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Passing in the Night

Pmmg lives in Maryland where he writes mostly fantasy and science fiction. He has been a long time reader of Daily Science Fiction, and his work has been previously published on Amazon. He has been a member of many writers groups, and can currently be found at Mythic Scribes and Wattpad.

Strange the night was. Strange that he should be awoken. Strange that anything at all should come so near. Capt. Tiberious stood on the bridge and looked out. There was nothing. Why have we slowed? he wondered, Why wake me? Still he peered into the empty starlit void. Just one moving thing out of place could spell their doom, but he saw none. The console flashed, "Incoming Object," there must be something.
The colony ship, "Promise," mankind's last hope. Leaving behind a dead planet, all of humanity had put their hope into this last voyage to a distant star. A lone planet that was so much like their home had once been that it could be used to start over. A brand new world. A world before the depletion and unfettered storms of radiation. A world now so unlike Earth.
Earth. Nothing could live there now. What he left was only the dying. And after so many years asleep in space, even the dying had long since died off. The Earth was beautiful once, but it would never hold life again.
His ship bore the signs of their hope. A hollowed out asteroid with an engine fitted to one end and a flattened bridge at the other. A colony ship with more than a million souls. It was painted as a beautiful reminder of what they once had and what they could look forward to. A museum-sized rendering of his long-ago home, when the oceans were still blue, and the land green. And to the front, their destination, a lovely green planet with large land masses and swirling clouds of vapor.
But it would not be reached if something imperiled their journey.
Capt. Tiberious looked out. A small dot of light slowly drifting. Could that be it? He watched it until he was sure it moved closer, a distant growing shadow in the emptiness of space. It could be no threat. Taking indulgence he tapped on the helm control, setting a course to take him closer.
An asteroid, he thought. Way out here in the void? Probably the only thing they would see on the whole lonesome journey.
The engines flared with slow bursts, changing his course ever so slightly.
He watched it as he approached. A huge rock, not unlike his own, growing ever larger. It grew larger, and larger still. Such a giant, he thought. What could it be doing so far from any nearby star?
It grew and grew, until he could see fully its shape in the darkness. And then he saw something beyond its size. A light--a low dim light that touched the points nearest him with a soft glow.
"Impossible," he said.
And as he drifted closer still, he looked on in only disbelief. There was a light. It lit the inside of a cabin. And inside the cabin, a Captain just like him, with green skin and wide eyes, and a drawn face.
They passed on slowly by, each staring into the bewildered face of the other, each coming to one lonely realization. For the alien's ship was just like his, only it had a green planet painted as its memory, and blue one as its hope.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, December 13th, 2017
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