MoboReader > Sci-fi > The Life, Death and Life of Amelia Hollow

   Chapter 3 The Acceptance Message

The Life, Death and Life of Amelia Hollow By EJBowman Characters: 34462

Updated: 2017-12-27 12:04

The mansion was about the size of a small castle if you want a comparison. Its garden looked like one you could see Greek Gods prancing gleefully about in. There wasn't another home for miles and my family liked it that way. We could have huge parties and wouldn't have to worry about noise control because we had no neighbours.

Sure, the Hollow's just sounded like rich douche bags, but we changed the world so we could do whatever the hell we wanted in our own house. Plus my father and Geraldine had worked hard to get their money. Sven –as you know– discovered the USM and became the ambassador while Geraldine (his real name was Gordon but when he discovered that he preferred cross-dressing, he changed his name so other men wouldn't know) used to work the streets in Kingston for various reasons. He took a lot of crap so meeting Sven was his big break.

My room was a fair size, but seeing as it was filled with all my crap it didn't feel that large. Even though we had a small gym I still liked to have a treadmill in my room in case I woke up in the middle of the night and felt like going for a run – which happened very often.

Because everything was electronic I didn't have a whole bunch of posters all around my room, I just had one giant screen above my bed which changed posters every five minutes. I had computer that was quicker than the speed of sound, a television with over a million channels, a tablet packed with thousands of books and yet I was still bored.

Instead of any of these options I just sat on my bed and stared out the window. It was cloudy which meant there could be thunder and lightning later but probably not any rain. It was summer so the weather usually sat between either blazing hot or lightning storms. I didn't mind it and neither did Geraldine. My father on the other hand still hated the heat even though he had lived in the USA a long enough time that you would think he'd be used to it.

I eventually decided that my window that looked out onto the vast valley was the most boring thing in the world so I slipped on my sneakers and flew downstairs. I did not have to worry about my father or Geraldine because I was pretty sure they were both in the indoor pool together and probably didn't want me to disturb them anyways. They would not mind if I was gone half an hour or so.

Starting out with a jog I picked up the pace when I reached the end of our gravel path and started sprinting down the road. There was no need to be worried about cars coming down the road because it was pretty quiet out in the countryside. Any of the people who would even live within five miles of my house would've preferred to take helicopters or shuttles to town instead of an old fashioned car.

When running with music booming into your ears you just seem to lose track of time. I started heading back when I realized that I was coming up on another house. Lightning struck off in the distance followed by rolling thunder. My weather predictions for today had been wrong. Big fat droplets fell from the grey clouds. Luckily it was summer in Wyoming so the rain was actually refreshing. My white singlet was completely soaked and my chest could be seen easily. That was the other great thing about living out in the middle of nowhere. I could've gone for a run in the nude and nobody would've noticed. Well, save Richard Dickson who tended to be a runner like moi. Luckily, he only ran at night because he wanted to avoid me at all costs. Apparently he did not like me screaming out 'Dick Dickson' every time I passed him. Great guy. Darn shame he resented me.

My sneakers squeaked as I walked back up the mahogany staircase. The charming sound echoed all down the mansion. The sound would inform my father that I was home even though he probably had not been aware that I was gone.

The silver scrunchie got knotted in my hair as I tried to pull it out. Taking a shower didn't seem right seeing as I was completely wet, but I did anyways.

My Scandinavian heritage gave me the usual bright blonde hair and my skin was fair. Growing up in Wyoming had given me more of a tan than my father Sven who preferred to think of himself as albino and tried to avoid the sun at all costs. He had even resorted to wearing a cowboy hat on days to make sure the back of his neck did not burn.

I looked like a mixture between a zombie and a creature from the Grudge as I staggered out of the shower. Strands of soaked hair covered my eyes. Once my vision cleared I saw the steam hovering in the bathroom suggesting that I had forgotten to turn the fan on when I came in.

Cosmetics had really advanced in the past a hundred years. Razors had gone out of style quicker than Zune when a cream had been invented that permanently removed hair and had no side effects like previous versions of it that made skin go purple or burnt like acid. It looked like I always waxed my legs, but that didn't mean they looked very attractive if you got a closer look. They were covered in plenty of nasty scars and bruises. One from every sports team I had been on which meant there were quite a lot. When you're the daughter of Earth's first ambassador there's a teeny bit of pressure put on you by coaches and teachers. I had to work pretty hard to please them even though it required getting a couple of bruises and breaking a couple of bones.

There was a knock at the door and before I even answered it slid open (yes I had a slide door for my room unlike every other room in the old style mansion). Geraldine was standing there in his dark blue singlet and jeans. His long black hair was pulled back into a ponytail that split into two braids at the first hair tie. He always had better hair styles than I did. Whenever he usually pranced into my room he had something to ask me about Sven. Right now he was silent. – This concerned me.

"What's up?" I asked him as I slid my singlet back on. I didn't mind him seeing me naked because I saw him as a sexless figure more than anything.

"You're daddy wants to see you in the holo communications room." He said in a tense voice.

"Oh god… Did Aunt Paige finally kick it?" I asked due to his tone.

Aunt Paige was three-hundred and seven years old and had every disease in the book. You would expect her to be dead, yet due to advanced medical care she was probably going to live another twenty years unless she got a cold or left the special sanitary room in the retirement complex. Most people lived to be at least 250-500 years old which may seem strange but you should see the health care system… Cured everything except the flu.

People would think this meant that there were millions of really old people running around the streets due to the increase in life expectancy plenty. But because of cosmetic creams and surgeries you were sure to look at least forty years younger. My father, Sven, was in his fifties but he used a cream that made him look late thirties.

Sadly, people also thought that because they looked young that meant they were young and many children were born to over-aged couples. This lead to a big health issue next to cancer because twelve per cent of children were born with deformities. This is when our dear 'American Unicorn', President Stanley Kesmin, said all people over the age of forty five had to have either a vasectomy or a hysterectomy in the most humane way possible. He put that law in forty years ago and it still stands today. It is not as a creepy as it sounds. My father went in for a vasectomy a couple of years ago and although he didn't see why he had to have it seeing as his partner was a man, he did understand why the American Unicorn had put the law in.

"No your Aunt did not kick it." Geraldine said firmly. "Nothing bad has happened, but you really should come with me."

The holo communications room in our mansion was nothing short of awesome. It was just a giant room filled with monitors and a big circular table in the middle that displayed holograms. When I was very little I pretended it was the bridge from Star Trek and ran around with my little friend, Ben, pretending to be all sorts of crazy aliens. Poor Ben always had to play a red shirt and pretended to die on a daily basis.

This was the room that my father raised Cameron from. Travelling beyond our Solar System to visit other planets was illegal due to the fact humans were 'second-class'. Instead at the end of every week my father called his son to chat. They had never officially met face to face, but my father said he felt like he really knew his son. I'm not sure if that was true or not. It was hard to really know someone if you had never talked in real life.

My brother and moi did not talk much because we were both busy people and also the language block –I didn't have a translating earpiece like my father– but all three of us had chats during one of our birthdays or Christmas. Geraldine felt a little left out of this family gathering because Cameron's mother, Della Vis Homen of Hashtish 4, was his rival for Sven's love. Even though Sven was sure he had made his choice they still had a 'friendly' rivalry. All of us knew that if Della said she wanted my father Geraldine would not have the power to convince Sven otherwise.

My father had both of his hands on the rim of the giant circular table. He was in his usual black turtle neck with jeans and glasses. Even though doctors offered him eye surgery to restore his sight properly Sven wanted to wait a little longer until he was really blind.

"What's news from Starfleet?" I asked him casually before imitating him by putting my hands on the table.

"Well… you're actually close about the whole Starfleet thing."


"I don't know if I can explain this without showing you the message first so don't ask me anything until it's over." He said with a slight hint of anxiety in his voice. It was easy to tell when he was worried on concerned, his voice got a little higher and his Swedish accent became far more obvious.

"I hate the suspense. What happened? Did we lose money? Did President Darwin do something? Oh God, tell me the American Unicorn wasn't shot." I pleaded.

"No the… What?" My father shook his head. "Just watch."

He punched a playback button on the side panel and the hologram sprung up. We had one of the old-fashioned hologram projectors so there was an electric blue tint to it. None of us really noticed it until we saw the quality of other people's hologram displays. Then again, ours was meant for making calls to the USM so we didn't get to upgrade as easily.

"Greetings Amelia Frank Hollow." The recording of a monotone female voice said as a projection of my head came up and rotated around for all to see. "This message is from the USM Naval outpost 'Starside' in the Dalowit System. For the first time in USM history, Starside Academy is accepting cadets from second-class planets to train as commanding officers. Your profile and results from the Universal Standard test have been examined by our moderators and you would be pleased to know you are the most logical choice to be accepted in Starside Academy."

I looked up at my father. He said nothing but smiled.

"The academy is located in the Starside outpost. Only twenty students are accepted every grade from all over the galaxy. These students are prepared to become the commanding officers of the USM Naval ships. If you accept you will be the first human to be a part of the USM Navy. If you decline another human will not be chosen as there are far more qualified students from other second-class planets. Please listen to the contact details in the second message for your itinerary and list of contacts. You will spend two weeks preparing in Darwin Enterprises; your planet's leading science facility where you will learn how to survive in deep space. Thank you Amelia, we hope to see you at Starside Academy."

The hologram switched off and the table went back to its usual grey colour. I wasn't aware that my jaw had dropped. Had I just been accepted to Starside? Now that's a university I didn't apply for.

"Holy. Mother. Fucking. Crap." I gasped before running my fingers roughly through my damp hair. This wasn't a gleeful moment for any of us. It was shocking and completely unexpected. – The USM tended to be like that.

"Well… What do you want to do?" Sven asked me rather abruptly. He didn't sound particularly happy and was more concerned than anything. His daughter had to make the decision whether she wanted to travel millions of light years away or regret not accepting the chance of a lifetime.

I had already been accepted into Lund University and the University of California, but now Starside was in the equation.

"I don't believe it." I whispered.

"I know this is shocking but you need to–"

"I can't fucking believe they didn't even meet me in person to ask me something like that! How do I know that isn't spam mail or something?"

Sven shook his head: "Amelia, they don't act like humans. You just got asked by those guys to be the first human to be in the USM Navy. You're about to make global headlines no matter what your decision is."

"I'm going."

My dad choked a little. He was expecting me to take a little longer to make my decision but he had no idea how excited I was. Sure, everybody on Earth knew which station Starside was –that was where Mel resided– yet we never considered a human, save the ambassador, to make it there. It was only for the best of the best in the USM Navy. Seeing as humans were a second-class race I would change the USM-Earth relations just by showing up. It was time to show them what humans were made of.

"Are you sure?" My father asked, stunned.

"Daddy… I just got accepted into the real life Starfleet. You don't honestly think I'm going to turn them down?"

He smiled sincerely before circling around the table and giving me a bear hug. I wasn't a very 'huggy' person so I just acted as a plank when he wrapped his arms around me. It hadn't really fazed me how big a move to space would be. It seemed to unrealistic at the time. But if it was going to happen, it was going to happen damn soon. We didn't even have time to relax that day, after listening to all the messages sent to us it was nothing but go.

The next five goddamned hours of me and my father's life was spent answering calls from the usual places like the White House, Darwin Enterprises and an android who would organize how I got to Starside. The day had really changed rapidly for us yet the whole situation was still very surreal. Geraldine had given up on having a presence after the fourth call and went to clear his head. I know I was not his daughter, but the move was really going to affect him too. He did not love moi, but the thought of me moving still stressed him out. What really scared my father was that I was at a naval academy which was a major target for enemies of the USM.

We had a great talk with the Russian ambassador for Earth, Karina Asimov. She kept telling me about how screwed I was going to get by publicity. Anything that had happened in my past was apparently going to rise up again and Sven agreed with her on that one. She would know.

When it was first learned that Karina had an affair on her husband in university the media went insane. Her husband explained 'they were on a break' at the time and he was okay with it, but the media wasn't just going to give up on a good story. They tortured her with it. A part of me felt that Karina would not have been treated that way if she was a man. Reporters loved scandals surrounding powerful women more than the loved scandalous stories about powerful men.

"…and another thing, Ms. Hollow. Have no sex between the time this call ends and the time you go to Starside. Paparazzi are going to be stalking your house and Darwin Enterprises for the next month, you don't want to give them anything to work with."

"Err… Thank you Mrs. Asimov."

"Don't worry Karina. I'll be telling her all about those things later." Sven joked before squeezing my shoulder, telling me 'he wasn't joking'.

Karina looked down for a moment to check the time on the side of her own hologram control panel.

"Sven, you know how much it costs to have these conversations so I don't need to explain why I'm signing off early. Good luck Ms. Hollow, make Earth proud or die trying. Did you get the itinerary for Starside sent to you? You must be organized, you depart in one month."

"Yes ma'am, no need to worry." I tried to reassure her but she did not seem amused.

"Sven… I trust you will get her prepped for all of this. She's too young to understand how important her presence is on Starside to both the USM and Earth. Take care."

"Bye Karry."

She rolled her eyes before reaching to the side and the transmission ended. I slumped in the chair and looked at my father hoping for an explanation. She was a strong, organized, powerful woman who represented Earth better than anybody else besides my father ever could… and dear god she was a bitch. She had set herself up to think I was going to fail and was probably already preparing her statement to the

press on the matter… I see why my father nominated her. If humans went to war with another civilization she'd end it immediately with a snap of her bony fingers.

"Can you believe this?" I asked my father with a sigh.

"This is just the first day." He laughed with a hint of anxiety. "For the next two weeks we will be taking these calls daily and then when you leave for Darwin Enterprises you're going to every press conference they can arrange."

"If I die before I go to space you know why."

"Amelia, this may be the hysterical part of me speaking, but how are you not freaking out?" He asked with a slight twitch to his right eye. He was blowing up inside.

There was a loud beeping noise and the small screen on the panel informed my daddy we were getting another call. He sighed before hitting the answer button. Who could it be this time?

Cameron Vis Homen's image was projected on the table. He was in his usual grey and black USM Naval uniform with his matching grey cap and earpiece like my father's. It was a translator so that all USM workers could understand each other. My father had not bought me one yet so I just had to read the translations on the small screen while they talked.

Like moi, Cameron almost looked exactly like our father except the fact his skin was a sickly green and he had orange/red hair. His silvery/grey eyes seemed to sparkle more than a human's. It made him just look like he had puppy eyes on all the time… Really, I don't know how he looked like my father. He just did.

"Hello!" He said in his best English to try and please me. He may have been half human but his mother Della had never bothered to teach him English so the language was very new to him. He really sounded German for some reason.

I could tell he was calling from the Titonic's public phone. Other staff occasionally came into view when they walked past him and man, talk about diversity. Some looked like the creatures from Aliens while others were Wookiees from Star Wars. The only thing they all had in common was the uniform.

I felt very out of the loop when my father and brother talked because although Cameron could understand me due to his earpiece, I had no idea what he was saying.

"Hang on one second." Sven said as he fumbled in his jean pocket until he pulled out his earpiece that resembled a hands free phone except there was a long wire wrapped around it. He uncoiled the wire and carefully started pushing it into his ear. The earpiece only worked when it was hooked up to his brain. It was very efficient, yet horrible to witness when he put it in.

"Hello Cameron. And how's the Titonic?" My father asked cheerfully. He always loved chatting with his son because on Earth it was rare for young men to contact their parents so often. Luckily, Cameron was raised on Hashtish 4 where your parents were basically your best friends. He had felt very separate from his mother when he went to the naval academy (he was the first human cross-breed to make it into Starside but seeing as his birth certificate said he was raised on Hashtish 4 he wasn't technically considered a human. Although it was clear he was still treated unfairly because of his father from a second-class planet) so he always called Sven who had more context for what he was going through. His mother was the Hashtish Alliance ambassador which meant she didn't have much experience with the USM Navy. Politics was her forte. Sven had gone through plenty of hard-core training before he became an astronaut back in Europe and got what his son was complaining about. I was about to go through the training myself so he was going to have to listen to my complaining too.

"It's fine. Not sure if I'm ever going to get promoted even though I trained to be an officer." He giggled pitifully. "I'm too distracted all the time because I only get five hours of sleep before my next shift. I know because I'm a harsnic that I'm supposed to only need three hours anyway, but I believe the human side of me wants its rest." Cameron replied in Kestern; a common language in the Hashtish Alliance.

Sven laughed. "Yes, humans get very distracted when we get sleep deprived. Is your superior still Officer Geignovats? Ask her for a shift off so you can catch up on the well-deserved rest. They really want you to be at your best all the time so it would be best to request your shifts to be more spaced-out so you have more rest in between."

The harsnic did not like that idea: "But Ensign Davlos is on the same shifts as me at the moment. We work well together. I don't want to lose that. I think he's the closest thing I have to a–"

"The drama!" I cried sarcastically as I read their conversation off the small screen. Cameron obviously was not aware of how much work we had to do that day and could not have chosen a worst time to call.

Cameron looked to the side where I was probably being displayed on his hologram. He smiled sweetly and nodded. I had learned over the years that he was actually afraid of me. On his planet I would be considered very loud and obnoxious (I was considered that on Earth too) and that wasn't looked well upon. Because I was his sister he understood that some people were just like that. – Crazy and loud.

"Well Amelia. I've heard the news and I must say congrats." He smiled. "Guess what ship you're taking to get there?"

"Oh my." I said after reading the translation. "I'm taking the Titonic aren't I?"

He nodded. "Oh yes you are. All the new cadets get to experience a USM Naval ship first-hand when they get accepted. That way they know what they're in for."

"Are you going to meet up with me when I catch a ride?"

"Uh huh." He nodded speedily like an energetic chipmunk. "I'm the one picking you up off Earth. I volunteered to tour you around the ship."

"Aw. I get to be your annoying little sister finally and embarrass you in front of all your friends." I 'joked'. Cameron knew very well I wasn't joking and blushed.

His expression went from happy to more solemn in an instant: "Heh… Yes. Then there's nobody to embarrass me in front of." He joked in his species brutally honest way. My father's smile dropped into a frown. It was not nice knowing your child wasn't getting along with everybody else.

"Amelia can you leave for a couple of minutes? I'll call you back in soon." Sven said. He wanted to talk to his son about why he had no friends. Even I knew Cameron was a great guy so I could not understand why he wasn't getting along with others.

I decided I needed to annoy Geraldine in the kitchen where he was baking some sort of French pastry and miserably failing at it. It was either a deflated croissant or some sort burnt gingerbread man… How do those two have any similarities whatsoever? Ask Geraldine, he made it.

"So, how's the planning going?" He asked as he poked the pastry with a fork like it was a dead animal.

"Good. We're taking a break and Sven's talking to Cameron. The poor little guy apparently has no friends or something."

"Oh no! Not Cameron!" He gasped as he dumped the lifeless pastry into the trash. He did not know my brother very well because he disliked his mother but he knew the harsnic was a good boy.

He washed his hands in the sink and was about to reach for a tea towel when I grabbed his wrist. He jumped a little but I had seen something I didn't want to see. We made eye contact as I turned his arm and saw two little red holes just below the inside of his elbow. – The common trace of dusk.

Yes, after cocaine vanished from the face of the Earth during he-who-shall-not-be-name's presidency, the situation got worse and people wanted something more. Dusk was small mixture of meth, peyote and a large amount of a newly discovered moss found in the deepest parts of the ocean which was similar to marijuana except a little harder on the body. Dusk had nearly killed Geraldine and that's how my father and Geraldine really got to meet the night after they first 'met'. He was having a seizure in the bathtub from the dusk and Sven was the one who saved him and then spent two days in the hospital with him. Not exactly romantic seeing as Geraldine was a hooker at the time and on dusk, but it's always a fun story to tell at dinner parties. My father never wanted him to touch dusk again because it was just too hard on his system but apparently Geraldine was willing to break that promise just to get another taste.

"My father's going to be so pissed when he finds out." I hissed.

With a tug, he managed to pull his arm away and continued to wash the scorched tray. His head down. Not like he was ashamed, more annoyed that I had found out.

"Amelia. This is between me and him. Don't get involved." He muttered.

"I will get involved if you don't tell him." I said sharply.

I was very defensive of my father's feelings. My first promise to Geraldine when I was five was that I would take away his manly bits if he hurt my daddy… I stand by that. I like Geraldine but nobody hurt my father.

"It was just night when you were both out… I'm waiting to tell him after you leave. He already has enough on his plate I don't want to overload the poor man." He lied. I doubted that he had only done dusk once in the past few years. It was not something you got a needle for just to do once.

I rolled my eyes. The last time me and Sven had gone out and left Geraldine alone was a week ago when they were playing the adaptation of Burroughs's The Lost Continent at the theatre in Laramie. He had had plenty of time in the seven days after to tell him!

"Sweetie?" Sven called down the hall. I glared a Geraldine one more time before leaving, just to make sure he knew it wasn't over.

I returned to my father and Cameron in the holo communications room. Obviously things had gotten quiet between them which was why they wanted me to come back in. Despite his kind not having the power to flat-out lie; Cameron probably had not wanted to tell his father about issues in his social life. He was very reserved when it came to people that he were not his family and probably hadn't been making much of an effort to make friends. Also having his father from a second-class planet had really affected how others treated him. Most aliens from first-class planets did not take well to any creature below them. My father would have nagged him about putting himself out there more and proving himself to the other before remembering it was his own fault that Cameron was treated differently and going quiet.

"Say goodbye to your brother." Sven asked when I took my spot back next to the translator screen.

"I will see you in one month. You like the term 'beam me up, Scotty' right?" I perked up despite the glum atmosphere. "Well, we will beam up to the Titonic."

The harsnic was trying to please me and oh, I was very pleased indeed. So pleased I could not help retain the strange animalistic squeal that escaped my lips. Both looked at moi as if I was a dying weasel.

"Yes Cameron." My nodding was hasty. "I'm glad even your kind knows that quote." I choked. Don't cry, don't cry, for the love of God you better not cry!

"Well… Bye, bye!" He said in shaky English. Me and my father waved goodbye before he ended the call on his side. Once Sven was sure the message was over he dropped his head and sighed.

"So, why is he a loner?" I asked, unconcerned to how my father was feeling about the situation.

Sven shook his head solemnly. "Cameron's a shy boy, you know that. Apparently he misheard an order and accidently put the ship into DEFCON 2 mode. He believes he misheard the order due to his exhaustion. But now he's afraid to talk to anybody because he thinks they're still mad at him." My father sighed. "And of course they won't forgive him easily… first-class aliens just wait for the lower class kids to slip-up so they have more reasons to hate them. Cameron tries so hard to please people, but they just knock him down. Poor kid, look after him when you get up there."

"Will do… How did he activate DE–"

"Don't ask."

I walked around the table and gave my father a hard pat on the shoulder. I knew he worried more about Cameron than he worried about me because he felt useless when Cameron wanted help. Also, I was basically a crazy obnoxious girl who was incredibly outgoing so my father didn't worry about me making friends. Cameron probably did not like being compared to his little sister when it came to our social lives so I hoped Sven had not brought it up even though I was sure he had. I'd told him that Cameron had to figure these sorts of things out on his own; nonetheless my father was not willing to accept that seeing as he already felt plenty of guilt about missing out on his child's life.

We spent the rest of the night taking calls and planning what we were going to do in the final two weeks I had in the mansion. All the time I was thinking about whether Geraldine would tell my father or not that he had injected himself with dusk. Once I left there would be nobody else on Earth who knew he had (besides whomever he had bought it from) and he would get away with it. I would have been the definition of a tattletale if I had told on him. Plus I did have to agree that times were pretty hard on my father at the moment and I wasn't sure if he could handle it. It was hard to tell why he was so stressed. He had been to space, his son lived in space and so it was not a very foreign place to him. I was willing to accept his stress for the time being seeing as it had been less than twelve hours since we got the acceptance message and everything was still sinking in. If he was going to be like this for the next two weeks I was probably going to 'accidently' serve him something in his food that would calm him down… But not dusk.

"Okay." Sven began. We were sitting in the lounge next to the fake fireplace while he read over the notes on the tablet. "So, you're only allowed to take a small duffle bag filled with your property. Most necessary items will be provided for you –e.g. sanitary and bathroom supplies– and you are required to wear your cadet uniform at all times whether you are at Starside Academy or not. The duffle bag you are allowed to take to Starside is coming in a package tomorrow so you may begin packing…" He was only reading the important bits so he skipped some lines and used his finger to swipe the tablet and move the page up. "Apparently it would be wise to not take valuable items and it would be better to leave them in either a storage facility or a relative of whom you trusts house. Plus, you have no need to take your cell phone seeing as you will have no connection."

I was not really listening. The book I was reading on my tablet was much more entertaining than listening to what had already been said a dozen times. "Can I take my cell phone anyways?" I asked without looking up from my screen.

"I guess. But–"

"Good. I have a saved game of Tetris on it and I'm not letting go of it now." I smiled. Sven was not as amused, but he knew humour was my way of dealing with stress. He sighed like a teenager before letting his eyes wander to the edge of the tablet to check the time: 12:45am.

"You need some sleep. According to your brother you don't get much sleep in space so get it in now."

I rolled off the couch and hit the floor casually before standing up. I usually got to bed in the 1am range, nevertheless my father was right. Cameron had looked exhausted and I didn't look very pleasant when I had bags under my eyes all the time.

"Night." I kissed my father on the forehead before strolling out of the room. I secretly looked back once to see how he acted when he thought I wasn't looking. He was sitting up properly now with his head in his hands. Not crying, just being a stress monkey. I wanted to go back and give him another one of my 'comforting' pats on the shoulder, but I decided against it because it was best not to embarrass him. Instead, I went took two stairs at a time and flew into my bedroom.

I did not actually get much sleep that night. At 3am it suddenly hit me that I was going to Starside Academy. Then I just lay on my back and stared up at the ceiling thinking 'holy shit I'm going to Starside'. What bothered moi most was thinking about how I was going to break it to my friends… and my boyfriend, Aiden Wyle. I only had two weeks before I was going to Darwin Enterprises in Washington D.C. where I most likely would not be able to contact them. Aiden would be the hardest to tell because even though he was really cool with most things I did, he was emotionally invested in our relationship and really thought it was going somewhere. Lord, he was so cheesy right? But hey, I loved the guy. I liked him so much I had even tried to lose my virginity with him. Well… I say 'tried' because he was very ticklish and it was hard to have sex with someone who couldn't stop giggling like a child. Nobody understood why a tough emotionally-detached girl liked a sensitive nerdy guy like him. I guessed I liked boys who were the direct opposite of me or something. My greatest fear was that he would cry when I told him.

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