Science Fiction

To whom it may concern,

When I signed up for this assignment, I was looking forward to spending four years of my life with someone who shared my disdain for obnoxiously loud, self idolizing, undereducated people.

I believed (foolheartedly) that only respectful scientists would sign up for this mission. That only those who truly valued the exploration of the last great frontier would spend three years training, four years locked in a shuttle with little to no contact with Earth, and a year reconditioning to Earth. 

Through all the vetting processes and the countless tests, how is it that he made it through. Out of everyone, I had to be sent out with this doof-

The tip of my pencil abruptly breaks as the door crashes open.

“Yo Whaddup?” the intruder yells as he prances inside my room. 

“Good morning Jack. What brings you so forcefully into my room this morning?” I say in an even voice as I push my letter of complaint under the other papers on my desk. 

“Just wanted to check up on my favorite colleague.” I stare blankly at him as he shuffles in the silence.

“Also, the coffee maker isn’t working.”

Year two of four on shuttle 555 to the Great Unknown has been filled with daily coffee maker failures. After only two weeks, it was discovered that Jack had little to no idea how to fix anything electrical after he almost set fire to the kitchen unit.  

Since neither of us can function without a consistent supply of this liquid energy, every morning he has swung by my room to request assistance in repairing our sputtering caffeine machine. 

As we make our way to the small kitchen unit, our feet softly tap on the shuttle floor. We keep the gravity at about half of Earth’s. It is ‘better for the mechanics of the shuttle’ according to the maintenance manual.  

For the second time today, I find my hand buried deep in our well-loved coffee machine. Its plastic cover is chipped by the multiple falls it has taken (mainly because of  Jack’s love of ‘space juggling,’ where he tries to juggle with random appliances he finds). Among the small cracks, there is one that stands out from the rest. A crack, that I know was definitely not there this morning.

With a shoulder heaving sigh, I retract my hand, snap on the cracked cover, and give the poor machine an affectionate pat. Now that the immediate issue is over, I turn to Jack.

Why, may I ask, is there another crack in the cover?” 

He takes a single step back, bringing his hands slightly out in front of himself as he tries to form a consoling expression on his face. “You see-”

“Yes I see”

“I was filling it up and-” He turned before finishing his thought and scrambled away. In his struggle to escape he bounces feet into the air with every step. I race behind him, wanting nothing more than to teach him once and for all to never mess with my coffee. 

As we crash through the small shuttle papers go flying in our wake. He is much faster than me, and I know that catching up to him is out of the question but- I grab a blunt object from the nearest table- I can still hit him. Thus started my onslaught of flying projectiles. Lucky for him, we only have ‘space grade’ appliances that can do no damage to the shuttle, and in turn, minimum damage to people. 

Frantically dodging my projectiles he ducks into his room, slamming the door shut with such force that I dare say it shakes the whole shuttle. He is safe… for now. 

In the aftermath of the conflict, I return to my room. I shuffle through a stack of papers on my desk, readouts from the multiple instruments our shuttle carries, an aged letter from home, and my half written letter of complaint lie before me. 

  I sit in the chair with a heavy sigh. Recently every day has been an ordeal. Just last week, while taking our annual inventory, I found that we were missing over a month’s worth of dessert rations. 

Five or six of the well loved packets would have been acceptable (we each planned on five extra per month… everyone needs a sweet snack every once in a while), but a full 17 packets? Completely unacceptable!

The culprit was found almost immediately as I made my way to the kitchen for a much needed cup of coffee. There, with two opened dessert packets in front of him, was Jack. I paused for a moment, shocked by his flagrant misuse of rations. 

Instead of laying into him right away, I strolled calmly into the room. He froze, knowing that he had been caught. I grabbed a dish and a fork, made my way to him, spooned a heaping portion of the brownie into my bowl, and sat down across from him. 

Later would come the scolding, but those brownies are all that keep me sane. 

After we finished our brownie’s it was agreed that he would be able to eat one portion at a time once a week and that he would limit himself a single brownie ration per month. 

The issue has yet to return, and I believe that we are both satisfied with the results. 

And I don’t dare forget the swivel chair incident of two weeks past! 

In our control room, we have the best swivel chairs. They are so smooth, and in half gravity, it’s like you are floating instead of sitting. 

One day, while doing the daily readouts of our course, I took a much needed break. Pushing off of the floor I started to spin. The world around me passed in a whizzing flash. The brightly lit shuttle intermittently interrupted by the dark expanse of space, as a childish carefree glee started to spread through me.

The weightless euphoric ride was cut short when a blurred figure of Jack makes his way into the room. It took me a full revolution to slam my feet to the ground, and the moment contact was made, I shot from my chair, still spinning, as I catapulted through the air. 

Through the entire ordeal, Jack’s laugh echoed through the room. As I crashed back to the ground he sat in the co-pilot chair to watch my failure. His eyes were bright with amusement even after his body shaking laughter had ceased. 

We sat in silence. Him still slightly shaking from silent chuckles, and me fuming with embarrassment at being caught doing such a childish thing. 

Finally, I had reached my limit with this entire ordeal. Indignantly I got up, still dizzy, and stumbled my way from the room. 

We have yet to talk about this incident, but every now and then, he’ll make an offhand remark on my fascination with spinning chairs.

As I recall our past fights, I find myself smiling. Never has there been a dull moment on this journey. I look down at the letter of complaint on my desk, heave a heavy sigh, and proceed to slowly rip it into a plethora of pieces. 

Jack and I may not always get along, but I would rather be with him than anyone else.

January 17, 2020 21:07

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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