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Rated: ASR · Fiction · Sci-fi · #2280202
Nothing to do but eat, sleep and write.

The full moon began to brighten, signaling the end of night. The change woke a middle-aged man hovering on the edge of sleep. Anwen yawned and looked up at the ever-present orb until the soft glow became too intense for unprotected eyes. As always, it took less than thirty minutes for midnight to become noon.

Anwen rose stiffly from his thin pallet and made his way down a graveled path to the disposal, thirty meters away. The path curved through thick jungle growth that soon blocked his view of the sleeping area. The cool sand of the disposal felt firm under his feet as he squatted to perform the necessary bodily functions. The solid surface was deceptive, the waste would disappear without a trace as soon as Anwen was out of sight.

He turned to the other side of the path to use the cleansing basin. Warm water began to flow from an eye-level spout as he approached. Anwen dropped his simple belted tunic on a convenient rock and thrust his head into the gentle stream. A brisk rubbing of face and hands was sufficient before breakfast. If he waited, the water would fill the knee level pool that served as a bathtub.

Refreshed, Anwen continued along the path for another thousand meters to the food place. The ten-minute walk each way ensured a minimum level of physical exercise. Today was Anwen’s Tuesday, so the fruit was orange colored and the food was much like bacon and eggs. Different meals appeared each morning over the five-day cycle that Anwen had decided to call a week. The food was adequate, though uninspired, with a similarly uninspiring set of meals for lunch and dinner. There were only fifteen different meals in total, and the monotony was mind-numbing. The portions were filling, but not excessive, and a new meal didn’t appear unless Anwen completed a round trip to the sleeping area. He returned by the same path, using the disposal and the cleansing basin again. Now he faced the most difficult part of his day.

Anwen marked another Tuesday in the journal labeled Calendar and looked at the pile of notebooks that were already filled with every detail of his entire life. Walking and writing were the only activities available, and they’d become as unbearably monotonous as eating. His calendar began with the Monday when he’d first woken in the sleeping area. The old man had vanished on day 2, and nothing of significance had happened since.

Anwen never knew the old man's name or where he was from. He'd shown Anwen the basics of his new existence with gestures and demonstrations. He'd tried to communicate, but his unfamiliar language didn’t mean anything to Anwen, and there hadn’t been time to learn. It was puzzling, though, that the old man hadn’t left a journal of his own.

At first, Anwen had passed the time by investigating his environment. The jungle paths were cleverly designed to feel as though they led somewhere, but always turned back to the sleeping area. He’d tried to monitor the food place and disposal but was never able to witness their mysterious operation. He once tried watching the sand for half a day but saw nothing. The waste just stayed there, stinking, until he left. Backing away slowly or making a sudden reverse dash hadn’t worked either.

Anwen thought again of his last days aboard the SS Beagle, a Sol System research vessel named for a famous nineteenth century sailing ship. They’d dropped out of hyperspace near an orange-yellow sun with two planets in its habitable zone. The captain had ordered a long-range scan for life signs and there Anwen’s memory just stopped. He stared at a blank page for some time, but no amount of concentration brought up anything new to write. Eventually Tuesday passed, and the stationary sun dimmed back to moonlight.

Wednesday began as usual, but on returning from breakfast, Anwen found a young woman asleep on the pallet. His initial excitement turned to dismay as he realized that she didn’t speak his language and that his journals were gone. He sighed with fatalistic resignation and began to demonstrate the basics of her new existence.

author's note
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