The Ship of the Unforgotten - Frederick Cobb, Full

Camp NaNoWriMo

Fred Cobb was barely married—he and his blushing bride were just back from their honeymoon—when tragedy struck.

They were fairly well-to-do; not rich, but not hurting, at least. They lived in a two storey split-level house in a suburban neighborhood. Maybe not the high-class neighborhood with the best school, but still the sort of place you could feel good about, a nice neighborhood. Friendly neighbors, visible police patrols now and then, no graffiti or vandalism to speak of. Sure, maybe the neighborhood kids would get rowdy now and then, and the older ones might drink some times, but nothing unusual.

Not until the night Fred went on a late-night walk to the corner store to get his wife some ice cream.

He’d left the security system disabled, the door unlocked. He figured he’d only be gone a few minutes. Maybe 10, tops. He was back in 5.

Within those 5 minutes, someone slipped in. Someone found his wife, waiting in the bedroom, reading one of her murder mysteries. Someone shot her down.

He came back before the guy got away. He was riffling through the room, collecting her jewelry and loose cash when Fred, alerted by the open door, charged into the room. He shot Fred twice, both shots striking his arm, and fled on foot.

Fred blamed himself, even when nobody else held it against him. Even her family, horrified and devastated as they were, kept repeating that there was nothing he could’ve done, that it could have happened to anyone, anywhere. He couldn’t make himself believe it though.

His life shattered out from under him, Fred began drinking heavily. He was a black pit of depression who barely managed to hide it on the job; he’d been a construction foreman back then. It was inevitable though that something would slip eventually, and when it happened, one of the men under him paid the price.

A poorly-welded I-beam escaped his attention during an inspection, and it snapped under wind-stress on a build site. When it snapped free, it landed on one of his men, shattering the guy’s leg bad enough that it’d never fully heal. It left him crippled.

He lost his job after that, and the pit of his depression deepened. His sense of himself was lost. His confidence in his judgment was lost. His drinking got worse. He couldn’t find work, was at risk of ending up on the street. It was looking pretty bad until finally his family—his whole family, his own and his wife’s—came to him in an intervention.

Her father was retired, but had been in the military, a career officer his whole life. He offered to pull some strings, get him a posting that would ensure he wouldn’t lose the house, help him get set up again. If he gave up the bottle, and if he did well enough, he could even eventually see about getting him a recommendation for officer’s training.

Fred pulled himself up after that. He took the offer seriously, and he lived up to it. He started to gradually flourish again in the military, and never touched a bottle again, much as he still felt the need for it. His father-in-law came through, and he was recommended for officer training. He excelled. He could never forget the past, and never wanted to, but he started to learn that you could keep on living and that part of living was learning to be positive about things again.

He was starting to climb the ranks again, was gunning for lieutenant, when he learned of the Rose Dawn mission. He thought nothing of it at first, but the idea was planted in him. Slowly it began to take over his thoughts; the ultimate reboot of his life. The perfect way to start something new, to get it right, to put everything he’d learned to the test, to finally heal the massive break in his psyche that he’d suffered.

His family was surprisingly supportive of his decision. They weren’t happy, but they agreed with him; they thought it was the best thing for him, and a fitting way to honor his lost love’s memory by building a whole new world.

When he was accepted into the program, he was an optimistic man, looking toward a bright future.