Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Singalong

        “You are not expected to understand this.” -- (In)Famous comment in the v6 UNIX kernel source.

“Standing in line to see the show tonight / And there's a light on / Heavy glow.”

My voice raised over the sizzling - almost, but not really, keeping in tune with the singer’s voice blaring from my quarter’s audio system. But I didn’t care - after spending weeks in space with nothing but intravenously fed nutritients, or even worse: a hasty snack-and-drink in a random station, it felt good to be at home again and to cook something real.

But while dancing lightly on the balls of my feet, taking sips of an Arcturian Mega-Ale, and stirring super-heated vegetables, I had the distinct feeling that I wasn’t alone here. Not in the sense that there was an assassin waiting for me in the shadows, but more that of the presence of a feral kitten too shy to emerge from its hiding place.

…hmm. Kitten…

I faltered for a moment, memories of last night flashing through my mind, then I caught up with the chorus again. While also not-really-surreptuously pushing a paper bag of goodies to the far end of the table.

“Song bird. Main line. Cash back. Hard top.”, I crooned, but I couldn’t really pay attention anymore, as it all came to a boil. Literally. For a minute or two I was moving frantically to turn off the burners just in the right moment before burning, and not for the first time I wished somebody would implement a kitchen-pod - managing a solo-ambush was easy in comparison!

Slowly, the sounds reverbing through my quarters registered with me again, and I noticed that the paper bag on my table now contained fewer pastries than it did before.

Turning to hide my smile from my unseen guest, I spooned my dinner onto a plate, and joined in onto the final chorus.

“By the way I tried to say she’d be there / Waiting for.”

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vision

One second.

In everyday life, you wouldn’t even think about a measly second. What would it matter if you got your drink one second later?

In space, it’s different.

In space, the second - or even half-second - between broadcasting a target, and shooting the target can be essential.

Essential to your own survival, that is.

And yet that’s what I had done - broadcasting target designations even when those targets encroached my own ship. And later, pod.

I slumped back against the cushions in my quarters, my hand lazily resting a glass on a table. Some robot would refill it, eventually.

This hadn’t been what I had signed up for, that many years ago. I had had images of being hero tackle in my mind, of being the bold pilot executing the kill shot on Titan. Not images of managing fleet composition, nor of handling the continual broadcasting.

But yet the FCs appeared to have appreciated my efforts.

The glass in my hand felt heavier now - thanks to the automated servitors in my quarters - and I raised it to my lips. For a moment I was tempted to open my eyes, to track the trajectory of the glass, but I already knew that this clone’s vision in her right eye had diminished. No need to rub it in yet again. And so what? What if I could no longer be the pilot I set out to be?

One second.

And many more seconds after that.

It wasn’t about how long they lasted, or how many there would be.

It was about making them count.