Author : Rick Tobin

Log Entry: Friday, August 19, 2033

I doubt anyone aboard will miss me, but how to go? No cords or a decent rope for hanging. Not a belt on the whole ship. Velcro won’t cut it with the smooth walls on the Jones. If I had a decent cook’s apron I could use the ties, but no, I have to wear my single-issue jumpsuit. If nothing else, having to wash the thirty crew members’ undies while I have to stand nude would be reason enough for suicide.

It’s not the adventure the recruiter described: cleaning walls, clothing, cutting hair, and preparing meals. I can’t fly this heap, navigate, perform science experiments or make repairs. My spec sheet says duties as assigned, basic labor. I might as well be a toilet shadow…another thing I have to keep clean. Four went to Mars on the first 2029 exploration. I can’t figure why these thirty need special consideration. Why depend on me to make their travel pleasant? True, I can make a gourmet meal out of rat’s guts and straw, but for all that why treat me like a stowaway? And when we get to Bush Argo 1 I’m assigned to tend the hydroponic garden because of my green thumb. We’re only a week from landing. I can’t face that.

Why didn’t I use an air lock? They put rotating codes on the locking keypads. Only the CO and Exec have numbers. I just want out. They use me for amusement; first just short-sheeting the bed, or hiding my pillow; then, peeing in my boots or hiding shoe polish in my toothpaste. Lately the mad crapper leaves piles around the rig. I have to clean it and listen to laughter as I walk to recycling. If that wasn’t bad enough, someone is going through my stuff. I’m still missing Granny’s wedding ring. Why take that?

I’m not brave. I don’t get paid for that. I only left to get out of debt. They clear all that when you sign for a one-way. I simply can’t get up the nerve to slice myself with my butcher knives or try to find a loose wire to put in my mouth. So, I’m going to make up some special chocolates, just for me, with some of the sleep meds I slipped out of the dispensary cabinet. I’ll just go to sleep and they can take care of my mess for a change. I’ll bake the fudge bars tomorrow and cover them with a killer dose of frosting. So when you read this, know that I had a sugar high before I left this crate, so you creeps couldn’t make me your pendejo gardener on Mars.

Mom, I’m sorry. I know you expected more. I love you. See you someday.

“That’s the end of the log?” Inspector Connolly asked his associate, Spenser Willis, as he finished reading.
“That’s it, Chief.”
“The crew must have distracted Hernandez long enough to break into his room, take the chocolates and consume all of them. That seems clear. Agree?”
“Perfectly, except for the missing body.”
“Sure, we got all the crew after the John Paul Jones landed, except him. Any clues?”
“No, and there’s no suits missing. No sign of Hernandez. That’s a big one driving Space Central nuts. It’s causing a Press circus. It could set back our program a decade. We’re going to be hurting if they don’t send more ships.”
“We’ve got plenty of useless pilots and navigators, but no one to keep our gardens going or cook.”

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