Chapter 1:

Chapter 1: A Feeling In The Distance

Can You Hear My Heart Beat?

“Hello Hello”The alarm sounded as Michael slowly opened his eyes to see Haru, the Human Automaton for Research and Understanding.

“Good morning Haru” He replied as he slowly left his bunk. Recalling the strange thoughts that still plagued his mind.“You know, I had the strangest dream last night. I was on Earth, and it was…beautiful”

“You do know that Earth is a pile of ash now, right? Heck it’s not even in our sector”

This cheerful quip came from the ships pilot Tony. Michael laughed off his comment since Tony often liked to tease his fellow Pod passengers. Haru also looked confused before bringing up a large rock floating in space on the display.

“As you can see Earth has been drained of all its resources for 3 generations since the Personal Occupation and Delivery protocol. Or Pod for short. If you need to speak to the ships doctor, I would be happy to schedule an appointment”

Michael knew that what Haru said was true. He grew up on this very Pod, trained from birth to be a scavenger delivering and fetching supplies for the vessel. This job was essential for humanities survival until they could finally colonize a new home and Michael liked to think he was doing a fine job at keeping his friends alive.“That’s enough of that Haru. We don’t want to bum the big guy out before his next resource run” Tony said.

The Pod was in fact running low on energy. Without energy it would be reduced to another chunk of metal floating aimlessly among the stars. It was Michael’s job to harvest those passing chunks.“Hey, your wish is my command” Michael replied with a grin.“See that Haru, this man knows how to deliver” Tony exclaimed while patting Michael on the back.

Michael pulled away from Tony’s touch.

“Oh sorry, I forgot you don’t like touching much. Not that I understand why.” Tony apologized.

It wasn’t that Michael didn’t like to be touched. It was that Michael couldn’t feel being touched. Ever since he was a child, he couldn’t feel anything at all. His parents called it Hypoesthesia and told him never to let anyone else know about his condition. Since Pods are responsible for humanity’s survival, they are also responsible for maintaining pristine health among all passengers… at whatever the cost.

Before the conversation could continue further a message appeared on the ships screen.

"Resource incoming please proceed to extraction point"

"Well that's my cue" Michael said, thankful that the topic has shifted.

And with that he put on his suit and floated out the the nearby marker on his map.

The marker this time happened to be another Pod. Michael had been coming across more and more on their trip which had started to worry him. The thought of empty Pods that were once full of potential made him shudder as he tried to keep himself from imagining the same fate for his crewmates.

This pod however was different. Michael noticed someone was sitting on its roof.

"Howdy" The stranger called out.

As Michael got closer he began to notice more details about this stranger. The voice he heard seemed to be from a man in his mid 20's.

"Oh I didn't realize someone else would be here. Are you here for extraction too?" Michael queried.

"Extraction? The Pod seems fine to me" The stranger replied.

Through all his years on the Pod Michael has never encountered another Pod, let alone one that has been marked for extraction. Wary about this new experience he slowly approached the stranger.

"It seems that a mistake has been made but I'm sure we can sort this out. Name's Caleb"

Caleb then reached out his hand in a friendly gesture.

Instinct and Training kicked in and Michael reached out his hand to clasp Caleb's hand, accepting his offering. The moment their hands touched Michael felt something he thought he would never feel again. A slight warmth from the beating of this strange man's pulse.

Shocked by this sudden sensation he jerked his arm back in a panic. Realizing too late what he had done he went to apologize to this stranger. Caleb however seemed amused by Michael's behavior.

"It looks like we have a lot to talk about" Caleb said.