Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are dread, grasp and pacify.

Objets d'art

It wasn’t Thanksgiving, no far, far from it, but that didn’t stop him from dialing up a Thanksgiving feast from the replicator, including feeding in the recipe for lefse to reflect his Norwegian heritage he’d never quite understood.
After he’d eaten, the dishes stored and everything back into its sparklingly clean receptacle, he took a tour of the ship. The air had that cool, recycled feel to it, manufactured, shipped in, pumped for his pleasure. He always thought it tasted “blue,” as if that would explain it.
As expected, there were no urgent matters to attend to, no crisis management. The ship was on autopilot, its course fixed by computers and calculations, so he wandered into the fitness bay and tried to run away the edginess.
Every time the alarm clock rang, he was reminded of the mind-numbing silence of a craft this size. Mission protocols called for one person to be up and active, that shift being in duration of six months, as recommended by the flight surgeon.
There were 24 aboard. It would take the ship, on maximum efficiency, a dozen years to reach their destination.
He felt the dread, like lead weights on his chest: Six months on, then back into the “can” for the duration. He didn’t know which shift was worse – years in stasis, not dreaming, breathing once ever two minutes or six months awake and alone, trying to fill the hours with something, anything.
And while he had found something to pacify the boredom, he told himself no more. It wasn’t something he wanted the colonel up his ass for, not this close to the disembark.
But the pull was too great.
He’d wander into medical, into the stasis bay, and turn the lights up to full.
He’d check his suit, adjust the airflow, disable the artificial gravity – luckily, there were times where this was needed, so it wouldn’t look odd on the operational reports – and seal the unit.
He found it best to use a canvas that was manageable, three feet by two feet, and made a frame out of length of PVC pipe from the utility stores.
He figured it was Komarov’s turn to supply the paint.
He took just enough blood as to not worry the sensors and injected it into the zero-gravity environment. He then spent the next 45 minutes capturing every single drop onto the canvas.
He admired his handiwork over dinner – a replicated version of a Hungarian Paprikash – and thought he was getting better with each successive commission.
He traced the lines and splotches with his finger, and would tell himself that this was it, this was the last.
He rolled the canvas in with the others.
And in the idle quiet, his mind grasped at the math: Fourteen more weeks until his return to the can.
Eight more crew members to paint.

31 comments:

pia said...

Oh Thom you get creepier in a good sense with each story. How does your mind work?

My only recommendation--this would have worked even better had it been a bit shorter--we don't need to know about the ship being on autopilot etc. Just my opinion

ThomG said...

Thanks, Pia. I like your suggestion, but I added the extra stuff to give the reader a sense of the time he was facing. Let me look it over again.

anthonynorth said...

Oh yes, that was beautifully dastardly.

Angel said...

Spooky story.

Greyscale Territory said...

Paradoxically, the more you describe detail, the more mysterious and eerie the atmosphere becomes! Creative and clever!

Jane Doe said...

Very creeping. I was not expecting the end. Great twist.

Tammy Brierly said...

Very creative Thom. I love futuristic stories. I'm a closet trekie. :)

Dee Martin said...

Dude - maybe you should get bronchitis more often LOL Clapping for more now!! I did feel the sense of time, you eased me into it and then at the end you made me wait for it just a little before you smacked me. Star Trek meets Stephen King :)

Donna Thacker said...

Sounds like a scene from a really good and creepy movie!

Stan Ski said...

The Devil will always find work for idle hands to do...
Great story.

Jay Thurston said...

Well told, I do like all the details, and it was a good way to end the story I thought, putting his creativity on a deadline.

Timothy P. Remp said...

That was great Thom! I loved you mixing science fiction with a smidge of horror. The idea of paintings was spot on :) (Pun intended)

-Tim

Mine is here: http://timremp.blogspot.com/

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

oh ! that was real good ... i thought it was going to be a full fledged science fiction .. and before I know it .. there is horror !

Wonderful !

Matt Merritt said...

Awesome. I really got a sense of his slow, calm, methodical method. It upped the creepiness considerably.

Vivek said...

It takes a deft hand to manage such mixing of genres. Good read.

Amity said...

Weewwwww....quite eerie Thom!

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Wow, boredom and a creative mind are a bad combination, aren't they? You really ought to put together a little collection of your weirdest. I bet it'll sell.

Sulci Collective said...

Space Jackson Pollock if he'd left the gravity on?

I agree with you, the dilemma over which was worse, 6 months sleep or 6 months killing time awake is well painted in this story.

marc nash

Jen Brubacher said...

Ooh. Very spooky and with an ominous final calculation. I wouldn't want to be in this guy's care in deep space. (Or anyone's, maybe!)

Sam said...

Wonderfully creepy, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

peggy said...

What an imaginative way to kill boredom! And painting food.... You mean to say there was no reading material available?

I liked that you took sci-fi in a new direction. Dealing with the loneliness, and that secret feeling of getting away with something. This story has elements that we all can relate to.

Quibble: you switched to present tense in the fourth paragraph, and that made me go back to reread to make sure I understood what was happening.

Tony Noland said...

I'll see the "creepy" and raise you a "psycho".

Great atmosphere in this one.

Gracie said...

Yeek! I had no idea what he was up to to keep himself occupied.

Creepy, imaginative story. Gives me the shudders. Well done.

MichaelO said...

God knows what the other 23 are planning to commission! Nice little Space Oddissey, Thom.

ganymeder said...

Evil artistry in deep space. Nice.

John Wiswell said...

I want a replicator so ad. I promise not to use it for evil. He seems to have a fun little existence, evil as the ending makes it sound. But evil can be fun.

Caught a typo in the second paragraph: "though" instead of "thought"

Marisa Birns said...

Ah, wonderful.

Of course he wants to paint. After all, as Van Gogh said, "The only time I feel alive is when I'm painting."

Enjoyed the sci-fi/horror "drawing" to your story.

Mark Kerstetter said...

That's some serious boredom. Wonder how the others will react when they see their "portraits"

Toi said...

ooo...scary - good flow to this
micro fiction - draws you in.

Stu Pidasso said...

That is a spooky piece of fiction. Pretty good read, and just a teaser. Good job.

Andy Sewina said...

Yeah, wonderful imagination here, Thom! Of course a Leopard can't change its spots, so the story goes on....

Phew!