“How cold is it out here, hm? The coldest it can get, and I don’t feel a thing! I’m just laying on glass with my hands behind my head and a rocking tune on my lips. I’d dance if I could. How cool am I in my grey space suit? I must blend into the moon from Earth. Can they see me, I wonder?” Tobi asked to a quiet intercom.
Around her sat inflations of metal and glass that spanned for miles across the surface of the Earth’s moon. Tobi’s body occupied one of only a few outward windows, and it was the easiest one to access from a still-working portal. She smiled towards the endless orb of Earth as it slowly changed, degrees and angles reshaping its wide visual surface in ways only for her eyes to behold.
Beneath her back, the moon’s skin popped with industrial execution that had saved the human race from instant obliteration.
“Back in a time before my parents’ parents’ parents, you would’ve been mine. I would’ve taken you over with my smile and my smarts, Big Blue. I would’ve tasted fresh water and we would’ve all beaten those aliens together. The machines would bow to me and the androids…,” she trailed off.
“Let me get my list,” Tobi mumbled while slowly turning over. Her body adjusted to the side of the window while her glove wiped away some frost so she could read her lengthy, daily list. “On the 4,788th day of my life and 500th day of my thanking ritual, I will give thanks to the following…beings for my life. *Ahem*. Mom, Dad, Jodie, Cara and Lara, Aunt CJ….”
Tobi’s eyes squinted to read the massive list of names with her glove having to take multiple swipes at the frosted glass. Above and beyond the moon was a captive, quiet Earth that seemed to lean close to hear her constrained voice that excitedly expounced names of those the planet had long forgotten.
“…the man that push me out of the way of the closing door, and my friends Palace and Lunch Room, wherever they may be. Thank you all!” She turned fully back towards Earth with her smile fading and her hands folded across her chest. “I have one more, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all one at a time but I, uh, don’t know your names. Thank you androids. I finally got to the Y section of the library and I read about the YoMEga project. I know what you’re fighting for, but…,” she took a shuddering breath, “you’re too late.”
Tobi stood slowly as her boots magnetized to the grey metal hull. Her hands quietly moved to the release and the platform descended in an achingly slow fashion. She kept her eyes up to take in the last of the Earth before the circular seal closed.
For years, Tobi took to this pilgrimage daily as a part of her unchanging ritual. She took names from the memorial wall and added them to her list of thanks while taking to the library, then videos, then music databases one at a time. Between, she would nibble from her bountiful rations in the vacuum of silence her room afforded. Her heartbeat kept her bouncing in her chair while she hummed some of the fading tunes from her childhood.
In the communications room stayed the morse code receptors from Lunch Room and Palace, her two friends locked in those sections of the base. She’d have light conversation with them each a few times a week, asking mostly of Earth and if they ever went outside. Tobi had only asked a personal question once, about Lunch Room’s family, and never received an answer.
Palace was more enterprising in the beginning, asking about what each of them saw and their genders as soon as they’d discovered their communication rooms. Tobi had been excited at the prospect of meeting them in person, so she eagerly awaited their answers after stating that she was a girl. The other two answered the same. Palace then asked if they could find any rockets, but both Tobi and Lunch Room had said no. Tobi had asked what Palace’s real name was then and got back, she only learned after some study of the chart on the wall, “Doesn’t matter now.”
The passed years had brought Tobi, now sitting at the communication console again, to feel more and more alone. She let her shaking hands steady in time as they hovered above either communicator. After a swift countdown, she let her hands fly, “dot-dot-dot-dot pause dot pause dot-dash-dot-dot pause dot-dash-dot-dot pause dash-dash-dash?”
This was her tenth time trying today after five tries every day for the previous three weeks. “They probably just went exploring. You know how far down this place can go and how many hallways there are. I can’t believe they would! Palace should’ve said something the last time we talked. Would she have though? Lunch Room wouldn’t have. Be back tonight.”
Tobi was outside again in her aged suit, wiping away at the glass while reciting her daily ritual, “On the 10,527th day of my life and 6,432nd day of my thanking ritual, I will give thanks to the following beings for keeping me alive….”
Half of the list sprang from her without even having to peer through the glass. The ritual kept her outside for longer and longer, which was fine by her; the interior of the base had begun to creak more. Sounds bounced more sharply and her voice carried too close to her own ears. On more than one occasion, she’d whispered a scared, hopeful “Hello?” to the air and found a tenuous, impossible hope of hearing something answer.
The Earth, she knew now, wasn’t going to answer. There was no illusion of hope floating in space, and she felt free to be kind and thankful in an undiluted form. So, she let her list grow and eat more and more of her day away.
“…I do have to revisit one of my thanks to the androids of YoMEga, if I can.” She stood and stared into the Earth with her deeply green eyes wide in the wonderment before her. “I thought I understood your struggle when I first started thanking you, understood that you were aiming only to bring back humanity. I finally cracked the code in the mainframe and learned it all. Hopefully you have too. You must know that the only thing you can fight for now is yourselves and you’re right to exist.”
“So, while I still thank you, I must also wish you the best of luck. Keep fighting for yourselves.”
Tobi glanced down to the hatch at her right and laughed lightly. “Actually, I think I’ll stay out here and watch.” She slid down into a relaxed position again with her hands behind her head and magnetic boot bouncing freely, a hummed tune cheerfully emanating into the depths of space.