April 19th, 2344
I’ve been spending a lot of time with Mike and Sarah lately, mostly because with Robert en absentia, there’s really no one else to hang out with. There’s always Theresa of course, but she hasn’t seemed too excited about hanging out with me lately.
Mike and Sarah have been pretty much inseparable, so seeing one without the other is pretty rare these days. Which is just as well, since Mike is so much more tolerable with Sarah around. Not to mention I find watching them interact with each other hilarious. As with most things, Mike thinks he’s in charge. I find it ever so amusing when Sarah casually denies his authority. I think they find it amusing too, though they’d probably never admit it.
It’s funny how relationships can change overnight. If you had asked me last month if Robert and I were friends, I would have answered unequivocally yes, but ask me today, and I would have to honestly answer I don’t know. Certainly I thought I was his friend, but maybe the feeling wasn’t mutual? I don’t know. On the same token, if you had asked me last month if Mike and I were friends, I would have said no, we’re just colleagues. Today though, I would have to give you a begrudging sure, I guess so.
Not that it’s been easy being friends with Mike, or that it came naturally to us. I think Sarah has a lot to do with Mike trying to be more sociable. Certainly he is more sociable when Sarah’s around, not to mention just plain happier.
We were sitting in Observation this morning, the three of us drinking jasmine tea (dehydrated, of course; we’re not growing jasmine on board) and staring up out the window. This close to lightspeed (the closest anyone’s ever been, by the way), the stars have all gathered towards the front of ship, and have lengthened to the point that they almost stretch from directly in front of us to the mid-point of the ship. Like an umbrella with a million illuminated ribs shielding us from whatever lies in front of us. It’s completely motionless, but fascinating to view nonetheless. Mike and I were both sitting on cargo containers, with Sarah sitting on the ground leaning against Mike’s legs.
“I’m really sick of Robert’s attitude lately,” Mike said, “I’m thinking we should toss him in the brig.”
“We don’t have a brig to throw him in,” I said, a little bored.
“Yeah, well we don’t have an Observation either, and yet… Behold,” He said, gesturing around the room grandly.
Examining a cuticle, Sarah said over her shoulder “You couldn’t put him in the brig, even if we had one. Neither of you two knows how to maintain this ship, and we’ve got 4 years to go before we get anywhere.”
I said “I could probably do it, if one of you held the manual for me.”
“Ha!” Mike replied with a smile, “Not on my ship you won’t. Stick with things that bleed, doctor-boy.” Mike likes calling people something-boy, or something-girl, which I always found a little annoying because he looks the youngest of all of us.
“Well, you two bleeders don’t seem to particularly want my help,” I said, referring to him and Robert, “And in any case, I really wouldn’t want to anyway. I’d probably go crazier than Robert.”
“Hey, now,” Sarah said, “I don’t think Robert’s crazy.”
“Oh yeah?” I said, “Tell me, Doctor Sarah, what do you think Robert is?”
“I think he’s depressed,” Sarah replied.
“Well, no shit—,“ I began.
“I think he’s deeply disturbed by something,” She continued. “I think he feels lost and alone and you two are obviously not what he needs.”
“Oh, and what is it you think he needs?” I asked.
“And how are you suddenly an expert on Robert?” Mike asked with mock suspicion in his voice.
Sarah glanced back at Mike through her golden hair, then at me and said, “If I knew what he needed, I’d tell you.” A pause. “Actually, now that I think about it, I wouldn’t. You two would just screw it up in typically male fashion.”
At that, Mike reached down and poked her in the ribs, causing her to squeal. I tried to ignore their public display of affection.
Sarah, her face now red, said “Well, in any case, I know what I need,” reached into her shirt pocket and pulled out a twisted piece of paper.
I said “What the fuck is that?” at the same time Mike said “Are you serious?”
Sarah looked at me and said “C’mon, Aric, you were a big canhead when you were younger, surely you know what this is?”
“Well, I sure know what it looks like, but I’m having a hard time believing it,” I said.
“Well, believe it baby,” She replied.
“How in the hell did you get that on board?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“I didn’t. You grew it for me,” She said with a sweet, innocent smile.
“Um, what?” I said.
“Yeah, you know those turnips I asked you to grow for Mike?” she asked.
“Unfortunately,” I said, making a sour face.
“The greens can be smoked,” she said.
“How’s that possible? We eat those greens all the time. I think we would have felt something,” I said, already knowing that somehow it was possible, and she had done it.
“The turnip grows a special version of THC that’s encapsulated in certain cells in the leaves. It remains inert unless exposed to burning temperatures. If you eat it, it passes right through you. Burn it, and the THC is released. Cool, huh?” she said.
“But why would anyone even invent that? What use would that serve?” I asked.
“So spacers could smuggle it on board their crafts, of course. Now, enough smack, let’s smoke.” She said, lifting the cigarette.
“This ought to be good,” I said, “How do you intend on lighting it? There’s no flame allowed on board.”
Mike, who had been watching this back-and-forth with obvious amusement, said “Oh, watch, you’re going to love this.”
Sarah took the turnip-green cigarette, pinched one end between her thumb and forefinger and started staring at it. Transfixed, I watched as the tips of her thumb and forefinger became very red, as if filling with blood. They began to swell slightly and turn dark, and I could see Sarah’s brow furrowing. Then an amazing thing happened: Smoke started emanating from the paper in between her fingertips. She quickly grabbed the other end with her other hand and put it to her lips, inhaling sharply. The end of the cigarette glowed correspondingly. She then held it out to me.
Stunned, I took it from her, put it between my lips, inhaled quickly, and passed it to Mike. Then, my doctor’s curiosity taking over, I grabbed the hand she had used to light it and looked at her fingers. They were completely blackened and charred, but even as I watched, I could see color and life returning to them.
“OK—whew, that’s nice—would one of you like to tell me what just happened?” I said.
“For a guy who grew his own AI, sometimes you seem to know remarkably little about androids,” Mike said.
“Hey! I’m all woman, you know,” Sarah said, running her hand across her belly as if to accentuate her breasts.
“OK, fine,” Mike said, rolling his eyes, “Gynoids”
“Well, I’ve lived with humans my whole life, but I don’t pretend to know very much about them,” I said.
“So says the doctor!” Sarah said, laughing. Mike, smiling, held up his forefinger at her as if scoring her a point.
“OK, touché,” I said, “But you still have to tell me what you just did.”
“Simple. I raised the body temperature in my fingertips to 233°, enough that paper will burn,” She said.
“Oh. Simple,” I said, even though I thought it was anything but. “Doesn’t it hurt?”
“Yes, quite a bit, actually,” she said, “but I don’t do it very often.”
The THC was beginning to hit me full-force, and even as I resolved to ask Theresa what other nifty tricks she could do, I felt the thought sliding away into oblivion.
“Maybe this is what Robert needs,” Mike said dreamily, his accent becoming thicker as his tongue became lazier.
“Whatever it is he needs, I think the three of us are the ones who’ll have to do something about it,” I said, “He’s not going to come out of his shell on his own.”
“He needs an intervention!” Sarah exclaimed, drawing another drag from the cigarette and chuckling at her irony.
“Zavtra,” Mike said, closing his eyes, “Tomorrow.”
Yes, tomorrow, I thought. Tomorrow, I’m going to ask Theresa what else Sarah might be doing around here. And how the hell THC works on androids in the first place. And deal with Robert too, I guess. Right now, I have to concentrate on staying awake (you’ve only been up for an hour!).
I’m guessing the rest of my day will be nice and smooth though.