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