QSFer JR Frontera has a new sci fi book out:
Rostam Hobbs had been on track to make Chief Engineer on the New Horizon space station … before the dreaming interrupted his sleep patterns. Before the miscalculation that nearly froze the entire west residence wing into a block of ice. Before he’d been reassigned to a junk-bucket scout ship to get lost in some godforsaken corner of space.
Most people are blissfully unaware that Dreamers even exist. But he works in Engineering.
He knows everything about Dreamers.
And on a ship this small on a mission so long, it’s getting harder and harder to hide …
Walking into the engine rooms still made his spine tingle.
Washed in a soft blue light, thick power conduits ran beneath the metal grate of the walkway and climbed the walls and ceiling like arteries in a living creature. The Dreamer pods lined either side, stacked three high. The people inside were barely visible dark blobs behind the opaque walls of their individual containers.
Ross took a deep breath and stepped over the threshold. The door irised shut behind him. He started with the first pod to his right, and programmed it to run diagnostics on the individual within. He would check them all, one by one, if he had to. If he could find out precisely what was causing these spikes, he might be able to use it to The Magellan’s advantage. Might be able to cut down their travel time by up to a year, if he did it right, and not even have to risk frying the engines.
Of course, that would mean staying down here for hours, probably.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood up.
Maybe no quantum reality scientist had ever claimed the quantum psychic field was recognizable by the people inside of it, but Ross swore he felt it when he came down here. So many Dreamers, packed so closely together, dreaming for such an extended period of time …
It was a subtle pressure against his ears. A mild electrical field that hummed against the surface of his skin. It set his teeth on edge, and he didn’t like it. He’d never felt it in the engine rooms of New Horizon, but then again, the space station had never tried to travel billions of miles in three years.
AstroTech’s scout ships liked to test the limits of quantum reality warp, obviously.
Just what he needed.
The first pod’s diagnostic came back normal. The man within, Mr. Adam Tucker, according to the name plate bolted to the lid of his chamber, was a reliably steady output generator. Probably because he’d been dreaming for thirty-six years. The older ones were always more stable.
Ross moved on to the second pod. He tried to focus on the work instead of the goosebumps prickling across his skin. At least this would keep him busy for this shift. Fifty pods to check. And once he found the trouble-maker, he’d have to figure out what exactly was causing the spikes in output, and then figure out if it could be utilized …
He jerked awake some time later, slumped on the floor between pods 28 and 29. A high-pitched beeping broke through the fog of disorientation and he leapt to his feet, swearing. He checked the chrono on the nearest pod, then exhaled explosively at the time. His shift wasn’t over yet. He had a good two hours or so before Gina relieved him.
The beeping drew his attention again as he blinked away the vestiges of sleep. It came from pod 48. In the soft blue glow of the elongated room, the red flashing of the warning light shone like a beacon.
He jogged down the row to look at it.
Miss Candelas Prescott, age twenty-nine. Her blurry form was twitching and jerking within the cocoon of her pod, the readouts on the front display all registering in the red.
He’d found the trouble-maker.
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J. R. Frontera lives in rural Missouri with her husband, son, and a random assortment of four-legged friends. She writes mostly speculative fiction with a side of love story, but dabbles in a bit of everything else, from children’s stories and poetry to erotica. She has been telling stories in some form or another since she could hold a crayon and draw.