Essential Threesome

Submitted for Contest #42 in response to: Write a story that ends with a character asking a question.... view prompt

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November 28, 2220

“Do I look like the kind of person who would start a galactic-scale war?” I asked. “A whole war, even if we are only in a simulator?”

The Commander just smiled at me, the all-knowing look which I knew too well.

“Just because I watch Star Trek doesn’t mean I’m deranged!” I protested. “Their fictionalized technology was outdated long ago.”

“Listen, Sam.” The tone was supposed to calm me, but I don’t think it worked. “What do you think the purpose of training is? Ground for indulging your personal fantasies?”

“No, Commander,” I said. “That would be illogical.”

He slammed his fist on the console, and a dozen lights blinked. “Dash it all, Sam!” he shouted. “When will this nonsense stop?”

I punched buttons rapid-fire until the lights stabilized. “Look, Commander,” I said, taking a deep breath, “I’m one of the best trainees on this cruiser, and you know it. Physicals, emergency response time, initiative—everything is above normal.”

“Except your psychological state,” he said dryly. “I call that into serious question, Cadet Robinson.”

“But unless you grant me room to maneuver, you’re going to lose this top cadet,” I said. “A bit of eccentricity keeps me sane.”

He looked away, and I sensed the battle was won. “Carry on, Robinson. But if this interferes with execution of your duties—”

“It won’t, Commander,” I said. “It never has.”

Okay, that’s not strictly true. I just put that little exchange at the beginning to show you what life is like as a cadet-in-training, and I won’t deny that my little daydreams have, on rare occasions, proved a fascinating distraction. And there it goes again, that fascinating. Double-triple drat—the head of the threesome’s coming out exactly when I don’t need him.

They don’t consider themselves multiple personalities—I just have a unique mental processing mechanism. Honest, Grandmam, don’t worry. After all, you were the one who introduced me to the original threesome in the first place, and you’re never wrong about anything. Just don’t let anyone else read this, all right? Not even Grandpap.

If you really want to know, the Commander did actually get angry with me for setting up a war situation in our simulator that day, and I did a poor job of deflecting the blame on the computer programming. I’m not an expert with the simulator, but I know how to configure basic scenarios, and the Commander didn’t want me programming for battle. He thinks that, since we’re going to GT-937, we don’t need to practice war against the life forms there. I’m sure they’re peaceful, because Loretta says so, but that doesn’t mean we won’t meet other hostile life forms in transit.

Anyway, I’m not in disgrace. As I told the Commander, my record’s too good to lose, and maybe having Loretta for a cousin does something too. It’s not logical, this family preference in the program, but it has advantages. Can you tell the Vulcan side is coming out? But the fact that I’m okay with this preference at all, that’s the doctor’s side. Oh, and here comes the captain, telling them politely to shut up and get on with their duties, which is really what I should be doing. I’m back on helm control in a minute—stay tuned for the next installment!

December 14, 2220

Well, I’m scribbling this in the infirmary, hoping the attendants won’t see. Of the threesome running around in my consciousness, I think the Vulcan feels most vindicated at the moment. We did in fact encounter some of what the Commander calls ‘interference’ from some unidentified life-forms, landing a good number of the crew in the aforementioned infirmary. If we’d trained for it, according to the proper procedures—but I don’t want to diminish the Commander’s efforts. I’m trying to convince myself that we all did the best we could.

Don’t worry—I’m completely fine, but I did earn myself a nasty knock on the head, and I think it’s riled up the threesome. While the Vulcan, for instance, is quite pleased that his deductions were obviously correct, the doctor’s upset that the life-forms attacked at all, and the captain’s having a rough time keeping peace. Listen:

“They attacked a ship full of trainees! Not even a heartless, green-blooded alien would do that.” There's the doctor, emotional as usual.

“Such a course of action would be infallibly illogical, doctor, only if these life-forms were not hostile to us. It appears, according to all available data, that they were in fact hostile.” And here comes the Vulcan.

“I don’t need you to point out the obvious! Untried young hands fighting their own adrenaline to try and save a ship less fit for space than my uncle’s antique automobile—why, the situation’s practically inviting panic.” Now we're back to the doctor again. See where this is going?

“Whether or not this cruiser is space-worthy is a matter for the engineering department. The unfortunate presence of adrenaline in humans, however, does not excuse the conduct of Cadet Robinson.”

“Oh, really? If the boy gets a bit wild and pulls the helm away a few degrees to avoid enemy fire, wouldn’t anyone in the same boat forget that other ship turns faster?”

“Given supporting evidence, it is a puzzling error on the cadet’s part, but an error nonetheless.”

“Well, least it’s not illogical, or fascinating, or even interesting. He's got a bump that would put any cadet out of commission for weeks. What would you call that?”

“Now, gentlemen, please. The cadet failed to follow orders precisely, and a proper demand will be given. But the attempt to prevent damage to the vessel did end with some degree of success. I think we’ll consider the discussion at an end.” Finally, the captain's intervened!

You see? That’s what it’s been like for days now, inside my head. The captain usually chimes in at the end with a balanced assessment of the situation, but the other two are having a fine time. Even the snippet of conversation above would tell you that I made a bit of a mistake, but imagine this conversation running constantly. At least they don’t bother me when I sleep, which is plenty.

December 20, 2220

The Commander came to see me today, an interview which wasn’t as terrible as I thought.

“Sam,” he said, “please tell me you weren’t daydreaming when the interference surfaced.”

I shook my head—carefully, so as not to disturb the injury—and said, “No, I don’t think I was. All three of them were reasonably quiet, and I was focused on the helm.”

“But the error was still yours,” he pointed out, gently enough.

“Yes, sir, I admit that. I’ll remember to adjust my calculations for the next encounter.”

He smiled a little, so I figured I wasn’t in scorching trouble. “I think I’ll do the adjusting, and you’ll make sure to follow orders to the letter. Fair?”

“Of course, Commander. You’re never anything except fair.”

At this point, I was doing my best not to smile, but I don’t think he noticed. Starting today, I’m officially out of the infirmary, and I think I’ll go back on duty soon. Oddly enough, the threesome is strangely quiet today.

December 24, 2220

Merry Christmas to the world’s best Grandmam! I’m going to punch this in, encrypt it, and send it on its electronic way today. We’re orbiting GT-937 now, but we can still make these long-distance transmissions from the cruiser. I’m sending this before we go down surface to celebrate with Loretta. I don’t think the life forms she’s befriended have this holiday, but we’ll have an illuminating cultural exchange all the same.

Does the Vulcan say illuminating? I can’t remember. He hasn't said anything since the Commander came to see me. Maybe he’s in awe of the Commander’s logic, or something. The doctor’s happy we’re having warm feelings and hot cider (or at least the GT-937 equivalent). I’m sure the captain’s just happy not to arbitrate their disputes for a day or two. And Cadet Sam Robinson’s more or less back at the helm of the ship inside his head. So, everyone’s happy.

Postscript

The Commander’s just been in, a lightning strike visit. He’s wondering what you would like for Christmas. If you send a reply soon, he might get it to you by New Year’s, via prearranged Earth-bound transport (I know you don’t trust those, but he’ll be happy if you humor him).

“You have a wonderful great-grandmother,” he said, halfway out the door. “Don’t forget that.”

As if he has to remind me. “Sure, Dad,” I said. “I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten.”

And the threesome didn’t say anything—it was all-genuine Sam. What do you think of that?

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7 comments

Lara Macgregor
19:47 May 23, 2020

I like your style of writing, the presentation. :)

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22:46 May 23, 2020

Thanks!

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Lara Macgregor
02:17 May 24, 2020

You're welcome!

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20:43 May 22, 2020

You have a very unique way of writing I like it ! Great story ! Thank you Emilie for liking my "Squirrels in The Attic" - My Father's name was Irl !

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02:06 May 23, 2020

I'm glad you enjoyed it! "Squirrels in the Attic" was a fun story

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Iris Koga
02:02 May 22, 2020

Fantastic use of dialogue to portray the personalities of characters in the story! Love the surprise at the end. For some reason, I really liked this sentence - “They don’t consider themselves multiple personalities—I just have a unique mental processing mechanism.” Very well written!

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02:18 May 22, 2020

Thank you!

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