There was no turning back. With plenty of time now to stare out of the small viewport in the common area into space, into nothing. The viewport had been added after studies had shown that people fared better psychologically on long space missions when one was installed. For the same reason the cockpit had two seats even though there was ever only one pilot in there at a time. Having evidence of other human beings was as beneficial as being able to look outside, even if there was nothing out there and no one in the second seat.
Pilots would always smuggle scotch aboard even though it was against the rules. All pilots did this, even those who didn't drink, whether superstitious or otherwise, every pilot brought some good scotch and by and large, most of the bottle made the journey. That empty seat started getting called the "angel's seat" and the splash of scotch it received before departure was called the "angel's share" after the amount of scotch lost to the aging process.
Once in a long time, a pilot would come down to the common room and take a belt of scotch and stare.
There was another reason to keep scotch aboard.
"How did you make it, when so many of the crew regularly go mad after coming out of their sim-fantasies?"
"I simply requested a real-time broadcast of the ship during stasis, most crew psychosis isn't permanent, you know."
Ignoring the question the interview continued."So while everyone else was living a shared hallucinatory fantasy, you were imagining yourself alone, here?"
"That's about it. On board the whole time, the simulation matched reality right down to the controls, it was an option, I chose it"
"The engineer assigned to my sim had time to spare, he suggested the sim controls be brought online"
"7 years, I understand the simulators were intended to solve the tedium of space travel."
"I understand some crew choose longer subjective times."
"One crew member lived a Buddhist monastery simulation for 700 years subjective, he had to get special approval for that."
"That would be Em."
"Em, yes, does he have a last name?"
"I thought that was his last name, I've shipped with him before, I don't even know why you're interviewing me, this is standard attrition. With rehabilitation, most of those space zombies will come to their senses."
"You didn't hear? Dr. Fahr has succeeded in creating a stable gate to Earth, long hauling is history!"
"Just Earth? well, until there's a gate on every habitable planet in the universe I won't worry."