He finds a chair and sits in it. “Emma?”
Somewhere deep inside the computer of the ship millions of tiny switches turn over on themselves. “Finished your soup?”
“I’m surprised you weren’t watching me.”
“I’m just an AI, and while I don’t understand privacy I’ve been told to respect it.”
Gabriel laughs under his breath. For some reason it is strange for the AI to have a sense of humour.
“Are you ready to know?”
“Well I’m sitting down this time. No worries of collapsing.”
“Settled enough, I hope.”
“Alright.” She says. There is no fear this time. He feels emotionally drained after learning of his fate. Nevertheless what she says strikes him like a hammer.
“At our current speed, and after the two thousand, three hundred, and eighty six years that we have spent travelling, Earth has undergone one million, four hundred and ten thousand, and three hundred and sixty two years relative to us.”
His brain simply cannot process it. The numbers in the thousands were alien enough, but the word million has no place in describing human lengths of time.
His voice is shaky. “So that means.”
Emma cuts him off. “The reason I woke you up is that I finally stopped receiving blips from earth yesterday.”
“Little quantum packets of information that we have been sending back and forth. To keep us updated. Everyone back home knew that relativity would make a mess of things, so we had to keep communicating. I was getting one every year on earth. The blips stopped, so I figured that it would be a good time to wake you up.”
He stares out at the stars. They look no different than they did on earth.