Rocket to the New World
“Don’t worry,” Edith said softly. “It’s only a little pain.”
The little boy squeezed his eyes shut as she pierced his deltoid with the needle. He whimpered.
“That’s the last of them,” she said, rising and addressing her nurse. “They’re all ready.”
“Don’t they need to go in for de-lousing?”
“They’ve already done that,” Edith replied. “Let’s move them along. They’re eager to get to their new world.”
“Have you been there?” the little boy said. “Have you seen it?”
“I’ve seen pictures,” Edith said. She smiled and helped him down from the examination table. “It’s lovely. The plants have taken to the soil there like you wouldn’t believe. The trees are so tall. Everything is mammoth.”
“Shut the fuck up and get back in line, little boy,” Edith said, nudging him gently on his way with her knee. “I haven’t got all day for this expositional dialogue.”
“Mammoths?” said the nurse.
Edith slapped her.
“I was joking,” the nurse said, rubbing her cheek.
“That’s why I slapped you,” Edith said. “The rocket’s taking off. Run!”
They outpaced the little boy and made it onto the closing rocket doors just in time. Humanity pressed all around them. It was going to be a long and horrible ride. There was a reason they’d all needed shots.
This was a third-class carrier, cobbled together from other rockets, scrapped vehicles, unitrains, hoverbuses, and such. Every color of metal had been welded into the walls that surrounded them. Sometimes brightly varied colors did not have a cheerful effect, and this was one of those times. Even though she’d joined this ship with a discount by offering her free skills as a phlebotomist, it was all she could afford.
“Thank god for cryo-sleep,” Edith said to no one in particular. “I am so ready to be this far from the earth.”
All around them, clouds of sleeper gas filled the chamber. Everyone scrambled to find a comfortable spot on the floor before they were completely incapacitated by the gas.
“I heard they’re giving land away there,” a good-looking young man said to her.
“Shut the fuck up,” Edith said happily as she dozed off.