Jenny flipped the switch to start the rotation of her dragonfly’s habitat module. The spinning allowed the structure to simulate light gravity, which, even if it was nothing compared to Earth’s, was much better than nothing. She removed her hair tie, let her hair fall to her shoulders, skipped over to the fabricator and popped out a warm meal.
“Too tired to cook today. I’m sure you understand, Fab Fab.” She patted the fabricator right above a crudely drawn face she made on the front, above the screen. The machine did not respond.
Jenny glided across the habitat and sat herself into her chair, ready to set up a call with Sammi, her sister, still back in the states. “Did that girl change her lock yet or not?” Jenny said to herself while popping a bit of the breading into her mouth.
After pressing the call button, Jenny sat back and waited, expecting the call to take a minute before being accepted. Instead, the call was immediately accepted, shocking Jenny forward and forcing her to drop her meaty pastry.
“Shit! Hold on a second, let me get my food.” Jenny got off her chair and crawled under her desk, quickly finding the pastry before crawling back to her chair. “Stay there, I’m almost back.”
Jenny looked back to the screen and saw Sammi’s empty apartment, the lights off, and hanging in the back was the painting Jenny made before she left for her mission. The screen showed her living room, which was separated from the kitchen by a bar and chairs. Past the far wall of the kitchen was the hallway leading to Sammi’s front door as well as her bathroom. Curiously though, despite all of the half eaten food, the open fridge, and the answered call, there was no Sammi to be seen.
Taking a bite, Jenny waited. But not for too long, “Hey bitch, where are you?”
A figure, half hidden by the dark room, walked around the computer and past the camera, giving Jenny no mind. Jenny shouted, “Hey! Hey! You accidentally turned on the call! Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want me to see!”
Jenny laughed and then took another bite of her meal, hovering her hand over the disconnect button, until she heard the sound of the front door unlocking. “Huh?” The door opened, pouring light into the living room from the hallway. The sound of rustling bags came through the speakers, followed by the sound of the door closing a little harshly. The indistinct figure hid behind the bar, just at the edge of the frame of the camera.
The lights flooded the entire room, and then Sammi walked into frame holding two brown paper bags, which she set down on the counter and began to empty. She pulled out milk, and cheese, and some spinach before realizing the fridge was open. She walked forward and peered inside.
Jenny shouted, “The fuck! Wait, Sam! Answer me!”
Sammi closed the door and turned around, mumbling indistinctly. She continued to empty out the grocery bags, now putting them into the pantry and fridge as needed.
The figure walked back into frame, between the camera and the bar. The figure was wearing some sort of baggy jumpsuit: red and heavy, and with a thick collar. It rested its hand on the bar and began to tap, gently.
Sammi turned around quickly and yelled “Fuck!”
She clutched her chest and then ran towards the figure and then stopped herself. “Jen, you really scared me there. When…when did you get back? I thought you still had a few more months up there.”
Jenny could tell that the figure was speaking. Its head moved as if in conversation, but all the noise of the video was drowned out with a thick static. Jenny banged on the side of her monitor, near the speakers. “Come on, you can’t do this to me now! What the fuck is going on.”
And then the static stopped. Sammi responded to whatever the thing said, “Ha! Yeah, I’ve said hello a couple of times, but you really can’t think…”
The static came back, and felt like it was inside Jenny’s head. She grabbed her temples, and pulled herself away from the monitor, almost falling out of her chair.
And then her sister spoke again, facing the figure, “You can’t trust that girl! I don’t care what she said. She hates you!” Sammi turned around. “Now, I need to put the rest of these groceries away.”
The figure took a knife from the knife block on the bar and walked towards Sammi. The static returned, quieter, like a whisper in Jenny’s teeth, vibrating up her skull.
Sammi looked back at the figure, the thing, and started to back away. “Come on now. Please set that down. You’re scaring me Jen.” Sammi backed further, out of frame, and the figure lunged.
The entire dragonfly ship shook with static, as if it was coming out of every surface, screeching loud and violent, drowning out every sound and thought of Jenny’s. She struggled to stay in her seat, refusing to look away from the screen.
And finally, Jenny saw something move again. Close to the camera, she saw what had to be a reflection. She saw herself, her hair pulled back, wearing the red jumpsuit she wore when she got on her shuttle. Jenny-on-the-screen bent down, and slowly raised a single finger to her mouth.
If you like this story, or any of my other posts, please become a Patron!, or share my work with someone else who might enjoy it.