A Horrible Death
KJ Hannah Greenberg
Tapas Winner
It shouldn’t matter that my interplanetary communicator malfunctioned briefly. I’m still in command. When I sit at point, marauders can’t affect my ship.  

Nevertheless, down the hall from the bridge, in my rocket’s lush arboretum, the bodies of my subordinates lay splayed. Except for Gordon, they expired instantaneously.  

Gordon had to be murdered. Like me, he was an anomalous sentient stuck on a ship populated by humans and inert, ruinous microorganisms. While he was guilty of survival, it was his articulated grief over Natalie that provoked my rage.  

Gordon keened aloud when he ought to have been maneuvering us away from the shimmering haze. He didn’t care that the miasma had roused the microbes and that he and I continued to be vulnerable.  

Dry drowning seemed kinder than pushing him out the hatch, so I drugged his coffee. While he slept, I replaced the air in his tank with a slightly different mixture. His death was horrible.  

I blame Gordon for his mutiny, for his attempt at soddening my name by prolonging our exposure. Given the course he set, it will take a century for me to flee the iridescent cloud. Hopefully, my black box will survive.  

These days, I find it barely entertaining to dream of again inspecting worlds where venomous wildebeest run amok or where two-headed hedgehogs rule. It’s equally ineffective for me to stay offline just because all of us have or will perish. Accordingly, I’m transmitting this story.

First published:August, 2017
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