easily obtain state of the art exoskeleton that would serve him much better than his own arms and legs ever had. But right now with this feeling of spinning, reeling and falling through, he started to doubt. First of all he should not be awake, not this much in any case, and furthermore, he never got to ask them or himself “what if”. How come it never dawned on him before; on such a long trip anything could go wrong. He believed in all the nice things they said, because he wanted it to be so. Somewhere deep in the back of his mind, he must have known that it could not be so easy. No one would fund their release from the prison let alone pay such a ludicrous pay for such an easy job as they claimed to be.

For the moment he was glad that missing his internal organs made him incapable of vomiting. As things were getting worse, an idea of his “Can” free falling, tumbling and spinning while closing to the ground crossed his mind. There’s got to be an end, anytime soon. He could imagine a “Can” hitting a ground at high speed. It would be a final good night for you Allenby.

Missing “Cans”

This post first appeared on Pavel Jesenski - SF, Fantasy, Alternative History, Short Stories, Book Fragments, please read the originial post: here

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Mathilda W


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