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Authors: Srujanjoshi4

Tags: #science fiction, #space, #global warming, #gravity, #space technology, #young adult fiction, #dystopian, #woman fiction, #the martian, #environmental destruction

Zero 'g'

BOOK: Zero 'g'
4.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Srujan Joshi

© 2016
Srujan Joshi

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1530249562

ISBN 13: 9781530249565

Library of
Congress Control Number:

Imprint Name:

To Sh
ri Aryabhata and
Sir Isaac Newton, for their discoveries of zero and gravity,
respectively. I also want to thank all of my family and friends who
believed in me.



was running late
, and I hated
being that person who walked into work late. It was just so unlike
me. I had such a strong work ethic that the very thought of being
tardy to work caused me to shudder involuntarily. I didn’t have to
worry about getting in any trouble, though. The people at NASA,
where I worked, were always good to me. I think they understood, or
at least tried to, that being a single mother sometimes meant that
you were going to be late, no matter how hard you tried not to be.
Believe me—I tried. But sometimes finding a drop of honey on your
sweater in the morning caused a whole wardrobe change.

dug around in my underwear drawer for a pair of
, wishing badly that I
had time to do the laundry. Hopping around on one foot, I managed
to get both socks on without further issues. It’s amazing how the
moment you realize you’re going to be late, you suddenly become
even more of a klutz, causing further delay. I marched out into the
living room, where my mother, Annette, was sitting with my
daughter, Rose, bouncing her on her knee. That little girl was the
apple of my eye, and she was currently trying to squirm her way out
of Grandma’s arms to come and see me.

, Rose, don’t go
making your mother late. Come on now.” My mother was trying
unsuccessfully to keep Rose on her lap.

giggled. “Well
, one kiss won’t
make me any later than I already am.”

bent down as my three
daughter ran into my arms. I breathed in her sweet scent and
squeezed her tight. I wanted more than anything to curl up on the
couch with her and go back to sleep, breathing in her smell. She
was the most precious thing to me in the whole world. As hard as it
was being a single mom, I wouldn’t trade Motherhood for

kissed the top of her head and wished for the millionth time that I
didn’t have to go to work. I hated leaving her
, and sometimes I felt as if I never saw her.
Rose was with my mother all day long, and by the time I got home
from work, I didn’t have much time to spend with her before she
went to bed. Sometimes I was selfish and kept her up later so I
could read her stories, but that wasn’t very often.

My mother was a lifesaver; she was retired and a
, so she had time to help
me with Rose. I didn’t know what I would do without her. Having a
child on my own had never been my plan, and the first year with
Rose had been terribly hard. Although my mother was a great help to
me, I longed for the day that I could allow her to have her life
back. She should be enjoying her retirement, possibly traveling,
not spending her days babysitting my child. I also happened to be a
grown woman who was still living with her mother. It just wasn’t
the way it was supposed to be. It was embarrassing, if I was going
to be completely frank about it.

Rose looked up at me
and I smiled down at her. “Mommy has to go, sweetheart.” She pouted
her lips, and I felt that familiar pain in my chest that reminded
me that I worked too much. I stood up and looked to my mother, who
came to retrieve Rose. She scooped her up in her arms.

There you go
, Rose.
Grandma is here now. We have to let Mommy get to work. The sooner
she leaves; the sooner she can come back. Isn’t that

rolled my eyes
, trying not to
laugh. “No dream screen today, Mom. I’m warning you.”

, no, Carly.
You know darn well that I don’t let her watch the dream screen. I
only do that when she naps. I need to catch my shows, darling. You
know that.”

She had a twinkle in her

. “Yeah, sure, Mom.

I remember someone who
loved to watch her soaps. All those dreamy men with their big

laughed. The dream screen had been an incredible invention. I was
too young to remember television in its infancy. I was never around
to watch it on flat screens or the tube
, as it was once called. I had a hard time even
picturing an old-fashioned television until my grandfather showed
me pictures of the one he had. The stories my grandfather used to
tell, however, seemed so bizarre to me. To have something sitting
in your living room like that was so awkward. The dream screen just
made so much more sense. It brought you into your own dream world,
and from there, you selected whichever movie or show you wanted to
watch. It was an amazing tool that also allowed even the blind to
see—that was my favorite part about it. I couldn’t imagine how
limited TV had been back in my grandfather’s era.

Even so, I
was adamant that Rose was not allowed to watch the dream screen
because her imagination often ran wild. I suspected that there were
times my mother let her do it, anyway. Rose came up with some of
the craziest conversations, and I bet they originated from the
dream screen.

grabbed my purse off the counter and kissed my mother on the cheek.
, Mom. I’ll see you
later. Have a good day.”

Have a good day at work
, sweetheart. We
'll be
just fine here. Don’t you worry about a thing.”

I smiled sadly and turned away from my
little family.

When I stepped outside into the warm sun
, I took a moment to take a deep breath. My life
was so hectic these days, and yet I was proud of what I had
accomplished, despite my limitations. The year was 2074. I was
blessed to have gotten a job as a janitor at NASA headquarters in
Washington, DC. Some might say it was a lowly position, but I could
do a lot worse than work for NASA, that was for sure. The agency
treated its employees with respect, and the wages were far better
than I would get anywhere else. It was only short-term, anyway. I
had a plan, and it was only a matter of time before my life would
be significantly better. That was all I wanted for myself and

had always dreamed of working for NASA but had never anticipated it
would be as a janitor. Before Rose came into my
, I was attending
Georgetown University, working tirelessly on a degree in astronomy.
I was dating the love of my life, my high school sweetheart,
Antonio, and the sky seemed to be the limit for me. I dreamed of
the future that we would have together after our graduation as we
started our life together. I was living my own little dream, with
big hopes for the future. Finding out I was pregnant with my
darling Rose had come as a great shock to both Antonio and me,
especially since natural pregnancies were a rare thing. People
didn’t use sex to procreate anymore; that was so 2015. Sex was just
for fun. When it came to planned pregnancies, babies were made in
vitro fertilization. Everything was planned to a T, so there were
never any mistakes. It was actually rare to have an unplanned
pregnancy, though Antonio and I realized very quickly that it was
still possible.

To have
a family, you
simply went to the doctor and
a conception. Everyone
wanted the smartest and most talented baby, and that could be made
only by vitro fertilization.

For the past fourteen years, vitro
babies had been born with DNA chips inserted inside
them. The DNA chips were programmed with any talent that the
parents chose. The talent could be anything the parent longed for,
whether sports, art, or higher intelligence. A parent essentially
could create the child of his or her dreams. It was all the rage.
The DNA chips could be inserted only into babies; adults were out
of luck because their older brains were unable to accept the new
technology. Research was being conducted in the hopes that one day
scientists could insert the chips into adult brains,

The downfall
, if you
could even call it that, of Rose being birthed naturally was that
she didn’t have the advantage of having her future planned out for
her. She did not have the same DNA chip inserted in her brain as
the vitro babies did. In fact, we had no idea how little Rose would
excel. It was an odd thought. Most other children her age had their
futures set in stone, their talents already decided for them.
Everything was up in the air for Rose. I looked forward to what my
daughter would be when she grew up, but not knowing also terrified
me. She would be so different from the other children her age, and
I worried she would suffer because of it. The abilities of the new
vitro babies were certainly enthralling. It was all very
fascinating, and I longed for the day that I too could be involved
in the sciences. My love of astronomy was growing every

Finding out I was pregnant had come as such a shock to
of us, mainly because we
had always been so careful with birth control. Secondly, we had
always believed that when the time came to start a family, we would
have our own little vitro baby. Nevertheless, after the shock of
finding out that I would be making a baby the old-fashioned way, I
was thrilled about it. I always believed we would be one big happy
family one day—so what if it came a little sooner that we had
thought it would?

, on the other
hand, thought something else entirely. The news that I was pregnant
actually horrified him. In the end, Antonio hadn’t been willing to
commit to me and had left me before Rose was even born. I wasn’t
sure where he had gone, but I never saw him after that. It had been
a terrible breakup; I had been devastated by his departure. He
didn’t feel as though he was ready for a family or a commitment of
that degree. I had been lost after he left. I had no idea how to go
on without Antonio, or even how to begin to understand how someone
I had loved so much had just walked out of my life. I had been
forced to raise Rose all on my own and move back home with my
mother. I dropped out of school for two years, and that was when I
took the job at NASA in the janitorial department. I had been in
school for the past year taking night courses, slowly working
toward the degree I so badly wanted. There wasn’t a day that went
by, however, that I didn’t think about Antonio and where he had

Shaking my head
, I
tried to dislodge those thoughts from my brain. If there were a
chip that allowed me to forget the pain that Antonio had caused, I
would have had it inserted immediately. Remembering that I was late
for work, I trotted down the steps and got into my car.

liked listening to the news on the way to work; it took my mind off
of Rose and prepared me for the day. I pushed a silver button on
the console that started the car. The car housed a small screen in
the middle of the dashboard that could access just about anything
you desired except for the nuclear launch codes. You could
practically run your whole business from your
, if that was your desire.
The car was my mother’s, but she let me use it since she was home
all day with Rose. I longed to have one of my own, however;
hopefully in the future, I could afford to buy not only a car of my
own but a home, too.

Every day
, I traveled
from my hometown in Maryland to Washington, DC. It didn’t take me
too long to get to work, but the fact that it wasn’t close by just
meant more time I had to spend away from Rose. I had to stay
focused, however. I had a plan, and I knew that I was smart enough
to accomplish anything in the world that I wanted; it was just a
matter of time.

Before backing my car out of the
, I clicked on the
news link featured on the screen. I had to scroll through a few
stations before I started listening to anything of interest. I
wasn’t interested in the latest serial killer or what celebrity was
on city that week. I wanted to know what was going on in the world
of politics. It was hard to live in the DC area and not be
interested in what was being decided at the White House. I stopped
scrolling when I heard two political commentators arguing with each
I smiled
.I loved a good debate. The
commentators were arguing about the disadvantages or advantages of
spending huge amounts of money and energy on space exploration.
They thought that space exploration was a waste of resources. What
were we really going to find out there? one of the commentators
asked. What was the point to it all?

BOOK: Zero 'g'
4.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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