Month 6 Day 11
Smitty barely caught himself before he fell out of his chair.
"Are you alright?" Takor raised its head to study him.
Smitty was trapped in a pair of green eyes, so much like- Transparent nictitating eyelids slid over the green pupils and back again, chasing that thought out of his mind. He looked away and regained his seat. "Yes, I... lost my balance." He cleared his throat. "Have you given any thought to Nurse Temple's idea that these scriggles might represent some sort of alien blood?"
"They might," Takor returned. "The writing directly above represents the basic chemicals in human blood. I believe I have identified the 'squiggles' for hydrogen and oxygen, but they are configured differently, so if this is blood, it is neither human nor Sciss. Nor..."
Smitty's hearing faded as he fought a huge yawn. When he finally finished it, he opened his eyes wide, trying to stay awake. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that last bit."
"He said it isn't the blood of those Penoc creatures, either," Burke stated from her seat at Navigation. "You're dead on your feet, Smitty, and you aren't even on your feet. Go take a nap."
"I've checked the records," she interrupted. "I know how long you've been working." When he hesitated, she went on. "Takor's people don't sleep as much as humans, so he can continue working on that puzzle. And Abdulla can handle repairs to communications."
He glanced at Abdulla, currently seated at the Engineering console. "She's otherwise occupied," he muttered.
The lieutenant glanced his way. "Neither one of us can actually work on communications until Fabrication sends up new parts."
"Smitty, go take a nap!" Burke repeated.
"Yes, captain," he acquiesced, and carefully started for the lift.
Before he reached it, the door opened, and 3 techs got off. Their coveralls were red, but Smitty couldn't remember their names.
"Mr Smythe," the male greeted him. "Dr Koontz told us to report to the bridge, but we aren't any of us trained for bridge work."
"Good, more newly healthy," Burke stated. "Good night, Smythe." As he stumbled forward again, he heard her ask, "Where are you normally assigned?"
"Laundry," the male answered, while the women's answers were "Hydroponics" and "Fabrication."
Smitty stumbled off the lift with no memory of the lift ride. As the doors closed behind him, he had a wild thought this might not be the right deck, but a glance around said it was. He plodded forward, toward his quarters, which were down this corridor and a jog to his left. A somewhat longer jog, for he had no need to enter his living room. The way he felt, he'd be lucky to manage that 'somewhat longer jog' to go straight to his bedroom. One foot, the other foot. Keep going. Almost there.
He blinked as he stumbled into something, realized it was the foot of his bed. The blanket was a jumble atop it, and that confused him, until he remembered the entire crew was sick, and nobody had been around to make his bed in... weeks? Months? Can't remember. Not important.
He shucked off his boots, lowered his trousers, crawled onto his bed from the foot. When his arms gave out, his head wasn't on the pillow, and his feet hung over the end, but he didn't care. "Four hours," he muttered at his alarm clock. "Lights out."
She's here, standing over my bed, watching me. This dream, again! And me too tired to resist. Why resist? Come here. He reached out, but she backed away hurriedly, bumped into his dresser against the other wall. Strange. She's always been willing before. The seductress, in fact. Her lips curled into a sad smile, she shook her head, blew him a kiss, and was gone. He heard the door close.
Strange variation of that dream. Wonder what it means. Maybe she's finally given up on me, she's moving on. At long last, that door has closed. He breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed into his mattress.
His eyes flew open. I heard the door close. "Lights on," he requested as he sat up. His over-tired eyes smarted in the sudden brightness. His face burned at the thought that she had seen him semi-clothed. Ridiculous. It was completely dark. Then how did I see her? I didn't, it was a dream. Variation on a theme. But I heard her leave.
He climbed out of bed and pulled his pants up from around his calves, stepped over to the opening to his living room.
She wasn't there. His eyes took in the entire room in an instant - computer, desk, liquor cabinet, couch, everything - and she wasn't to be seen. He took a deep breath and let it out as utter fatigue washed through him again. I have something that vaguely resembles a dream I've had before, and I go crazy. Which isn't far to go, considering how close to insanity she's driven me. Space, I need sleep.
He turned back, to repeat his climb into bed. "Lights out." He stopped unfastening his trousers as the brightness was replaced by a deep red glow. His head swiveled to stare at the computer screen, which was no longer dark, but bathed most of his living room in a ruby sheen.
Legs wooden, heart frozen, he managed to sit at the desk and forced his eyes to try to focus on the screen. I left this display with normal parameters. Now it's down near infrared again. She was here! I was too tired to notice. If she's deaf, she wouldn't have heard me, but if she had the lights off - like in Takor's quarters - them coming on when I entered would have alerted her. I'm surprised she didn't just run, as soon as- Oh, Black Space, she really was in my bedroom, looking at me!
He jerked his thought away from that idea, reached out to adjust the screen. Why would she come back here? Because this is the last place anyone would look for her, having found her here once? Or was she doing something here she can't do anyplace else? He flipped through the open files, sent copies to Takor on the bridge. She could read technical manuals on nearly any screen, but these theoretical magazines are only available here, in my cabin.
She can't pass a simple communications probation test, there's no way she could make sense out of these magazines!