Elius Ten is dark. They said it would be dark, but The Academy never told them what the dark could do. The cold, deep, creeping darkness that seeped into every disquiet, every restless space inside your head. The dark made you feel lost – disconnected: not knowing where you or anyone else were amongst the infinite expanse of space. Like sailors overboard adrift in the black of night on a strange and foreign ocean. The monotony of repetitive tasks edging into a suffocating meaninglessness. A tightness that would gather in your chest at times from this boredom accompanied by a teasing despair. That is what the dark could do on Elius Ten: the unsung Geo-lab/space Lighthouse stationed off the Kuiper Belt in the farthest reaches of the Milky Way.
Few people held this post for more than two rotations. The small crew it did keep were aptitude tested yet that is, of itself, indefinite. Too many causes for the mind to become unhinged closed in on those prone to the symptoms of working deep-space deployment. Even with specialist military training, rumours of ghosts in the galley and crew losing or misplacing time were common. Most adapted to the forty-eight-hour deep-space cycle: thirty-six hours’ waking time with twelve hours sleep. Days bled into nights strewn into weeks that yawned into months. Before long, a rotation had passed and you were a year older. Deep-cave dwellers of Earth were perhaps the only ones who could compare their altered sense of time.