“Two Things” by Amanda C. Davis

April 5, 2014

Post image for “Two Things” by Amanda C. Davis

Two starship flunkies find the corpse of their drinking buddy missing from cold storage, and take dubious action.

Excerpt:

The memorial microbial fuel cell was broken; that was the first thing. Nobody wanted to put good crewmen of the SS Trebuchet into the same cell that processed leftovers, plant cuttings, and human waste. So Admiral Than ordered some provisions to be shifted from one cold storage unit to another, and they stacked the bodies in there, rolled in white sheets, tagged by name, to last out the journey beside boxes of dehydrated chicken substitute and vacuum-sealed bags of beer. That seemed all right. Some of them had been pretty fond of beer.

“We could bury them!” said David, who loved all things retro. “That’s what they used to do Earthside.”

“In the ground?” said Mo, who didn’t. “You’re disgusting.”

They wouldn’t reach the colony for fifteen more months, so neither took the argument too personally.

By the time four or five people had gone on to glory and been stowed in cold storage, nobody had the time or inclination to fix the microbial fuel cell; it was a small one, anyway, and didn’t power much more than itself. Certain people (like David) thought it was nice to be able to sit with their cold-packed loved ones once in a while. Certain other people (like Mo) disagreed. But it wasn’t hurting anyone, so there they stayed: well-preserved, stiff in every sense.

The second thing happened down in the hydroponic chambers, and nobody noticed until it was too late. A couple of nanobots from the tomato plants took an interest in one of the earthworms and made an unsolicited transfer. It killed the worm, of course. When one of the gardeners saw the worm flopping around on top of the soil like a garden hose, she assumed it had gone space crazy and tossed it into the bucket they kept for incidental sources of protein.

The bucket, of course, stayed in cold storage.

Two things: a broken fuel cell and a couple of malfunctioning nanobots.

It turned out that two was enough.

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