More about Crewkin, to be published February 2011 with MuseItUp Publishing!
Renna has one chance for survival—earning a berth on an intra-planet shortrunner cargo ship. She can never join another crewkin, those crews who man the long haul ships of space. They are closed societies, formed at birth, meant to live together until death. Her crewkin are dead, and she failed in her duty to join them in death. If she can't fit in this time, she may never join another crew, and might just as well have died. However, 'norm' crews are very different from crewkin—less dedicated, less capable, crueler, and with inexplicable expectations.
2178.347-17:34 universal space time. status log: systems failure. initial test terminated. manual shutdown in progress.
Renna felt as lifeless as Sen’s cooling body on the bed next to her. She packed her possessions in her travel bag with careful precision. They were few enough. Everything else belonged to the ship, or the Crewkin as a whole, and reverted to Markham Company. Renna didn’t care. She needed no reminders. The vision of the bodies of her kin, removed one after another from this hospital room promised memory enough.
“You can't survive.” The doctor echoed Sen's last warning.
A glance showed the doctor, leaning against the door, watching her, waiting. She didn’t know his name and he never offered it. Another anonymous Markham employee, dressed in a Markham medical uniform, as foreign to her as everyone else.
Years of ingrained prohibitions prevented the response screaming inside. She controlled her voice. “You recommend I join Sen, join my crew?” Like you and your staff encouraged her? Helped her? A final joining? Bastard. Renna closed her bag.
Truth struck her. I don’t want to die. Coward. She couldn’t look at Sen, loyally joined with her dead kin.
“Where will you go? You are genetically unfit to live planet-side, and mentally unprepared to interact with another ship's crew. Crewkin are long haulers, not shortrunners. You won't fit in.. That’s why we recommend a final joining.”
Renna looked at the windowless, beige room, mostly empty now that her kin and their hospital beds had been removed. Only her and Sen’s beds remained. Sleeping alone in a bed had seemed so strange. Perhaps another unspoken means to encourage her kin to their final joining? Her eyes itched and burned, but she held no more tears.