From the author: A flash story of a prophecy fulfilled.
Jaliea boards the ship that will be her home for the next three months in a full body suit and mask. Once inside the isolation cabin, she can dispense with them, spend the long journey in her tunic and sandals, but she will stay inside the cabin. They cannot risk the crew becoming ill with the virus she carries.
Despite herself, her eyes light up as she catches a glimpse of the flight deck. In her youth, she’d dreamed of becoming a pilot, of exploring the worlds of this galaxy and beyond. But hers was a family that followed the prophecies and when hers told of a life devoted to the nine gods, a life of poverty and selflessness behind stone walls, she accepted it with sadness but without question.
That was a century ago. She has spent her life in the valley of the order she swore to, never passing beyond the walls at each end, walking soil she will never walk upon again. Her destination is light years away, a planet ravaged by plague. Over time, the combination of viruses will work to cure its people, but her physiology is different; her system will become overwhelmed too quickly. There will be no return journey.
She has lived with this saviour virus since childhood, never considering it more or less than an inconvenience. When her supervisors were asked for her to be the host carrier, to introduce it to this far away world, they debated long and hard in their cold rooms. Which was more important: the selflessness they’d sworn to or the stone walls? Outside, Jaliea worked in the gardens, and far away thousands were stricken with fever and then death.
Now, months later, Jaliea walks through the narrow streets of this new world. Grief is heavy everywhere, and though she may bring hope, many are too tired to be buoyed by her presence. Others, though, reach out to her, touch her clothes and her skin, breathe in her breath, allow themselves to be saved, go on to save others.
Jaliea is infected with both viruses by now. She may have hours, she may have days, but they will kill her.
Once, she had found her will and her prophecy to be in conflict. Now she knows they were always meant to be the same. She walks out under the cloudless sky, along the cobbled streets of the old town. She sees the mountains in the distance, white snow glowing white the rising sun behind, the world she has been waiting for for so long.