Long ago, at the dawn of my writing career, I wrote a short story called Dismal Star. It was my first foray into the field of flash fiction, before I was even familiar with the term "flash." It was something off the top of my head, based on a much larger premise that I'd like to share.
Putting this down on paper, I envisioned the life of a young man who has grown up alone, trapped within the wreckage of a crippled space station or outpost. Some kind of great battle or cosmic catastrophe killed off his parents and everyone else, but he has survived, thanks to the lingering amenities and machines. Perhaps it's not the most original concept in the world, but certainly one that hasn't been played out entirely.
I still think about the possibility of writing more about this lone man, and seeing what happens when he is finally discovered again by his fellow human beings. What sort of universe will he discover beyond his isolation, and what sort of life will he make for himself in it? That could be a very powerful tale if done properly, so I will wait for inspiration to call me to write the story.
Now, on with our bit of flash:
I stumble out of my sleeping alcove at a quarter to seven in the morning. Another dismal day in this place I've learned to call home. I'll never get used to it, the cold concrete and tarnished metal walls of the research station. Whoever could?
It's only a short walk from my alcove to the food repository, and I grab a nutritional supplement pouch from the shelf as I pass on my morning jaunt. I bite into the grainy package that reeks of artificial flavors. When was the last time I had a regular meal? I can't quite recall, despite my extensive memory. Decades, perhaps?
A brief jog around the station, all fifty feet of it that's still inhabitable. An easily-traveled circle in my small, isolated corner of this place. The gloomy ceiling lights are always on, except in my sleeping alcove. The light diodes will continue to shed light into this technological tomb for a thousand years, wired into the limitless power generated thirty thousand feet below me. The limitless power harnessed from the core of a half dead planet. How? I could not tell you. I know it's a fairly simple concept, and an easily accomplished feat, so long as you're a sci-tech. I'm not. My parents were, but I haven't seen them since the accident. That was twenty years ago, according to the ever reliable computer.
The cold metallic companion whose voice has long been erased still speaks to me. Through words on the screen it can answer my questions and respond to my constant queries to the best of its programmed abilities. Some days I'll prattle on for hours through the keyboard, recording my dreams, or asking it about the other worlds it knows. Much of the information is spotty. There are many data holes, extensive damage to the entire station's network. Despite its shortcomings, I'm fortunate to have such a friend, or I would surely have given out of mind and body many years ago.
It was much harder at first. Being a ten year old boy, the isolation was unbearable, and here I am completely alone, separate from the rest of existence; the only living soul on this accursed orb of dust and vacuum. All that protects me is a thin layer of metal and a great deal of debris which stacked itself in such a way that it prevents harm to the tightly sealed section of this dead fortress that was once rocked by some deadly bombardment all those years ago. I once thought someone else might someday find me here, but after two decades, I have come to terms with the truth; the inevitable, inescapable truth. I am never to be found, an isolated victim of time and space.
Alone is no way to spend your entire life.