Flash: Hope for the Future, the First Baby Born Off Earth

Photo by Bill Jelen on Unsplash

Five percent gravity just wasn’t enough. Carolyn bounced the three-month old baby on her shoulder as best she could. “Anything yet?” the annoyance in her voice made the convicted murderer running coms wince.

Being a convicted murderer on a ship of convicted murders meant little, but Larry Jackson had been an organized serial killer before being caught whereas Carolyn Haywood embraced her disorganized anger. If she flew off the handle, they could end up being down one of the sixteen women on the ship, or one of the few people with enough of a brain to operate the machinery around them. Namely him. It was a toss up if his chosen guards would react in time to subdue her or help him.

Keith and Akeem also had more brains than brawn and he had assigned them guards accordingly. If they were to make Sirius in forty years, or at least their children, brains and training had to survive. He wasn’t sure if money people back home cared if the convicts actually lived to arrive, or if the machine dropping into orbit was all they actually cared about. It didn’t help that theirs was the ship with the longest run of the four sent out in the “volunteer” program of life sentences being served offworld.

“We are four light months away from Earth. We sent them a message as soon we knew for certain you were pregnant. If they responded immediately, the earliest response would have been twelve minutes ago. That is if the relays are even working.”

“They fucking well better be.” The woman paced the small room in the stride they all had learned since gravity had become noticeable again under the constant acceleration. “It’s bad enough we had to listen to all the shit they send to us, we better be able to send stuff back to them.” She spun carefully, still bouncing the baby in hopes of a burp. They all lived for the burps. “Let me tell you, if we don’t get help, if we don’t get answers, me and the girls are locking our legs until you figure out how to turn all of this off. Or, best believe me, I will be castrating the lot of you.”

“Carrie, I do believe you. Here, let me take Hope.” Larry stood, extending his arms slowly. “You need to get rest.”

“None of us fucking parents. What were they thinking sending us up here before fixing us.” She handed over the baby and left the comm room, her two guards following her.

Just over two hundred people to start, they were down to ninety-seven in one year. Larry rocked the crying baby over one arm, patting the back, hoping for something. Back up by eight without a loss of a single precious woman since Larry and Farrelle established order in their own ways and merged their groups. Only two women weren’t pregnant or new mothers. With a ratio of five to one male to female, the only reason the other women weren’t pregnant was Missy had her insides ripped out because of cancer and Eve had entered menopause during the trip at thirty-four. Bastards made sure everyone was young and fertile when plucking them from the prisons.

Guess that answered the question. The billionaires funding this experiment wanted someone to arrive on the other end.

“Come on, Hope. You can burp now.” Larry wasn’t sure this one was his, but Carrie had been one of the ones he fucked, the dates matched, and there weren’t many white guys on ship, especially after the initial dominance games. As dark as she was from her mother’s side, Hope’s father had to have been white. Hell, her daddy might be among the dead they were changing over to fertilizer according to the manuals left behind by the scientist bastards. “You need to burp so you can eat some more little girl.” She was weirdly thin around her rolls of baby fat. No gravity to fight and constant colic for all the kids made a mess.

They would need to keep better mating records for the future, so their children didn’t end up with three eyes and one leg. That would go over like lead balloon with the disorganized members. He walked over to his notebook to write the thought down to discuss with the gang heads.

The comm dinged as he was closing the book. He bounced the baby on his leg, as he deciphered the message. “Reproductive Procedure Manuals stored in folders 369SXE with the passcode HaveFun; and Progeny Procedure Manuals Years 0 to 5 stored in folders 963EXS with passcode GoodLuck.”

“You are fucking kidding me.” Larry worked his way the folder system. “I really hate the scientists. You think me keeping thumbs as trophies was sick. If I had you in my dungeons…”

His two guards took a step toward the exit. Both were disorganized anger killers, and even after being assigned to him for months, still couldn’t figure how his cold temper worked. They did understand his methodical psychopath brain had kept them alive, killing others until their gang was one of the last ones standing, and that ability to make people suffer and die whenever he wanted shook them to their core.

“Got you. Search on baby gassy colic burp.” Larry clicked the button with flourish. “Hope, my little baby doll, get your fingers crossed.” For the next thirty minutes, during which the baby fell asleep across his legs, he flipped through the screens, after which he stood and passed the baby to Lester.

With a voice as cold as ice, he informed them of what he found. “There is a tool to draw air out of the belly and mouth. It worked for adults on the space station, and they adjusted it for something they think could work on babies and toddlers. It’s with the rest of the newborn equipment they have stored behind section six-eight. I now have the code to open it.”

“We could have used that shit for the last six months.” Lester said, struggling to hold the now awake and hungry baby. “Why didn’t they tell us before?”

“They better hope I never figure out how to turn this ship around.”

(words 1,041; first published 1/28/2024; created 11/15/2023)

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