Past Poison

You can’t leave home without taking a little of it with you

John Bullock
Published in
6 min readAug 27, 2021


Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

“It’s the kids you see?”


Jess had drifted off again. It was a constant battle to maintain concentration these days, and Saul did nothing to help when he was in this kind of mood.

“The kids. They grew up here. They don’t care where we came from. Hell, they don’t much care where we’re going. Our science might have staved off death for a while longer but our tiny monkey brains still can’t think on anything approaching significant timescales.”

Jess sighed. “What are you getting at, Saul?”

Religion,” he said with a flourish, and that, at least, got Jess’ attention.

“Sorry, what?

“Religion,” he repeated. “We make up a religion. Just some run-of-the-mill vengeful god bullshit. Something to keep them in line. ‘Thou shalt tend to the oxygen-producing algae’ and whatnot.”

Jess raised an eyebrow. “And you think this will be more effective than ‘If you don’t keep algae alive we all die’?”

Saul shrugged and slumped back into his couch. “Tiny monkey brains, Jess.”

An alert sounded, making Jess start. She looked at Saul, who shrugged again — he wasn’t going to deal with it. She sighed and heaved herself out of the couch, launching herself towards the monitors at the far side of the cabin. She came to a stop with practised ease and surveyed the information.

“It’s Challenger, environmental systems,” she said, not taking her eyes off the screen.

“What a surprise,” Saul said, not taking his backside off the couch, “those kids are lighting fires again, aren’t they?”

The descent from the control pod to the habitation towers had always been tough on the senses — the gradual shift from zero-G to Earth standard was disorientating to most — but Jess found it increasingly difficult in her advanced years.

The body may look forty-two, she thought, but the brain feels every one of its two centuries.

Challenger was one of the two habitation towers in the Expedition. Together with Columbia — the habitation tower at the opposite end of the ship —…



John Bullock

Freelance content writer with an eclectic employment history and an interest in game development. Find links to things at