Moonrats, Fiction Fragment
Team Leader: Do you know what a Lunar Liaison does?
Disgruntled Team Member: Yeah, she watches the machinery and obsesses about how much I shit.
Team Leader: “The shitting oversight is so that your colon doesn’t shut down the first time it has to process a steak in earth gravity. But that’s not what I meant. Do you understand her position?
Disgruntled Team Member: Yeah. We pay her. I saw the grant budget. Good wages for a chef.
Team Leader: How have you lived on the moon this long without having a clue?
Disgruntled Team Member starts to object. Is interrupted.
Team Leader: Do you do know that the Lunar Liaison has final authority in any project?
Disgruntled Team Member looks doubtfully at the slight woman in black seated across the table. Her expression is hidden by a pair of dark sunglasses. On the table between the three of them them rests a single screw.
Disgruntled Team Member: Her?
Team Leader: Her. If she says this project is unsafe, we are done. It’s over. We pack up and go back to Armstrong Base. No recourse. End of story. Experiments abandoned. Money forfeit. Good luck getting another lab slot after that.
Team Leader: As far as you are concerned, she is God. She wants us to drop everything to spend the day looking for the source of that screw, we say ‘Yes, Ma’am. Where do you want me to start?’
Disgruntled Team Member pouts: It’s so tiny.
Team Leader: Sure, it’s tiny. Maybe it fell off the back of a video game. Maybe it holds the life support backpack to your spacesuit. Do you want to take that risk?
Woman in black stirs. Starts to speak. Voice is so soft both listeners have to lean forward to hear her.
WiB: I go to bed running maintenance checklists in my head. I wake up in the middle of the night listening for the water cycler. If it was just your miserable ass on the line, I’d let you implode and write it off as death by stupidity. But it’s not. It’s all of our asses on the line. The airlock blows. We all die. The air handler releases carbon monoxide. We all die.
Disgruntled Team Member looks over at Team Leader. Finds Team Leaders nodding in agreement.
WiB: We are sitting three feet away from the most hostile environment humanity has ever lived in. We are in a tent surrounded by starving bears. We are in a diving bell at the bottom of the ocean. We are in an asbestos cabin under 10 feet of molten lava. You go out there, you are dead in seconds. Is any of this getting through to you?
Disgruntled Team Member: You trying to scare me?
WiB: I don’t want you scared. I want you terrified.