The Causality Switch

Commander Pike clambered from her bunk. Weary and blurry eyed, she felt the cold metal grate against her naked feet. As she stood up, she could already feel that the artificial gravity was on the blink again. At least ten percent weaker than it should be.

She reached for the water hose and took a long sup from it, feeling the dryness of her sleep being washed away with each deep glug. It was only when she rubbed her eyes that she felt the coarse, crisp build up in her lashes.

A quick shower, then some coffee.

Neither thing happened.

The shower refused to start, and the coffee pot was clogged up again.

Pike slumped into the command chair and let out a long sigh. Her jumpsuit was itching already, and she knew she was going to be in a foul mood all morning. So she punched up the camera feeds on the view screen, and had a look out at the empty vacuum of space.

It would be two more years before she saw anything.

Even just a glimpse of a distant star.

She tried not to look at it.

Instead, she just stared at the blank dark of nothingness that enveloped the ship. It wasn’t that there was nothing to see out there, it’s that the resolution of the cameras was too low to see anything. If she got really bored, she could slip into a spacesuit and go for a walk. Then she might catch a view or two. But putting on the suit just to see a single pixel of light in a canvas of void seemed too much effort.

Inevitably, her gaze wandered, and the turn of her head made the chair swivel round with it, leaving her facing it full on.

A giant red button.

Everything else was touchscreens, but this was a massive mushroom shaped button, with a sign above it that shouted in bright letters ‘do not press’.

And no-one, not once, not ever, had explained the button to her.

Months of training, months of simulations in orbit, and not a single mention of the giant red button that said do not press.

She was terrified that she’d been distracted when it had been explained to her, and that it was so obvious that to ask for a second explanation would cost her the mission.

And why on Earth would there even be a need for a button on the console that forcefully told you not to use it?

It was stupid.

She was angry.

She held her breath, hovering her hand above the button, palm flat out.

“Fuck it,” she said.

And pressed the button.

Commander Pike clambered from her bunk. Weary and blurry eyed, she felt the cold metal grate against her naked feet. As she stood up, she could already feel that the artificial gravity was on the blink again. At least ten percent weaker than it should be.

She reached for the water hose and took a long sup from it, feeling the dryness of her sleep being washed away with each deep glug. It was only when she rubbed her eyes that she felt the coarse, crisp build up in her lashes.

A quick shower, then some coffee.

Neither thing happened.

The shower refused to start, and the coffee pot was clogged up again.

Pike slumped into the command chair and let out a long sigh. Her jumpsuit was itching already, and she knew she was going to be in a foul mood all morning. So she punched up the camera feeds on the view screen, and had a look out at the empty vacuum of space.

It would be two more years before she saw anything.

Even just a glimpse of a distant star.

She tried not to look at it.

Instead, she just stared at the blank dark of nothingness that enveloped the ship. It wasn’t that there was nothing to see out there, it’s that the resolution of the cameras was too low to see anything. If she got really bored, she could slip into a spacesuit and go for a walk. Then she might catch a view or two. But putting on the suit just to see a single pixel of light in a canvas of void seemed too much effort.

Inevitably, her gaze wandered, and the turn of her head made the chair swivel round with it, leaving her facing it full on.

A giant red button.

Everything else was touchscreens, but this was a massive mushroom shaped button, with a sign above it that shouted in bright letters ‘do not press’.

And no-one, not once, not ever, had explained the button to her.

Months of training, months of simulations in orbit, and not a single mention of the giant red button that said do not press.

She was terrified that she’d been distracted when it had been explained to her, and that it was so obvious that to ask for a second explanation would cost her the mission.

And why on Earth would there even be a need for a button on the console that forcefully told you not to use it?

It was stupid.

She was angry.

She held her breath, hovering her hand above the button, palm flat out.

“Fuck it,” she said.

And pressed the button.

The Causality Switch

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