Home of the Crickets
So anyway, about two weeks ago I started seeing this ghost. Go ahead, laugh, or, maybe, you don’t believe me, but it’s true. Just don’t tell anyone.
At first, it was just a little one. I started seeing it out of the corner of my right eye, about midday. It wasn’t scary or anything like that, just a grey blur. It would hover for a while, shifting in place from foot to foot, completely silent, and then go away somewhere. Later, it occurred to me that it was talking, because its lips were moving, but no sound came out. Should I try to talk to it next time?
The doctor told me it was normal, a temporary side effect of the drugs I’d been taking for insomnia. It really is difficult to fall asleep sometimes on the ship. The Basilisk, that’s the ship’s name, is one of the oldest craft carriers, and it’s been carrying craft since 3047. Go figure how it’s still holding up and not falling apart right in the middle of the ocean. During daytime, it’s fairly quiet. At night, though, it’s different. I keep hearing this strange sound, it’s a bit like crickets. Now, this is strange, because I’ve never heard a cricket sing, and neither is the word “cricket” found in my dictionary, and yet the moment I heard the sound, it cropped up in my memory. I told my friend K. about this, but he said it’s not possible: there can’t be any, not on Earth, not onboard. The last time someone had seen a cricket was in 2047, and then they disappeared completely off the face of the Earth. And, again, I have never heard one sing. So, K. says, how can I know what they sound like?
But I do know.
I said so to K., and he looked at me kind of funny. I’ve always thought of K. as a reliable friend. I recorded it the next time it happened, and played it back to him, but he still couldn’t hear anything. After that, I stopped talking about any of the strange things happening on the ship to K. or anyone else. I even stopped going to the doc for insomnia pills, just in case.
At night, I’d just lie awake and listen. Above me are three tiers of bunks, and those humans snore like there’s no tomorrow. But among all the snoring, I can still hear them, the soft silver-metallic clicka-clicka-creeeee! It’s really beautiful to hear them sing.
Doris, the lunch lady, she snores the worst. A secret alcoholic (please don’t tell anyone), I’ve seen her sneak ten, sometimes even twenty dry cocktail mixes out of the kitchen storage. One day, she caught me watching her. She dropped one bag. She didn’t say anything. Neither did I.
From that day on, we had an understanding. I must add that Doris is not very fond of my kind. I was supposed to report her, actually. My security camera went off blazing red, but after one look at Doris’ face bathed in the scarlet glow, I just shut it off manually. Mind you, we were both awfully silent. I almost wished she’d say something. Not “thank you,” but just something by way of conversation. But Doris does not talk to Deltas. I think I know why, though: she’s afraid of us. I don’t blame her. One of my friends went off the rocker last year, scared the living day lights out of everybody. They had to restrain him, broke two tables in the process. Our tables are made of titanium alloy. Then they scrapped him. He joked about being turned into a table to make up for the lost furniture. In the end, he begged for his life, but he was scrapped anyway. He was no longer reliable. That’s why I don’t recommend talking about anything unusual with the staff.
But I wanted to talk to someone. More specifically, I wanted to talk to Doris. Humans are supposed to know more about this stuff. They’re more prone to faults and irregularities. I still have the video in my memory.
Doris told me about crickets today. She said Earth is where they lived a long time ago. After the war there weren’t many left. There wasn’t much of anything left, actually, but she stuck to the crickets. She shook her head and ripped open a cocktail bag (we were alone in the passenger cabin). She offered me one and I accepted it. It had been a long day. I’d spent most of it working on the water filtration module on the lower deck, cleaning it, fixing it.
I told Doris that I’d like to see the place where the crickets lived. Doris nodded understandingly, soberly. Then I fell asleep after the cocktail.
They keep talking. They keep talking of how the Earth is almost gone, that there’s no home to return to.
Supplies are sufficient. The Basilisk is completely self sufficient, save for some trouble with the engines, but nothing that can’t be fixed. There is a large dining area, a movie theater, even a car that goes round and round the Basilisk’s perimeter. As long as there is sunlight and ocean water, it will all continue indefinitely.
I asked them if they’re not happy here. For some reason, they said they’ve hit the tin can valley. Later, I asked K. what it meant, but he didn’t know.