Author’s Note

Below you will find chapter two of my erotic science fiction tale. I hope it entertains. As I promised previously, I strive to write a character driven tale that is interesting, sexy, fun and amusing. I hope I have lived up to this goal thus far. As I also promised, the chapter below contains a fair bit of both plot and sex. Finding a balance can be tough, and I hope I have with this chapter.

I love to hear back from readers. You can always email me at erikritler@yahoo.com. In addition, there is a Yahoo Group for the story.

Thanks,

Erik


Story so far:

Devon Chasen is a young college boy who’s found himself in an odd situation – when the Earth is destroyed, he and several thousand of his classmates find themselves aboard a massive evacuation ship destined for a new world, and hopefully a new home.

Devon has good friends on board – his roommates from Earth, Reid and Patrick, have helped him adjust, and he likes the new people he’s met.

Space can be boring, Devon says, and as such he spies on two classmates one afternoon from a hidden location. When Sean and Dog engage in sexual play, Devon is intrigued, aroused, and perhaps a little confused. He starts to wonder about sex with other boys, and also about what the next two decades will be like for him.




Space Ship Boys

Chapter 2 – New Perspectives


Two weeks had passed since I’d inadvertently caught a peep show over in the dorms. I’d been thinking about that afternoon a lot, sometimes mulling over what life would be like for the next two decades, and sometimes thinking about Sean and Dog’s hands on each other. The former had me feeling apprehensive and concerned. The latter had me often reaching down my pants to adjust myself, and on more than one occasion I’d run off to the bathroom, red-faced and in need of a quick release.

It had been a busy couple of weeks.

At just over three months in space, June cherry blossoms began appearing on some of the trees in The Commons, and we’d begun transitioning to more permanent careers on the ship.

“You got food services?” Reid had asked one afternoon, sitting on one of the couches in the living room area of our subsection. The flat, a long rectangle composed of five bedrooms encircling a living room and large common bath, was where twenty-three other flatmates and I slept and spent a fair bit of our time. “Wow, sorry Devon,” he finished, sounding sincerely sorry.

“What?” I asked, looking uncertainly at the message I’d received confirming this assignment. “Why? I wanted food service.”

Reid laughed. “Dude, that’s kinda grunt work. Serving people rations all day? Why’d you want to be a cafeteria worker?”

He didn’t seem to understand my logic, so I’d explained. “It’s not like that,” I said defensively. “I mean, it is now, with us serving just ration packets. But when the farms are working fully, it’s going to be about helping with those so we have the right foods at the right time, and about learning nutrition. It will be like being both a chef and a scientist, I think.”

“If you say so.” He sounded uncertain. But when he picks on Patrick’s assignment too, I realize he’s just cranky. “Librarian? What does that mean? Are there really paperback books in space?”

Patrick had been carrying a file folder, which he used now to slap Reid on the top of the head. “You’re such a dork. I’ll be working in information services. We’ll be organizing data, archiving things, making stuff available on the network – that sort of thing. It’s really cool. You won’t be complaining when I’m able to upload your favorite movies from the other ships so we have them here, or when they’re organized so you can find them.”

Reid had grunted. Later, when he got his assignment, his mood lightened. He was assigned in a subsection of engineering – he’d be working on managing the production, distribution and maintenance of all the various computers and devices used amongst the civilian population – like the wristcoms, the combination cell phone/computer/messaging devices that replaced phones on the ship. He was happy with his assignment.

My first day in food services, I wondered if Reid had been right to criticize my selection.

Not surprisingly, my assignment meant working in the cafeteria area, located in a section of the ship most people referred to as Topside – located in the very top of the spherical vessel. Most of Topside was designated as military space, but on some floors under that was Food Services, where a maze of storage warehouses and kitchens were adjoined to the largest eating space on the ship. Ultimately other areas – smaller kitchens or restaurants – would open for this purpose down in the civilian areas, but for now this was where all food was prepared and served.

Our shift had assembled one afternoon, a group of about thirty guys, most of them looking rather bored and uninspired. I’d brought a binder to take notes in, which I put away when a sideways glance from one of the other workers made me feel like a bit of a nerd. A largish woman in a crew uniform stepped to the front of the room.

“Welcome to food services, gentlemen,” she said, sounding neither welcoming nor like she considered us gentlemen. “My name is Lieutenant, Junior Grade Amanda Skeives. I will be working with you on transitioning this facility to civilian use.”

“Be still, my beating heart,” a floppy-haired boy next to me said. He had a mischievous smile, and looked like he’d just finished a long day of skateboarding. Smelled a little like it to. Lieutenant Skeives wasn’t the most attractive woman on Earth, er, in space, so I took his comment as sarcastic and laughed, trying to be as quiet about it as possible.

Lieutenant Skeives hadn’t heard us, and continued, “Let me be very clear about this: space is a dangerous place. There are no supermarkets. There are no pizza joints and there is no take away. Below us are the ship’s stores. If those are empty, nobody eats.”

The thought of going hungry made us pay closer attention. “It’s your job to ensure this doesn’t happen. Over the next month, we will be talking about how to accomplish this. We will be talking about how to ration what we have in stock. We will be talking about working with the farms to ensure that the right crops are coming available, and how we can have hamburgers without making cows extinct.”

This was all getting me more interested in my new career; the other guys seemed less so.

“And let me be clear,” Lieutenant Skieves had said, “It is my intention to teach you these things, turn over control of this facility, and get back to work upstairs. Yes, gentlemen, this is a civilian facility. You will be in charge, and the moment you can do this without burning down the warehouse, I will leave you to it. In the meantime, I intend to teach you how to run things.

“But make no mistake – it is not my life’s dream to teach a bunch of kids about how to run a kitchen. If I had a choice, you can bet your skinny asses I would be anywhere but here. Still, I’m going to do my best, and hopefully we can get you and your shipmates off the rations and on some real food.”

“Wow, this is going to be a hilariously fun month,” the floppy-haired boy whispered to the group.

I responded, “Hey, I like macaroni and cheese. What’s wrong with macaroni and cheese?”

The other boy smiled at me. “I’m Zane,” he said.

“Devon,” I’d answered, glad to have made my first friend at work.

So I spent my days learning about food services, and farms, and stores, and where the fire extinguishers were located. Shortly after that last one I learned how to get on Lieutenant Skeives’s bad side. Oops.

At night, I took up a new hobby, one I’d become particularly fond of: sneaking around the emergency access tunnels.

It hadn’t taken long following my experience with Sean and Dog for me to begin daydreaming about what else might be going on around the ship. It made sense, at least to me. Our ship-wide population of just over five thousand was composed of mostly college-age guys. We were all young, in the prime of life. And like most young men in a somewhat tedious routine, I assumed that most of my shipmates reacted by fulfilling their sexual needs on a regular basis, probably mostly with their own ten fingers.

But here’s what else I thought.

In a population of five thousand young guys, taking into consideration the college demographics and adjusting for the high instances of intelligence, socially liberal ideas, creativity and adaptability, there were bound to be anywhere from three to five hundred who were resolutely gay.

What’s more, I assumed there was another whole group of guys, probably similar in size, who were not as concrete in their sexual preference as either the adamantly gay or adamantly straight. These, I believed, would easily adapt to our new reality, sliding over to the gay side of the scale. Let’s assume this comprises another three to five hundred guys.

A third group, I hypothesized, might be predominantly straight, but not prone to celibacy either. These guys might look at the situation, think about spending twenty years “on the palm” and become very, very disgruntled. I assumed this group to be approximately twenty percent of the total population, say a thousand guys. Of these, I had no idea how many would elect to remain self-pleasuring and how many would take up same-gender play. If I guess fifty percent, that’s five hundred more added to my list.

Adding these all up, I guessed that ultimately anywhere from eleven hundred to two thousand of my shipmates might be inclined to dabble in boy on boy sex. Brave new world indeed!

So I’d become a bit obsessed – obsessed with exploring and watching and spying, determined to find others who may be participating in activities like those I’d seen Sean and Dog doing, and also seeing how I felt about them.

Every afternoon, after my shift ended and I was done receiving nasty glares from Lieutenant Skeives, I wandered upstairs one floor from my flat. It was an unoccupied dorm area, the population on the ship being too small to warrant using it, and from here I accessed the emergency access tunnels.

Making my way there one afternoon, I’d pulled out my wristcom and key to the tunnels and thought about those early days on the ship.

The first week in space had been rough. We didn’t even have room assignments back then, everyone just sort of mulled about. I’d taken to exploring the ship; sometimes Reid and Patrick would come along, sometimes they’d sit around moping. But this didn’t last long; eventually we’d all received assignments to report for work preparing the ship for its eighteen-year voyage.

Reid, Patrick and I had decided to sign up together, showing up in Area 43 one morning.

“What do they mean ‘prepare the ship?’ ” I’d asked my friends along the way.

“No idea,” Reid responded, “Maybe we have to put away the luggage or something? Patrick?”

“Don’t look at me, I have no idea,” Patrick says.

Turned out, it was nothing nearly as fun as stowing baggage.

“The ship you are now traveling in is old,” an ensign assigned to us had explained. “But she’s a good ship. Still, as you know, she’s been buried a long time. She was maintained, but not the same as a vessel on active duty. Over the next year, we will be going over her thoroughly, checking every inch and making any needed repairs. We will also be cleaning her up really nice, and by ‘we,’ I mean ‘you.’ ”

I didn’t like where this was going.

The Ensign moved to a grey panel on the wall behind him, which was a slightly lighter shade. He produced what looked like a small gold data chip but turned out to be a key, which he placed in a groove on the panel. It opened silently, a cool breeze emerging into the hallway. “This is a hatch to the emergency access tunnels.” the Ensign explained. “Every space on this ship is connected by both the primary hallways, like the one you are standing in now, but also an emergency tunnel, like this one.

“In the event of a ship-wide problem, these tunnels would allow us to get to problem areas, and they would allow those in problem areas escape, should the primary exits or routes be compromised. There are literally thousands of kilometers of these tunnels. Today we will begin cataloguing their condition and cleaning them. You will be assisting with this.”

A guy to our left spoke up. “You expect us to clean thousands of kilometers of tunnels? How long is that going to take?”

The Ensign smiled. He’s probably taken a lot of flak during his tenure in the military, and was happy to dole a little out. “It takes as long as it takes,” he said, not rudely, but also not politely.

“That’s bullshit,” the guy complains, “I mean, isn’t that your job? Cleaning up this shithole?”

There’s always that guy, you know, the one guy in the group that thinks he knows everything and isn’t hesitant to show everyone. You have to hate that guy. I do. Looking at Reid and Patrick, they do. And judging from the tone of the Ensign’s response, he certainly does. “I know some of you might feel entitled to sit back, laugh, and spend the next twenty years jerking your little dicks silly. And you might not like the idea of doing some actual work. Let me be clear about something, gentlemen: shit detail is now a part of your lives, and it’s going to be for a long, long time. Get used to it.”

Complainer guy shakes his head, clearly annoyed, probably partially at being told he has a little dick. “This is bullshit,” he reiterates. “I’m outta here.”

“That’s your choice,” the Ensign said. “Just let me know your name, so I can take it off the attendance list. We’ll make sure it’s noted in the files, and we’ll get you another job. Just keep in mind, not all the emergency tunnels and pipes on this ship are for people. I can’t be sure you won’t draw an assignment checking the sewage pipes for leaks.”

Complainer guy looked angry, but stayed and shut up. I looked at him as he scowled and something registered. I’d seen him before. Hey – it’s the jerk wad who passed us in the black sedan the day we evacuated Earth, the one who had blown past us, refusing to stop to help. See, like I said, there’s one in every crowd. What a dick.

Patrick had his phone out typing something on the keyboard. “What are you doing?” the Ensign asked. Patrick continued typing away, not realizing that he was being spoken to. Reid nudged his arm.

“Oh, me?” he asked sheepishly. “I was taking notes. About the cleaning, or shit detail, or whatever. You said there are sewage pipes?”

The Ensign smiled, then produced a metal case, opening it with a click. “You can put the phone away. Or in the trash. Notes are good, but you’re going to need one of these.”

The case was filled with rows of what appear to be dark leather wrist cuffs. When I got closer, I saw they’re actually electronic devices, a flexible screen wrapping around the top. “These are your wristcoms,” he explains. “They will replace your phones, which will no longer operate correctly. The wristcoms will keep you connected to the ship’s network, and allow you to communicate with one another. You’ll find they also have the ability to download and utilize all of the programs your old phones did. You can transfer your phone data to these, then lose the phones.”

“And for those of you who plan to spend the next twenty years jerking your little dicks silly, you can bet we have a definitive collection of pornography available.” The last comment is directed at complainer guy, who sneers.

“You will also need one of these,” the Ensign said, producing a much smaller case filled with gold keys similar to the one he used to open the hatch. “Take one apiece, and do not lose them. These are the keys to the emergency tunnels. The hatches only open with a key, or if an area of the ship is at a status where the tunnels can be accessed by anyone. You WILL NOT be keeping these keys. You will be signing them in and out with me each day when you report for detail.”

We worked all afternoon, cataloguing and cleaning the tunnels, which turned out to mean literally scrubbing the walls, floors and ceiling, and noting any problems, which was about as fun as it sounds. But Reid, Patrick and I worked together and passed the time working hard and chatting. Some branches of the tunnels get a little narrow; Reid got sweaty any time we approached one of these. Patrick and I gave him a break and volunteered to work the smaller tunnels, although there was a twinge in my fingers that made me want to force Reid to do these; he and I had a past concerning his dislike of tight spaces.

“Hey, look at this!” I exclaimed at one point, having found an open vent in the floor. I could see the floor below where another opening dropped to the next floor down, and so on. “I wonder how far it goes?” I asked. I stumble, losing my balance. I didn’t fall – the opening is tiny, anyway – but I did lose hold on my wristcom. I grabbed at it, which is actually what doomed it, my clumsy fingers knocking it right through the center of the opening.

“Nothing but net!” Reid joked. I scowl at him, but then have to laugh.

Patrick and I looked down the hole. The com continued dropping, eventually disappearing from sight. We didn’t hear it land. Dammit. I hadn’t even turned it on yet. “Wow, that goes really far,” I marveled.

“Am I to understand you just dropped your brand new wristcom and hatch key down that hole?” A voice said from behind, firm but not scolding.

We turned around to see the Ensign. I scratched the back of my head like a guilty little boy. “Um...yeah. Sorry.” I couldn’t help but giggling.

The Ensign sighed in a frustrated manner, and then retrieved his case. He handed me a new com and key. “Try putting it around your wrist,” he said sarcastically “It’s why it’s called a ‘wristcom.’ ”

I accepted the items. My first com was long gone, but I hadn’t actually dropped the key. It was tucked safely in my pocket. I considered mentioning this to the Ensign, but felt too embarrassed to speak. Later, when he collected the keys, making sure he got one back from each worker, I’d forgotten about the first key and ended up inadvertently keeping it.

And that’s how I came to have access to the emergency tunnels whenever I wanted, which had proven useful when I wanted to see what Sean and Dog were up to, and now was proving very, very useful in helping me spy on my fellow shipmates.

Immediately following the “Sean and Dog show,” I formulated my theories about sex in space and realized how useful the key would be in testing them. One free afternoon I accessed the hatch in our bedroom when no one else was around, climbing up into the emergency access tunnel there to see how things were laid out.

The ship is divided into areas; the living areas are divided into sections. Each section has 4-6 subsections, which we usually call “flats”. These flats have 4-6 bedrooms each with shared common spaces in the center. The bedrooms were designed to house eight refugees – even more in an emergency – but thankfully our ship is under-populated. We only have four or five guys per bedroom. Cramped, but not that different from college.

Room assignments had been somewhat contentious. At first, we’d all just been wandering around the ship. Then a group of guys, some of the older students from the school, had accessed a floor plan for the ship; they’d doled out rooms starting with the upperclassmen, which seemed natural even though we weren’t at the school anymore.

They decided to put only one or two guys per room. We had the space, after all – there are about 1,730 bedrooms in the civilian sections. As it turns out, these aren’t all used in a situation like this; there are rules about minimum population density and things. The crew stepped in with their own plan and reassigned everyone, packing us in a little tighter. But the choice rooms – smaller flats in more private areas – remained mostly with the older boys. Figures.

It didn’t bother me too much, though. I got roomed with Reid and Patrick, who I requested, and two other guys, Nick Laskaway and Jacob Hirsch. We didn’t know them, nor them us, but they were nice guys and everyone got along from the start.

It took some time to get to know the guys assigned to the other four rooms in our flat, but we ultimately did, and I had few complaints. The guys in A-Room were all a little older, second and third year students. One guy, Reagan, is annoying, but not too bad. Another, AJ Mendell, is pretty nice, although a little quiet.

B-Room’s occupants were mostly first years like me, and I’d been excited to see one of our hitchhikers, Beck, move in. Two others looked very serious and very military, and it took me three weeks to even say hello. We had C-Room. D-Room, at the back of the flat, is occupied by four guys who’d been seniors. They’re nice, but I don’t see them much other than coming and going. E-Room houses five more guys, about our age. I get along well with them, especially this guy Milo, who is just about the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.

So that was our flat - twenty-four guys in five rooms. Cozy, sometimes lacking in privacy, but given the whole “end of the world” thing, the company was often comforting.

The hatches in the bedrooms are located at the top of the rear wall. My key works and the panel slides open. I have to leap up to get into the space, but with a little effort I do.

As soon as I’ve entered, I think I hear someone approaching our room. Scrambling, I close the hatch, and hold my breath. There’s a vent in the center of the hatch, providing airflow into the flat. I peer into my bedroom, expecting someone to enter, but no one does. But it teaches me something: climb into the tunnels somewhere more private, you doofus!

Walking down the narrow tunnel, feeling more than a bit naughty, I follow the tunnel, making my way in a circle looping around my flat. Every few feet I come across a closed hatch, marked in large red letters that state where it leads to. Unlike hatches in the main hallways, a vent is positioned in the center of the hatches leading to the rooms, providing both airflow and a line of sight into the space. The other rooms in my flat are pretty empty, although looking into A-Room I do catch AJ reading a book on his bed. Woo-hoo.

I walk the tunnel, finding where it leads to other flats and discovering how to get to other floors. I’m getting a bit lost when I stumble onto something good.

Looking into a vent that leads into a bedroom in Area 19, I see a boy sitting in the middle of the room. He’s not doing much other than sitting quietly in the middle of the room, but that’s not what stops me now.

The boy looks young – younger than me, which is odd since I was just about the youngest guy at JDU. Still, there were a couple dozen “early admissions,” guys who passed their exams with high enough scores like I had. Thinking about it, I realize I met him at orientation. I think his name is Mike; I don’t remember his last name.

He’s shirtless, which make me stare. I notice that his tummy is flat, not the washboard of older boys, but clearly firm to the touch. His chest is smooth and cute; he has pectorals that are just starting to become defined; they are small now, but by no means is his chest concave. In another two years his body will probably be unbearably hot, but right now he has the physique of a boy who is still becoming a man: cute, and sexy – and also angelic.

His face reinforces the idea of innocence, a solemn expression set on pouty pink lips. His eyes look sad, or thoughtful, but unbelievably adorable, owing largely to long, black lashes. His features are delicate – not feminine, but rife with a boyish masculine beauty that displays none of the gangly clumsiness some adolescents do. In this, I consider he’s slightly like me.

I’m about to head down the tunnel when something happens. Mike starts rubbing the front of his pants.

I do a double-take, first assuming there’s a reason his hand has made its way to that spot on his body. Turns out, there is. He looks about the room shyly, then apparently satisfied that he’s totally alone (little does he know!) he unbuttons his jeans. Sitting up on his knees, he pushes these and his boxers down as far as they’ll go. A hard boydick comes springing out of his pants; it’s just as cute and adorable as he is.

He sits in this position for a moment, giving me ample time to check him out, which I gladly do! His body is totally hairless except for a patch of chestnut hair around the base of his dick, the same color as that on his head. The hair in either area looks like it would be soft as down.

But what I find most interesting is the shape of his erect penis. It looks to be somewhere between five to six inches long, similar in girth to mine (Just right for holding!) What’s different about it, though, is the way it extends from his body, emerging from a nice-sized tan sack and curving upward in a delicate arch, culminating in a pink tip that points defiantly at the ceiling.

Wow.

I’ve never seen one like that, and I wonder how it would feel to the touch. Mike apparently wonders the same, since he immediately takes it in his hand. In a maneuver unfamiliar to me, he presses it downward firmly, making it point toward the floor as much as possible, which it doesn’t seem to want to do. He releases the shaft from his grip, and his dick swings up toward his body, landing with an audible “slap!” against his tummy before returning to its normal position. He does it again. Then again.

I’d never beat off that way, so I watch intently. It isn’t long before I realize that the visual of this boy masturbating and the slapping sounds he’s making are causing a distinct reaction in my body, my own penis growing to its full six inches and feeling like it’s about ten times harder than it’s supposed to be. I’m wearing loose gym shorts with no underwear, and quickly reach up a leg to pull out my cock, which is VERY happy with my touch.

I stick to some light squeezing. Being this close to Mike, him unaware of my presence, makes me really nervous, and giddy. But scared about getting caught. I try to be absolutely silent.

Mike, on the other hand, freely makes noise as he jerks; and apparently he wants this to be a quickie. He does the dick slapping maneuver a few more times, and then takes his penis in his right fist, pumping the shaft furiously. He bites his lower lip, eyes closed in ecstasy, beating off, unaware that I’m playing with myself a mere six feet away.

He grunts and groans, and then he’s there. An adorable and HOT chirping noise emanates from his mouth, a look of concentration and pleasure plastered on his face. He holds a hand over the pink tip of his cock as it starts spraying cum. I frown when his hand obstructs my view, but settle for watching his tan body tense and writhe.

Mike’s panting slows, and then something unfortunate happens: I almost come too. I mean, cumming isn’t unfortunate, but it is when you’re trying to be silent and an involuntary gasp potentially alerts someone to your presence.

A couple of things happen in rapid succession. First, I take my hand off my cock, willing the orgasm to subside. The muscle is fully primed and WANTS to shoot, but my body obeys, but just barely. In the room below, Mike stares wide-eyed at the door. In a panicked hustle that takes him about a half second, he pulls up his pants, wipes his hand on a sock, and jumps onto a bed, grabbing a book on the way – a maneuver known and practiced by many a teen.

If he’s disappointed when no one enters the room, he doesn’t show it. Nor does he look up at the vent, where I’m hiding. I assume he thinks someone had been approaching from inside the flat; he doesn’t seem to have connected the noise with my spot in the tunnel.

I take a deep, but quiet, breath. I feel like I’ve pushed my luck enough for one afternoon, and very quietly step away from the now-alert Mike. I go back to my dorm to do some light chores before reading Proust.

No, really, that’s totally not what I do.

I shake my little Devon ass all the way back to Area 23, and when I find the hatch back into my room I take it. No more than two seconds later, I have my cock out again, grunting and panting and thinking about the angelic Mike.

“Uh...uh...uh!” I pant. And then I blow. Everywhere. All over my mattress, on my sheets, even some on my pillow. Semen erupts, as if escaping the confines of my balls is all the new rage. “Wow!” I exclaim to myself, my breath coming in ragged gasps.

My cock doesn’t go down. It refuses to do that sometimes, even after I’ve been nice to it.

I wrap my hand around it once again; it feels ten degrees warmer than usual, the way dicks do after a good wank, either from the friction or all the hot blood throbbing away inside the shaft. About three seconds later, I’m going at it again.

“Oh...oh...oh...oh!” I gasp and groan, laughing a little because each time I finger my tip I get a jolt of intense, overpowering sensation. And then I come again, feeling free to shoot all over since I’d already made a mess. “Fuck, oh yeah, Fuck!” My second load is lighter, but there’s still A LOT. Wow, Mike had me stoked. Spying is fun!

I clean up, wiping away the evidence of my play and putting on a pair of loose-fitting jeans. I leave my shirt off – I love the way my chest and nipples feel after a good jerk. I follow Mike’s example, and crawl up in my bunk to do some reading. I have this info on macrobiotic protein loads and potassium enrichment to go through.

My mind wanders, though, as it is wont to do. I think about little Mike and his cute dick. And Sean and Dog. I go hard in my jeans, but resist whipping it out because Reid and Patrick are due home any moment. This makes me daydream about my friends, drifting back to that day we escaped Earth.

We’d driven to the evacuation site, having taken on more than our fair share of passengers along the way, and that’s when things had become a little too real.

The lobby of the evacuation center had been decorated simply but elegantly, not unlike the art deco train station back in San Diego. Graceful white columns reach up to a ceiling thirty feet overhead; there are narrow windows lining the walls, allowing shafts of soft afternoon light to pierce the lobby in angled spears.

Above us, a square stained-glass ceiling sits in the center of the room, decorated in a geometric design of blues and oranges. It looks as if two different liquids had collided, pushing against one another violently before freezing in place.

The room is not overly crowded yet, but there are more people here than there would be on a regular day. Everyone has a solemn expression, some chatting in low voices, but most remaining silent. They were probably thinking about the same sorts of things I was.

I’d never see San Diego again.

I might never see my parents again.

I’d never see my bougainvillea again, or my room, or all my childhood toys. I suddenly want my childhood “teddy elephant,” a plush toy that was comfortably (if not logically) coated in soft sandy blonde fur. I blush, hoping my friends can’t see that I’m thinking I want a doll with me right now.

Reid and Patrick talk nervously to each other. The guys we’d given a ride to stayed close to us, in the way a small group can refuse to break up, none of us quite knowing if we were technically still traveling together, or if we should separate.

I look at the glass ceiling again, and it may be silly, but I feel sad for it. It will be destroyed, doubtlessly, if the evacuation continues, along with this entire building. Along with the entire Earth, and most of the art, architecture, a fair bit of its culture, and, of course, many of its citizens. Today would be a day of great loss. I look at the glasswork above me, enjoying its strange beauty; I feel I owe it this one last look of admiration before it fades away, just a memory, or maybe a photo on a computer drive somewhere.

“If I could climb up and get you down, I would,” I think to the window. But I can’t. All I can save today is myself and a small bag of my possessions.

The back half of the terminal is our destination, an area that remained closed off when this room served as a visitor center. Now the walls have slid open, funneling people toward the disembarkation station. We join the crowd, not quite a crush, and find ourselves in a line with twenty or so students in front of us.

This is a pre-boarding area, where people line up to get into “the tubes.” The person at the head of our line is doing so now, climbing into what looks like a giant oblong vitamin pill – an eight foot capsule that has just lifted from a space in the floor before opening for its passenger. Once inside, the passenger, a nervous looking boy, lies back, closes the door to the capsule, and with a whir and a whoosh it shoots off down a silver track, which extends for thirty or forty feet before disappearing through the rear wall of the station.

I watch the capsule slip from sight, and then look over to Reid and Patrick. Patrick seems vaguely interested, but Reid has turned a sickly shade of white. “Hey, what’s wrong?” I ask him.

“Um, nothing,” he says, trying to blow me off. Patrick has looked over, and I can tell he also thinks Reid looks pale.

“This is all a little weird and scary,” I say, pointing out the obvious, “But it’s not that different from the training modules.” I’m trying to reassure my friend that the actual evacuation will be exactly like the mandatory week-long classes we all took once a year throughout grade school, although I’m dubious about this myself.

“Yeah,” Reid says. I’m not convinced he buys my comment either.

He has good reason to be worried. The ultra-futuristic whooshy tube thingies look cool, but we all know the concept behind them is terrifying. Their primary function is to load the evacuees onto the ship in an orderly fashion, but their secondary, darker purpose was to discriminate.

When a planet is destroyed, not everyone gets out alive: it’s a cold, hard fact. The capsules we’re looking at now, another streaking off into the darkness of the tube, are a symbol of this.

The United States and Europe invested heavily in DENON, and even then there’s only space for about a quarter of the population on the ships buried throughout the country. In poorer countries, it’s more like five percent. In many places, only the very wealthy or connected have access to escape.

The DENON project takes into consideration that humanity needs to escape a dying world, but it also needs to be able to survive on a new one. Again: cold, hard fact. The capsules are open for everyone, and yes, they lead to the ship. But they don’t only lead to the ship. Climbing in one is a guaranteed ride, but not one that’s guaranteed to take you to outer space.

When you enter a capsule (as we will in about ten minutes) and close it off, it takes you to a secondary disembarkation area. Here, the capsule scans you, taking a blood sample and checking your vitals. It goes through a DNA test, and then checks your medical files, social security records, and everything it has access to. A data check takes into consideration 145,000 variables, determining your “subject viability.” This is a nice way of saying the capsules are machines that determine who lives and who dies.

“This is taking too long,” someone behind us says nervously. Someone else shushes them.

So what happens if you fail the scan? It’s a good question – chances are that many of the people who pass through this station today will fail. I swallow hard. I could fail.

The scans look for everything – genetic disorders, major injuries, current illnesses. There was a long list of curable ailments that could trigger a “fail,” some which you might not know you had. Evacuation was about survivability, and even though flu was treatable, the computer might prioritize individuals without the illness. I tried to remember if I’d felt feverish recently.

Across the way, an elderly woman climbs into a capsule. No one stops her, and I want to cry. Being older than forty-five triggers an automatic fail – unless you possess some skill or quality deemed important enough to let you on board. Like you might be a sixty-year old heart surgeon. You’d just have to hope a thirty year-old heart surgeon didn’t come along – the computer might very well send them along and keep you behind.

Fortunately, I think, we didn’t have to witness evidence of this genetic lottery here in the lobby, at least not directly. Bigotry, I learn, even if subtle or warranted or reasonable, always smells a little better when the dump is located across town.

Like I said, everyone gets to take a capsule. The computer takes all the capsules to a staging area, loading the ship as it deems fit – shuffling the capsules around, loading some immediately and holding others to determine the overall mix of humans who have arrived at the station. The closer we get to lift-off, the more it will place on the ship. The others remain in a bay deep in the earth, destined to remain there forever, their occupants sealed alive in their own coffins.

I shudder, and go a little pale.

We get far enough in line so that one of the guys that rode here with us – I think his name is Beck – climbs into a capsule. Before he swings the door closed he turns to us, smiling nervously. “Thanks for the lift. See you guys on the other side.”

When his capsule whooshes off down the track, Reid turns to me and gestures for me to let him by. “I don’t think I’m going in there,” he says. “I’m just gonna go back to the school. I hope I can find my car keys.”

“Uh, I don’t think that’s an option,” Patrick says. I nod in agreement.

“He’s right. This is for real, remember the radio?” I was referring to the broadcast we’d listened to on the way over, me feeling increasingly like I needed to pee with that guy sitting on me.

“Yeah. No. Yeah. No,” he says in a weird loop, “I think I’d like to go back to campus and see what happens.”

I look around nervously. Others in line are starting to stare. The second guy we’d given a ride goes shooting down the track. “Reid,” I say, trying to sound serious, “You can’t go back. You’ll...” I look around, and then finish my thought in a whisper, “...die.”

This doesn’t make my friend any less pale, and I regret saying what I had.

The next-to-last of our hitchhikers climbs into a capsule and closes the door without saying anything. We’re almost to the front of the line. “I don’t want to go in the capsule,” Reid says in a frantic, pleading voice. He sounds like he’s about to lose it.

Another capsule rises from the floor, locks into place, and then its door swings up and open, ready for an occupant. It’s the blonde boy’s turn – Ian, I think – he steps toward his capsule and looks back at us. He sees Reid, who’s starting to push into Patrick and me in an attempt to get by us.

Looking thoughtful, he says to us, “Here, you better get him in here. Quick, before he totally loses it.”

Ian is correct that Reid is about to “lose it,” and Reid proves it by doing just that. He slams into Patrick and me, the full force of his body pushing us back a foot or two. I almost topple over, but smack into the people in line behind us and regain my balance.

All at once about thirty-seven things happen. Ian grabs Reid from behind, wrapping an arm around my friend’s shoulder and tugging him toward the capsule. Reid outweighs him by at least twelve kilos, and not only is Ian incapable of moving my friend; he pays for his effort with an elbow in the chin.

Ian yelps, and I take advantage of the opportunity to grab Reid’s other arm. I miss, though, when someone behind me decides to get involved, pulling me away from Reid. “If he wants to go back, fucking let him,” a growly voice says in my ear.

I turn, annoyed, to see an angry looking guy with pretty eyes holding me back. I recognize him immediately – he’s the dickwad that blew past us in the car back at the school. “Mind your own business,” I grumble, more concerned about Reid than having an argument with some random guy.

I pull forcefully away, moving to join Ian and Patrick, who for their part are trying to push a screaming Reid into the capsule. I get a running start and plow into the trio, winding my friend. He’s off-balance, putting us at an advantage, but in his enraged state we’re still just barely able to hold him down. Fuck, when did he get so strong?

I’m grabbed from behind again, roughly. “What is this guy’s PROBLEM?” I think to myself, enraged. He tugs on my arm with all his strength, but rather than pull away again I take a page from Reid’s book. I let my arm relax so that it pulls violently back, right into the other guy’s face, my elbow connecting solidly with his nose.

“ARGH!” he screams, enraged, “You FUCKING stupid little...ugh...you FUCKING…my NOSE!” he yelps and curses in pain.

He moves to strike me, but another guy who’s been standing with him holds him back. “STEVEN!” he says in a firm voice, “You’re not helping, calm down!” I recognize the second guy, he was student body president. Well, former student body president. He holds Steven back, and I quickly mumble “thanks” before turning back to my other problem.

Reid is about to overpower Patrick and Ian, and my adrenaline is starting to boil. I’m suddenly angry – REALLY angry. At the situation, at the guy behind me, and at Reid for pitching a fit; I was angry for the uncertainty and fear I was feeling; I was angry about the fact that my parents might die today – and that I might die today; I was angry the skylight was going to be destroyed when the ship lying buried beneath us erupted from the Earth in a massive fireball; I was angry about the old lady who was going to die in a capsule somewhere, buried wherever the tubes send you when you failed the scans – perhaps she’d be thinking she was loaded on the ship, or perhaps she’d know she was patiently waiting for death; I was angry that the Earth was in its final hours. I was ANGRY.

So I channeled it, and ran at Reid, whose eyes go wide right before I pop him in the nose with my fist.

My punch made a sickly dull thud when it landed, not the satisfying pop you hear in movies. Also, movies never demonstrate the pain the puncher feels when he breaks two or three fingers – as I’m pretty sure I’ve just done.

“Aw, FUCK!” I yell, swinging my hand in pain.

Reid actually makes less noise, looking hurt and stunned, although his nose erupts in a gush of scarlet blood, which lands in vibrant splotches on his tee-shirt. I want to continue hopping around in agony, but I take advantage of his surprise to join Patrick and Ian in pushing him into the capsule. We force the door closed just as he realizes what has happened, locking it and pressing the failsafe launch button on the outside.

We see a terrified and frantic Reid pound on the glass and scramble for the emergency release, but he’s too late – the capsule ramps up with an electronic whir and then it shoots off down the tube, its terrified passenger trapped within. Another capsule rises from underneath where Reid’s had just departed.

“Dude, that was intense,” I say, tears welling up in my eyes. I didn’t want to start crying, and I hoped the people around me were buying that this was from the pain.

Ian puts a hand on my shoulder when the capsule clicks into place. “Here,” he says, “You go next.”

I’m not sure whether his offer is because I’m hurt or because the guy behind me seems enraged and about to leap at me, but either way I accept. Reid has left his bag behind. We cram both his and mine into my capsule; they fit, but just barely. I climb in, swing the door closed, and press the green button by my face. I take one last look through the small window in the capsule, watching as Ian and Patrick’s faces disappear when my capsule takes off, streaking away into the dark.

And that’s the last time I was a resident of the planet Earth.

I can’t hear anything outside the capsule, but I can feel that I’m moving. The car slides along the track, inertia and centripetal force telling me when I speed up or slow down, or when the capsule serving as my escape pod or my coffin – or both – turns a corner.

It suddenly feels claustrophobic, and after a moment I realize it’s not just because I’m in a tiny one-person capsule. It’s because things are getting tighter in here.

At first my legs are more constricted, and then my sides. I look to see that the interior of the capsule, a purple plastic of some sort, is expanding to fill in the extra space. I imagine grape jelly being forced into the bed, holding me tighter and tighter in what is quickly becoming a “Devon and grape jelly sandwich.” Gross.

I remember that this is part of the process and try to relax. I then feel a prick on my left arm – it’s subtle, but distinct. I know the computer is taking a blood sample, beginning the complex computations that will determine whether I live or die. I take a deep breath. I’m a healthy guy, I think. No problem, right? And then I think about the pain in my left hand.

Jesus, my hand.

Oh my god, fuck.

What if my broken fingers were enough to fail me? What if all the other healthy candidates – youthful, vigorous, bones unbroken – were deemed better candidates than me? What if I were heading to a place deep in the Earth to await my own death? Some said the capsules euthanized non-escapees; others said that was just a myth. Either way, I start to freak out.

I try to lift my hand and find that it’s completely bound, which makes things worse. I thrash, involuntarily, and then sit perfectly still, concerned the thrashing may make the computer examine me further, increasing the risk of a fail. My heart rate is going through the roof; the adrenaline and fear are about to make me frenzy when...when...I don’t know...suddenly I feel a lot calmer.

I take a deep breath, feeling proud of myself for calming down like that. Suddenly I remember a cartoon I’d seen as a child with a hilarious robot that dressed like a green dog and loved taquitos. I wonder if we’ll have robots dressed like green dogs in space? It makes me giggle, a little at first, the uncontrollably. The lights on the panel above me seem blurry.

That’s when I realize I’ve been drugged. Fucking computer. Was it drugging me to calm me down, or kill me? Suddenly I didn’t care. “I like being calm,” I say out loud, “but you can kill me too, computer. Momputer. Doduter.” I giggle hysterically at this, and consider that dying in here wouldn’t be so bad.

Things go black.

When I wake up, it takes a moment for me to remember where I am. Once I open my eyes, the capsule lights up, although from interior lamps. The space beyond the capsule’s window is black. It stinks in here – no, I stink in here, like rancid sweaty boy ass. A calm feminine voice sounds from somewhere above my head.

“...imminent. DENON protocols are in effect. We are currently fourteen hours seven minutes three seconds from launch. Subject: Chasen, Devon, viable. Your capsule has been successfully loaded into escape vessel five-nine-nine-seven. Vitals, acceptable. Genetic screening, above average. Are you in any pain?”

It takes a moment for me to register I’m being asked a question. “Uh...no. Well, a little. My hand hurts.”

“Noted. We are currently fourteen hours from launch. Would you like to sleep?”

I think about how nice that would be, to be able to dream away the end of the world. There’s no way I’m ever going to sleep, though, maybe ever again. “I wish,” I sighed.

And that’s when things go black again.

When I wake again I feel confused. I think that a computer was just talking to me. Then one does. “Subject awakened. Chasen, Devon. We are currently two minutes, thirty-seven seconds to launch. Please remain calm. You have been revived for your safety.”

“Uh, thanks,” I say uncertainly.

“Noted. Do you have any questions or concerns?” The voice is reassuring, which also makes it annoying.

“Um...where am I?”

“Noted. You are currently in launch capsule beta four four four nine three alpha blue, which has been loaded into the launch bay of Earth Evacuation Vessel five nine nine seven.”

“We’re taking off?” I ask.

“Noted. Affirmative, we are currently two minutes, five seconds to launch.”

“Is Reid here?”

“Noted. I do not understand the request, please restate.”

“My friend Reid was with me. Did he make it onboard the ship?”

“Noted. I can provide basic information on other passengers if provided with a full name.”

“Reid Woodard.”

“Noted. Woodard, Reid is currently occupying launch capsule beta four four four nine two alpha blue, which has been loaded into the launch bay of Earth Evacuation Vessel five nine nine seven.”

I ask about Patrick and get a similar response. I breathe a sigh of relief. I think about Derrick, our fourth roommate, and ask about him. “Noted. I do not have record of anyone by that name being processed by the system.”

I sigh, and things feel very real all of a sudden. “How about Ian?” I ask, thinking of the boy who’d helped us and wondering if he’d passed. Reid had smacked him hard.

“Noted. I can provide basic information on other passengers if provided with a full name.”

I think about it. I don’t know his last name. “I’m not sure. His first name is Ian.”

“Noted. I cannot access passenger files without a complete name.” I think about calling the computer a bad word, but figure the response will infuriate me. I’m about to do it anyway when it speaks up again. “We are thirty seconds from launch. This system is going offline. Assuming a successful launch, your capsule will open approximately thirty-two minutes after liftoff. Have a nice launch. Good day.”

Wait, what? Assuming a successful launch? What the fuck does that mean? “Hey, what do you mean by ‘assuming?’ Hello? Computer person thingy?”

I don’t get a response, reassuringly patronizing or otherwise. A very few seconds later when the capsule begins to vibrate and rumble, I realize that this is all really happening. I’m going to space. On a space ship. I shake my head in denial. I’m just a boy, a boy who belongs on Earth. I don’t want to go. This sucks. I don’t want to go.

Regardless of my last minute freak-out (which I never tell anyone about), the capsule continues to shake and shimmy, the grape jelly setting to holding me firmly in place. And then there’s a very slight pressure behind my eyes, like the haunting tingle that says a really bad headache is on its way. I tense, and then...nothing.

Turns out, taking off was nothing like I expected. Later I’ll talk about artificial gravity and inertial damping and a bunch of stuff. What it all boils down to is that leaving Earth and taking to the stars is a matter of sitting in a capsule wishing you had a hand free to play with yourself. Nothing happens. It’s quiet, and boring.

I try whistling. I suck at whistling, I discover.

Then I sing God Save the Queen. Might as well, right? It consumes at least two minutes, and when I stop I find the silence unbearable. So I sing God Save the Queen in the style of a techno rave mix, accompanying myself with mock-instruments of my own design.

Eventually my singing annoys even me, and I stop. Then I get bored with the silence. “God, I wish this thing played some music.”

I jump when the feminine voice behind me says, “Noted. Please enjoy.” A soft, comforting tune fills the capsule.

I grumble. “Stupid computer, could have told me there was music.”

“Noted. But you have such a beautiful singing voice, Chasen, Devon.”

It’s the last tender moment my computer girlfriend and I share – a white light appears in the capsule window; the room outside has been illuminated. Seconds later the door to my capsule swings open with a hiss and the jellied seat releases me. I’m sore – REALLY SORE! – but I sit up immediately, ready to step out into my new reality. Humanity’s last hope. Whatever.

Back in reality, as opposed to Devon daydream la-la land, I’m startled by Reid.

“Sheesh, Devon, you sleeping? This early?” He’s standing next to my bunk, looking up at me.

I shake my head. “Uh…no. Sorry, what? I was just reading over some stuff. You wouldn’t believe the things I need to know for this test tomorrow. Who knew we’d still have exams?”

“No doubt,” Reid says, pulling his shirt over his head. He smells musty, like he’s been cleaning tunnels again. Or working one of the farms. Patrick looks tired; he plops down on his bunk.

“I like tests,” he says. “Easy, simple, wonderful tests. No cleaning, no scrubbing, no planting. Just words, words on a page.” I laugh; I know he’s joking, but then again, he’s not.

I look at the time, it’s late. “Hey, anybody hungry?” I ask.

Patrick says he isn’t, and Reid says he’s bushed and is going to crash after a long, hot shower. My tummy grumbles, and I tell my friends I need food. I toss on a shirt and head to the cafeteria.

I meet one of my flatmates, Charlie, in the living room. When I tell him I’m going to get food, he asks to tag along. I gladly accept. This was one of the great things about living in a flat like this – there was almost always someone around willing to hang out, grab a bite or do stuff with.

We take the shortest route from our dorm to the cafeteria, winding our way to the Forward Concourse and then walking into an area called The Commons. From there we catch elevators to Topside, and take another short walk to Food Services. Along the way we chat, talking about our days. I omit my spying and post-spying masturbation from my retelling of the day’s events. When Charlie tells me about his shift, I wonder if he’s censoring a similar, more interesting part to his story.

While we chat, I think about how the thing with Sean and Dog has me looking at everyone in a new light. Which of my shipmates are having sex? Which of them masturbate? (Well, probably all of them!) How many are masturbating right now? I’m starting to think about these things a lot. A lot!

It’s late, and the cafeteria crowds are lighter, but not totally thinned out yet. We pass through the line; I see that Zane, who I was getting to know better, was serving. He could be annoying at times, always slacking off a little, but then he was fun.

“Hey guys,” he says when we arrive at his station.

“What’d’ya’have’tonight,” I mumble in one long horrendous word, knowing what the answer will be.

Zane laughs, and then takes a deep sigh that seems sincerely regretful. “Sorry, dudes. Rations this week. Rations, rations, rations. Maybe we’ll get some more salad or something real in on Monday.”

We disdainfully accept the food – plastic bags of grey looking goop, and then find a table. “This looks...great,” Charlie says, pouring the slop onto his plate. I laugh. Across the room I spot Ian eating with some friends – I’d discovered shortly after emerging from my capsule that he had made it off Earth, and I was glad for that. He sees me laughing at Charlie and smiles at me. Even from forty feet away I found his pale blue eyes disconcerting. I had to wonder: would he be up for playing around some afternoon?

Not long after we start eating, I see another friend make his way through the line. He spots Charlie and me and makes a silent gesture that says “May I join you?” I nod and make an equally silent motion that says “Yes, of course.”

When he gets within earshot he becomes substantially less silent. “There he is.”

“Hey, Conner,” I reply, which earns me a huge Conner-smile in return. He has an infectious smile that always seems to lighten a room. I introduce Charlie and the boys shake hands.

Conner is a really cool guy. I’d met him back at school, and we’d hit it off despite me being a first-year student and he being in his first year of medical school. He seemed young to be a doctor – way too young. But he’d started JDU at the same age I had, double and triple-loading his coursework, then attending summer sessions, so that he had his degree at nineteen. He moved right into medical school from that, which is where I’d met him. Well, I mean I met him just outside the medical building, eating at a table not unlike the one we occupied now, books piled all around him like sand castles.

“I was beginning to think you’d been sucked out an airlock. I haven’t seen you in forever,” he says to me. It was true, training had been rough, and on top of that shifts, then second shifts, then shit detail. It was dizzying sometimes.

“Yeah, it’s been wild,” I say, explaining my current work schedule.

Conner understands completely, and explains his own schedule on the ship. “You know I was med back at school, right?” I nod; everyone knew – he talked about it all the time, to anyone who would listen. “Yeah. So they tell me I can do double shifts, and eventually become a field assistant to one of the current doctors. It would be a lot of work, and not at all like medical school, but I’d end up a full MD. And hey, what else do I have to do around here?”

“Mildew duty? Tunnel-scrubbing? Planting cotton?” I ask, listing some of the duties we’d seen rotating through the roster. Conner laughed – sort of. My brand of humor could be a little odd to some. I give him a break. “But that’s great you can earn your degree. Wow. Good luck with that.”

Conner beams. I didn’t know him well, but I knew being a doctor was the most important thing in the world to him. Which is why I kidded him a little. “Just one thing,” I say, “I am never, ever, EVER letting you cut into me. No offense, but I’ve seen you play video games.” He had a terrible record against me at the campus commons.

He knows I’m kidding and laughs, which is accompanied by another big Conner smile. “We’ll see if you change your mind when your appendix bursts and you have to choose between me,” he waves a spoon through the air theatrically, as if it were a scalpel. “Or a slow, painful, oozing death.”

I’m glad to have cheered him up. He’s smiling and playing around, but something about him seems off. “Oh, god, this is horrible,” he says, scrunching his face when he takes a bite from his ration pouch.

As we eat (or try to), I notice something about Conner. He’s a pretty cute guy, actually, his ultra-white wide smile offset by easy green eyes specked with brown, sandy blonde hair hanging to his ears, and a long, lean frame. He studied hard – all the time, really – but there was still something laid-back about him, perhaps brought out by his preference for cargo shorts and raglan tees, which always hung off his shoulders in a casual, carefree manner that made him seem very approachable.

I’d hung out with him occasionally, but for the first time tonight I wondered about his private life. Did he masturbate? When and how often? What was his body like under his clothes? Come to think of it, I’d never seen him shirtless. Hell, I don’t think I’d ever seen him without an armful of books until now.

Conner was easy to know, fun and carefree, but he was also a little shy. Or maybe just hard-working. Either way, when I joked around in my dry, sarcastic manner, I could always see a bit of confusion lingering just behind his eyes, although he never said anything. It was cute, really, having a friend you could perplex in this way. I sometimes wondered if I were always on the verge of shorting out his brain.

Across the room Zane drops a bin filled with ration packets. The noise is sharp and unexpected; several diners jump. “Sorry!” he exclaims to the room, apologizing for his accident. “Tell you what,” he says, adding a goofy joke with a sly smile, “Dinner’s on me!”

Several guys laugh, and I can’t help but crack a smile.

I had to also wonder about my coworker. Zane was older than me, a graduate student like Conner; I think he was probably twenty-one. We’d become friends, commiserating over ration packets and long shifts. He was openly bi-sexual. All throughout training he spoke about it – not just to me, but to everyone. About who he’d had sex with, what he’d done with them. The list was long, extensive, and replete with partners, both male and female. Some guys bragged or exaggerated, and others just plain lied. But there was something about the way Zane spoke, with a self-deprecating ease, that made me think every word was true.

Whatever Zane’s past, after my experience with Sean and Dog I found myself looking at him in a new light. He was tall and muscular, his body solid in both frame and build; his hard, lean muscles filled out the tight tee-shirts he always wore, but he didn’t seem overbuilt. His facial features, though beautiful, were soft, so that you were instantly at ease with him and never found him threatening, which was probably what made the boy such a threat.

Zane seemed to realize he was good looking, but he didn’t seem to care; or if he did, he didn’t show it. Unlike some of the other guys I’ve met, who might flex their arms to show that their biceps had grown a quarter inch from extensive gym work, Zane was more prone to press his fingers behind his largish ears and point out how they made him look like a monkey. And you know what? They kinda did.

I yawn. Watching guys is tiring. Plus, it’s almost midnight.

We’ve all finished our tasteless goo, and even eaten the rice paper that went under it. When Conner proclaims it the best meal ever, I know he’s joking.

“Hey,” I say, “Was that sarcasm? I think I’m rubbing off on you.”

Conner laughs and agrees with me. He looks very tired, and I think about all the long shifts he must be pulling to get through his studies.

Charlie and I take a longer route back to our room, enjoying the tranquility of the ship at night. I realize I’d been somewhat ignoring him at dinner. I didn’t know him that well, but I’d been his flatmate long enough to know he had bouts of high energy, but also periods where he was quiet and seemed sullen. Now was such a time, so I keep the conversation light.

Back at the flat I chat with the guys still up and about in the living area before yawning and heading for my bedroom. I find my roommates to be asleep when I enter, so I try to be especially quiet. I glance in a mirror and look at my hair disdainfully. It’s been this color – what? – almost three weeks? I wonder something, and then pull my bathroom supplies from my personal footlocker.

When I return, I’ve brushed my teeth, flossed, peed, and clipped my toenails. Oh yeah, and I’ve dyed my hair.

Looking again in the mirror, the dirty-blonde with blue streaks is gone, replaced by a shade I had particular inspiration in choosing. My head is now coated in thick, shiny chestnut hair, an exact color match to the boy I’d witnessed masturbating that afternoon, although mine was longer, falling down my forehead to rest just above my eyebrows. The shade makes me look younger, as it had Mike, which is what I’d been curious about. It also softens my features, making me look a little more boyish. But it does something to my almond-shaped eyes that makes them look deeper, sadder, more intense. The boy staring back at me is no angel.

I think about the things I’ve seen today, and about what my life has become; I think about the egress from Earth, and about the endless tiring shifts we now work; I think about my friends, and how I’m starting to question where I stand with them: which of them are solid friends, and which of them would make good sexual partners, if I go that route?

I glance at Reid, whose sleeping face reflects in the mirror in front of me. He was adorable, and I had to wonder how I felt about my best friend. In three months’ time would I be locked away with him in a room somewhere, hurriedly grabbing his dick in my hand? The thought is exciting, but also scary. Reid was like a brother to me, my best friend. Even if the thought of something sexual with him gave me tinglies deep in my jammie pants, purple shorts with little green images of Marvin the Martian running amok, he was my best friend – telling him I liked boys felt terrifying. Telling him he might be one of the ones I liked was unthinkable.

“You look tired, mirror Devon,” I whisper. He says the same to me simultaneously. We’re both right. Escaping a doomed planet is easy. Being a gay teenager on a space ship filled with hot schoolmates is hard. And confusing.

Tomorrow will be a new day.



To be continued



Thank you for reading the second chapter of my story! I hope it was interesting, entertaining, intriguing…ok, enough use of that section of the thesaurus.

As of this draft, I’m including endnotes for anyone interested. Here they are:

Soundtrack: I try to assign a song to each chapter. Put them together and you’d have a soundtrack to the story, or at least how I picture their world to sound. The song for chapter two is Surfing on a Rocket by Air. I imagine its what the computer plays for Devon in the capsule, and it’s also a great tune for the sex scenes.

This is the first time Devon mentions liking macaroni and cheese.

Devon losing his first wristcom was inspired by a friend who waited ten hours in line for his iPhone 3G, then dropped it down a storm grate later that day. He wasn’t overly amused then, nor when I told him I made my character do the same thing.

The flats are laid out similar to the apartments I was housed in my second year at college. Originally I had the ship having quarters like most generic scifi. These subsections seemed cool in college, and so this became the model for the apartments on the ship. There were no emergency access tunnels and peepholes, though.

The character of Mike intrigued me. Right after writing this chapter, I started a profile on him. This blossomed into the short story “Mike and Joey”, which is posted on the Yahoo Group and Nifty. It was the first time I considered talking about the boys’ lives before they came to live on the ship.

The glass ceiling in the lobby was inspired by the album cover to Is This It? by The Strokes.

Devon’s giggle fit about the robot dressed like a green dog is a reference to the immortal cartoon show Invader Zim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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