“Number 79,847,784,197,125,143,121 returning.”
The monotonous mechanical voice broke into the woman’s thoughts. She turned round to look at the returns pod and as the device lit up, she looked at the swirling mass inside. She’d been doing this for as long as she could remember and every time one came back she felt a deep sadness she couldn’t understand. As she transferred the mass of energy to the diagnostics cabinet she wondered how the intended recipients felt. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the returnee so she carefully put it back in the holding chamber for later despatch.
“Some things are not meant to be” she said to herself. She looked at the files to see where this one should have gone. London, England. due 20 July 2011, single girl, 19.
“Poor girl…” she sighed, wondering why she felt the girl’s loss so sharply when she didn’t know her. She saw so many returnees that she couldn’t get emotional about it or she wouldn’t be able to do her job.
“It’s just another number, Gaia,” she told herself “nothing more, not to you.” and she prepared the next batch of despatches, fighting back the tears.