Author's Note: Today we go back to Mr. Toes and his two young bunstronauts. They are finishing their first day of being stuck somewhere in time and space. They still don't know what caused their current predicament or its full implications.
When the initial shock wore off, we went back to the flight deck and tried to figure out why the Behemoth had not shown up on the radar. We had to cycle the radar. The Behemoth showed up, and we got a bearing on it and its size and distance. We decided to do nothing except watch its orbit.
The Behemoth was close enough to us that we could chance a docking maneuver with it. Since we had been a bunch of sitting ducks for a while, and no bun from the Behemoth showed up to steal our gold, carrots, or stuff, we concluded that the Behemoth posed no imminent danger.
Our options were limited. If we found a patch of something green on the planet we were circling, we could land there, but the show would be over for us. Our tag wasn't designed for launches off the surface of a planet. It could land on one in an emergency, but that was about it. It was great at long, slow burns, not explosive acceleration to escape velocities. I figured we had a window of time that was, perhaps, two months long to stay in orbit before we would turn into helpless vegetables. We have no artificial gravity here or any other "traditional" devices so common in old stories. Our vehicle is very old-timey and grimy, so if we ever want to set paw on the ground, any ground, our time is running out. You see, there would be no one to take care of us should we land after six months of exposure to microgravity. We would have the strength and robustness of boiled eggplants.
When exhaustion finally got to us, I dispensed some 3-D printed, crunchy biscuits, and we washed them down with water. We agreed to ration the fresh hay and save as much of it as we could for later. I considered digging into our medical supplies for sleeping tablets, but they weren't necessary in the end; we were so tired that drifting off to sleep should be easy. The biscuits did their job. Hopper started joking that we might have to learn how to catch comets and melt them for water. On the other paw, Mel wasn't amused at all. He got very quiet, tried to keep busy, and avoided any eye contact with Hopper and me. I suggested that Mel take a sleeping aid, and he acquiesced. We had to hang together. None of us could afford to lose anyone. If Mel needs to get twice the sleep Hopper and I get, so be it.
We improvised sleeping quarters in a half empty supply bay. We had some extra thermal insulation blankets, and we fashioned sleeping bags out of them. Mel crawled into one as fast as he could and hid out of sight. Hopper took his time getting comfortable and seemed to enjoy it very much. Once Hopper nestled himself in, he slowly closed his eyes, licked his lips with a smack and said with a smile, "You let me know, Major, if you need me to take over the watch!"
"I will don't worry!" I said as I drifted toward the flight deck before he could ask me for a tuck.
I knew I couldn't sleep right now, so I grabbed a sippy bag of chamomile and warmed it up. I strapped myself into the commander's seat, closed my eyes, and got very still for a moment. I wanted to forget about this whole thing, if only for just a second. It hit me that I may never again see Abby, or Pancake, or Molly. I was afraid to contemplate what must have been going through the minds of my two guys underneath their brave facades.
I couldn't tell how long I had stayed still or if I had fallen asleep. The chamomile got cold, but I sipped it anyway. I managed to pull up a video feed from one of our docking cameras that had the Behemoth in view. The more I looked at it, the more I wanted to explore it.
This thing was there, and that was a good enough excuse for me to engage with it a little more closely while we had the time. We would have to leave orbit soon, so this might be our only chance to have an adventure like this.
I closed my eyes again, only for a moment, I thought. I had never thought of the noises the ship makes as soothing, but now, that's exactly how they felt. The sounds of the ventilators and compressors, the murmur of autonomous systems chirping through their self-checks, sung to me that it is OK, at least for now. My snoring joined their symphony.