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Space and Time

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Now, she's an astrophysicist. Now, she's an astronaut, managing projects aboard orbiting, space flight and stationary vessels, a professional working scientist with a publication history and a reputation in her field. Not a reputation for being an obsessive twitching nutcase, obviously. Quite senior and responsible and mature enough to be trusted and charged with a three-month mission, manning a single-person vessel and keeping every project running, ticking over, the tech in fine fettle and carefully -- obsessively -- maintained.

It's all on camera, and she wonders if the clips of her watering herbs and adjusting titrations and scanning read-outs, show her unraveling, or if her face is just as impassive as it usually is. They have to show, though, that she checks the water volume eight times before application through the crop maintenance hydration system. That she pauses and closes her eyes three times before she exits any room, counting in her head. All of the other little routines and checkpoints and habits she has, too, none of them necessary.  All of them, essential. They have to tell their own story, no matter how blank her face. If she wasn't alone, on this assignment, then she could keep a better handle on it. But now, now, it's spiraling out of control.

These are the things that Cassandra is checking for, daily, weekly, hourly, by the minute:


Check: the water supply for contamination: hourly, three times minimum.

Check: air con system for full ventilation and breakages: bi-hourly.

Check: air purity and ratios, with special scrutiny of CO2 and CO levels and oxygenation.

Check: carbon monoxide alarms for volume and breakages, in case of heating malfunction.

Check: plant breeding project for correspondence with projected statistics and oxygen production

Check: subject rats in bone density study for a) all being alive b) functionality of water drippers c) no blockages in food funnels

Check: functionality of station:earth comms and vigorousness of signal

Check: news from earth for major disasters involving eight family members or thirteen priority friends. (Every two hours.)

Check: news from earth for major disasters involving non-priority friends and acquaintances. (Once a day.)

Check: heart rate and major organ enzyme function.

Check: heart rate and major organ enzyme function again.

Check: heart rate and major organ enzyme function again. Again, again, again. Stop and walk away. Come back and check again. Walk away. Walk away. Keep walking.


Check: under cabin bunk, for monsters.


Check: with spouse and partner at home, that finances are being attended to. That taxes have been filed. That paperwork is in order and the mortgage is not in arrears and that the debt collector is not at the door. That she hasn't forgotten to maintain virus protection and firewall on their private computing network, that they aren't invaded by enormous Russian pirates and unethical email-hacking slobbering wackadoos, turning their computers into bots and stealing their passwords and banking information.


Check: the same thing again.  Again.  More, now, again.