“ ‘Friend’ Kim”, Vyhovsky almost whispered. “A mind held back never heals.” “So says the great psychologist”, Kim snarled. The two looked about to come to blows again. “HEY!”, Thompson yelled at the top of his lungs. The two looked at him as if ready to attack at the interruption. “How about we get food, and get rest, NOW. Then you two can try to argue this out. We’re stuck here in case you haven’t noticed, and our survival is dependent on STAYING TOGETHER!”, he shouted at them. God, what am I doing? I can’t yell at them, it’ll just make it worse. Pull your head out of your ass, Davey-boy, or we’re all gonna be up shit creek. He looked over at the two. “Besides, I still haven’t had any coffee, I really can’t do anything without the boost.” “Wanna join me, Ingers?” Kolls blank gaze turned to Thaompson. It almost seemed like something of the old Ingers was there. “I vould like dat, friend David”, Ingers said in a deep reumble. “Coffee is good in the morning.”
Huh, just like that, he answers and the other two shut down. Score one for indirect salvo Thompson thought. The tense mood dissipated rapidly as The two were left with each other, rather than being able to argue over Ingers. They floated out and over to Thompson’s cube. Thompson got Ingers a self heating can of coffee, and floated it towards him, giving it a soft push rather than an overhand toss. Ingers caught it cleanly, and popped the heating tab, then waited as the coffee heated up. “Thanks friend Thompson, they were sounding like two fishmarket women at home.”
Thompson smiled. “That’s a hell of a image, Koll.” He chuckled at the the image of Kim and Vyhovsky in old skirts and handkerchiefs on their heads, waving fish at each other and arguing. “Gotta say that really is appropriate.” He glanced over at the cupboard. Got eleven left, maybe I should ration them and stretch them out, for special occasions. He shook his head. No, if I use them up, then they’re gone and no one’s jonesing for one. Keeps the trouble down with nothing to fight over. He looked over at Ingers, who was returning his gaze with a tired speculative look of his own.
“So, uh, do you remember anything of what, umm, happened, Koll?” Ingers looked down at the can in his paw-like hand. He took another squeeze of the coffee, then sighed. “I remember everything. The talk, the lights, and the knowledge that … my family’s gone.” He looked up. “There’s nothing down there any more for me. Nothing I want to think about. Right now I am numb. Empty. Friend Kim says that this is part of the process. The mind and body have not totally accepted what’s happened, and this numbness is the process where the mind hides parts of itself until the rest of the mind can handle more information.”
Thompson looked at his own can of coffee. “That sounds a lot like psychobabble, but Kim’s a lot more knowledgeable about that stuff than I am. I think he was supposed to be interviewing us each week or something to see how we all ‘get along’ up here. Lord knows what his government was going to do with the information. Maybe open up to the devil southlanders and ask about unification again.” He shrugged. Thompson watched Koll drift to the cupboard, then glance back Thompson questioningly. He waved his hand at Koll and nodded. Koll smiled and grabbed a second can of coffee, and pulled the heating tab. Ten left, Thompson thought, then chuckled ruefully. Look at it like he’s helping me get rid of a few ‘vices’. Caffeine is addictive, and god I wish we had more up here. “So how do you feel now? Umm, I know that’s kinda trite. I mean, when do you think you’ll be able to get back into the routine?”
Thompson felt Ingers gaze like a sudden weight on his heart. The feeling was totally out of context with the tired smile Ingers had. “Friend Kim says I need a week on exercise. My body atrophied some, according to Friend Kim, and it needs rebuilding.” Thompson nodded, unable to shake the odd feeling. “When is he…are you, going to start?” Thompson watched Ingers finish the second can of coffee, then place it in the small waste bag hovering on a hook by the door. “Friend Kim wants me to start today. He says that the sooner I start doing something, the faster I can help us all.” Thompson nodded once more. “Sounds like a plan. I’m going to take a quick nap, try to catch up on some of my lost rest, and then see what needs doing on the panels.
Ingers smiled and nodded to Thompson. “I will go to the exercise room, Friend Thompson. I fill see you later.” “Sure thing Koll, good to have you back. It wasn’t the same with you in bed all this time.” Ingers features darkened for a moment. Thompson’s guts fluttered. “Hey, I didn’t mean any…”, he started to apologize, and Ingers waved his hand and smiled. “I know Friend Thompson. I’m not angry at you, or anyone. I am angry at them. They trapped us all here with their greed. I want to get home, and let them know what their actions did to us.” Ingers face slowly screwed into a mask of hate as he spoke, alarming Thompson further. “Hey, it’s okay. It’s okay, Koll. We’ll find a way home. We just have to work together to get there.” Thompson watched Ingers features soften as he spoke. The fearful knot in his stomach loosened as Ingers visibly relaxed. “I’m going to the gym. Maybe the exercise will help my mood.” Thompson nodded, not speaking. Keep your mouth shut right now, Davey boy. He’s volatile. Let him work off some steam. Ingers floated to the hatch way and grabbed the overhead handhold, oriented himself, then used his feet to push of the edge of the hatchway down the corridor.
Koll’s so gentle, we’ve all forgotten he was an Olympian in the Pentathlon. He’s in shape with a vengeance, even after all that time sleeping. Thompson shook his head, then looked at the shelf of coffee cans. Nine left he told himself as he grabbed a second one. It wouldn’t help him with the shakes, but it tasted better than the recycled water. He launched himself from his cube, and angled into the hall with a slight push on one of the hand holds, then glided back towards the control center. Vyhovsky has the altitude adjustments done by now.