by D.J. Sylvis
So. That just happened. Umm, personal log, Roger Bragado-Fischer, July 28. This recording is not authorized for official review or broadcast.
We had an unexpected staff meeting just before shift end. Of course, they waited until they got a full day’s work out of us.
Unexpected, that’s putting it mildly. The gist is, Moonbase Theta is being shut down. Decommissioned. After all the talk about being the primary focus when they closed the near-side Bases, it’s our turn to be … I was going to say made redundant, but I don’t think that applies when you’re the last one.
Unexpected for us – apparently, management has been planning this for the last six months. They’ve got a schedule, twenty weeks starting next Monday, tasks set up down to the minute. Every experiment boxed up – you gotta wonder how they’ll fit the tardigrades? – every mechanism shut down or automated, every light switch flipped. We’re gonna leave this place a ghost town.
Sooner than later, really, considering. The plan includes ‘optimal resource reduction’ – basically, most of the crew goes into stasis over the next few days, leaving a handful doing all of the actual work. No managers, that’s for sure – you could see it in every pair of eyes above the line, this universal, “Not it.” Five people, five selected personnel to manage the twenty-week shutdown sequence. And guess whose name was on that list? Who gets to earn their pay with no hope of an early offload on one of the supply rockets? That’s right. The luckiest comm lead this side of the Earth’s natural satellite.
Dammit. I better get Pacey to look at it before they go to stasis. Medics, of course, didn’t make the cut. It’s far more important we have that bonehead from Security on hand. I can’t wait for twenty weeks where he’s lurking around every corner. He better take his alternating duty shifts like the rest of us.
That is the somewhat-brighter side, getting to learn the ins and outs of the rest of the station activities. Monitoring the telescopic arrays, archiving all that experimental data, helping out in the hydroponic farms … I’m taking over the genetic archives, that’s a pretty huge responsibility – and opportunity. I don’t know the farmer they chose, McVett, but I’m looking forward to learning from Dr. Ray, and Wilder … I know what they say about Wilder, but if anything, that makes her better at her job. There’s nobody who knows the Base hands on from stem to stern like she does. I could pick up a lot in the next twenty-one weeks.
Twenty-one weeks. Alex is not going to like that. It was bad enough when my rotation was scheduled to end in October. When I’d be back before Halloween. I can already hear it. “What will I do about our group costume, Roger? I see Watson, I see the Hounds of the Baskervilles, where is my Sherlock?” I’m sorry, love. I know this wasn’t in the plan. That part sucks and I’m sorry.
I mean, something was bound to happen. It wasn’t going to go easy. I’m not the managers’ darling at this point, after clashing over the near-side network and the arguments about my contract – I don’t care what they say, limit downstream communications, I’m the one who operates the rig and I’m sending messages to my goddamn husband! Go ahead and place it in my permanent file, if I stop talking to Alex then he’s left alone with his thoughts and until I make it back …
His last real memory with me is still that thing … the day before I left. I can’t just … I didn’t even mean to … I knew he wouldn’t do that. He knew I knew he wouldn’t do that. It’s just … I’ve said I’m sorry, I’ve said it a hundred times and he’s forgiven me a hundred times back. But … not face to face.
He did send me that book of poetry, last ship. That’s got to be important. Words mean things to us. I’ll read every verse.
It’s only twenty-one weeks. I’ll make it through. And then we’ll get away. I don’t even care about my job, I don’t care about the Enclave or the Consortium. There are places outside that are still viable, beyond the cities. He’d love the space to have a better garden, and I’d … I could use the rest. Twenty-one weeks. It’s not so long. I’m starting my countdown now.