It’s not like people don’t die where I work. They do. Death is just a part of the deal when you work here. In fact, just last week two people died. I mean, someone had to go out into the fire fields and turn the release valves and Justin drew the short straw. Unfortunately, he panicked and spent his last few breaths banging on the door and crying instead of completing his task, which meant we had to subsequently send Bertha out to finish the job. It was a complete waste and frankly, it will continue to affect morale because Bertha made the best (I mean, hands down, the absolute B-E-S-T) birthday cakes with buttercream frosting for everyone’s birthdays and Flora’s crappy fruit cakes are not going to cut it.
I sigh heavily as I write up my report. Fucking Justin. He cost me a month of paperwork. He was always complaining too, “Maybe we should find another way to release the pipe pressures” or “Did you read my proposal about alternative fuel we could use to make the fire fields obsolete?” or my favorite, “It doesn’t have to be anyone’s turn. I could fix it if you just…” He didn’t finish that one because Joe slammed the airlock door right in his annoying, whiny face. Thank God. Complainers… Am I right?
Anywho, now there’s a lot of paperwork to do because some cranky bitch from HR is all worked up about our decreased safety record and feels it’s “inappropriate to sacrifice trained employees even to ensure the safety of the colony” and we should “consider using untrained labor or heroic volunteers to reduce the cost of constant retraining” or whatever. Ugh! All this and all I’ve had to eat today is Flora’s stale fruit cake.
The warning alarm goes off interrupting my internal tirade. One by one we file to the front of the room to draw a straw from the dispenser. People look nervous, but management always puts on a brave face. Mostly, because we know the system is rigged in our favor. Who’s to know when we are the only ones who have been here more than five years?
Except… I reach my hand in and pull out what is undoubtably the shortest straw. “That’s impossible, it’s n-,“ I stutter but Joe pulls me into his office before I can finish my sentence.
“Sorry, Steve.” He smiles his most personable smile. “The higher ups are complaining about your performance. It’s your turn to go.”
I want to respond but my blood has turned to ice while my feet have cemented themselves to the floor. “No worries,” Says Joe pushing me towards the airlock, “You’ll remember what to do once you’re in the fields. The training will kick in.”
“But… But…” I stammer as he closes the door with a final wink waving jauntily.