09 September 2011

"Phobos Cruise Crazy"

PREVIOUSLY: "To Cruise Or Not To Cruise"

By Curtis C. Chen

"You handled that well," Barrett said as Liz pulled off her nitrile gloves.

"Good thing we're out of zero-gravity," Liz said. "There'd be blood everywhere—seriously, can you put the camera away for one second?"

Barrett snapped another picture. "You'll want to remember this later."

"I doubt that."

Liz stuffed her gloves into the biohazard bag being held by a uniformed crewman. She had to admit, there was no shortage of service personnel on board the Dejah Thoris. She could hardly turn around without someone offering to get her a drink or find her an activity.

Princess of Mars Cruises wanted none of its passengers to be bored. They did their best to reduce interplanetary travel time: the spacecraft accelerated for the first half of each voyage, then spun around and decelerated for the rest. That also meant a full day of zero-gravity at midway, which was the highlight of the trip for many people. Unfortunately, some less sober passengers forgot when they were back in gravity and continued moving as if they were still weightless.

This particular man, whose head wound Liz had just sewn up, had attempted to fly down a circular staircase. He was very definitely drunk.

"You're too young to be a doctor," the man slurred, failing to grope Liz with one hand.

She moved out of his reach. "I'm an ICU nurse."

"That's hot. Wanna have dinner with me?"

Barrett leaned forward. "No, she doesn't."

Liz heard a commotion. Another crewman, this one with stripes on his uniform, made his way through the crowd holding a red-and-white plastic case. He stopped next to Liz.

"I'm Doctor Sawhney," he said. "Are you the nurse?"

Liz nodded. "Pulse and respiration normal. Probable concussion, but the bleeding's stopped."

Doctor Sawhney knelt down to examine the drunkard's skull. "Excellent work, Miss—?"


"Do you always carry a sewing kit?"

"No." Liz nodded at Barrett. "My boyfriend lost a button on his shirt, and we needed to fix it for the formal dinner tonight. We were on our way back to our room when we saw this idiot fall down the stairs."

"Get him to Sickbay. I'll be there in a minute," Sawhney said to the crewmen who were helping the drunkard to his feet. "Thank you, Miss Chartier. I'm sorry I was delayed, but we had a situation in the excursion area."

"What kind of situation?" Barrett asked.

"I'll tell you all about it," Sawhney said, "tonight during dinner at the Captain's Table."

Liz knew exactly how much one of those seats cost. "Oh, we couldn't possibly—"

"It's complimentary," Sawhney said. "For both of you. Who knows what kind of diseases Mr. Midlife Crisis back there is carrying, and how many people he might have infected if you hadn't been here. Please, I insist."

"We'll be there," Barrett said. "Thank you!"

Sawhney walked back to the elevators. Liz glared at Barrett. He shrugged.

"It's the Captain's Table! We might never have the opportunity to do this again."

Liz shook her head. "I sure hope not."

CONTINUED IN "Dinner Conversation"...


Image: Crossing the November Sky by Luis Argerich, November, 2008