Deluge

Edna peered at her desk through her fingers, and sighed. It’s not that she didn’t like the rain, under normal circumstances. It was, in her opinion,a sign of progress. She hadn’t even minded when it was two full days of the stuff. It was, after all good for the crops and the ornamental gardens. Very good for public morale. The occasional shower gave everyone a sense of normalcy. It was on day three, when she had already gotten suspicious, that the report came in from Carlson in Engineering.

Now, on day seven, with no sign of it letting up, stood before her the very nervous, and all too familiar face of a particular ensign. She smoothed back her greying hair and stood, pulling at the bottom edge of her uniform jacket to tighten the fit. She walked over to the window and watched the deluge for a few moments.

“It’s Davis, correct?” She knew his name. She knew nearly everyone under her command.

“Ma’am?, Yes ma’am.” The young man had a slight shake to his voice.

“I thought so. Ensign Davis, I seem to recall that we first met about a year ago.” Edna turned to face him and walked back towards her desk. “Remind me what was the occasion of that visit?”

Weather anomaly ma’am. Regulator malfunctioned and rolled the seasonal climate back to winter.”

“Winter is quite the understatement.” She remembered the blizzard well, and the havoc it played with their growing cycle.

“Yes ma’am.”

“And since that, well let’s just call it an event shall we”

“Ma’am”

She smiled at this lack of answer. She always fancied noncommittal remarks as a good sign of a junior officer’s survival instincts. “And, since that particular event, how many times have you been sent to report to my office Ensign Davis?”

“This would be the fifth time since that event, ma’am” Davis kept his gaze fixed on a point somewhere beyond, and to the left of the commander’s ear.

“Six, times? I suppose that makes us practically friends ensign.”

“Not my place to say, ma’am.”

“Relax Davis, I’m not looking to take it out on you.” Edna came around to the front of the desk and stood a few inches away from the youth. “Six times in a year. Each time due to some abnormal weather event. Each time Carlson has sent you to report to me on behalf of his ineptitude?”

“Ma’am the lieutenant thinks it is the colony’s best interest if he remains in engineering and works on the problem.”

“Very diplomatic of you ensign.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“You have a shit job, Davis.”

“Lieutenant Carlson say that the moisture reclamation system’s cpu is running the condensation cycle in an infinite loop. Taking the evaporation collectors off the grid should starve the precipitation system of water and have the rain stopped very soon.”

“So we go from monsoon to drought?”

“It should only take the software teams a day or two to recode the system. We’re not expecting any crop loss.”

“You mean, any further crop loss. Agriculture reports several beds have already been drowned out.”

“Ma’am.” Davis motioned to the window behind her.

Edna turned around. The rain had stopped pelting the window, through the water still poured down the sides of the arcology inner buildings.

For the first time in days the colony’s ersatz sun could be seen to rise from where it hides for the night. It’s intense heat burning through the wetness in the air, light reflecting off the slick surface of the roads and walkways as it inched upward along its track across the dome. The haze if steam around it providing a spectacular corona.

“Well, that is dramatically beautiful. Do give the lieutenant my compliments on his timing. Though do you suppose it was necessary to turn the heat intensity up so high?”

“Ma’am, he said it would speed the clean-up of the water. The plan is to leave the sun at its apex an extra hour a day until we can reclaim as much of it as we can.”

“He’ll do no such thing. Things in Environmental Engineering are delicate enough without him cocking up the diurnal cycle.” Edna glanced over her shoulder at Davis, “You are dismissed ensign, I do so look forward to our next visit.”

The young man left. She rather liked him, a little too nervous, but bright enough. She turned once again to look out the window, making a note to journey to Engineering to make a point of dressing down Carlson in front of the ensign. The man had it coming due to accumulation,

Still, it was a nice sunrise.

 

This scene was written in response to a prompt, from Today’s Author.
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A Guy Named Sleeve

I knew a guy named Sleeve, once. For a short while. Not long enough to say we were ever friends. There are times when companionship is close enough to settle on. When the journey has your the soles worn thin.

We met while taking brief respite from our respective paths down the road. It was the early fall, the forest somewhere in southern Illinois. A time and place where no one used their real name. Usually they called themselves things like Blue Tick, and Wildfire. There was a half Chinese man that insisted on being called Chink Bob Lee. About a dozen or so scrawny tattooed rednecks all going by Ace. They all wanted to sell you a zippo lighter, or throw in on a keg.

I was Saint at the time. Still am, sometimes, I’d guess. Depends on who you ask. I was running away from my life to figure it all out. This wasn’t the first time. I wasn’t the only one. I never asked where anyone was from. It was just something you didn’t do. So I never knew what happened in Sleeve’s past to drive him out. I did know he missed home. I heard him say, more than once, he could never go back.

We both settled into a temporary routine. Working makeshift kitchens in a transient town. Full of temporary people. I guess that’s everywhere, when it’s all said and done.We wound up talking a lot. Scrubbing pots after servings. Smoking pot before. Long conversations on short subjects.

His high pitch gravelly voice stood every nerve on end. Especially when he laughed.Truth is, I found most things about him annoying. His twitchy mannerisms. A second hand, jam band sense of style. Patchwork corduroy jeans, an old Jesus jumper, and a beard trimmed into a neat, thin ring around his face starting and ending in a grown out bowl cut. The whole package put me in mind of a Henson creation on a meth binge at a Phish concert.

We really didn’t have all that much in common.

Not much but tired feet, a few months of bad nutrition. Awkward conversations over near tasteless boiled coffee. A few hours wasted on micro dots, chasing nothing through quiet nature in the middle of the night. A few more with a loud handle of whiskey.

The rest of the time spent gathering firewood. Cooking meals for layabouts and bliss cases. The time came to move on. I headed south east. He headed, somewhere else. Never asked where he was headed. Never really cared. We weren’t really friends after all.

It was nice to have the companionship for a while though.

I suppose.

 

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