• Annie Clough

Knock

IRA: Observation vessel Errant Theta log (pause) 249? 250? 250. Kuiper Belt looks just the same as it did yesterday. And the day before that. Lotta dust floating in space. Solar radiation levels are normal. No incoming comms. That makes (pause) 8 months with no contact. Getting damn bored of playing chess against the computer, I’ll tell you that--


knock. knockknockknock. KNOCK.


STRANGER: Hello? Hello can you let me in?


IRA: JESUS. Shit. That can’t be right.


STRANGER: Please! You have to help me.


IRA: You got 30 seconds to spit out a real good explanation before these thrusters melt that suit with you in it.


STRANGER: I am a mechanic from the S.S. Jovian. There was a crisis aboard -- I was cut off from the muster stations so I had to launch myself from a shipping airlock. I have been caught adrift for 3 days.


IRA: Fuck off. Been almost a year since another ship’s passed. Half a parsec away, at that.


STRANGER: Please, this is the first vessel I have seen in days. My oxygen reserves are running out, but I will likely starve to death before that happens. Could you at least let me in to send out a distress signal?


IRA: Shit. Fine. Don’t expect an answer, though.


STRANGER: Thank you, truly.


IRA: What about the rest? Whole ship evacuated and it’s just you out here?


STRANGER: This place is a mess. This has to be a breach of protocol. You should really tidy up.


IRA: If shit went south, I should’ve heard some radio chatter. 3 days ago, you said? Maybe I missed it.


STRANGER: Jeez. How do you use these communications? There’s too many buttons.


IRA: Hold on, says here the S.S. Jovian was decommissioned 200 years ago.


STRANGER: Is it the red one?


IRA: Cut the bullshit. What’s your deal-- Fuck, hands off that button!


---


STRANGER: Observation vessel Errant Theta log 251, Private Ira Jones speaking. The Kuiper Belt has no visible abnormalities. Solar radiation is within standard thresholds. It has been 8 months and 1 day since last received communication.


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Burlington, Vermont.