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Amenities

by on October 19, 2016

This story was written for Round One of the yeah write super challenge #2, fiction specifically. I was in group 3, so my assignment was to write a story with an emotion (disapproval) and an event  (swim in a pool).  This was the result. Enjoy!

 

The alarm had finally stopped. Ensign Sam noted the silence as he made his way down the corridor. He had grown used to the constant wirping in the background. The ensign almost missed it. “Guess you finally gave up on me,” he said, as he pushed open the lift door. “Deck seven.”

The ship’s computer didn’t give its usual cheery reply. The lift simply clattered into motion. Sam missed the swoosh from the old days, as lifts smoothly glided about here and there, carrying people on their various ways. Now it was just him, and no swoosh. Sam supposed he should do something about the clatter eventually. He had no idea what; he had been a medical ensign, not a starship’s mechanic. If the ship’s computer ever felt like talking to him again, he decided he would ask about it.

As he descended slowly down towards deck seven, Sam reflected on the first conversation he’d ever had in the lift . There had been so many, of course, back when there had been a full crew, but the first one had been particularly memorable.

 

He had been a bright-eyed young ensign, eager to explore the galaxy and discover new life forms. Sam had been slightly nonplussed when his first assignment in sickbay had been to prepare a detailed inventory report on stocks of available medicines, which wasn’t nearly as exciting as discovering a new life form.

When Sam had finally completed the inventory report,  he was to deliver it to the first officer on the bridge. To Sam’s astonishment, when he stepped into the lift on his way up, he found himself sharing a ride with the captain.

At first Sam had been overawed in the presence of authority. The captain hadn’t even noticed him at first; his mind was on graviton-deflector beams, Palsgrafian matrix generators, and the supply of quilithium resonance crystals. Then he became aware of the trembling ensign. The captain decided he ought to say something. “First voyage, ensign?”

“Oh, ah, yes, sir, very much, sir,” Sam had stammered.

The captain, who was still new to the command himself, thought he should relieve the tension with a slight witticism. “Well, is the ship to your liking? Any special requests?”

He hadn’t actually expected an answer. But Sam, being a fresh new ensign, had taken him seriously. “Well, er, a swimming pool would be nice, sir. Not much to do in our off hours, sir. I’ve got a friend on the Sailor Princess, sir, and he says they’ve got a real nice pool….”

The ensign’s voice trailed off as he realized his mistake. The captain’s eyebrows fairly bristled. Sam felt the full force of his glare, and quailed before it. “Ensign,” the captain snapped. “This is not the Sailor Princess. This is the  Allied Planetary Starship Fairchild. We’ve been assigned to patrol the quadrant perimeter. We were not assigned to go on a blasted swim!”

Sam had started on a desperate apology, but the lift had reached the bridge at that unfortunate moment. The captain stalked icily out of the lift and grabbed a communicator from a passing lieutenant. “Doctor?” he barked. “You should keep an eye on your ensigns. Seems they don’t have enough to do! Seems they think they’ve got time to splash about in swimming pools! Better correct that misapprehension, doctor!”

The sickbay had not been kind to Sam after that. The doctor, upset at being scolded by the captain, had taken it out on the entire medical staff, canceling leaves and increasing hours in the scheduled shifts. The other medical ensigns had naturally blamed Sam for the new hardships and never missed a chance to mock him for it. It had been a miserable few weeks. Then, with the onset of Barnium’s Syndrome and its unfortunate results, Sam didn’t have to worry about what the other ensigns thought of him anymore.

The lift clattered to a stop. The old ensign made his way gingerly out of it. He was in the engineering section, just near the quilithium crystal tanks. They were practically empty by now, after so long a voyage. Sam cautiously removed the last remaining blue shards and then turned to another tank nearby.

He had been waiting twenty years for this. The ensign had set aside a tiny amount of each day’s water ration he allowed himself. Now, he poured all those accumulated ration fragments into the empty quilithium chamber. With a happy sigh, Sam eased himself into the cool water. He didn’t care that the decrepit Fairchild was about to tumble into a black hole, finishing off its last survivor. He didn’t care that he hadn’t heard from Earth in twenty years, nor that the whole planet had probably forgotten about him by now. All that mattered was this: he finally had his swimming pool.

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2 Comments
  1. Great take on a very tricky prompt! Loved the Star Trek feel, although it would need a much happier ending to be considered for that show. At least he finally got his pool. If you’re going to fall into a black hole, that’s the way to go.

  2. Wow. Evokes feelings of watching really good, old episodes of the twilight zone (not that there are new episodes… but I hope you know what I mean).

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