|There was something wrong with Joey Purvis’s head.
It was missing.
Detective Sergeant Kelley looked up at me. He looked like someone who has had a long, hard day, and it wasn’t getting any shorter or easier.
“Phillips,” he said. “So glad you could make it. What do you reckon?”
I surveyed the body.
“I reckon he isn’t going to pull through this time,” I said.
|Time yawned by uneventfully as the computer watched
over its sleeping congregation. Everything worked perfectly until a thousand
years into its journey, when a malfunction occurred. The hull on Deck 7 showed
signs of fatigue. Analytic plasma was released on the surface and in seconds
the diagnosis was complete; a screw was loose. An old-fashioned pair of hands
was required. The computer scanned its data banks for appropriate personnel.
FLIGHT CHRONICLE: Scanning for low-level technician. Human unit will be awakened and returned to his sleep on completion of menial task.
Each snoreless man and woman had been handpicked by the Wormwood elite, to be of service to their masters in a new world on the other side of the universe. Each was chosen for a skill, each skill carefully logged and referenced in detail.
FLIGHT CHRONICLE: Technician Hunt, pod number 7344355/232/1999890 assigned.
The computer uncoupled the appropriate pod from the main locus. It gradually sloughed away nitrogen gas and injected warmth into the veins of the dazed technician. A cloud of localised oxygen hovered around the black tube in preparation for the awakening. The whole operation took the equivalent of ten hours.
“Good morning, Technician Hunt,” the computer said in a soft, young voice.
The human moaned and sluggishly rose to one elbow. “Huh?”
“Good morning, Technician Hunt.”
The human rubbed his eyes, shook his head and squinted into the semi-darkness. “Wha...?”
“You are Technician Hunt, Pod 7344355/232/1999890. You are…” And the computer, with infinite patience, gave a full biography and employment profile.
“Technician Hunt?” the human said. “No, no, my name is Arthur Wong,”