Saturday, October 02, 2010

XGC-213, Day 194

So. Here I am. All alone. Again.

The days on Station XGC-213 are mind-numbingly long. I used to worry that I'd get sent out to the front lines and might have to see battle. That I might get hurt or die. Now, I'd relish the chance for something to happen. Anything.

Apparently, my psych profile rated me positively for this posting. That I could handle the stress of isolation. I'm not sure how much trust I put into a 30 question survey to gauge my abilities and psychological profile. But the higher ups are convinced of its effectiveness. They were even able to use the test itself to test itself. It got a perfect score.

So, my attention to detail and my lack of social graces mean they were more than happy to stick me out here alone. They were sure I could handle it. But if I couldn't, it was no big deal to them. They sent thousands to their deaths every month. What's a little psychological torture on top of all that? Now, I think I'd rather have been put out in front of an enemy space craft than deal with the quiet desolation of this old station.

That's the worst thing probably. The quiet. Space is a vacuum they say and so there's no noise to be heard. And for all this station's age, it only very infrequently makes so much as a pop or click or hiss. So I play my music as loud as I want almost constantly because there's no one to annoy with my bad taste. But still I know behind that is a maddening quiet. It's almost as if I can still hear the quiet when the music is blaring to convince me I can still feel something like emotion.

The job isn't bad though, it's almost a wonder that it's not fully automated. There are only a few things that can't be done by a machine (at least not cheaply) so it's worth it to Central Command to pay for a "soldier" to man the outpost. At some point in mankind's history there was a huge fear of robots and machines taking jobs from people. Now it's almost the reverse. The economics of it all mean that no one really has to do anything. No farmers, no janitors, and no menial labor for anyone. This created a new class of the unneeded poor. It's almost cheaper to throw people at a problem now than machines. In a few rare occasions we can still be more useful than a bot.

But when I say the job isn't bad, I mean that it isn't hard. It doesn't tax me in the slighest. Mostly I just go over hourly and daily reports to make sure everything is in proper order (it always is) and occasionally I have to push a big red clich├ęd button to release pressure from the thermal vents. I swear they left that under manual control just to give me something else to do. It's more of a mockery than anything: thinking about the designer who made that decision, thinking of me here with no real purpose.

The worst thing is that even if I don't push the button for long enough for pressure to reach dangerous levels, the fail-safe kicks in and opens the vents anyway. So that's the limit of my usefulness here. It's not uncommon for most humans to feel this way these days. Most modern humans live in utter poverty in makeshift huts or the luckier ones are left jacked into some virtual reality that's easier to deal with than this one. Oh! and sometimes I find a loose bolt to tighten around here. So I do that too. And I have to send in daily reports about the station's welfare, although why that couldn't be sent from the logs and monitored remotely I have no clue.

But I get plenty of time for reading and watching old archived video. By myself. I remember being stationed with this guy on Talos 4 once. Couldn't stand him. He was possibly the worst human being in the history of human beings. I'm certain whoever is the worst human being so far has to be alive now so it might as well be him. He once snuck port sealant into my aftershave. He thought it was a real gas since I was the only one on the bunks still using the archaic aftershave and razor. Unfortunately for me it was the non-toxic sealant meant for inner ports not exposed to space or harsh environments. But the point of all that is that, as much as I hated him, I'd do anything to have him stationed here with me. Or just him here by himself. That would be even better.

So shore leave is over and I'm back here again. It was nice to see real live actual human beings again. As much as they can annoy me it's infinitely preferable to this place. I had almost forgotten about this place, this loneliness. It was a brief respite that seemed to last forever until it was over.

I thought for sure my request for transfer would go through this time. But no, I was specifically suited to this environment and I had shown commendable skill in my duties here. What a load. Well, the big red button is blinking, I'd better go push it now.

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