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Dec 31 2011

Saturday Storytime: Sirius

Someday, we may meet a creature that is better at what we do than we are. Ben Peek is an Australian writer.

I pressed him to acknowledge the possibility that a secondary infection, one that was droplet-based, could be carried through the system after being spread by sneezing or dust or mice.

“Are you missing any mice?” he asked.

No, I told him.

He smiled faintly. “Perhaps we can cross that one out, then.”

My response, I admit, was not the most calculated. I have never dealt well with those who cannot see clearly. To my outburst, Commander Cawell straightened and his pale, cold eyes held mine. “Five people have died, doctor. I am not making jokes. Nor am I humoring you anymore. New diseases on our own planet are found all the time, but we do not panic then, nor now. Your belief that the Ta’La are responsible is misplaced.”

When I began to argue, he said, “I suggest you return to your lab.”

My hands curled around the plastic handles, furious.

“You are dismissed,” he said.

Outside, I let out a frustrated breath. How could he be so blind? Already, I could feel a heaviness in the air, as if there was something new to it, something that we had not seen. Ahead of me in the hallway ran small air ducts, just as there were hundreds throughout Sirius, each of them linking back to a central system that was shared by everyone in the station. To me, it was already a beating, diseased heart, spreading the virus across the ship and my breath was a series of shallow, nervous gasps through my teeth as I made my way to my lab and the contamination suit within.

I would live in it for six weeks, the longest of anyone on board Sirius, the longest of anyone who stands around me wordlessly now. Such was my prize for being right.

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