Categories > TV > Red Dwarf

Sunset

by Roadstergal 1 Reviews

Three million years from Earth, and who cares about the Shake and Vac?

Category: Red Dwarf - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst, Humor - Characters:  - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2006/09/06 - Updated: 2006/09/07 - 1475 words

Rimmer frowned. "I am not going aboard that. If you have any intelligence, you won't, either." He turned to Lister and lifted an eyebrow. "I assume that means you're going aboard," he sighed.

Lister grinned broadly. "You're abso-smegging-lutely right! I'm bored out of me skull, Rimmer!"

"Ah, yes. Given the highly dull way in which we spent the last few weeks - navigating a reality minefield, getting killed by our future selves - which I believe was a first time dying, for you - being resurrected by paradox, traveling back in time, bringing the Earth to the brink of nuclear annihilation, and conspiring to assassinate a president - well, I'm not in the least bit surprised that you're experiencing a little cabin fever. For myself," the hologram leaned back, folding his arms, "I could do with a dull eon or two."

"Ach, it'll be dull." Lister waved his deerstalker around. Kryten gently held his hand between it and the controls for the midsection display, which was currently displaying the manifest for the derelict in question.

"I believe Mister Lister is correct, sir," the mechanoid said smoothly. "There are no life-signs, no signs of any electronic entities, no sign of any harmful biologicals or electronic viruses. The air is Earth-normal. It is what it appears to be - an interstellar liner, fully functional."

"And all of the passengers and crew piled into the life boats and ran for no reason whatsoever." Rimmer shook his head. "Kryten, may I remind you of Space Corps Directive 87690?"

Kryten furrowed his brow. "Space Corps Directive 87690? No officer above the level of corporal may have his or her genitals pierced?"

Rimmer sighed. "Fine! 87698, then!"

"Ah, no personnel should enter an inexplicable situation without scanning for potential hazards. But the scouter has checked the ship thoroughly, sir. Whatever caused them to evacuate is long-gone."

"And I will just say," interjected the Cat, "that my lack of suits is a potential hazard in itself. If I have to wear the same one twice in a week, I might just have to kill you folk to keep you from squawkin'."

Lister stood. He was giddy with the thought of getting off of the blasted lander, stretching his legs, seeing new scenery. He hadn't had time to enjoy Dallas before Kryten yanked him back, and once he recovered his curries, the mechanoid had smashed the time-drive. Yes, intellectually he knew it was the right thing to do, but viscerally, he was terribly annoyed. "I'm goin'. You can stay here and look after the 'Bug, Rimmer, and if we all get killed, you can say you told us so." He smashed the deerstalker on his head, stuck out his tongue at Rimmer, and waved to the Cat. Rimmer sneered as the two of them headed to Lister's quarters to equip themselves for the exploration.


Cat and Lister wandered the corridors of the derelict an hour later. Equipping had meant, for Lister, a few large sacks to carry anything nifty he found, and spare bootlaces. For Cat, it meant a pressed khaki suit and a pith helmet. "Spooky!" Cat exclaimed.

"No, it's not." Lister looked around as they wandered down the plush, well-lit corridor. He had been surprised to see the lights and air circulation machinery still in tiptop condition, but Kryten said something about direct conversion and matter piles that Lister did not understand, and said it was to be expected. The mechanoid had headed off to the equipment room, saying that the liner had significant upgrades to their AR console that he would beam back with the matter paddle. Lister suspected that the carrot of AR upgrades was there to distract him from Kryten's primary mission of picking up new cleaning equipment, but Lister couldn't say it was a bad tradeoff.

Their feet sank into the pale, plush carpet as they walked down the cream-colored corridor. Neat rows of white doors with spherical silver handles ran down either side. Cat pushed open one at random and peeked in. "Hey, bud, I'm hangin' out here a while!" he exclaimed. Lister followed him, and whistled. The room was huge and opulent. A metal-frame bed with filigree engraving on its lofty corner posts hulked at the end of the room to their right, draped in red silk. A massive flat-panel tridee hung opposite it, and a large wardrobe and dressing-table stood against the wall across from them.

Cat ran over to the wardrobe and opened it, letting out a hiss of excitement as he started to pull out clothing. "Look at this, bud!" he exclaimed, holding a dressing-gown up to himself. He threw it on the floor, and pulled out a green linen suit. He turned it from side to side, frowned, and tossed it in the corner. A red suit, after some inspection, landed on the dressing-gown. Lister ran to the bed, leapt onto it, and bounced around for a few minutes, enjoying the soft resiliency. He flopped down and rolled from side to side, reveling in the slippery richness of the silk. Smeg, this was so much better than the regulation blankets and foam pillows on the 'Bug! He was going to have to nick some of this bedding. The sheets would cover more acreage than was in his room, he was sure, but Kryten could alter them to fit his bunk.

Lister sat up after a few minutes. Cat was still going through the wardrobe, and the 'yes' and 'no' piles were steadily growing, but the wardrobe was packed. Lister meandered over to the dressing table, poking through it as the Cat made little mews and yowls of excitement or disgust. It had been a women's dressing-table - or at least, Lister certainly hoped so. Makeup filled the top two drawers; Lister pulled out several compacts of eye shadow, and at least ten lipsticks. He opened them - the shades ran from fiery red through garish pink to a hideous orange. Who the smeg wears orange lipstick? he thought with a shiver. But the colors were bright and evocative. He turned to the white wall next to the dressing table, struck with an odd fancy. He pulled out a compact that had five shades of blue eye shadow, and started to slather them on the white wall, the darkest purpley blue at the top. He dropped the compact onto the floor and pulled open the lipsticks. He painted great swaths of color underneath the blues; streaks of fiery red and bright pink and intense orange. He dropped each lipstick on the floor as he finished, and finally scribbled a semicircle of the brightest red and dropped that lipstick, too.

He stepped back, looking at it, then stepped back again. He felt... something catch in his throat. He backed up to the bed and sat on it, scrubbing at his eyes with the back of his leather gloves.

Cat frowned at him, then turned to what he was looking at. The feline's brow furrowed. "What is that, woodchuck-brain?"

"It's..." Lister sighed, shrugged, and started again. "It's a sunset. You've never seen one, have you?"

"What is that?"

Lister scrubbed his eyes again. "Well, on Earth, you know, the planet turns, and puts its back to the sun, and it looks like the sun is goin' down, and for some reason, it gets all red and streaky like that. You only get 'em on Earth. I mean, they had Saturn-sets on Mimas, and artificial nights, but it didn't look right, ya know? And they had tridee and movies and pictures, but it just ain't the same..." Lister took a deep breath. Smeg, it had been years since he had seen a sunset! Back on Earth, before that smegging birthday bender. Back before Red Dwarf, before drive-plate accidents and human extinction, back before Kochanski and Petersen and Rimmer. It felt like someone else's life, someone else's experience that he had been told about once, long ago, and wasn't sure he really believed. Had he really ever seen a sunset? Yes, he must have, he must have! "You never saw 'em on Red Dwarf," he said to Cat, who was looking at him like he had lost his mind. "But we had 'em. On Earth. Where your ancestors was from."

Cat shook his head. "You're nuts, bud." He turned back to his wardrobe shuffling.

Lister wiped his eyes and took a deep breath, looking at his lipstick sunset. Three million years from Earth. The human race extinct. Those were huge, unmanageable concepts, too big to sink one's teeth into. Who could fit three million years of near-lightspeed distance in a human brain? How could one mourn for the loss of an entire species? But this - this was something he could grasp, something he could cry for. He wondered if he would ever see a sunset again.

He wondered if the sun had ever set on Io.
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