Planetia, being the last stop before the Great Void, was a constant hive of activity. Billboards across the tiny planetoid glaringly proclaimed in neon reds and greens and pinks: “Spend a few days in Planetia, and you’ll never leave!” Sadly, this was a fact to which most of the locals could attest.

Regulars knew to avoid the Pressed Beds Motel and Whistlestop Cafe; the coffee tasted like boiled gum shoes, and the bedding was only as clean as the last traveller who’d spent the night. But there were enough first-time travellers – mostly young explorers or newly-weds – that the two did a roaring trade, for which Bernie, the owner, was very grateful.

Bernie had been a local for 93 years. Like so many other travellers who passed through Planetia, Bernie and his wife, Marnie, had wanted to explore the universe, and also to get as far from Marnie’s father – and his shotgun – as was physically possible. When their ship finally undocked, Bernie and Marnie had been left behind, holding two tickets stamped VOID .

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