#TeamSFHorror - To Distraction, Part One: The Harvest - @tamoja

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To Distraction - Part 1 - krazydiamond

435 days, 16 hours, 55 minutes and 34 seconds since the Ulysses left Earth. 

Myra Hale knew this, since there was little else to do between duties other than count the hours. How did she get stuck with this shit job?

Oh, wait, she knew exactly how. It was either take on the job, babysitting a ship full of cryo pods for the long drift to the new colony or face a court martial. It was only the interference of Captain Jackson that kept her out of the brig. As it was, she'd been subjected to quack after quack, droning on through her file, tossing terms like 'unfit for field duty' and 'unbalanced personality'. Jackson got them to kick her to the science division, settling new rocks to study new environs and living conditions for humanity. It was something her antagonistic ass could do with minimal people interaction. Definitely more appealing than a long stint in the brig.

It was a five year jaunt to the Trappist system, going full throttle with the new engines system. Fastest humans could go without shredding themselves to a fine pink mist but it was still five years of her life down the drain. Granted there were some perks to having a crew of human popsicles. Aside from typical maintenance duties, there was little required of her. A series of robots took care of monitoring the colonists in their chilled silver pods, and were responsible for any major repairs as long as she was around to hit a few buttons. In reality, she was there for little else but to keep the robots in check, leaving her with all too much free time on her hands.

A guitar riff echoed through the corridors over the ship intercom. The robots didn't care how loud she blasted Metallica and she was in a mood. Boredom had become her personal demon, dogging her steps, pushing her to seek out new and better ways to entertain herself.

"Am I evil? Yes I am. Am I evil? I am, man, yes I am," she screeched, sliding on her knees across the smooth floor as she ripped into an air guitar riff.

She plowed through most of the ship's library that first year. All classics, nothing fun or smutty. With nothing better to do than eat and sleep, she grudgingly read them. She couldn't understand half the words but she read them anyway. What she wouldn't give for Netflix.

It was a wonder the Ulysses didn't have access to the global media network. How were those colonists going to entertain themselves on their new rock, reading the collective works of Jane Austen over and over? She couldn't think of faster ways to snap her bolt.

There was one other option, tucked away in the recreation room on the lower deck. The tech was as new as the ship engines, designed by the same gaggle of eggheads who put together this mission. To say Hale was leery of the virtual interface was a vast understatement. She paused mid riff, Metallica's lyrics morphing to a background buzz as her fingers brushed the warm metal circle at the base of her skull.

The eggheads wanted her to use the tech. Said all the colonists got the same upgrade. A painless implant. She'd been awake when they popped it in her, more shocked than hurt by the cool slide of metal in the soft tissue of her neck. The jack was designed for the virtual reality interface, the VRI, a full immersion experience they told her.

Eff that. She'd rather eat burnt popcorn and fall asleep halfway through a film, but as the Ulysses had neither popcorn or movies, she was shit out of luck. And so very, very bored.

The track ended, leaving a crackle of silence before the next song began. Hale ran her tongue along her teeth. Nearly four more years, reading the same long winded prose was a very long time. The VRI was designed to shorten that process.

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