Iterative Science Fiction


Posted in main story by Mark on January 7, 2010

“It has been one standard A.U. year since we started traveling together, Ishmael.”
“Oh really, that long?” he begins to reply. Ishmael is sitting in a repli-wood chair inside an eating establishment on a mining colony outside the Mars-Jupiter asteroid belt. We are stopping to resupply. He has lost five percent of his body mass due to rationing food stores over the past weeks. His brown hair is approximately six centimeters longer than historical average. He is consuming his food faster than his historical average.
The rest of his reply continues. “I didn’t notice, what with all the partying and fun times making that time just fly by.”
He is momentarily distracted from talking and eating by the waitress, Rachelle, who brings another cup of coffee for Ishmael.
“Thanks, beautiful.”
Rachelle exhibits the flushing cheeks, smile, and body language I associate with a female’s positive response to Ishmael’s attention. Hearts do not actually flutter when their owner is flattered. Rachelle’s heart keeps steady. That expression is an invention of poetic license. Saying chemical receptors in a person’s brain changed polarity is not considered romantic by the majority of humans.
She responds.
“Oh. Well, thanks. So, what’s a spacer like you doing on the station? Ore hauler?”
Ishmael’s pulse quickens a small amount.
“Just getting repairs done. The ship is independent, not a trucker type. We’re on a…” The pause is artificial, perhaps to create dramatic tension. “Adventure.”
Rachelle’s response is ideal according to several books written by humans, for other humans, on how to approach and engage the opposite sex in conversation and mating rituals. Reading the textbooks did not help me gain an understanding. Nor did the holos.
“Adventure? Looting ghost ships and searching for lost colonies, and the like?”
“Exactly. And we stop some places just to have fun, or resupply, or both.” I believe the wink is not supposed to be subtle.

“I was just discussing with my friend here how much we like to throw parties and have a good time on the ship. Don’t we, Kurt?”
I am socially aware enough to understand this rhetorical question is leading and expressed with the hope that anything I say next will increase Ishmael’s chances of having sexual intercourse. This particular instance is slightly confusing because Rachelle’s body mass index is noticeably larger than the typical recipient of Ishmael’s flattery. Her hair is reddish colored and extends past her shoulders. Ishmael expressed once, while inebriated, that, “they just don’t make red heads like they used to,” alluding to their perceived worth to him and not the actual genetic process. That metaphor took some research to understand due to Ishmael’s inability to explain it at the time of him using it.
These facts pertain to this current moment because Ishmael is fond of red headed women and will, most likely, attempt to bring Rochelle back to the ship. Then, he will ask me to vacate the premises for several hours while he attempts to have sexual intercourse with her. He has also expressed during other periods of alcoholic indulgence that, “being a real captain of a ship in a backwards system like this, where a body is lucky to ever see a foreign moon or sunset, is just as good as being rich.”
Being told to leave the ship for a period of time and forced to wander the halls of a station that does not contain a single sentient machine is frustrating. After estimating outcomes and possibility matrices, I make a conclusion. While Ishmael is lonely due to our recent isolation in space, more frustrated than normal with me due to continued exposure, and has a strongly perceived need to have interaction with his own species, or sexual intercourse, I know that making a detrimental comment will not anger him enough to request me to leave our ship. In addition, I own 40 percent of the ship and believe I have some say over the affairs of the ship. Ishmael is free to conduct these types of affairs elsewhere.
“You mean our ship, Ishmael.”
Rachelle’s eyes quickly look from him, to me, and return to Ishmael.
“You mean, it owns part of your ship?”
“It” is supposed to mean me. Ishmael does not look pleased with Rachelle’s response.
“He travels with me. Navigator. I’m the captain. I own most of the ship.”
Ishmael states this in a rushed manner. I decide to act socially inept. Ishmael once told me I had a great poker face, which was a jest and not a compliment at the time. It aids me more than he is aware.
“40 percent is legally owned by me. His 60 percent makes him captain, according to our charter.”
“Oh.” Rachelle replies after two seconds of silence. “The doors will automatically debit you on your way out.”
She places the coffee pot on the table. As she walks away, she wrings her hands in her apron repeatedly.
I turn to see Ishmael, who has white knuckles as he grips his eating utensil.
This is the closest I experience to the emotion of amused. I planned something. It worked as I intended. It benefits me. It is not serious. Ishmael, in time, will laugh or enjoy recalling the anecdote, despite his current frustration. Satisfaction would be if I had done it for myself.
I keep my voice evenly modulated.
“Was it something I said?”

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