The universe has a strange way of giving us what we think about, and refusing us what we want. -Intellectual Shaman

“I hope all of you have empathy, because I don’t,” he said. There was a tightness in his face that betrayed his arrogance, although he wasn’t trying to hide it. His crewcut made him taller. He was definitely in command. I think I admired him, immediately; not for his lack of empathy, but for his sense of self. As we go through life, we have to adopt systems of belief about ourselves and other people. Most of these are fairly common, based on societal constructs. For atheists, they resort to politics, and for believers, they defer to a higher power. This man was god. It’s rare to find someone who genuinely believes it. They aren’t trying to be god, or pretending to be someone important; they just are.

“As you may have observed already, this rust bucket isn’t exactly new, or even second hand; they don’t call it the Lazarus for nothing. Now, I know what you’re thinking, ‘How did I end up here?’ Well, they all think that. I promise you an uncomfortable journey, but a fast one to Planet 59. The next three years will go by like you never lived them, kinda like the person who works the 9 to 5. You’ll stay busy or be shot into outer space. Anybody is free to be free; it just may be hard to breathe.” He laughed like he had said something clever. My peers gaped in horror. There was no HR to bail them out.

The main track around the Lazarus branched off into barracks, bar, gym, and entertainment room. The main problem was the air quality. It smelled like an old movie theater—one couldn’t tell if it was the mildew in the air conditioning or the pee in the seats.

“What are you going to do with your money?” Jordan asked.

“I’ve got a plan to buy a homestead near the outer rim. I’ve nearly got half saved. Given this journey and work, the government will be favorable,” Will said.

“Lot of wildlife out there, reptilian, I think.”

“I’ve got a rifle.”

“What are your plans, Schumann?”

I looked at them. Honestly, I didn’t know. “My business is my business,” I said.

“You don’t have to be a Jerk about it,” Brandon scoffed. He was missing two fingers from his right hand due to birth defects. They all had something wrong with them. I had something wrong with me. I just didn’t know what it was yet, and I didn’t want to find out.


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