Call Me Mr. Positive
by Tom Barlow
It was my watch. Every time I wake from deep sleep, I have a moment of panic,
convinced I've slept through some event that has changed the course of human
history. My father never forgave himself for falling asleep in his recliner and
missing the President's announcement of our first contact with an alien race.
Fortunately, though, most human change is as agonizingly gradual as interstellar
This was my ninth awake period of the voyage, and we'd built up so much
velocity that little news from Earth could catch up to us. Although I'd been in
deep sleep for six months, there was only a couple of week's worth of news in the
queue. No personal messages: that's why I was in the service to begin with. No
I've lived long enough to differentiate "news" from the reiterations of the same old
human comedy. People continue to create arbitrary groups so they can fight with
people in other arbitrary groups. Those who have a lot continue to try to convince
those that have nothing that universal laws are to blame. Meanwhile, people keep
butting their heads against those universal laws, and damned if they aren't
beginning to bend. Once I deleted items like those from the message queue, there
was nothing left.
I selected some music and soon had the cabin rocking. Control preferred it quiet,
but I figured by the time I actually heard something mechanical going wrong in
the Unit, I'd probably be dead anyway. That's what it's like in space; you're
either bored to tears or being sucked into a vacuum. There's not much in-between.
These kind of things were going through my mind, which is my piss-poor excuse
for not checking on the others right away. I waited for my head to clear and my
heart rate to stabilize. I showered. I had a cup of tea and a biscuit. I turned the
volume up some more. Control could kiss my ass.
Then I looked at the service log.