Sunday, January 19, 2014

JMR Quick Fiction January 2014

Short prompt this time, any topic at all with a limit of 500 words. Here we go.

Those of you looking at Trek profiles may enjoy this one!


These Are The Journeys…

Another day, another credit. That’s the reality of space exploration for a grunt.

“Explore The Final Frontier” the flyers said on the bulletin board in secondary school just five years ago. Just like the military organizations of the ancient world, the Star Federation always has more success recruiting young idealistic folks in that setting than anywhere else.

However, the Final Frontier feels farther away than ever when scraping sludge out of the sewage regenerator on the lower decks. Even with gloves, that nasty stuff gets right under your fingernails and hurts for hours. Well, at least until you find some time to go to Sickbay, but the ship won’t run by itself.

“Now, Go Boldly Where No One Has Gone Before!” That’s what the Dean of the Academy said during my graduation day two years ago. Well, of course it wasn’t technically graduation for me, but at least the Academy let me watch my classmates walk in the ceremony.

Those words ring ironic now, while scrubbing a toilet in the crew lounge. Someone “boldly went” on this throne, but I suppose that happens when winding down from a high-pressure day in the war zones of space. It’s really a shame that the scientists who developed faster-than-light travel did not first perfect the art of the self-cleaning toilet first, but oh well.

“Redeem Yourself and Serve The Greater Good.” Those were the final words of the parole board just six short months ago. A new flagship for the Star Federation would have been a dream assignment for an enlisted man, but there are more than just enlisted personnel on a starship. Indeed, a prisoner going on parole with three years of Academy engineering training would be a perfect fit for the below deck grunts that every ship needs, especially a flagship.

Perhaps the board was correct. There is some redeeming quality in being the man behind the scenes, doing the jobs that keep the mission going. Sure, the Captain makes a lot of decisions, and the engineers conduct experiments every day to move science forward, but those people cannot do their jobs without grunts. Sometimes they even smile at you, should they find you brushing down the flux capacitors.

But every now and again, I think I see Cadet Jefferies walking down the hall, or his reflection in a mirror I’m wiping down. It’s been over two years, and I still think he will come back.

Of course, that’s a silly notion. Jefferies is dead, which is what happens when you try an unauthorized Kolvoord Starburst with pilots not quite ready for prime time. But that’s in the past, and life moves on, even for the flight team leader. Well, 18 months in a service prison later, anyway.

Another day, another credit. I keep cleaning and scrubbing every nook and cranny of this ship, but it can’t clean the stain on my heart. It never will.

Just another day in the life for a janitor in deep space.

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