Click this link to go back to chapter two Chapter two - The Pub
3 THE MORNING AFTER
Several hours later, Alexis was searching around for her scattered bits of clothes. The intensity of the night's activities had left her feeling a tad weak and disoriented. She glanced over at David, who was completely passed out and sprawled out across her bed. It was morning, and she wasn’t quite ready for that to be the case. Her head hurt, and it was making her grouchy, but it was the big day. It was the day they would be parking their hulking ship on a fresh, unmolested new planet. Alexis needed to prepare, and David needed to leave.
"Wake up." She kicked the side of the bed and shook it gently with her foot. "You're going to be late."
"What?" the seemingly still drunk David asked. "What time is it?" He sat up, looked over to the clock on the stand next to the bed and noticed the time, and Alexis at the foot of the bed, already half-dressed.
"You're already late," she said as she tossed a shirt at David's face.
"Well, I can be a little late, and you've undoubtedly been ready for weeks. Come back to bed for a minute." He threw the shirt back onto the floor and plopped his head back down on the pillow, rubbing his eyes.
Alexis knelt down and softly kissed David's cheek. "I may be ready, but I still can't be late."
"So what did you think? This one seemed to really work," David asked, his eyes following Alexis as she hurried around the room, trying to get ready.
"Last night?" She stopped to toss him his shirt again. "That goofy drunk guy shit?"
"Oh, come on. It was good. You liked it."
"I admit, it was hot. Weird, but hot."
"I knew you liked it." David smiled as he pulled the shirt over his head.
Alexis and David had been close for many years. Their families ran in the same social circles and they had briefly enjoyed a romantic relationship in school. Alexis' parents had always approved of David because of his family and his political aspirations — probably the only decision she'd ever made that won her parents’ approval.
That approval may have been the reason the relationship ended as quickly as it did. Alexis never wanted anything to do with politics. She had watched her family wheel and deal their way through many situations and wasn't a huge fan of the pretense and showmanship. Her whole life growing up felt fabricated and unrealistic. Her move to Technologies, and her breakup with David, were huge disappointments for her parents.
"So... have you given any thought to my proposal?"
"I told you," she responded quickly, "I just don't think it’s a good idea. We're fun, there’s no doubt, but we aren't couple material."
"I'm pretty sure we're already a couple, Lexi, but no pressure."
Alexis stifled an eye roll. "No pressure?" she mumbled.
In truth, he had been pressuring her. A lot. They’d reconnected almost immediately once they left the planet, and he had been committed to her ever since. He always joked that he spent the 500 years in stasis dreaming about her. To David, there was little left in his world that felt more right and real than his love for Alexis, and she knew it. Despite that, and the fact that Alexis truly did have feelings for him, she knew that being together would mean living the same life she had left behind with her parents.
"I love you, David, but you need to go to work. Your people need you," she told him with equal amounts of sarcasm and respect.
David wrangled up the rest of his belongings and kissed her on the cheek. "I'll see you outside." He smiled and left her quarters.
Outside, she thought to herself. That concept was about to change completely for everyone on board.
A few minutes later, as Alexis was finishing brushing her teeth, there was a knock at the door. For a moment Alexis smiled, assuming that David had forgotten something, but quickly realized that knocking wasn't really his style. He would have simply barged in, flashing a silly grin.
"Who is it?" she called.
"It's Jennifer. There’s something wrong—"
Alexis opened the door, interrupting Jennifer mid-sentence.
Stunned briefly, Jennifer continued. "I'm very sorry to bother you. You weren't answering your coms and they need you down in Stasis."
"Today? Seriously? We’re landing in a few hours."
"They said it was pulling too much power."
"Who said— Never mind, I'm on my way." Flustered by the interruption, Alexis shut the door and finished getting herself ready.
While standing in front of her mirror, trying to decide whether to wear the same lab coat and pantsuit combo that she had worn for the last several years, she began to feel guilty, thinking that she may have been a little too abrasive with Jennifer. She tossed her work clothes onto her bed and grabbed her nicest suit from her closet.
Before she could get it off the hanger, the floor beneath her began to shake violently, and the sound of twisting metal began grinding through the walls. She braced herself against her closet door and waited.
It only lasted a half a minute, but her fear made it feel like an eternity. Once it stopped, she pulled herself together and finished getting dressed.
What just happened?