“I can absolutely cope with two humans against a Converted crew.” I watch the numbers stagnate on the ship’s monitor, after days of rapid falling (HUMAN LIFE-FORMS, 0002) and climbing (NON-HUMAN, 0148) since Seig and I sealed ourselves in the control room. “I just don’t want to be the last one.”

Seig and I are the last uninfected on the ship, and Seig isn’t listening. He’s rifling through the inventory. The clipboard has dried blood on it. Our store manager was old-fashioned. Neither of us can read Earth scrawl.

“Can you imagine it?” I press. “Alone, on a month-long crawl through the vastness of space, with a horde of ravening Converted on the other side of that door?”

Behind the door there’s scratching, like a single fingernail.

“I can imagine it.” Seig drops the clipboard on the floor with a clatter.

“No more food? Nothing else we can do,” I suggest. I toy with my glasses long enough to bend them. “Seig. Did you know the human body can survive three weeks without food?”

“Hello…” Seig hoiks up his overalls and steps onto the control panel. He grunts like he’s making his presence known at the gym as he pulls himself up into the ceiling vent. He’s instructing me on how to secure it.

“Same trick to release the latch when you get back?” I check.

Seig does his best to shrug while peering down at me from within the confines of the air vent. His broad shoulders bump against the panels. “If our number goes down to one, don’t open the vent for me.”

I watch the monitor hover at two human lives for days, and I know everything will be fine. Nothing ever happens to Seig: he’s a security guard. I savour each careful sip of water on my tongue. Still my mouth grows drier as I listen to the intermittent scratching from the other side of the control room door. At irregular intervals there is a howl.

HUMAN LIFE-FORMS drops to 0001, but from the ceiling I hear a familiar “hello.”

CategoryFlash Fiction

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