General Science Fiction posted July 18, 2022

This work has reached the exceptional level
A Sci Fi 696 word story

Mother-Daughter Bonding

by Shirley McLain

The headache is only worsened by the pulsating of the engines. The straps are tight as they crisscross my chest.

My brain repeats every number in the countdown. It wouldn't be so bad if I weren't alone. I made this choice so I could be with Stanley.

Stanley and one other went to build a site for a settlement. Now I'm going to make us a couple.


After takeoff, I keep my head back and my eyes closed.

"Nancy, honey, are you going to throw up?"

That voice is my mother's. I guess my headache is making me imagine things. She isn't here, because she died six years ago.
"If you open your eyes and turn around, you'll see I'm here. I've come from God to keep you company."
I slowly open my eyes and stand. To my amazement, my mother stands in front of me in the same dress she wore when I buried her.

"I don't believe you are here."

"I'm here, Nan. You can reach out your hand and touch me if you like."

I reach out my hand and place it on her arm. I feel flesh and bone. "How is this possible, Mama?"

"I told you, God let me come so you wouldn't be alone. I know you are going to Zantium to stay with Stanley. It's a brave thing you're doing."

"It's not bravery, mama. Stanley is my fiancé, and I want to be with him."

"How long before we arrive at the planet?"

" Another two days. I'm going to check where my bunk is and do some reading. What are you going to do, Mom?"

"Just what you do."

"Why do you need a bunk? You're not real."

"I'm as real as you are. You touched me, felt my skin. What will make you believe I am here, flesh and bone?"

"Slap me. If I feel it, then I'll believe you're real."

My mother's hand drew back in a moment and slapped my face hard. It brought tears to my eyes. I can feel the heat coming from my face.

"OK, Mom, I believe you're here. Let's go find our bunks."

"My darling, we are in this together until you no longer need me."

Mom's arms went around my shoulders, hugging me close. Giving me the comfort I craved.


Two days later, we landed on Zantium. I'm so nervous, and waiting to hear the door unlock is excruciating.
Finally, I hear the popping of the door seal.

Once Mom and I are on the ground, I turn, expecting to see Stanley. I couldn't see anything except a metal building 100 yards away.

"What do we do now?" Mom asks.

"Let's walk to that building."

My heart sinks when I open the door, and we step inside. Two uniformed skeletons sit at a control board.

"Oh God, what am I going to do?"

"We're going to spend some more good quality mother-daughter time together."


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