“I FOUND IT!!” Liam dashed into the relatively empty mess hall. His excitement dimmed considerably when he noticed the only other person in the room, the captain. Even after the food ran out, the crew still gathered in the mess hall every morning out of habit. It seemed three days was all it took to break that habit. The captain, a woman in her late 40s with short salt and pepper hair looked up from her cup of coffee at Liam; coffee was the only hint of nutrition they had left.
“Keep it down,” the captain said. “People are trying to sleep themselves to death.” The crew grew erratic the day their food finally ran out. Tempers flared at first, but anger burns a lot of energy. By the end of the first day the crew realized the station was big enough for all of them to have their own spot. A majority of the crew retreated to their own comfortable spots to await death; station maintenance didn’t matter anymore.
“Captain,” Liam walked to her table but didn’t sit down. “I’m requesting permission to broadcast a communication.” A small part of him was disappointed his revelation wasn’t going as planned. He hoped to barge in the room with his announcement then be immediately surrounded by crewmates wanting to know what he found. Instead, he got a small chuckle from the captain.
“Do whatever you want,” she said with a wistful smirk. She took another sip from her coffee and watched Liam’s reaction. He seemed a bit deflated, but he had a smile on his face that wasn’t there the day before. It seemed almost hopeful as she watched him leave the mess hall. Curiosity didn’t spark in her until after she finished her coffee 20 minutes later. It could have been the hunger slowing her mental faculties or the fact that it was possibly her last cup of coffee. “Found what?” she wondered to herself as she cleaned the dirty cup. The captain wandered to the communications lab and found Liam eagerly tweaking buttons.
“This is Liam Solis calling from the I.S.S., is anyone out there?” he spoke into the microphone. The captain watched Liam listen intently for about a minute before he pushed more buttons; then, he repeated his message again.
“You do know we’re the last humans in the universe, right?” the captain asked Liam. Her sudden question made him jump in his seat and he whirled around to face her. He smiled at her; broader this time.
“Yeah,” he said.
“So…who are you calling?”
“Different universes,” he said. The captain sighed.
“Damnit. I thought Peterson was going to be the first to go crazy,” the captain said with a shrug, then turned to leave. “Just don’t kill anyone,” she added.
“Thanks for calling Mundo’s Pizza, the best pizza anywhere, what can I get for you Liam from the I.S.S?” A girl’s voice came out of the speakers. The captain froze in her tracks and slowly turned around.
“You’re joking…,” she said to Liam. He frantically shook his head and leaned up to the mic.
“Hi,” Liam said to try and gather his thoughts. “Um, this is going to sound weird…,” the girl giggled.
“Trust me, I’ve heard it all. What can I help you with?” she asked.
“Please don’t hang up,” he added. “I’m in real trouble and right now you’re my only lifeline.” In his mind, Liam hoped to keep her on the line long enough to listen. He had no idea how she’d be able to help, if at all, but he would be crushed if she hung up part way through his explanation.
“Okay,” the girl said. “I’m here,” her voice lost the customer service playfulness and took on a more sincere tone; Liam thought it was a good sign.
“I.S.S. stands for International Space Station, I’m in space right now,” Liam said. He held his breath for a pause, he half-expected her to hang up then and there. To his surprise she didn’t hang up, she didn’t even interrupt. She remained on the line quietly listening.
“A couple of months ago… a woman destroyed the Earth,” he paused again expecting her to disconnect.
“What did she look like?” the girl asked. The question came out surprisingly fast. Luckily, thanks to a social-streamer, Liam had an answer for her. And it was thanks to the streamer that he could make the call at all. The crew watched the event in real time and Liam noticed something odd. The woman made a strange comment about how they weren’t “supposed to know” something. He didn’t know what it meant, but he recorded all communications he could over the next few minutes while the stranger destroyed Earth. After months of digging through every radio broadcast, government chatter, texts and calls, he found a clue. That discovery suggested the woman came from a different universe. Once Liam realized that alternate universes existed his mind decided it must be possible to communicate with them.
“Short, dark hair, bla-,” Liam was interrupted by the girl giving an apparent sigh of relief before he could mention the woman’s black uniform.
“Okay, so your Earth was destroyed and you’re stuck on a space station?” she asked. The phrase seemed so ridiculous, but she maintained a professional, concerned tone. “How many are in your crew and what’s your biggest problem right now?”
“Six of us and we’ve been out of food for thee days, so.. we’re kind of hungry.”
“I can imagine!” the girl giggled again. “You called the right place. Someone’ll be there in a bit. Start gathering up your crew and pack up.”
“We’re in space!” the captain blurted out. She was now standing directly behind Liam listening to the exchange intently.
“Yeah, but we deliver to anywhere,” the girl replied.This time her voice came from behind the captain. Liam and the captain whirled around to see a red-headed teenage girl. She held a stack of three pizza boxes.
“I thought it’d take you guys some time to get organized and I didn’t want you rushing because you’re hungry.”