This story originally saw publication on the Daily Science Fiction website in 2011 and can still read there at this link.
Nicky Drayden is a Systems Analyst who dabbles in prose when she’s not buried in code. She resides in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. To see more of her work, click the link under her name, above.
Non-audio produced version of the story is available as the second option below.
With a fine bone knife I make my incision, cutting back the sticky membrane of Our Tjeng’s hull. I slip my hand inside and carefully widen the tear until it’s big enough for me to step through. Our Tjeng has blessed Kae and me with gills to breathe within his walls. The viscous liquid is clear and burns my eyes, tart and slick on my tongue.
He’s drunk as always, Our Tjeng, our fathership. And yet he leads our flock across the stars. Him and his bulging, sick liver — big as a hundred men, and it shouldn’t even be half that size. I swim towards Kae as she shaves tumor from flesh a slice at a time. Her firm muscles tense and flex beneath her hairless, pink skin. She cusses Our Tjeng, her words crisp her words warped slightly by the liquid.
I touch her shoulder. She startles.
“Your time is up,” I tell her.
We’re civil. There’s too much at stake not to be. The flock cannot afford to lose another fathership, and Our Tjeng needs us caretakers to keep him functioning.’”
“Our Drunken Tjeng” used the following sounds from Freesound to make the Fathership soundscape.