The Kernel





Mining the Asteroid Belt

The warning siren goes off as two nearby asteroids collide and rain a sea of debris upon the mining facility, interrupting Megan Lee’s attempt to watch the newest video her son sent her back from Earth.

She doesn’t know why they even bother with the warning lights and siren, since it’s not like they could do something about it either way. The facility is built into the largest and most stable asteroid in the asteroid belt and designed to withstand collisions like this, but it’ll either hold or it won’t. There’s no in-between. If the big one comes… the bells and whistles won’t matter.

And now she has to rewind the video back to the beginning, since the antique video player on this ancient computer won’t let her just skip back 30 seconds.

Still, she knows she’ll be watching this video countless times anyways, so rewinding it once more isn’t so bad.

With the time delay it takes to receive signals back from Earth, every video her son sends her is actually over 2 weeks old… she wishes she could see what he looks like today, and not always how he was…

When she left he was only a baby, and then after the hibernation and space travel, she woke up at the mining facility and he was 10. She wishes she could’ve been there for his entire childhood… but it’s for the best though, it’s for the best…

She can pull this 30 year shift working for the Company, mining the asteroids here for tripolodene, and her son gets automatic admittance into the Company’s schools and training programs. He won’t have to do this grunt work she’s forced to do… even if she dies out here, which is 73% likely, his spot is safe. And in another year he’ll outrank her already!

He looks so handsome in his lil’ Company Lieutenant suit… and seems happy. You can get used to so much out here— wearing a space suit for 36+ hours a shift, the constant bobbing of living on volatile asteroids, the concussions and deaths caused by debris, but the distance from home… she hopes she never forgets how that feels.

And when she gets back, with the hibernation and space travel, she’ll be about the same age as her boy. And she’ll be able to hug him, and he’ll have a great job and a family of his own, and he’ll never have to know how hard it was. He won’t have to.

And it’ll all be worth it.

(Starring Megan Lee of! Please visit her awesome Tumblr or her Facebook.

Visit David's site for more comics.

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