In the spirit of the upcoming award season, and since the AE site is still down and I’d like my story to be available to readers, I’m posing my AE Micro winning story, Our Place Among the Stars.

Enjoy!

“I’m afraid” I admit.

Around me, her body clicks and whirs. Claustrophobia creeps in, relieved only by the port windows in her hull. Some ruddy star shines outside. It has a number, but we call it Hercules. It’s large enough. Bright enough.

The chair beneath me is cold and uninviting. I know the restraints are my own doing, but still, they’re frightening.

She doesn’t answer—it’s the first time she hasn’t responded when I speak to her. I’m not sure how that makes me feel.

“I’m here.” she reminds me without further provocation.

There is a large needle poised to slip into my brain. A large, painful shadow. It’s difficult to find yourplace among the stars alone. This is just a little change; others will come later. They’re not urgent as this. This microchip will allow me to feel my wife’s consciousness in her engine. Her skin in the metal of the hull.

The needle is fire in my temple, and slowly, her air filters become her breath in my throat. In the end, I’m glad for the restraints. When it’s all over, they feel like her limbs wrapped around mine.