Today I am pleased to host a sci-fi story by Chris Morton. Outer space is a lonely place …..
Three thousand days alone on this godforsaken hunk of metal in the
middle of space, with nothing so much as a passing comet … I’ve murdered my
only living companion. But I had to get out of this interminable cycle of
nothing – away from the mess I signed up for at the age of twenty-one; naïve;
excited over the prospect of leaving my home planet for a life of adventure. A
promise of a post aboard a starship after the minimum three years service; they
seem to have forgotten me.
Once a week I talk to a computer back on Earth. Nothing to report.
Systems at a hundred. What am I waiting for? The sun to explode?
Outpost 269 reporting in.
What is your status?
Equipment efficiency level?
Fully functional at a hundred percent.
Status of cat?
Alive and well.
Prepare for scan.
I move into the cubicle for a full body scan that records my mental and
physical well-being. I’ve no idea how it works, but recently have begun to
suspect that it may not be as accurate as I once thought. Otherwise, why did I
kill the cat?
Over eight years I’ve been here.
Checking one section at a time I start with engineering in level A;
finish with the observation room. On Friday and then at the weekend, donning my
space suit, I examine the outside surface for faults. Once a month a pod
arrives with more food supplies. The routine of non-events has at least some
Making my way around this tiny excuse for a space station, I’d hope
against hope for something to go wrong. A sun storm to interfere with my
settings. For a crack in the panelling. Stray bolts showing wear. An alien
If it wasn’t for the cat I would have gone mad a long time ago.
Not talking to myself. I’m conversing with the cat. Its name is Nibbles. Or rather, it was. Used to be. Former name.
Nibbles would be hard to find at first. As a kitten it was difficult to
get him to eat.
“Nibbles!” I’d shout. “Nibbles … dinner time!”
I’d find him hiding behind a canister in section D. In a bundle of sheets
in my living quarters. Or often he’d be high above the space between the
lighting and ceiling tiles.
Watching me. Observing my every move. Wary but interested in my
Once I’d started to hand-feed him, we began to make a connection. Soon
Nibbles was following me everywhere. In the evenings we’d lie on my bed
together. I’d massage his head, rubbing the back of his ears. Nibbles used to
like that. And his purring would provide me with comfort. I was looking after
another living being, a life that depended entirely upon my own.
“Breakfast time, Nibbles. How about some milk? Okay, we’d better get to
In the evenings we’d play hide-and-seek.
“Where are you Nibbles? There you are!”
There was a favourite piece of yellow and green tape I’d throw high into
the air. The friction of this movement would cause it to crackle. Nibbles would
come running into the room, eager to entertain us by chasing, catching and
assuring his dominance over the object.
On the last day he knew. We’d spent too long together for there to have
been any chance of me fooling him.
“Time to go,” I said, unable to meet his eyes. “The only way,” I mumbled
while he blinked back at me knowingly.
“I love you,” I told him, taking hold of his neck. “You love me too, I
know you do, but fate… they’ll be coming for me. Soon … they’ll have to …”
My excuse will be that Nibbles found his way into the waste disposal
chute without my knowledge; the truth being that I put him there knowingly,
deliberately – an execution, nothing less.
Nibbles didn’t struggle. He trusted me, and I know he was happy to give
up his life for mine. As I watched him; watched the body fly into the vacuum of
space and finally explode, I was overcome with sadness for the loss of my only
Silently I held the tears back.
Returning to my room I shaved, showered, prepared myself mentally for
what I was going to say in my weekly interview. The excuse I would make. And
then, with an action that can only be deciphered as a spur of the moment spot
of madness, I carved his name (N-I-B-B-L-E-S) into my forearm using a razor
“Outpost 269 reporting in. Status normal. No observations. Equipment
efficiency level is fully functional at a hundred percent. The cat however, has
I began to laugh, more at myself that at the machine in front of me.
“It’s dead,” I muttered, then hesitated before confessing that, “I killed it.”
Prepare for body scan.
Moving into the cubicle, I could still hear meowing but for a moment, a future of happiness flashed before my eyes.
You can read more stories like this on Chris’s sci-fi blog: https://newadventuresinscifi.blogspot.com