Beep! Beep! Beep!
Zeli groaned at the sound of the incoming call, doing one slow spin in her chair, then pressing the button to answer. Before she could speak, the inevitable voice on the end began.
"How are you holding up, dear? I've almost reached the salvage point. I've been out here for two days and I'm already lonely. I almost miss you. What has this solitude done to me?
"Has anything exploded since I left?"
Waiting a second to make sure she was done, Zeli made sure to speak clearly.
"No, mother, everything's fine."
"Everything is powered up?"
Zeli glanced at the shelf of brick-sized batteries at the back of the room, and the glowing spot on the wall where one was plugged in.
"Yes, everything's... powered up."
Zeli swiveled around again, taking note of the four empty ones stacked in the corner.
"Yep. All full."
"And how is your music going?"
"Just like normal." As slow as ever. Every call, these questions became more tedious. Still, it was nice to hear the voice of a person other than herself, even if it was the same one each time.
Five years of Mother's voice. Mother and Zeli, together, always staying out of sight.
"Excellent. We wouldn't want you to forget how to use your talents, would we?"
Not at all. Something caught Zuri's eye, a flicker in the darkness outside. Sitting up straight, she leaned forward, peering through the window. It was probably nothing, but she could have sworn...
"Oh!" It took her a moment to remember what her mother had said. "Of course not."
"Are you alright? You sound distressed."
"I'm fine. Just got distracted..."
There! Something had flickered. Five more seconds, and the dot of orange flashed again.
Not a star.
"Mother, there's a ship."
"Turn off the lights!" Mother's voice turned urgent, but Zeli was already reaching for the switch. Three seconds, then the room plunged into darkness as the lights lost power.
"Nobody this far into the Wreck can have good intentions," came her mother's voice.
Zeli nodded, then realized the absurdity of the action. She kept her eyes glued to the flickering light, mind reeling as she tried contain the flood of feelings inside her. Fear was the most rational emotion in this scenario, but Zeli knew it wasn't fear that made her hand tremble as she reached toward the button meant for activating the station's shields.
"You know the drill. Keep the shields up, make it look like you don't exist. Hopefully they haven't spotted you, but if they have, stay silent. Don't answer their calls."
"In fact," she added, "Turn off your signal. Best to not take any risks. Call me when the danger has passed."
Mother went silent.
Zeli's hand hovered over the button, ready to cut off all transmissions, but didn't press it. It had been so long since a different voice had come through the station's speakers. Too long. So she waited with bated breath, hoping for--
Her hand moved to hang over the other button. She had waited for the stranger to call, so why wasn't she answering? Why was she scared?
If she answered, the pilot would know there was someone in range, greatly increasing the risk of them finding the station.
Then again, they had probably seen the station already, hence the transmission.
What law of the universe allowed anticipation to feel so much like terror?
Nobody this far into the Wreck can have good intentions.
Zeli slammed the button down, and the beeping stopped.
A man's voice came through.
Author Notes: I don't know how to write docking procedures or the conversation/request for permission that comes before, so it looks like I'm gonna have to stop right here for now, but uh... When I decide to either do some research or just fumble my way through the process, there will be more of this story.
Until then, thanks for reading!