Author : Robert Sooter

The captain watched from around the corner as his small crew nudged the sleeping form with their brooms, utility poles, and various other implements as gently as they could. As captain he certainly couldn’t openly condone such behavior, especially towards a new crew member, but that didn’t make it any less funny. The trip was long and there were stretches with not much to do. Picking on the noobs before they really got their legs under them was—well, it was fun.

Assuring himself that he hadn’t been noticed, the captain quietly drifted away from the scene, chuckling to himself.

Satisfied with their work, the crew quietly whispered across the room at each other debating how to wake their sleeping victim. The debate settled down, and the first mate quietly counted down, “3, 2, 1.”

“Alien attack!!!” the crew screamed all together and the sleeping figure floating in the center of the room came instantly awake, flailing and twisting as his muscle memory tried to use the gravitational field he wasn’t in to spring from his bed.

After a few seconds of this awkward zero-gee ballet the young midshipmen calmed down a bit, and looked around. His flapping had imparted a slight momentum and he spun slowly in place. A quick look around reveled his full predicament, zero-gee, nothing within reach, and, thanks to the careful efforts of his shipmates, zero relative velocity. He was stuck.

“Aw, come on guys! This isn’t funny. How the hell am I supposed to get out of here?”

“Oh, come now, midshipman. It’s not that hard to figure out,” the first mate intoned solemnly. “We’ll be back in a few hours to check on your progress.”

Laughing and kidding one another, the crew drifted off to their various neglected duties leaving the poor man drifting alone. Sullenly, he floated there, his small spin leaving him with a constantly changing view of the same scenery. It reminded him of a road trip he’d taken with his family, driving through the endlessly repeating fields of Nebraska. A few moments thought had lead him to the conclusion that he would be able to claw his way to a wall by “swimming” through the air for a few hours. And he knew that’s what they thought he would do so they could come back every once in a while and laugh at his nearly futile flailing.

This would not do. So he floated and he thought, noting the occasional disappointed crew mate sneaking a peek. Eventually, he started to smile to himself. He floated, still and calm, exhaling in one direction, turning his head and inhaling in the other, imparting a tiny change to his relative velocity with each breath.


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