Star Prison

I dream every night. Most nights I remember bits and pieces of it.
Some nights I can’t sleep at all because the dreams wake me up with how repetitive and boring they are.
And some nights I dream whole stories that actually sort of make sense.
Those are the ones I write down when I wake up.

I was cleaning out my Dropbox today, and I found this dream I wrote down last summer. Strange to think this is a year old now, and I can still remember exactly how everything looked in the dream.

It starts out with a wedding.
Everyone’s excited. Happy. You know everyone — these are your dearest friends, you’ve lived life together.

There are hints that things are not… entirely Earthen. The attire is an odd mixture of Louis XIV and American Apparel. Prison colony life is like that — it keeps what it can and builds what it doesn’t have.

Someone waves a fancy dish in your face. “For 16th generation only.” The smell is intoxicating. You know you can eat it, but some of your friends can’t. It wouldn’t do to let them see you.

You hear conversation that is familiar. The authorities will make an appearance of course. They always do at special events — weddings especially. The high spirits, the alcohol.

There are other conversations. Like another wheat field is a third under water this morning. An atmospheric breach, someone whispers. There are already so many oddities appearing, just in the last few generations. Animals that were commonplace 40 years ago are rare now. Strange variations appear in their place. “Evolution is happening — right in front of our eyes,” a few brave souls whisper.

It could mean anything. That the planet is about to devolve. Be absorbed. It could be that the authorities are planning to cut ties with the expense of the colony and leave it to fend for itself — this is, of course, the most wishful of thinking. The colony is probably the most profitable possession the mother planet owns. If they needed money, other mothers would fall in line to buy.

It could also mean nothing. This is your way of thinking. It’s stood your family well for the past 50 generations. You’re one of the oldest families in the colony, which is saying quite a lot. Family lines cease to exist if they prove too excitable. It happens.

But something isn’t right today.

Rumors of water surging through the fields reach the party. The ceremony was lovely, by the way. More than a few people are wildly drunk. Rumors are tough to quell in such a situation.

The authorities surround the place en masse. They’ve obviously received an order — 50 generations, remember? You learn to read the signs. And you learn how to get out of the way.

You hear the lasers fire as you walk calmly away, invisible without panic.

An alert sounds in your own headset. You’ve never heard its like before. Come to my office. It’s his voice. But. But he’s been dead for 10 years. You were at the execution.

The office has been sealed off for a decade — executed, you know — but the voice guides you past obstacles. You’re not terribly surprised. Your headset has a geo locator. They’re not required, but some families make a point to have them. Sort of, if you know where I am all the time, you know I’m not a threat. But nothing so vocal as that.

The office. It’s relatively light and the air is fresh. You’re directed to a padlocked door. I left the lock off for you. Sure enough, the door swings in freely at a light touch. The room is the size of a small walkin closet.

But someone’s followed you. The footsteps are authoritative. Shit. And you were careless. The door wasn’t completely shut. It was difficult to get here, but — oh yes. Your headset. How convenient. There were probably alarms placed for a sealed room.
You keep your breath shallow. You stay very still. Survival. Your family has always been good at it.

But no. He comes straight for the door. You recognize the uniform.
Get rid of him.

Survival. You grab the first thing that’s close, fits easily in your grasp, and looks heavy. A short pipe. You bash him in the face as soon as he comes through the door — no weapon drawn, but you are not sympathetic. Why would a weapon need a weapon?

He fights back, but you did take him by surprise. Probably gave him a concussion. The fight carries into the main office when the building jerks beneath you. You both fall to the floor as the large windows shatter. An earthquake. So. The rumors are true. An atmospheric breach.

“You’ll never be free,” he says through swollen lips and broken teeth. “If you’re not killed, you’ll die anyway.”

You don’t say anything. He’s right. But.

The window is floor-length. Shattered to the ground. And nearby. One eye is swollen shut — he probably hasn’t noticed the window.

One roll, a quick jerk, and you throw him into the sky. He doesn’t scream. You hear the thud and crackle as he lands on glass shards two stories below.

You’ve found it.

The pipe in your hand. It’s gold. Stamped with the numbers X x 304.

It’s the largest transport key you’ve ever seen. Three hundred and four of you can survive.