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I don't really remember the context of where I read this story. It could have been online, but, if so, it would have been at a notable site. It may have been in a collection, too. I think I read it between 5 and 10 years ago, but it may have been earlier or later. It was either a longer short story or a novella.

The story concerns a space station in orbit around the Moon. The orbit of the station has been decaying, and it will soon hit the surface. Already, it has gotten quite close to the surface.

A young girl is living on the station. She has been living there alone for many years. Everyone else on the station died some time ago -- due to a plague (bioweapon?) or fighting, or both, I think? The girl has a companion of some sort, either a stuffed animal or a robot, I believe.

I think there are some people who discover the girl is living there not long (days or weeks) before the expected impact. They make an effort to rescue her, I think, but there may have been some complication due to the fact that the station was believed to be still infected by this plague. I don't recall whether she ended up being rescued or not, but if I had to pick, I would say she was, since I don't remember it being a particularly dark story. I could be wrong about this, though.

I can't remember much else about the story, but this premise seems unique enough that it might suffice to ID it.

  • Happy/sad is a matter of perspective – Naib Mar 31 at 9:04
8

It is most likely "Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo" by John Varley. You can find it in his collection Blue Champagne

Summary from this site:

Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo is a moving story of the struggle to save a stranded child. It deals with profound questions of right and wrong. The mere fact that a child is in danger moves some characters to want to save her.

When the child turns out actually to be over thirty years old, the decision about whether to save her becomes more complicated, as if a grownup's life were less valuable than that of a child. Still, the girl looks seven years old, and in many ways she is still mentally a small child. Her confusion about what is happening to her endears her to Corporal Anna-Louise Bach and Megan Galloway, who decide that regardless of her real age, the child deserves a chance to live. This theme of mortality is emphasized by the first reaction of the observers to the news that the little girl...

  • 1
    Can you explain how this matches the question? – DavidW Mar 31 at 23:49
  • Yes, this is the one. Thank you! – Otis Apr 1 at 3:17

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