Flash Fiction — approx 590 words
It was the Slow Time, and some millennia after she had laid down to rest, Kristen woke up.
There was a hot cup of coffee waiting for her, and she sipped it gratefully. It was so very cold, here, and the coffee warmed her bones.
Here was her bed, and here her desk, with the coffee maker, and the computer, whispering to life. And there was her book collection, the spines of the books straight, the pages crisp, though they smelled of time.
And all around her was the garden.
As the lights slowly warmed up to full power, the garden grew. And as it grew, it bloomed. A thousand brilliant colors and variety of flowers in the brightening light.
Kristen sneezed, as a thousand varieties of pollen hit her nose. She rubbed blearily eyes, and sighed. Her body was always slow to catch up and compensate for the pollen.
The computer reports were all good. The self repairing collectors were in solid shape; they had been faithfully, slowly doing their duty, with only expected errors, as the millennia had rolled on.
The coffee finished, the computer checked, it was time for her walk. Kristen walked slowly amongst the green, her toes squishing comfortably in the damp soil, soft leaves and petals whispering sensually against the fine fur covering her skin. Bees and other small insects buzzed in the air around her, making a comforting background hum.
She paused, as she always did, when she reached the edge of the dome. Beyond there was the black, and the cold.
Even if she turned off the lights, even with her broad spectrum eyes, she would be able to see nothing in that great beyond. She was the only source in the humanly visible spectrum that existed in … perhaps, anywhere.
She brooded for longer than she usually did. By the time she made her return walk, the flower petals had fallen, and so had the fruits, their efficient seeds burying themselves in the soil. The insects were silent, save for the occasional soft crunch, as she trod on a dead creature’s carapace. The lights were dimming. This life cycle was almost at an end.
Kristen typed a single message into the computer. An antenna warmed up, and sent the signal.
It was time to consider the question. The one that she always considered. Her fingers hovered above the keyboard, ready to invoke the script.
And then it was time to reject that answer. With the tap of another key, the computer fell silent.
The dome was getting colder. Kristen lay on her bed. She read for a little while — an old favorite, the story tracing well worn tracks in her mind. When she was finished, she carefully set the book on its shelf, and settled her head on her pillow. She drifted toward sleep, automatic parts of her brain taking care of the business of slowing her body and putting her to sleep.
At last, her heart stopped, and her lungs let out one final breath for this cycle. The lights were out by now; darkness wrapped her still cold body.
There were no stars shining in the dark beyond the dome. They had all exhausted themselves long ago. There was nothing, save for the slow churn of ever settling energy, collected slowly, in dribs and drabs, by the automated collectors.
And the signal, a dim blip of energy in the radio spectrum, racing into the long night, containing it’s simple message:
“Is there anybody else out there?”