Challenge #02155-E326: Alone in the NightsteemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction2 years ago


It was a single dot in the blackness of space. All it did was shout 'I am!' to the surrounding cold dark. -- Anon Guest

This is space - lots of it is very dark, except for the bits of it that aren't. When there is light enough to see by, one could be completely unaware of the plethora of light surrounding one, and therefore think that the blackness of the void is infinite. Technically, it is. It is also peppered by stars, galaxies, nebulae, planets, asteroids, comets... and stations.

This is one speck in the middle of a million other specks. It is small, and a long way from anywhere else. People find it by falling down the wrong wormhole, by drifting off course, by coming to an eddy in the great river of trading fleets headed from A to B. This is the unexpected C that is the metaphorical creepy old mansion on the hill for the lost teens on the back roads of life.

This is Serendipity Station. A tosheroon of life, vessels, and scrap that has accumulated in a place where people most need shelter against the dark. A refuge for the lost, the battle-scarred, the hopeless and the occasionally hopeful. It is a place that exists for people to come from rather than for people to aspire to go to. Nevertheless, there are people who go there because nobody else will take them in. A wise woman once said, Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. This is one such home for the homeless, the drifters, and the wanderers.

As a station, it was pretty bad at it. There was no defined port authority beyond some pass-through decon booths and a perfunctory declaration of five previous stops. It didn't do trade, though trading happened within its walls. It didn't do repairs, though repairs could be acquired. It had no clear governing body, but things got done anyway. Though it wasn't a navigational resource, it had a beacon that told the universe.

Much like the early efforts of civilisation, taking the first baby steps beyond the surface of their origin planet, the only deliberate signal out into the larger cosmos was a monotone, metronomic beep.

For hundreds of lost travellers, it says, "I am salvation." For the refugees with no other direction than away, it says, "I am shelter." For those whose navigation systems have failed them, it says, "I am a reference point." For those who have nowhere else to go, it says, "I am somewhere you could belong."

So they come. So they go. So they stay. So they grow. So they leave. Lives and deaths in an intricate web, made for people in need by people who can try to help. It is many things to many people. A last bolt-hole. A place to change. A refuge against tyranny. A place to heal. Somewhere that they're wanted. Somewhere that they're needed.

It is none of those things. It is all of them.

It is.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / TsuneoMP]

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