The sound of shuttles taking off overhead reminded Tryst of the stories his mother used to tell him, of great black clouds rolling above, colliding hard enough to shake the ground beneath them. Where she had grown up, a green planet in a star system far away from here, water used to fall from the sky.
Tryst had never seen that planet, or any other planet for that matter. At the tender age of fifteen his mother had been loaded onto a shuttle and whisked away from her dying home, to settle among the stars. Tryst had been born years later, on a station orbiting a giant gaseous ball. This station was full of refugees from dead or dying planets, not just Tryst’s mother’s home-world, but many different planets in many different systems. Sanctuary stations like the one Tryst called home could be found all over the galaxy.
Tryst’s mother had done well enough for herself in her new home. She made a modest living in the station’s education sector, passing on the culture of her world to future generations. Until she became sick.
The builders of the sanctuary stations had done a good job of collecting remedies and vaccines for the known illnesses of the various planets the refugees came from, but they could not predict the way viruses and bacteria would mutate when introduced to foreign beings in such close quarters.
Some things they could not find cures for fast enough.
At some point the credits had run out, and in the end Tryst could afford no funeral – only a swift memorial service in one of the entrance bays, and then he was shown to an observation area where he could watch as his mother’s body was ejected out of the airlock.
She told him once that on her planet, thousands of years ago, people had been buried underground in wooden boxes. He wondered if she would have preferred that to the vast, cold emptiness of space.
He took a job in the education sector as an assistant. It was a significant decrease in funds, and the residential authority moved him to one of the lower levels of the station, underneath the docking bay.
At first, the constant traffic of the shuttles kept him awake, used as he was to the more comfortable accommodations of the upper levels, but then one night he remembered the old stories, of the explosions his mother called thunder, and the streaks of electricity that accompanied them. He imagined, each time a shuttle embarked on another supply run, that the rumbling which rattled the walls of his tiny residential pod was the same rumbling which had once shaken the firmament of a green planet somewhere far away.