For When You Wake Up

For Vick,

First off, I'm sorry I wasn't there for your wake up protocol. I know how disorienting it is to come out of cryo, and I hope you didn't panic too much. Obviously, you found this note, so that's a good sign that you're coherent. I have the orientation vids queued up in the living lounge, go there and press the blue button to get the rundown when you're ready. But first, there's something you need to know, and there's no easy way to say it.

The refreezer is broken. I don't know how, the ship doesn't seem to be able to diagnose anything. But it's a death trap. I watched Jerome freeze to death right in front of me. He had no idea until it was too late. He tried to shout something at me before he passed out, but I couldn't figure it out. The freeze went too slow. I've run a few tests, and it's not getting to vital chill at all.

I tried, Vick. I tried so hard to fix it. But I couldn't. So then I tried to just tough it out. We're still 70 waking years out from even reaching K2, probably another 30 before we're landing on a suitable target. But with the refreezer broken, the maintenance plan is out the window. Anyone who wakes up, stays up for good. That's not even the worst of it.

This ship isn't made for the waking. Two laughably small bedrooms that weren't ever meant to be used for more than a day or two, a "kitchen" that shits out the most bland nutripaste designed for easy refreezing, a toilet that is literally just hidden around a corner from no one, and endless monotonous hallways with all the cryopods. We only built one window in the whole ship, and there's nothing to see but stars that are too far away.

There's about two weeks of culture archive content you can spin up in the lounge, but no one was supposed to be awake here long enough for that to matter. Even the nutripaste is only barely enough for one person to stay awake and survive on for the rest of the journey, and that's assuming that you can actually live permanently on paste. I couldn't.

I told you, I'm sick. I'm sick, and I'm broken, and I can't keep pretending that this is a life. I told myself that I could survive, to protect as many people from this fate as possible, that I wouldn't wake anyone until I was on my death bed. I told myself a lot of things. I told myself that the storage bay was OK to take from, robbing future generations of precious Earth goods, because it was better than waking someone. I told myself that the halls were full of frozen meat. I lost myself, Vick.

As you find your own ways to pass the time, you're sure to find the evidence of my sacrifices. The things I did to try to keep going, one more year, one more month, one more day of the unending quiet of this cursed ship. It was wrong, and I should never be forgiven, but every day is a struggle not to give back in to the madness. I have to be stopped. My turn is over. I broke in the 4th year, and I'm writing this to you in the 17th during a rare window of lucidity. I'm old now, I got old in space, with nothing and no one, not even a mirror to see myself in.

I don't know if this will help, but I didn't choose you at random. Someone had to wake up, and it took me years to even come up with a method for picking who it was going to be. How do you pick a random person out of 3 million without a computer to help make it fair? No, I had to choose. There had to be a reason to doom someone to this hell. We didn't bring any awful criminals or anyone with an aggressive-dominant behavioral record, no one here deserves to be woken up until we make it to a planet. I decided to pick a very dumb reason, hoping that it would hurt less for you. This isn't meant as punishment.

I had an ex who shared your first name. He was bad, and you were the first Vick I found once I decided I was done. That's it, and I'm sorry. I don't expect you to ever forgive me, but I hope you don't blame yourself. You should be angry, you should hate me. I've killed you, in the slowest, hardest way. And someday, you're going to have to make the same hard choices if this floating prison is ever going to become something worth all this pain. There's 3 million people aboard, and only a few have to die along the way. But you're one of them, and that's my fault.

By the time you're reading this, I'll be in airlock 4, it's just down the hall. I don't care if it's out of rage, out of survival, or out of mercy, but I need you to press the hatch release. You don't have to watch, but my turn is over, I crave only what I deserve: to finally rest. I know this sucks, flushing the second to last person you'll ever interact with, but you don't want to see me. You do not need to gaze into your future this early. You have nothing but time, and surprises are sacred out here.

Yellow button with stripes. Press and hold for 2 seconds, say no prayer. I'm sorry. Good luck.

- Sara, second damned.

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