Space is fun to write about when you get the chance. Not always the best place to be, though.
Another Space Manic Monday,
by Alexander Paul Willging
Word Count: 701
Life aboard the space station Aldrin could be fun sometimes. But today was not one of those days. Today was the day where Dr. Trevor Washington stepped out of his quarters, rubbing at his eyes, and entered what he assumed would be a total quagmire.
In other words, it was a typical Monday morning.
“Doc!” Running down the corridor was Nurse Loretta Jones. Her carefully crafted hair bun had fallen into a loose tangle around her shoulders. “Thank goodness you’re here! It’s—”
“Too damn early for this,” Trevor grumbled. He turned and pushed the button for an instant coffee from a nearby vending machine. The machine whirred, and a crude brown liquid trickled down into a Styrofoam cup. With limited access to beans imported from Earth, the steaming hot liquid only vaguely tasted like coffee. Trevor swallowed the concoction without another thought.
“Who is it today?” he asked. “MacGregor or Collins?”
“MacGregor,” the nurse answered, “but he—”
“Ha!” Trevor slapped at his knee. “Called it. Dr. Bannister owes me ten bucks.”
Nurse Loretta didn’t seem at all amused. Trevor thought she’d look better after he’d had more coffee, and he went for a refill.
“Sir,” she added, “he has a hostage this time.”
Trevor paused halfway into his second cup. He lowered his coffee slowly.
“Maybe you’d better show me,” he said.
On board the Aldrin, everyone had their own way of coping with being stuck out on a research venture in the middle of deep space. Some played cards. Others read books. Trevor was a fan of drinking until he fell asleep to old episodes of The X-Files. Not the most glamorous approach, but with no decent partners to sleep with, he had few appealing options.
For Ensign Johnny MacGregor, he took pride in rebuilding a classic GI Joe action figure. Something to keep his focus during the long, dark hours in the station’s depths. Trevor knew this from the boy’s records. He also knew because he was now following broken pieces of the toy down an empty corridor. Trevor tried not to grumble whenever his boot accidentally caught on one. A dose of coffee could only do so much for his balance.
Inside the kitchen, he found MacGregor pressed up against a wall beside the autochef. The young man’s eyes bulged, and he held frantically held a wooden spatula to the throat of a terrified girl in an engineer’s uniform. Denise or Diane—Trevor was sure her name was one of them. He gave her a sad smile, and then he looked at MacGregor with a dismal stare.
“Johnny,” he said, using the patient tone of an exhausted parent, “we’ve been over this. Amphetamines are not the solution to our problems.” He paused. “Sometimes a welcome distraction, but not the solution.”
“Stay back!” MacGregor hissed.
“What happened?” Trevor asked. He folded his arms across his chest. “Come on. Let’s talk it over.”
MacGregor paused. The spatula trembled in his hand. “It’s Mackenzie. She… she chose Brad over me! After everything we’ve been through!”
Trevor sighed and looked away. Again with these insipid love triangles. Somedays, he felt like he was living inside a young adult novel. And not one of the good ones either. It had to be one sitting on a dusty shelf in a discount bookstore, in the same strip mall as a McDonald’s.
“Here,” said Trevor, “put the spatula down and we’ll sort this out. You’ll forget all about Mackenzie soon enough.”
“I’ll never forget her!” shouted MacGregor.
“Sure you will. We’re testing some great memory suppressant drugs back in the lab.”
MacGregor hesitated. Trevor made a show of looking down at the chrono unit on his wrist and tapping his foot. Only a matter of time, he thought. And then, just like that, MacGregor lowered the spatula. His young hostage fled the kitchen, and Trevor guided him out by the arm.
They tried not to step on the broken GI Joe pieces outside. Looking over at his patient, Trevor decided then and there that he’d put in a transfer request before today’s shift was done. He didn’t care if space was one giant leap for mankind.
He’d rather deal with the hardworking loonies back on Earth.
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