Sunday, July 26, 2015

Endless Horizons: Flatline - Space Oreos

Endless Horizons: Flatline - Space Oreos

A desk of components, a still smoldering soldering iron, circuits and wires everywhere. He closed his eyes and code flew past the holo-projections along the walls, he opened them and knew which parts of the telemetry were messed up. Sensors adorned the workstation at various heights, scanning perpetually for changes in temperature, electrical charge and chemical imbalances, impossibly quickly they routed directly into his mind to tell him what and where needed more attention.

There was a soft knock at his cabin door.

His eyes didn’t even flick up. The hallway camera lit itself and turned in the housing, giving him a clear view down the rows of berths. A woman stood outside his cabin, tall, willowy. One of the slaves. She’d cleaned up at some point, was dressed in a plain blue jumpsuit. In her hands was a tray of food.

He willed the door open to half with a thought.


“I brought you some food,” she started. Her voice was soft, timid. “I’m-“

“I don’t care.” He cut her off. But the door slid the rest of the way open all the same.

Her mouth clamped shut as she picked her way into the room, eyes wide at the array of electronics, circuits and gear everywhere. The cabin lights were fully off, only the glow from the holo-arrays and the rack casting its strange flickering shadows allowed Flatline to be seen. “The captain, Jacobs he sent me down with this. He said-“

“Go bring that kid some food. Stupid kid probably hasn’t eaten anything not out of synthplast for the whole week. Get him something warm. Shit for brains.” Flatline interrupted her again, taking on Jacobs’ characteristically gruff tone with ease. He still didn’t look up.

The woman had stopped, eyes wide. “How did you-“

“I know everything.” She set the tray down uneasily. “No not really, I just have cameras everywhere and listen to everything. I heard him say it in the mess.”

Tso shrugged. The workstation chemical sensor lit with an array of new information, and almost without thinking; “Ramen noodles, chicken broth, vat beef, soy emulsificate hydrate, and…” his head tilted to the side, almost catlike. “orange fizz drink, sweetened with sacchirious. Thanks.”

She made a curious little half bow, smile tugging at the edge of her lips. Turned to go, and then whirled around again. “Oh, I also…I also found these.” She produced a sealed aluminum packet from a pocket in the jumpsuit. Deposited it right onto his workbench in front of him.

“Oreos? Where…where did you find these?”

“That’s a secret.” Flatline looked at her then. Sat back in his workbench stool and she froze, as his grey-black eyes fixed on her.

“Ask your question.”

“What? What makes you think I have-“

“Your heartbeat goes up by 6 bpm before you open your mouth, you’ve licked your lips three times in the last two sentences, and your calf muscles, really both your legs are constantly shifting between wanting to lean forward or bolt. So ask your question.” He regarded her silently.

“Did you. Did you really to…Briloo?”


“And what about all the…people.”

“I don’t care about them.”

“Did you…care about the people on the moonbase?”


She hesitated. He blinked but continued to regard her.

“You didn’t care, so that’s why you blew up all those sections. But then why did you…why did you rescue so many of-“

“I didn’t care. I don’t care.”

“You must have wanted to-“

“No. I just don’t care. Now go.” She backed up then, his eyes returned to the station in front of him, but she already knew he wasn’t really there. “Thanks.”

She stopped at the open door way. “You’re welcome. My name is Marley. By the way.”

“I know. I don’t care.”

So she stepped out, and the door slid shut silently.

Inside, Flatline absently plucked an oreo out of its aluminum wrapper and bit into it.

“She seems nice.” Intoned GUIN, the first words she’d audibly said in the last hour.

“Shut up GUIN.”

“Shutting up Flatline.” But he could hear the smirk in her digital-voice all the same.