art by Tais Teng
by Christian Roberts
The one thing they all agree about is that I'm insane. They probably warned you about that before they brought you in here. Did they also tell you I used to be the navigator? Thirty years. Never a mark against my record. At least, not until I told them what I'd found.
Sit up here on my bunk and I'll tell you about it. Come on, they won't let you leave until your time's up, you know. I won't bite if you won't. I know, cheering up duty is no fun. I had to do it when I was a kid. I hated it too. There you go, settle down now and pretend to listen. I'll pretend you're cheering me up.
I wasn't the first to tell them. The Proponents of Understanding have been saying it forever. No one pays them any attention. What do they know? But me, with my training and experience--that was different. It caused quite a commotion when I said we were lost.
That's right, lost. Don't look so appalled. The Generation Hope probably missed her destination hundreds of years before you were born. There's no point crying over it now.
The captain was the first to turn against me. What proof did I have? No navigator ever doubted the ship's course before. Which is true, as far as the records show. But the records only go back a few hundred years. There's no telling what happened before then. We don't even know where the ship came from, or when she left. Or why.
Anyway, why should I have to prove we're lost? Shouldn't it be the other way round? You prove we're on course! That's what I told the captain.
Of course he couldn't prove it. How could he? Our trajectory takes us right off the map, about twenty years out. Whatever's beyond that is anyone's guess.