Fixing a Mess
Month 3, Day 10
Tech Stephanie Freyer
Engineering Junior Technician Stephanie Freyer entered Bugalu’s bedroom and walked to the bathroom door. That’s strange. I had the impression Mr Smythe left the panel open. Oh, well. She opened the service panel and looked for the damage that had been described. This isn’t torn up. She glanced around, assured herself she was in the correct bedroom, then stepped over to the intercom and placed a call.
“Mr Smythe, this is Technician Freyer. I was assigned to repair Lt Bugalu’s bathroom door.”
“Oh. Done already? Good.”
“Uh, not exactly. The fact is, I can’t find the damage you described.”
“It’s in plain sight.”
“No, I’m afraid it’s not.”
“Are you sure you’re in the correct place?”
“I assure you, I know my way to Bugalu’s bedroom.” Woops! Well, what I do on my time is my business. There’s not that much difference in our rank.
“Every woman aboard knows their way to his bedroom,” came faintly over the intercom.
She heard a sigh. “I’ll be right there. Time I checked on her work, anyway.” The connection was broken.
Check whose work? Mine? I haven’t done any. And I’m not up for a promotion. Nervous and uncertain, she sat down on the bed. I wonder who Bugalu is with tonight? I hear he’s been seeing a lot of that new girl, MacDowell. That it’s really slowed him down. I know I haven’t had a date with him recently. Wonder if they’re-
Mr Smythe entered, and she jumped to her feet. He glanced inside the service panel, then looked around, as if to assure himself he was in the correct place. “I know I tore those wires out,” he muttered, and pounded on the bathroom door. “Alright, let’s see how much you’ve got done!”
The door opened, and there stood the redhead Stephanie had just been thinking about. “Almost done, Smit. Just polishing tape residue off the showerhead.”
Smythe glanced at the bathroom, which seemed spotless, and grunted. Then he turned to Stephanie. “Not bad, Freyer,” he stated, and walked out.
“But I didn’t do anything,” Stephanie said to the closing door.
The bombshell of a redhead - guess Bugalu isn’t with her tonight after all - stood in the bathroom doorway. “Um... Freyer, is it? I need a favor.”
“You need a favor from me?” Probably wants me to leave Bugalu alone. Not that he’s had time for me lately.
“Yeah, if you don’t mind. I normally clean up my own messes. The bathroom wasn’t any problem; I’ve had to get a lot worse spotless. But that control panel... well, that’s engineering, and outside my field. So I’d appreciate it if you could take a close look at it. I mean, the door opens and closes, so I think it’s okay, but I’d really appreciate you checking it.”
Stephanie stared at the other woman in disbelief. “You fixed the wires in the control panel?” I’ve heard she doesn’t have a brain in her body. No, if that was true, she wouldn’t be on the Fireball.
The redhead smiled sheepishly. “Well, I tried to reason it out. Figured electronics were electronics, and I have some knowledge of that. But I didn’t have a heatgun or anything, so the connections might be weak.”
Well, she’s right about electronics. If she’s flunked her probationary test twice, it’s no wonder if some people think she’s stupid. But those of us in engineering know that Smythe’s tests are murder! Strange, but Wilson seems to like this woman, even if they’re both dating Bugalu. You’d think they’d have nothing to do with each other.
“Let’s take a look.” She pulled out a work light and directed it into the control panel, then carefully examined each wire and connection. “All the wires are connected correctly,” she announced, and reached for the heatgun on her belt. “But you’re right; those connections are weak. Do you want to solidify them?” The redhead’s eyebrows rose in surprise, her eyes sparkled with excitement, and then her face paled with fear. “It’s just like finishing communications connections,” Stephanie stated, and handed over the heatgun.
“Is it? Okay, I’ll try. As long as you make sure I do it right.” It only took her a moment to finish up. The redhead seemed to be a natural with a heatgun.
With a little more practice, she could rival Wilson. With a heatgun, I mean. “Good job, Lieutenant.”
“Call me Mac,” she instructed, handing the tool back. “Everybody does. And thanks. I can still say I clean up my own messes.”
“But this isn’t your quarters. Bugalu should clean his own place.”
Mac gave her a big grin. “He does. But I pulled a practical joke on him, and, uh... things got a little further out of hand than I planned. I’m still not sure how those wires got disconnected.”
“A practical joke?”
“If you want to know about it, ask him. In a couple days, when he has a chance to calm down and see the humor himself.” She stretched and stifled a yawn. “I’m going to have a nap. I really needed a good laugh, and I got it. Maybe now I can actually sleep.”
“Don’t you have duty tonight?”
“Yeah.” She closed the control panel and returned Stephanie’s work light. “Plenty of time for at least one nightmare. Maybe even two. Anyway, thanks, Freyer. I appreciate your help.” She was yawning again as she headed for the door.
Stephanie followed at a slightly slower pace. Nightmare? Well, I guess we all have one, time to time. But I certainly don’t plan it when I do.
Month 3, Day 10
When Smitty opened his bathroom door, the shower was already occupied; black, copper and pale skin intermixed in an intimate threesome.
With a moan, Smitty sat up in his bed and tried to pull the dream out of his head by tugging at his hair. Fortunately, his hair was more stubborn than he was, and the roots held firm, while the pain soon made him give up the effort.
He bent a leg up and leaned forward to lay his head on a damp and clammy arm atop his knee.
“I hate cold showers!” Colleen complained.
And I need one. Again. Angry at his lack of control, Smitty tossed his cover aside and climbed from bed. He hesitated as his hand neared the bathroom door. They aren’t there! It was nothing but a dream!
Stealing himself, he opened the door, sighed in relief to find the bathroom empty. It would be nice if I could get through just 1 day without a sex dream. I don’t even remember what it’s like, to actually sleep through the night. A cold shower always leaves me wide-awake for half the night. It’s a wonder I haven’t fallen asleep on duty yet. Still standing at the doorway, he glanced at the bedroom clock. Still hours before the mail gets delivered. For the first time in years, I’ve finished reading one month’s technical journals before new ones have arrived.
That brought to mind the redhead who was in charge of shunting his mail - including the technical magazines he so eagerly awaited - to his channel. Stiffening his chin, he stepped inside and started the shower, turning the water temperature to its coldest setting.