The Frontier: Chapter 7
Nisha Chanambam stopped typing on her pad. She couldn’t concentrate. It had been a week since she left Orbatron, and the nagging hollowness of losing Eirian hadn’t waned in the least. With little to distract her on the long, boring space flight to the Frontier, sadness diluted her every thought. So far, her only responsibility on the journey was to occasionally update her blog on the details of the trip, and that exercise in recollection kept the memories of loss fresh on her mind.
She marched across the ship to the cargo bay; it was the only place that the pilots would allow them to smoke, so Nisha knew she would find Regan and Dalia there. Unlike the rest of the ship, the bay didn’t have artificial gravity, and as Nisha walked through the connector leading to it, she felt the weight of her body fall away.
“Nisha!” Dalia cheered as Nisha floated in.
“Come over here and hit this,” Regan commanded.
Nisha grabbed a dangling thrust rope nearby and pulled at it to propel herself across the bay. Regan and Dalia grabbed her and steadied her on the other side of the room. Regan handed her a vaporizer.
“You finish blogging?” Regan asked.
“I wasn’t feeling it,” Nisha said.
Nisha kicked off the wall and took a hit from the vaporizer as she flew. Because there was no gravity, the vaporizer wouldn’t work properly unless it was in motion. Once Nisha reached the other side of the room, she carefully tossed the vaporizer back at Regan and Dalia, who each took a turn hitting it while drifting across the cargo bay.
“How much longer before we hit another station?” Dalia asked Nisha.
“A couple more hours.”
“It’s so hard to keep up with time in space,” Dalia said, staring out through a window.
“That’s because there’s no time in space,” Regan said.
“Oh, wow. Yeah, there is no time in space,” Dalia said, turning her face to Regan.
Nisha noticed that both Regan’s and Dalia’s pupils were swollen.
“Time isn’t real anyways,” Regan said. “It’s imposed on us to keep us in line. It’s an attempt to bring order to the chaos. But up here, we’re free from its tyranny.”
“Yeah, diu time. Time does what we say up here. We’re in charge now!”
“You two haven’t gone one day without getting totally blitzed since we left, have you?” Nisha asked.
“There are no days in space,” Dalia pointed out.
“Nisha, I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” Regan said, “but outer space is pretty fucking trippy. You need to get on our level and stop moping around.”
Nisha snatched the vaporizer from Regan and flew off across the bay taking a long hit. She passed it back to them.
As soon as they made their way to her side of the bay, Nisha said, “Look, I’m sorry, but I lost the love of my life. I’m allowed to be upset about it.”
“I know it hurts,” Regan said, “but the best thing you can do now is move on. You’ll find someone else eventually. For now, you need to get your mind off of it and have some fun.”
“Yeah, trust me,” Dalia said. “You can do way better than that dumb chutia. Here, take one of these and you’ll forget all about it.” She passed a small green pill, held between her index finger and thumb.
“No.” Nisha pushed it away. “I can’t handle that right now.”
Regan and Dalia turned to each other and shook their heads in disappointment.
“You two just don’t understand,” Nisha said. “You can’t understand something like this unless you experience it. I feel like I’m gonna die.”
“I understand. I’ve been dumped plenty of times,” Regan said.
“Yeah, me too,” Dalia said.
“But have you ever been in love, truly in love, with the person who completed you, with your soulmate, and have them leave you? No, you haven’t.”
“Nisha, I know you don’t want to hear this, but Eirian wasn’t your soulmate. She treated you like shit,” Regan said.
“You don’t know how it was between us. And you haven’t even been in a relationship since the orphanage. You have no idea,” Nisha said.
“I’ve been too busy building a multi-billion dollar company and getting laid whenever I want to waste my time in a relationship,” Regan said with a smile.
“And you,” Nisha continued, pointing at Dalia. “You haven’t stayed with one person for more than a week your entire life.”
Dalia laughed. “Relationships only go downhill after the first week. That’s why I always get out early—so I don’t end up—” Dalia stopped.
“Nisha,” Regan said, “you’ve got to snap out of this. You’ve had a week to wallow in it. Now it’s time to move on.”
“I don’t want to talk about this right now,” Nisha said. “Have fun. I’ll be back later. I need to be by myself.”
Nisha kicked off the wall and floated back across the bay.
“Nisha, stay,” Dalia shouted.
But Nisha left. She couldn’t handle them right now, yet she didn’t want to be alone either. She wanted to be with Eirian.
As Nisha trudged back across the ship, she contemplated getting off at the next station and returning to Orbatron. Nothing seemed to matter at all now that she had lost Eirian. All Nisha knew was sensations of pain one moment and emptiness the next, each crowding out any other emotion. She’d gladly sacrifice this trip, her career, and all of civilization if it meant Eirian was hers again.
But, after a week of despair, Nisha had arrived at the conclusion that there was nothing she could do. She knew Eirian better than herself, and desperation and unbridled desire would never win her over. There was nothing left except to embrace the dark void that would shroud the rest of her life.
In search of distraction, Nisha entered the living quarters where she found the rest of the crew. Their two videographers, Dominick Hwangbo and Eryn Chambers, played some sort of virtual reality fighting game. Their editor, Siberio Morozov, played on his pad while their security officer, Malissa Sung, sat at a table eating a sandwich. Jones Davenport, their producer, sat in the corner of the room reading. Nisha walked over and took a seat by Jones.
“It’s called ‘The Greatest Secret.’ It’s about when humans first made contact with intelligent life.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of that. Is it any good?”
“I just started reading it, but I like it so far.”
“So I guess we start filming tomorrow?”
“You received the itinerary, right?”
“Yeah, I did. I’m just excited to get back to work. I need something to focus my mind on. Space travel is so monotonous.”
“Well, do you want to go over some research with me? There’s a lot to dig into if we’re hoping to find anything out there.”
“Yeah, let’s do that. Whatta you got?”