Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nano-Fic: Reputation Repair Technician, 3rd Class

     Author's Note: This story takes place shortly after the event Chris talks about in the story "Wind Chimes", or about seven years prior to the Great Conjunction.

    “There you are!  Hand me that wrench, will you?”
    Christopher Gardner was at a loss.  He had just now, after being disoriented more than once due to the lack gravity, found the hub
machinery room that imparted spin onto the decommissioned TransChronian he had called home for the last four months.  He had not announced his presence, nor informed anyone he was coming.
    “Uh, I think you may have me confused with someone else.”
    “Likely.”  The speaker, an aging woman, still holding a gnarled hand out to the teenage boy, smiled crookedly. “But you’ll do.  The torquer is the one with the green stripes.”
    There were a myriad of tools - many of them optimized for freefall and therefore of unusual design to Chris’ Terran sensibilities.  He found what appeared to be a large power drill with a green stripe Velcroed to the bulkhead.  Stretching out from a handhold on the wall, he could just reach out far enough to hand off the tool.
“That wasn’t so hard, wasn’t it?”  Chris was rewarded with another smile.  He noticed the old woman had a tattoo of some sort on her chin.  It looked like a circuit diagram in vivid blue.
“Uh, sorry to bother you,” Chris adjusted his awkward orientation somewhat, “I just wanted to know how long until the gravity was back on.”
“That depends.”  
“On-” Chris was interrupted by the grating whine of the torquer. “On what?”
“On how much help you’re gonna be, considering you look like you’re gonna jettison your lunch any second.”
Unfortunately, the woman’s observation was fairly accurate.  Chris got motion sick on Earth, in smartcars.  Free fall around Saturn’s moon Titan was a whole other level of distressing.
“That’s why I was asking.  I’ve barely been able to eat in the last three days!”
    “The sooner we get the bearings replaced and re-insulate, the sooner you can console you poor tummy and watch your pee corkscrew again.”  The old lady laughed at her joke; Chris did not  The Coriolis effect did not amuse him.
    “Uh, you keep saying that…”
    “Saying what?”
    The old woman stopped her work and really looked at Chris for the first time.  She saw a lanky, dark-haired boy, whose shoes had hard soles and face lacked...something.
    “Just who are you exactly, young man?”
    “Chris Gardner, from B-26”
    “Just a moment,” the woman’s face showed disgust. “aren’t you that ballast that got caught with the earbuds?”
    Chris’s expression matched the old lady’s. “Does everyone know about that?”
    But the woman wasn’t listening.  She curled into a fetal ball and sighed melodramatically.  “Thirty families without gravity tonight, and who should show up to help a poor old woman? The future Darwin Award winner...”

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