The tension on the ship rose sharply; Emily thought it was so thick that she could cut it with a knife. The crew experienced anguish over a recent and tragic loss. Conditions aboard the spaceship continued to worsen. Simple tasks became burdensome assignments to the crew. The overnight team often fell asleep while on-duty. The dayshift crew emerged zombie-like as if waking from a year-long cryo-sleep.
A disgusting odor seeped into the ship that lingered everywhere as if someone rubbed rotting onions and spoiled eggs along the walls. Emily felt certain she was the only one using the washroom showers. She made a mental note to check the water report later to verify.
Exasperated, Emily had to revive the crew from their state of apathy. Despite her frustration, she felt bad for these Americans. As the only outsider – a Brit – Emily still sympathized with them. However, the recent tragedy didn’t have the same effect on her as it did the rest of the crew.
Jimmy worked for Emily in Ship Maintenance. Normally, Jimmy’s work met the highest standards. However, the young chap caused a short in the main computer board yesterday, which created a large spark. Emily managed to save the navigation system but the internal communications system was another story. She added that to her long list of repair jobs, then ordered Jimmy to report to the MedCenter.
Emily regretted waiting to send Jimmy to the Doc. She noticed the large bags under the young man’s eyes a few days ago. Unfortunately, the repair back-log grew exponentially and she needed his help.
Between Jimmy’s screw-up and the tragedy from a few days ago, she had to be more careful.
Earlier today, she checked on Jimmy and expected to find him asleep in the MedCenter. She was right, of course. But she also found the Doc alseep on the next cot over from Jimmy.
Things are worse than I realized, thought Emily.
Emily went to wake the Doc. Before she could shake him, the ship jolted forward and threw her backwards.
That shouldn’t happen. Something is wrong.
Since Jimmy destroyed the comms circuit, Emily couldn’t reach anyone on the bridge. She had to find out what the bloody hell just happened.
The ship jolted again, this time throwing Emily to the side. The violent maneuver happened suddenly and Emily didn’t expect it. She flew into the air and back down again, landing awkwardly on her side.
Emily’s eyes closed and she let out an animalistic scream. She looked down at her right leg. Her calf stuck out at an awkward angle, twisted well beyond its capability. She wanted to pass out, but dread overwhelmed her. Where is everyone? Why hasn’t anyone come to help me?
The ship jerked forward again.
She painstakingly crawled to the bridge and could barely reach the door’s open button from her prone position. The door to the bridge opened.
Emily continued to crawl, her hair now soaked with sweat. She looked around, eyeing each workstation. Everyone was asleep, from the helmsman to the captain.
With her last ounce of energy, Emily made her way over to Jenkins, who sat at the helm with his eyes closed and snoring. His head fell forward and engaged the thrusters with his nose and the ship shot forward again. The ship was on a near-light-speed collision course with Mars.
She yanked Jenkins out of the way and propped herself up into helm chair, crying out in agony. Finally, she reversed the thrusters and the ship resumed its normal speed.
Upset and frustrated, she slumped back in the chair, feeling drowsy.
Before she drifted off to sleep, she said to no one in particular, “Enough is enough. I need to fix the bloody coffee machine.”