Chapter Thirty Two

Engine

 

 


An alarm woke me up at quarter to seven, and for once I didn't mind a bit. In fact, I was really glad it woke me up because I was in the middle of a really weird dream. A herd of cows was stampeding towards me, only they were running on their hind legs, wearing cowboy hats, and somehow carrying big butcher knives in their front hooves, all singing Hendrix's I Don't Live Today while coming at me. Too many westerns and too much twentieth century music, I guess.
It was engine seventeen, something was wrong with it. I shut it down from the pilot room and started a pot of coffee perking before I shit, showered, and shaved. Destiny woke up about the time I was getting dressed.
“What time is it?” she asked.
“I don't know, maybe ten or fifteen after seven.”
“You're up early again!”
“Yeah,” I said. “Alarm woke me up from a really weird dream, there's something wrong with engine seventeen. I shut it down and corrected course so eight o'clock should be easy this morning. Hungry?”
“I probably will be. What are you having?”
“Steak and scrambled eggs and toast. Should I have the robot make you that?”
“Sure, only I want my eggs sunny side up. Is there any good coffee made?”
“Yeah, I made a pot, most of it is still left.”
She got out of bed and put on a robe and followed me into the dining room, where the robot was already cooking our breakfast. I put the news on. Not much new, some problem at that big Venus station, an outbreak of some disease they thought had been eradicated decades earlier. They were worried it might get back to Earth.
I think they only have the news to scare people and make them worry.
We ate our breakfast and drank coffee and Destiny started a second pot as I went back to the pilot room for the eight o'clock readings. Like I figured, they were fine. I was sure glad because this was going to be another busy day, what with number seventeen shut down and today I had to inspect cargo.
The passenger section was, like usual, a big waste of time. Cargo were all asleep except the German woman, who was in the commons with Tammy, and a girl named Angel, who was in her quarters bending over the sink. She turned around and looked at me with those scary red monster eyes and I freaked out and ran, and ordered the door locked behind me and called Tammy.
“We have a serious problem,” I said. “Angel is going through withdrawal.”
“What? I left her a dose, someone must have stolen it. I'll be right there.” She came running down the hall holding her fone and a bottle of drops. “How bad is she?”
“Bad,” I said. “Redeye bad. That Angel girl was the scariest thing I've ever seen in my life.”
“Oh, no,” she said. “I'll be right back, try to keep that door closed. If she gets out we're all dead.”
“Wait! Where are you going?”
“To rig up a spray bottle. This is going to be very dangerous but it has to be done.” She ran to her quarters.
I had an idea that might not be so dangerous and pulled out my fone. “Computer,” I said, “what's the best way to knock that bitch out?”
The fone said “Parse error, there are no female dogs on board and ‘knock’ is not in context. Please rephrase.”
Who programs these God damned stupid things, anyway? Back when computers were new, science fiction movies had computers that could think. These stupid computers sure can't. God damn it, I was going to have to talk like I went to college... only I ain't went to college, damn it.
“Uh, how can I...” I had to think a minute. “Uh, make the woman in cargo twenty two go to sleep fast with the least amount of harm?”
The fone said, in writing of course, “waiting until she falls asleep naturally would cause the least harm.” Stupid computer. Damn it, I said fast!
“What will cause her to, uh... lose consciousness quickly with the least amount of harm, as quickly as possible?”
“Replacing the air with an inert gas would accomplish the task,” it said. Whatever the hell an “inert gas” is.
“Okay,” I told it, “replace the air in cargo twenty two with an inert gas.”
“Please choose which inert gas you wish to replace it with.”
God damn computers! “What gas will knock... uh, put her to sleep, uh, make her unconscious with the least damage?”
“Nitrogen, he...”
“Computer, replace the air in cargo twenty two with nitrogen and then open the door when she goes to sleep... uh, becomes unconscious.”
“Complying.”
Tammy came running back carrying a spray bottle just as the door was opening. “It's okay,” I said. “She's not conscious, I knocked her out.” Angel was laying right by the door.
“Wow, John, remind me not to piss you off,” she said. She took care of Angel while I finished my inspection. There was some minor damage to her sink, and I wondered what the hell that crazy animal was trying to do. As I was leaving the room, a medic Tammy had summoned rolled in.
I'd do the commons and sick bay after the engines and generators.
Everything was fine down there, all things considered. The generator was a little warm, but readings said it had been a lot warmer at seven.
All the engines except seventeen were fine. Seventeen had shorted out; we were lucky the alarm went off or either the generator would have probably been damaged so bad that it would have to be rebuilt, or the rest of the engines might have fried, or both. I logged it; the robot was already working on it. We'd be fine with only one engine out. At one time earlier in the trip I'd had three or four that weren't lit, but there are a hell of a lot of the huge things.
I checked out the rest of the monstrously big engines. That's where I spend most of my work day usually, downstairs inspecting thrusters since there were so many of them and they all had control panels and readouts that had to be inspected and logged.
I trudged back up the five damned flights of stairs and decided to have lunch before finishing inspections; it was already twelve thirty and I was starved.
I had a cheeseburger and Afghan style fried potatoes for lunch. Destiny had a steak chef salad, joking about pork. Her pig jokes made me think about the German woman.
“I still have a little more work,” I told her. “Engines took forever today because of number seventeen, I spent over half an hour on just that one alone. I still have to inspect the sick bay and commons. Want to go for a walk when we finish eating?”
“Sure,” she said. “I'll come along.”
We finished eating and walked to sick bay. I inspected it and we went into the commons, where Lek and Tammy were drinking coffee and eating turkey sandwiches. Lek was still wearing clothes and acting pretty damned ladylike for a drug addict. Tammy was doing some damned good work with that one, she should be proud. Lek should be proud, too.
We got back home at two or three and destiny put on an old two dimensional comedy western named “Wagons East”. It was a really silly movie and we laughed our asses off watching it. Destiny said that part of this one had to be done in a computer because one of the stars, the fat guy who played the wagon master, died before they finished shooting and they had to map his face to a body double. She said computers used in movies was still really new when that one was made.
When it was over we ate a poor man's dinner; prime rib, baked potato, salad, and wine. I only drank one glass, I hate hangovers. Especially wine hangovers.
I did have two beers while we watched The Underpass. That's a new one, you guys probably saw it already.
We listened to some old classical blues and cuddled when it was over and then we went to bed.

 

 


Chapter 31
Index
Chapter 33

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