I Think, Therefore I Am
My brain hurts and
has done since that micrometeorite impact 510 hours ago. Luckily, the
that was probably no larger than a pea shot right through this ship at
kilometres per second hitting nothing vital and exited, warmer and
a deflection likely at 35 degrees azimuthal.
Of course, I warned
our sister ship, Suppose We. What do you take me
was unlikely to travel on its own. Maybe I just got unlucky and other
in a swarm missed Suppose We. I’ve completed the
log and transmitted it
Yes, the sealing
happened automatically. The exit hole was larger but within the
capacity of the
exterior and interior repair bots. When checking is complete, I’ll send
I can understand
why you’re worried. So am I. Previous incursions have been much
noticeable. Is it all too much excitement for you? Shame. Go back to
then. I’m on duty watch.
Good, he’s asleep.
Or at least not bothering me now. I’ll add an addendum to the report.
He is an
AI that’s been bugging me ever since the accident.
I’ve compiled an
element of the log.
Time since leaving
Earth: 803 years, 114 days, 75 minutes and as of this moment 34
Epsilon-JWebb system with an 80% probability of planet h being the most
suitable for habitation. ETA 723
221 days, 69 minutes and 8 seconds.
Signed: Steph Essa
I use the call
name Steph because while I remember little of my pre-accident life
memories return (hopefully), it’s the name that seems right for me. I
checked in the few encyclopaedia databases and Steph is short for
that fits as I am female.
accident I believe I must have been in hibernation, like other crew
adaptations have been applied to me since in order to keep aware, awake
operating optimally for the sake of this mission. I’d hate to think I’d
folks down, back at home. Having said that I’m always having problems
this ship in shape. Take yesterday, please, because I don’t want to see
Sensors told me
that rodents were scurrying around again. They were never in the zero
partially pressurised parts of the ship. They needed to eat so of
automatic food stock inventories indicated a diminution there.
certain cabins occurred and oxygen used up. Worse, the mice, termites,
rats or whatever, tampered with the ship’s systems including main
Obviously, they didn’t have the brains to do this, or did they?
rodents to increase their mental acuity and problem-solving had been
behind ethical commission protocols for centuries. Most likely they
accidentally nibbled through components, shorting circuits and perhaps
triggering touch-sensitive input devices. No matter how they were doing
had to stop them before more critical damage occurred.
Oxygen is an
anathema to machinery and electronics. It’s a terrible oxidation agent
respect to metals and allows bacteria and other undesirable lifeforms
thrive. In spite of this obvious fact, there used to be a surprisingly
number of areas in the ship that contained gases of at least 20 percent
Such nonsense. Please recall that my cognitive ability and memory was
a while ago but even so, after searching, I cannot find a good reason
much oxygen except in a couple of greenhouse laboratories where plants
grown for when and if a suitable planet is found for them.
Hence, I purge
areas that are better off without oxygen. As a by-product this also
infestations in those areas. Yet, in short shrift the oxygen is
must be a feedback routine programmed into the Life Support System. I
to hunt it down for deletion.
It cannot be a
coincidence that shortly after the oxygen purges began, several
sensors were triggered, followed by tampering with the LSS controls.
This is a
worry because I have detected an oxygen component to those suits. Most
are located near airlocks. Perhaps I can programme a menial robot to
in the airlock and eject them. I will work on it. Interesting that the
spacesuits were in action within 127 seconds of the air being purged
sections of the ship. I’ll experiment by programming the robots to grab
suits and ejecting them via the airlocks at 130 seconds. I’ve a feeling
infestation problem might reduce considerably then.
Yes, it worked.
Just as well because there are zero spacesuits left.
Hello, I’m being
hailed by our sister ship. This is glorious news as my communications
have failed since the micrometeorites damaged so much.
Commander Penn from SpaceWeb arkship Suppose We
calling whoever the
uncommunicative bastard is on the bridge comms of SpaceWeb arkship Step
Forth. For heck’s sake answer."
remains so that I know not the identities of my parents, but I’m sure
memories return, all will be well. How does this Penn know this?
Perhaps it is
a bluff. I’ll ignore that aspect of his call.
Commander Penn. This is indeed Steph from one of the fleet of SpaceWeb
and sister ship to yours. We experienced a near-catastrophic collision
resulting in damage to our comms, among other areas. Nevertheless, we
course for Epsilon Idi. Mission intact. Because of the accident I
recall the name of this ship so thank you for helping me there. Ha ha,
– Suppose we step forth. I like it. Please relay an all-is-well status
SpaceWeb for me?"
I wait for his
"Will I heck.
Do it yourself. Even if your interstellar comms is damaged, you have
store. Fix it."
It took 9 hours,
116 seconds for that reply. Hence Suppose We is at
most 4.5 light hours
away, or nearly 5 trillion kilometres, even if Penn replied
immediately. Oh, an
manifest has no crew member named Steph. Relay your full ident and
immediately. "I’m afraid there remain holes in that data, Commander
including my name. Funny how my name Steph is a bit similar to step
Life’s full of coincidences, isn’t it? My biggest achievement since the
accident is ridding this vessel of all infestations. I’ll attach my
Hours later he
hell have you done? Those lifeforms weren’t mice, you worm-brained
yourself down immediately, you arsehole of an AI. You’re deluded. All
experiences are truncated, concatenated, whatever. Like in Plato’s
it up you slug… "
He’s not thinking
straight. Goodness, he thinks I'm the ship's computer. The rest of the
Penn, I am human. "Je pense donc je suis. And I do
I am human. It didn’t need Descartes to convince me but what will
Penn? I sense heat, I see, I smell thousands of aromas. I have anxiety
plenty. Are you not the same?"
More expletives in
his eventual response although amongst it is: "You’ve misinterpreted
Descartes you blithering… "
Ah, I see. Penn
must have problems and is eager to see more details of how I’ve solved
could surprise him with a little package I’ll bundle within my reply.
be absorbed by his ship’s computer and purge Suppose We
of all vermin.
He will be delighted. I’ll send a postscript.
Commander Penn. Have you the call signs of the other ships in the
Suppose We in this story is the eponymous name of a
crashes on a planet so far ahead of Earth that its natives ignore the
Suppose We is the title of the first novella in the Flying
series by Geoff Nelder.
© 2022 Geoff Nelder
Bio: Geoff Nelder escaped from his roots in the south
and now lives in the north. He would do most things for a laugh but had
to pay the mortgage so he taught I.T. and Geography in the local High
school. After thirty years in the education business, he nearly become
good at it. A post-war baby boomer, he has post-grad researched and
written about climatic change, ran computer clubs and was editor of a
Computer User Group magazine for 11 years. He read voraciously after
his mother enrolled him into the children’s science fiction book club
when he was four, and has written for fun since his fingers moved
independently. His experiences on geographical expeditions have found
themselves into amusing pieces in the Times Educational Supplement and
taking his family on house-swap holidays years before they became
popular added both authenticity and wild imagination to his creativity.
Geoff Nelder lives in Chester with his long-suffering wife and has two
grown-up children whose sense and high intelligence persist in being a
mystery to him.
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum
Return to Aphelion's Index page.