I’m getting really tired of people dying.
And coming back to life.
And coming back to life.
It’s like every time I turn around, they’re dead. But when I look again, they’ve been resurrected. God should have named this colony Lazarus. She’s dead, too (God, that is), or at least I assume so because I can’t see her and I haven’t heard her talking lately. Lazarus… that’s a pretty good colony name. I’ll see what the crew thinks about it, right after I go get my…
Crap! The crew’s dead again! All I was trying to do was eat breakfast.
I’m standing in front of several plates of food, more than one person could eat, just about enough for a whole crew. Whew. I can’t remember the last time I ate anything—maybe I can eat all this.
Ugh. These eggs are cold. How long since they were cooked? And who made them? Last time I checked, over medium was a challenge for living crew, let alone the dead. Sigh. I should see if there’s a microwave nearby to heat them up; that’ll definitely improve the consistency of ambient temperature, already-too-firm yolks.
Holy crap! “You’re all alive again!” I shout, turning around and finding the crew here, as if they didn’t just die.
“Wangji, you act like you’ve seen a ghost,” says Kioku’s specter incarnate.
Five faces are staring at me, very alive. “You were dead…”
“You offered to get us those plates just a moment ago. Then you poked the eggs with a finger, and turned around,” says Kioku.
The eggs? The eggs have vanished. “The eggs are gone, regardless of how well done their yolks were. I came to find a microwave because they were cold before they disappeared, but I found you instead.”
“But we didn’t go anywhere. And neither did the food—it’s right behind you.” Kioku taps her fingers on her elbow, arms crossed.
“Yeah, but the microwaves have all dematerialized, so don’t bother looking for them,” says Zinda.
What trick are they trying to play on me? “The microwave is right behind you, Zinda. But that doesn’t matter because the eggs are gone.” My jaw grinds before I can stop it.
“Very funny, Wangji. The microwaves vanished hours ago.”
I know what a microwave looks like, even a colony microwave. It’s a grey box with numbers and a door handle on a glass frame. “Look behind you and you’ll see.”
Zinda looks to Kioku, who nods slightly. Whatever is happening, Kioku appears to be the leader. She always was eager to climb the ranks. Zinda twists to see what is very obviously a microwave, directly behind her head. She gasps. Kioku turns and gasps in kind. Apparently, she wants me to think the microwaves were missing. The other three crew members pivot as well, equally surprised. Their responses do have a certain… genuine quality. How could this be surprising to them?
“Huh, the microwaves are here. Too bad Wangji died, or we could have told her she was right,” says Kioku, her back to me.
“Yeah, and too bad those eggs are gone or we could have had something to eat, even if they were over hard.”
“I knew they weren’t over medium!” At least we agree that the eggs are gone. “Also, I’m not dead!”
Five heads swivel in unison at the sound of my voice. Kioku stifles a cry. “But you were dead, Wangji!”
“Looks like somebody cooked more eggs,” says Zinda, pointing behind me. “Too bad we don’t have a microwave to heat them in.”
I raise an eyebrow and consider turning around, but that’s probably what they want me to do. Just then, the loudspeaker crackles to life.
It’s God! Who else can talk without a body except God? She sounds just as annoyed at being resurrected as I am at my crew trying to trick me into… into whatever this is.
The five cock their heads, as do I.
“You all still exist, microwaves and eggs included. I need all of you to eat. Those eggs have been sitting there since last night when I went to sleep, so if you don’t mind, you need to warm them up and eat them before they go bad, regardless of how runny the yolks are. Captain Wangji, if you’ll do the honors. Please turn around, take a plate of eggs for yourself, and put them in the microwave.”
“Joke’s on you, God! There aren’t any eggs,” I say assuredly.
God sighs. “Again, I’m not God. I’m monitoring you from geostationary orbit on the other side of the object permanence boundary, the boundary that divides people who retain their long-term memories from those who don’t. I had to sleep for the night and now… Oh forget it. Just do as I say! Wangji! Turn around now or there will be, ah, what would a god say? There will be fire! And brimstone!”
I turn to find a plate of cold eggs, suspiciously over hard appearing. “Too bad the microwaves disappeared and the crew is dead.”
“WANGJI!” yells God.
I wonder why God is so upset.
Jason P. Burnham is an infectious diseases physician and clinical researcher. He loves many things, among them sci-fi, his wife and kids, metal music, Rancho Gordo beans, and equality (not necessarily in that order).