“I understand. And don’t worry, no one will ever know you warned me,”

An Illusion of Safety

By: Breanna Leslie.

Point Pleasant, WV 

      As the ship nears Amaron, Andromeda descends into the decks. Reserved for the most basic grunts of the crew, only the newest members stay there amongst the storage of waste and broken tech parts. Zeke is organizing his bunk with what little belongings he’s managed to hold onto.

     “You’re going to need these,” says Andromeda as she hands him a stack of clothing that reflects his assumed role of captain. “Oh, and here’s the fake ID and ship log. They’ll ask for that at the port.” Zeke’s mouth softens into a nervous grin and he looks between the stack of gear and Andromeda several times before taking a deep breath.

     “Thanks. Really. I’m honored that he even considered giving me this responsibility.” A pang of guilt explodes in Andromeda’s chest and breathing becomes difficult as she shoves her emotions back down. Zeke’s brows scrunch together and he watches her for a moment before laying the stack on his footlocker.

     “Just please be careful. If anything happens, not that it will, but if it does—Just don’t take the fall blindly.” The words sting as they leave her lips, knowing she’d be shot if anyone overheard her instructions. “Do you understand? Take care of yourself…” She turns to leave, stepping over winding wires and broken circuit boards.

     “I understand. And don’t worry, no one will ever know you warned me,” says Zeke from behind her. Andromeda looks over her shoulder and nods slowly, a stark contrast to the rapid beating in her rib cage.

***

Port is buzzing as the ship descends into the atmosphere. Zeke remains in the control room and follows Captain’s specific instructions for landing, though most of the technical work is automatic Zeke could manage the task even in the densest space dust. Andromeda, Captain, and the rest of the crew slide into the lowest storage deck and prepare to flee from the back hatch upon landing.

     Everyone braces for landing with only a few rookies taking on bumps and bruises with the impact. Captain holds the soft meat on the back of Andromeda’s arm as the hatch opens. It’s a glaring reminder of how he views her. A piece of property for his pleasure and viewing. Her throat feels watery like she may vomit if she thinks about her situation too long.

     The lowered deck reveals an umbrella of white sun and muddy streets. Amaron is an enormous leap from the planets the crew has stayed on over the last year. This land has moisture. It has a buzzing life. And perhaps greatest of all, this planet is green. They gawk at the abundance of chlorophyll as they make their quiet escape to a remote path leading into a thick forest of brush.

     ***

     Hours pass, but Zeke eventually meets up with the crew in a clearing not far from the village. He hands over the ship’s paperwork and thanks Captain for the opportunity. Captain chuckles and pats him on the shoulder without ever thanking him for the dangerous risk he took for the crew.

     “There’s something else,” says Zeke before Captain turns away. “They didn’t just screen the ship for the virus. I went through test after test before I could be released.”

     “Wait, so it affects us too?” Asks another crew member from the back of the pack.

     “They said if you happened to have a memory upgrade, you were at risk. They don’t know why it only affects certain people, but they told me to be mindful of anything ‘anomalous’ in my body.”

     Several crew members mumble amongst themselves, panic and urgency hovering around them. Andromeda looks from Captain to Zeke and back again, a dull pain forming in her temple.

Written By: Breanna Leslie

Breanna Leslie is a former therapist turned aspiring writer. She earned a master’s in psychology in 2015 but ultimately decided she would like to be more present for her family. Currently flexing her writing skills as a stay-at-home mother of two toddlers, she has been published in the literary magazine Write Bitch Write and Lulu Publishing’s Share Your Scare anthology. In her spare time, Breanna enjoys blogging, painting, running, and drinking an absurd amount of coffee. Her goals for 2020 include gaining experience in the freelance world, more short-story publications, and finally submitting her YA novel for consideration.

Website: https://btlesliewrites.weebly.com/

Blog: https://hereatjeffersonhouse.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/breetleslie/

Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.

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