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[2008: JUL-AUG] You Saved My Soul Tonight

Ryan Horn

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Passing through the starry void, two people looked out into the stars.

Looking out into the infinite velvety blackness, the boy dreamed of the stars. How he would soar through the cosmos on wings of fire. To see wonders undreamt of, experience the thrill of discovery, to set foot where no human had ever been before, to find friends where he'd never looked, and defeat dishonorable enemies with honor and respect. He wanted to experience all the glories the stars represented. He couldn't wait.

Looking out into the infinite velvety blackness, the Commander stared out into the stars. He wondered what threats lay behind them. Would the star they were near explode? Would some alien race deprive them of power? Or perhaps some enemy would need to be saved, or some supposed friend would betray them. All the dangers of the Galaxy lay before him, waiting to gobble up the ship and crew. And from what he’d seen, those dangers couldn't wait.

In small but similar rooms, two people turned off the monitor in front of them.

The final images of the most recently released mission report from Starfleet faded off as the boy let out a long awed sigh. It was another epic adventure, the ship nearly destroyed, the crew pushed beyond the edge of reason. Only to be saved by the heroism and brilliance of the Captain. Once again the day was saved, the enemy defeated, and all was right with the Federation. He couldn’t wait for another exciting mission.

The final images of the report from Starfleet faded as the Commander let out a long tired sigh. He sighed again as he went back to the work in front of him. The ship's last encounter had left them bereft of nearly fifteen percent of the crew, mostly from security. Despite what the Counselor said, it was his responsibility and another black mark on his soul for those who had died. At times like this he wondered how the crew could continue, moving from one near tragedy to the next. It seemed like they were almost cursed, never experiencing the safety, the normalcy, that other ships had. No, it seemed like every mission they had, something went wrong. Some unexplained event changed a completely standard situation into something nearly inescapable. What he wanted most was a quiet, simple, straightforward mission.

In a small home, on a small street, in a small city on a remote world, a man drove up to his house.

The man strode into his home, tired and worn out from the stresses of the day. The petty rivalries at work, the mind numbing repetition of his job, the idiocy of his supervisors, all of these things and more seemed to grind the life out of his very soul. And worse, knowing, with absolute certainty, that it would take so little to just give in. To go along with the corporate vibe, paying empty compliments to petty dictators, to smile and nod at other people while planning their failures to suit his purposes, to become an empty shell, devoid of life or wonder. Successful in every way measured by his fellows, but no longer looking with hope, with bright eyes full of wonder, at the beauty of life around him. As he contemplated his soul’s destruction, the small boy inside him reminded him again of what it was like to be a child. To look into the sky with eyes alight at the possibilities around him. To laugh, free of care, to live by a sense of honor despite the lack around him, to do the right thing, even if no one would notice if he didn’t. Once again, he looked inward at the child within, laughing at the ridiculousness of his earlier thoughts and sat down at his computer. They’d both write about the perils and progress of a Commander in Starfleet, whose life was anything but boring and all the child had ever wanted to be. And with each story, the laughter of the eternal child within would restore the soul of the writer without.

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