“Zero three seventeen hours. Requested Alarm time,” the computer announced in Flynn’s quarters. “Zero three seventeen hours. Requested—”
“Dismiss alarm,” Flynn said.
“Alarm dismissed,” the computer confirmed.
Flynn was already awake, and had been for hours.
Don’t know why I keep setting the alarm. Not like I can ever forget this day.
He was beyond the early stages of replaying what happened in his mind. Now he was hearing the transmissions, the sounds of what happened on board the battleships. The hulls shook, the captains issued orders for maneuvers and firing solutions. Then the explosions started to happen. And the screams.
A knock on his cabin hatch, somewhat urgent, brought him out of the memory.
“Take it to Eltie, today,” he said.
“Sir, it is Eltie.”
She knows that today is. The rest probably do, too, well, except for Ann and Doc.
Flynn stood, setting the folded bundle from his lap on the bed. Still dressed in pajamas, he went to the hatch.
“Eltie,” he began, but she held up a hand.
“I know, sir. I won’t intrude, not today, and neither will anyone else. But I would like to have one drink to their memories.”
“Am I even worthy to do that?” he mumbled.
“Yes, sir, you are. It’s your duty.”
Duty. I suppose so.
He stood aside, letting her in. She wore her usual fatigues, and surveyed his quarters the way a gunnery sergeant would, but said nothing. She stood with hands clasped behind her back, and said nothing, not even about his pajamas.
“Pick out a bottle,” he said, closing the hatch behind her.
She opened up his small liquor cabinet, chose a bottle, and poured them each a drink in a metal tumbler. A shatterproof transparent ceramic glass would have been preferable, and what he would have had if he was still in the Alliance Fleet, but metal would suffice.
From the aroma, it was the spiced, Antares bourbon. They spiced it because that was the only way people could wash the rotgut down.
She handed a tumbler to him. He held it up in salute. He should say the words, but he couldn’t get them to his lips, so Eltie said them.
They both drained the drinks in one gulp.
Flynn closed his eyes, hearing the transmissions again.
He dropped the tumbler, holding hands over his ears. It didn’t stop the memory. More screams, explosions, over and over. Worse, silence. No more transmissions. No more ships to transmit.
Flynn scrubbed tears away from his eyes. Eltie was gone. The tumbler had been picked up, and the hatch was closed as if she had never been there.
“Zero three thirty-nine hours.”
Eighteen minutes for the battle, three minutes of silence. Twenty-two minutes on the dot. Another year gone by. Only three. Will this happen for the rest of my life? Do I deserve for it to go away?