Midnight Snack, 1984, by Curtis Wilson Cost via Magpie Tales
Gunnar set his ruck down next to the worn alloy post holding up the gate. It didn't look much different than when he had left. Gunnar shook his head, reckoning the eighty-three years local time he had been gone was a drop in the bucket for a metal that was supposed to last for centuries. The gates, though dulled by time, were in good shape. Gunnar knew his brother Hallvard was many things, and lazy was not one of them.
"Hallvard's up, I hope," the worn soldier muttered. His eyes misted briefly, picturing Hallvard at the worn petrowood table in the kitchen. More likely than not, there was a block of fragrant gammel ost and a huge loaf of brown bread laying there, chunks missing where the hungry farmer had taken what they jokingly called the "Midnight Sun" to fill his belly. Gammel ost in this case a name, remembered across the gulf of the galaxy and a home soil left behind in the dim past. Gunnar chuckled, mouth watering at the thought of the cheese he hadn't tasted in decades. The taste of home.
His stomach lurched. Decades. Hallvard was certain to be an old man now. The clinics in the city were the best tech that had survived the Passage, but Hallvard was stubborn. Gunnar imagined his brother hadn't set foot in a clinic for a bad tooth, much less than the gene tweaks that would have kept him alive and unworn all these years. Still, the light was on, and that was a good sign. The soldier shifted his weight to his better leg, leaning down to pick up the dusty ruck. A dull gleam of circuitry limned his forearm, shining through the ballistic fabric of his tunic. It reminded him of the cost he had paid to get back, and how good that cheese would taste on a slice.
Gunnar glanced at the hologram clock hovering just inside his right eye. It was a minute after midnight. He stepped forward, pushing the gate open with barely a whisper, striding down the gravel path towards home and broken bread.