Character – An Astronaut
Random Object – A Hammer
Genre – Mystery
“Morning, Pursuit, how did you sleep?”
“Like a baby, ground.” The woman on the other end of the monitor smiled.
I glanced at Mike, the other communications officer, and repressed a smirk. “Good to hear, Pursuit. Anything to report?”
“Negative. All systems are in the green.”
I waved him to be quiet. “Good to hear, Captain.”
“What do you have for us today?”
I wasn’t surprised that Captain Jones didn’t mention the incident from the night before. “Nothing terribly interesting. You’re on deck to run diagnostics on the water filtration system and the sensor array. After that Command wants you to take some new readings on Mars.”
Next to me, Mike brought up the video feed from the past twelve hours. He propped his chin on one hand and began fast forwarding through the footage.
“We’re hoping for no excitement, Pursuit. We only believe in dullness.”
“Oh?” Captain Jones raised an eyebrow.
A clanging noise coming through the earphones made me jump. It sounded like a ball peen hammer on a metal picnic table. A muffled curse followed the noise.
Captain Jones winced.
“Problem?” I asked.
The woman rolled her eyes and leaned into the camera. “Arjun is convinced he’s hearing strange noises coming from the hull.”
I managed a convincing frown. “Has to doctor done a checkup?”
“Have you ever tried to get Arjun to comply with an unscheduled medical checkup?”
She made a face. “I wouldn’t advise it.”
Mike slapped my arm where Captain Jones couldn’t see it. I followed his pointing finger to the monitor next to mine where Arjun floated next to the hull of the spacecraft with his ear on the surface, like an old-fashioned safe cracker. Mike had the playback on high speed, so it looked ridiculous when Arjun suddenly pushed off the hull like a frightened cat.
A snort escaped.
“Something funny?” Captain Jones asked.
“No, ma’am. Allergies.” I grabbed a tissue and wiped my nose.
This time the cursing from the background got louder, along with Arjun’s angry voice.
“There, did you hear it, Captain?”
Captain Jones sighed. “I’ll get back to you when we’re finished with the diagnostics.”
“Sounds good, ground out.”
The monitor went black.
Mike broke out into peals of laughter. “He looked for that thing for three hours!”
A few of the others in control drifted over.
“Did the first one go off?”
“Where is it?”
“Does the crew think there’s something wrong?”
Mike transferred his screen to the large one at the front of the room and replayed Arjun’s search on high speed.
“What sound is it making?” someone asked.
I consulted the list on my phone. “It should be an eerie groaning sound.” I watched as Arjun floated around in an attempt to find the source of the strange sound. Everyone started to laugh as he retrieved a hammer and started tapping the inside of the hull.
“Lindon is coming,” someone near the door said.
Mike returned the screen to normal and we all went back to work.
Well, everyone who’s monitor wasn’t in direct line of sight of Lindon kept watching Arjun looking for the source of the sound.
“He’s going to kill us,” Mike said with a laugh.
Lindon—a tall imposing man—strode into the room and draped his suit jacket over the back of his chair. “Arjun has reported a strange sound coming from the hull. I need everyone from engineering working with him ASAP to find the problem.”
“He called Lindon?” Mike muttered.
The engineering crew, who had planted most of our little surprises, ran into the conference room with coffee and tablets in hand.
I watched Lindon follow them. “Forget Arjun, Lindon is going to fire us all.”
“Naw.” Mike waved a hand. “Captain Jones will get a kick out of it.”
For the next hour the engineering team went over the report Arjun had sent. Mike and I speculated on what they thought was wrong.
I wasn’t surprised when a message came through to my terminal.
Arjun scowled at me. He had a small device in one hand, which he held up in front of his glare. “You will pay for this.”
“Pay for what?” I asked with as much innocence as I could muster.
“An Annoyatron? Really?”
“Huh, how did that get there?” I asked.
Arjun leaned closer. “I may be millions of miles away from you, but I still have plenty of friends on Earth. You will pay.”
I grinned. “Come on, you have to admit, that’s funny.”
“It’s not.” His stern expression didn’t crack.
“We just thought you might like something to break up the monotony.”
“How many more are there?”
I shrugged with my hands.
His eyes narrowed.
Captain Jones floated past behind Arjun. She gave me a smile and a thumbs up.
“Should I tell engineering that the problem has been solved?” I asked.
Arjun flipped me off and cut the transmission.
I brought up the list on my phone and clicked off the first item.
“Well?” Mike asked.
“One down, eight to go. The next one will sound like a cat.” I glanced at where the engineering team was leaving the conference room. They were laughing.
Lindon rolled his eyes at me, but said nothing. Mike held out his fist. I bumped it with mine.