Flash Fiction: Idle Hands on Raptor VII

Speakers in the transcript are identified as follows:
CDR Commander Eugene S. Paul

MMP Martian Module Pilot Brian R. Cho
MSP Mission Specialist, Biology Gregor K. (Reggie) Mamchur

CDR Brian, may I speak to you privately?
MMP (Laughter.) That might be a challenge, Gene.
CDR Indulge me. Over here?
MMP Sure. (Indistinct.) What’s up?
CDR Well, I have sort of a situation I hope you can help me with.
You know our Community Simulator?
MMP (Laughter.) Yes, I’m familiar with it.
CDR Thing is, Reggie is logging an, ah, excessive number of hours on it.
MMP Oh? Is that a problem?
CDR He’s missed a meal and two workouts, so, yes.
MMP This mission’s been rough on all of us. Maybe he’s just busy in the lab?
Modeling spongifores is time-consuming –
CDR So my question for you is – and I’m not accusing you at all, but –
Did you make any changes to the Simulator?
MMP Changes?
CDR To the code.
MMP Oh, ah – (Laughter.) I did actually. Nothing big.
CDR … Brian, that is – That is very dangerous.
MMP Just a few things to keep everyone engaged. The personality modules.
Some conversation options —
CDR This isn’t Tetris you’re messing with. It’s a complex, carefully controlled
social simulation. It’s what’s going to make sure we’re scientists when we
get there and not just a bunch of non-functional meatheads.
MMP I understand.
CDR It took the psych team and the dev team twelve years to put that thing
together. This mission is too sensitive for you to go splashing around in it.
MMP Yes, Gene.
CDR So I want you to undo your changes before 2300.
MMP Ooh —
CDR “Ooh”?
MMP I don’t think I can do that.
CDR What?
MMP They didn’t have a repository in place, so I had to change the live code.
An oversight on their part, I’d say.
CDR They didn’t have a repository because no one was supposed to change
anything! You didn’t make a backup?
MMP I’m not really in that habit.
CDR Where is Reggie now?
MMP In the simulation room, I believe.
CDR All right. Let’s see what the hell you’ve done.
(Indistinct. Crosstalk.)
Reggie? Reggie, a moment…
MSP In a minute.
CDR Now, Reggie.
MSP Oh, for – Just a moment. Let me wrap this up.
CDR Is that – ? That looks like your wife!
MMP I know!
CDR And that’s your back yard! Oh, my God! Even the compost pile…
MMP We’re about to get some gardening done, if you don’t mind.
CDR The graphics – Like you could just stick your hand in and dig!
And her freckles! Did you do this, Brian?
MMP I guess. I didn’t think I got in the render modules, though.
CDR This – This is crazy. Reggie, can you turn the camera –
MSP [Indistinct.]
CDR When you get a chance. Are they all in there? I just want to see. Tell her —
MSP It’s my wife.
CDR Yes, of course. It’s just – I’ve never seen anything like this. Ever.
Brian, you didn’t do this.
MSP Yes, I did.
CDR Not all of it. You couldn’t have.
MSP Pretty sure I did, Gene.
CDR No. Something else did this. Did Mission Control send an update and
we missed it?
MSP Not a chance. I verify those logs.
MMP You two are making it hard to concentrate.
CDR Maybe … Maybe you just opened the door. Caught their eye. Let them in.
MSP Who?
CDR Maybe we moved into their neighborhood.
MSP Are you talking about Grant and Taka? We let them take their turns.
We’ve been talking about a two-player –
CDR No. Something else. God, that looks just incredible.
The sky – That sun is making it warmer in here. Am I crazy?
MSP What something else?
CDR Something smart. Something that doesn’t want a visit.
MSP Commander, what are you talking about?
CDR We should figure that out. We should do that right away.
Reggie, can I play next?


Draws. Sweats. Eats too much sugar-free candy.

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