My (unfinished) short science fiction story about a hopeless convict in solitary confinement en route to a prison at the edge of the solar system. Right now it stops right in the middle of a dialogue, but I wanna finish it eventually. ===== Ka-chunk … Ka-chunk … Ka-chunk … A society that condemns execution, makes those convicted of heinous crimes suffer a fate worse than death: Irkalla. A dwarf planet lying on the very edges of our solar system, at its closest three times as distant as the furthest planet from the Sun. Those banished to that place should give up any hope of ever seeing ‘home’ again. I was sentenced to six months solitary confinement to reflect on my crimes. I don’t know exactly how long it’s been. Two months, maybe three. But all I have to look forward to is another lifetime on Irkalla to ensure I never forget. Still in transit, the only thing that keeps me company is that constant, blasted clicking. Ka-chunk … Ka-chunk … Ka-chunk … A small porthole in my cell provides me with a view outside: a spattering of endless stars. On those rare instances where I catch glimpse of the Sun, it begins to hit home just how far from Earth I am. A tiny pinprick of light, just barely as bright as I remember the full Moon. Earth and the other inner planets aren’t even visible from this distance. Truly, in this cell, I’m as alone as one can possibly be. I’ve control over nothing. The lights fade on in what I assume could be called a ‘morning,’ and stay lightly lit as three meals are wordlessly passed into my cell before the lights fade away again into night. At first, the only freedom I had was in my dreams. But now, it feels as though even my dreams are beginning to die. Can I truly endure more empty months of this, before being shoved into another such prison for the rest of my existence? Ka-chunk … Ka-chunnnn … … … … … A squeal, a roar, the sound of an explosion that rattles the entirety of my cage. And before I realize what’s going on I’m floating in the air along with everything else, hyperventilating. Blindly clutching at the walls for stability and support, everything I own swirling around aimlessly in the now zero gravity environment. The lights go out, pitch blackness. I can hear an alarm. Something went wrong. Silence. It feels like hours pass before I hear noises outside my door. The locks release and it glides open, filling my cell with light that blinds me temporarily. About thirty seconds pass before I can make out a single guard floating outside, looking at me worriedly. Breathing heavily, nervously. The first human face I’ve seen in months. “What?” I finally mutter, growing impatient with his silence. “Our engineer is dead. The Alcubierre drive is nonfunctional.” “So?” A pause. “You’re a professor, aren’t you? You built these things, didn’t you!?” “And … ?” He can’t look me in the eye. “You’re the only one …” “The only one here who can possibly fix this situation. Sucks for you guys I guess. Call another ship.” “You don’t understand … without the Alcubierre, we’re two years from Irkalla. And the closest ship would take months to reach us. In addition, that explosion knocked out our emergency reactor.” I could sense the worry in his voice, not that I had to after hearing that. “We have twelve hours of oxygen, at most.” “Good. I welcome death.” “You won’t be the only one dying!” “All the other caged animals on this ship would welcome it as well, and you’re a fool if you think otherwise.” “I’ve got children, you would let them grow up without a father?” “My kids are growing up without a father either way. Find someone else. Or die trying, I don’t care.” ===== That's it. All I have so far.