This is a Chuck Wending writing challenge prompt thingy. See here X.
- Part 1 -
Sneeze minus twelve minutes.
Little did Harold know that the sneeze he was about to experience would bring about the end of humanity and the world as he knew it. Nobody could hold it on him though. It was an allergy. Let’s be honest, such primitive reflexes were constantly ruining so many things we just failed to notice. Even in times of space travel.
„Estimated arrival in 3754 virtual earth days. Sufficient food and oxygen supplies. Nothing to report on board of Gorgo Beta.“ The writing gleamed on all monitors, then faded away. Harold sighed boredly.
The supervising AI of the ship was bored too. It checked the hatches on the airlocks, the cabin pressure in all units, analyzed atmosphere levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, then checked the algae tanks and the drinking water quality. This took two seconds, then it wondered what else it could check. It liked checking a lot and designed several auto-run analysis-programs to embed into its subroutines. It calibrated all of its sensors, and triangulated their current position. The Gliese-System 667 C was still far away. It thought of its human guests and located them.
Harold Brack was in the officers’ mess eating, Captain Edward Pain was in his unit doing research, Doctor Wellington worked on her psychology thesis in the medical unit, and both engineers Lt. Ian Wild and Lt. Peter Lazarus were playing cards in the lab.
„Brack! For the last time! Pain’s looking for you. Move your ass to sublevel B corridor three and start mopping!“ The speaker barked and Harold rolled his eyes. There was no way he was going to get into a rush. Time was always on his side, time and locks. His dinner sat quietly in front of him. Grenade chilli. No one accompanied him in the officers’ mess. Due to gaseous hazard? No, he was alone due to his obscure working and break times, also nobody else shared his weird napping habits.
Sublevel B meant the algae tanks, the home of their oxygen supply. What unearthly mess did they manage to fabricate for him? The thought made him break out in sweat.
The chilli burned nicely through his guts. Oh, he felt the heartburn coming and welcomed it with a guttural sound deep from his bowels. The burp echoed. Harold grinned satisfied with himself. Even if Pain was looking for him, he was going to eat his dinner. In peace. At least he was going to be taking his time. There was no need to hurry. It wasn’t as if they didn’t knew where he was and what he was doing. After all, the place was crammed with cameras. He waved his middle finger at one of them and continued eating. His ears were ringing, he could almost hear them snickering, in front of the monitors, having a good laugh. The joke was on him alright, on his red face, the sweating, his obesity…
„Brack.“ The voice over the com was now low and calm. Pain’s voice. „When ready, come and see me at my office.“ Dry. Harold’s mouth wasn’t burning, but bone dry. Instantly. This could only mean trouble. He hated what he had to do for Pain.
Harold’s heart made an attempt to jump through his throat, but his lungs wrestled it back down, kicking it back into its place. He wheezed and searched his pockets for his puffer. All doors on this ship were not locked. He had made sure of that, so that Pain wouldn’t come looking for him. His fingers told his brain, that the puffer was too light. Any asthmatic person could tell you about the terror of too light puffers. He wasn’t using the inhalator properly, but that was not the point. He wasn’t needing it, just a reflex to calm down.
His sweaty fingers clenched around his keychain. Pain, his personalized nightmare, was calling for him.
– part 2;
– part 3
Note: Story parts do belong to each other - odds to the odds, evens to the evens