Part the First
Captain Lucy Mayfield's Log
"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today." - James Dean
Prologue – So Long Sweet Earth
They told us that when we first woke up, we would be confused. I mean, spending a few hundred million, maybe even billion years in a deep sleep, frozen in a capsule on board a spaceship would obviously cause time to stand still. Even within the controlled confines of the Frontier Ship, things could change. To help us with the confusion, the doctors back home said that when we did wake up, we should start writing about who we are. I think that they're full of it. How do I know I'm not making up who I am? I could tell you I'm a boy, which I'm not. I could say that my favorite color is pink, when it's orange. But I will tell you a few things.
I suppose I should start with the most basic thing I know for sure. That would be me. My name is Lucy June Mayfield. I'm not sure if my parents decided to call me Lucy, or if my name is short for something. Something like, Lucille, or, well, I'm not sure what else. I suppose you could say that I'm thirty-two, but honestly, the whole traveling for this long has thrown me off a bit. I'm sure that all my friends and family are long dead. I suppose I'll never quite hear what happened to them. I do know that I've been stuck in my thirties for a bit longer than I should. I wonder if my home still exists. I grew up and lived in Saratoga before all this nonsense with the Frontier Ship caught up with me. One of my favorite things to do during the summer was to go to the track in the early morning, before any of the races began. The thick mist would obscure everything just enough to make it seem as though I was in another place. Of course the repugnant smell of horse crap was enough to bring me back to reality.
Honestly, I think that writing this journal thing isn't going to help me. Not one bit actually. I think that one paragraph is enough. I'm only doing it because I don't like being a hypocrite. Why would I be concerned about that? Well, you see, somehow I ended up as captain of this ship. I'm not sure how I got the honor. All of us who remember Earth, who were born there, were educated there, knew its watery embrace were selected from a group of what I like to call "Super Nerds". We had to submit countless applications stating our educational experience, work experience, and countless other things. I had to actually get into shape. Not that I was overweight or anything, but in high school I wasn't exactly the star athlete. On the pointless fitness test, I would always try my hardest. I needed to pass gym class in order to graduate. I had to pass all four years of it. I suffered through it all, but I never did anything to make my scores higher. I could have gone to lift weights, or started jogging, but no. I decided that spending my time gazing up toward the stars would benefit me much more than silly exercises that I wouldn't need for the rest of my life. Later on, when I first heard about this program, I decided I should get in shape so that the people selecting those of us to take part in this unconventional mission wouldn't take me as a joke. Somehow, they thought I was the applicant most well suited to be in charge.
When the Frontier Ship mission first came out, I'll have to admit that it definitely caught my imagination. Ever since I took astronomy in high school, and heard about the cosmic microwave background, the perceived edge of the known universe, I've wondered what lies beyond it. I mean something more mysterious than the dark side of the moon, something that nothing could penetrate, at least until now. The whole mission was designed to answer the questions that astronomers had only been guessing at since the edge was first glimpsed at from a telescope. Being old enough to apply, and a recent college graduate, though for what I can't remember at this moment, I immediately found out how to go about getting a job on the crew of six.
When my acceptance letter came, I'll have to admit that I was pretty excited. One of my favorite books when I was a girl was the Harry Potter series. If you've read it, then you'll know that I had always been anxiously awaiting my Hogwarts letter. It never did come, but my Frontier Ship letter was a close second. I took the yellow envelope out of my mailbox, my hands shaking with the question of what it possibly could contain. I had been counting down the days, like people count the seconds in Time Square on New Year's Eve to when I would hear back. I remember running into my house and slamming the door behind me. I slid down behind it, the table I use to throw my purse and other mail on staring at me, egging me on. I just sat there, staring in disbelief at the envelope while the crisp autumn wind whistled behind me. I was immobile with shock. After what seemed to be forever, I opened it. I couldn't believe my eyes. I had been accepted. Not only had I been accepted, I had been chosen to be the captain. I immediately called my friend Hannah and a screaming match ensued. We had both been chosen to be on the crew.
My parents didn't want me to go. Even though I'm a full grown adult, they are still my parents. They love me. They didn't want me to leave, since essentially, I would be dying. Returning to Earth wasn't on the itinerary. Sure, it was hard on me to leave my parents behind. I loved them. I just have to keep telling myself that they're still alive and remember them as they were. A graying old couple who had been together for what some people could call forever. I guess what helped keep me together was the knowledge that Hannah and I would both be going up into space together. We would fall asleep at the same time, and wake up together, though I haven't seen her since we went to sleep. Maybe I made that part up now that I think about it.
I did get to go. Training was probably the craziest, hardest, most insane thing I have ever experienced at all. It's something I'd really not like to remember. Weeks upon weeks of exhausting physical and mental tests. Any sane person would go insane after a week. I lasted about four before I cracked. I started laughing maniacally at pain. They had to stop for a while. All of us were becoming loons. Eventually we all got better.
Finally, the time was upon us. We were all set to go up into space. Ten couples had volunteered to come aboard the ship to keep it running. We had everything on there. A way to get food, a way to get water, and of course an oxygen source. Their purpose was to reproduce and create a small civilization on the ship. From what I hear, they succeeded. We were put into bright orange jumpsuits. Now, orange may be my favorite color, but I have to admit. These suits are pretty ugly. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing after all. I remember sitting outside, staring at the sunrise. It wasn't the best I've seen. I've seen quite a few sunrises with sun dogs following right alongside. The air was warm. Just about everything was perfect. I took a handful of dirt and smelt it. It was wet with recent rain. Deciding that I would miss Earth, I put the dirt in a small vial and put it in my pocket. I hadn't been to my hometown in months. Now, I was going to be leaving my home planet, and I wouldn't be returning. I remember thinking 'So long sweet Earth, so long.'
Now, all this time, all these billions of years, I haven't been sleeping of my own accord. The scientists put me in an almost trance like state. My heart was set to slow down to the barest minimum. I was hardly alive. I was frozen this whole time. Sleeping had nothing to do with my state. I had no dreams, no new memories to live for. I was in an empty void, unaware of my own existence. Being aware again is an odd experience. I feel as though everyone that was frozen is going to be different. I haven't seen them yet. The mission directors said that it would be best if we all did our first log on our own, right after awakening. Heck, I haven't even seen if we're close. I'm just trusting that there wasn't a malfunction and we have actually reached the other side of the cosmic microwave background.
I think that this is quite enough for my first log. I can understand who I am, where I came from, and I do acknowledge the fact that I miss it deeply. However, I must move on. There's a whole new world out here, heck, even a whole new universe. I can't afford to be distracted. Not when I'm about to take control of a whole civilization. Not when I'm about to see what no other child of Earth has yet seen.