Cryptic Echoes


7/9/20232 min read

The hollow device came to life, casting a small pool of light in the gloom of our ship. It had taken some time to locate it, hidden in the labyrinth of boxes and wires that constituted the ship's storage. Now, it became the focal point of our collective hope and anticipation.

We huddled around it, our bodies casting long, spindly shadows against the walls. Chef, who had been waiting for this moment for what seemed like an eternity, took a deep breath before he keyed in his access code. His hands were steady, but his eyes reflected a storm of emotions.

The device flickered, processing the login details, and then, the first message started to play. Lilly's voice filled the silence. Her tone was light, a stark contrast to the grim atmosphere that had enveloped us.

"Hi love," she began, her voice warm. "Lila and I have made your favorite, bokbok stew. We're throwing a little party for your return. Lila is practically bouncing off the walls with excitement."

Chef's face softened as he listened, his eyes closed as if he were trying to paint the scene in his mind.

The second message was a departure from the first. The cheer was replaced with worry, Lilly's voice shaking a little. "I don't know where you are, love," she said. "We're getting worried. It's not like you to be late. Please... call back when you get this."

Chef opened his eyes, the worry on his face mirroring Lilly's words.

The third message was six weeks old, filled with panic. Lilly's voice crackled over the device, shaky and filled with fear. "We're being evicted, love. I don't know what to do. I don't know where you are, why you're not here... I'm scared, Chef. For you...for us."

Tears welled up in Chef's eyes. He clenched his fist, his knuckles whitening with the strain.

The fourth message was almost incomprehensible, a mass of broken sentences and static. But one part was clear: they were leaving.

"We... leaving... can't..." The message broke off, swallowed by static.

Chef's face drained of color. "She said they were leaving... but where?" he murmured, more to himself than to us.

Fitt, his usual humor replaced by seriousness, looked up from his hunched position. "We can try to clean up the static, isolate her voice. It will take some time, but I think it's doable."

Chef nodded, silently handing the device over to Fitt. The tension was tangible, a heavy weight that pressed down on us. But underneath it was determination, a silent promise to each other. We were in this together.

As Fitt started working on the device, Chef moved away to sit alone. His face was etched with worry, a silent testament to the fear for his family. I watched him for a moment before joining him.

"We will find them, Chef," I said, trying to sound reassuring. "Lilly and Lila are strong. They have your strength."

Chef looked at me, his eyes brimming with a mix of fear and hope. "You're right, Moe," he said, managing a small smile. "They're survivors."

With renewed determination, we set to work, while Fitt continued with his task. The ship was silent, save for the occasional hum of machinery and our soft murmurings. We didn't know what tomorrow held, but we knew one thing for sure: we wouldn't stop until we found Chef's family. We were a team, and we were going to face this together, come what may.