Projects > Story-of-the-Day > ss-54
SS-54"I'll have a double portion, please."
I scoop out two ladles of chili for the assistant engineer. "There you go. Eat up, gotta keep those engines running".
We're about nine months into our two year trip to Pluto. It took about five years for this ship to be designed and built in orbit once the EM Drive was tested up in space. The physics geeks are still figuring out the math, but the good ship SS-54 has already left Earth behind.
A few more people go by, just silently reaching out their bowls to me. The chief of communications comes up, "Double me up, chef!"
"No problem. You need your protein." Of course, the chief of communications is probably the last person who needs a double ration. Our main antenna was hit by a micrometeoroid and completely taken out. Of course there are redundant communications systems on the ship, but somehow none of them actually work. It was something to do with how the antenna was fried. I don't know, but the end result is the same. We can't contact anybody back on Earth. We're alone out here for our trip.
The Captain comes by. Usually he gets his plate in his private quarters, but I guess he's feeling friendly today. He beams at me, "I don't know what we'd do without you, Chef."
I shovel him a heaping ladle of chili, and smile back. "I just keep everybody fed. It's you guys doing the hard work to make sure we make it there and back."
He mutters out a "Nonsense!", and joins a table of crew from astrometrics.
This crew is happy. I've been a Navy Mess Specialist. Those guys are appreciative of the food as a baseline. They're usually pretty happy too, at least if they haven't been up for 22 hours on a mission. But the SS-54 crew is something else all together. Well, except for this next guy in line.
Randy, the air operations controller, looks at me with his sullen eyes. "I'll take a quarter portion."
"I didn't see you here yesterday. Have you been eating?"
"I eat what I need you damn gorder."
I scoop a heaping ladle and begin to pour into his bowl. He violently grabs my arm and takes just a quarter portion. He walks to a table and I see him take tiny spoonfuls and chewing very deliberately. It's all for nothing too, there's no reason to suffer.
The Captain must have overseen. He comes to me, "Could you check if there's a tomato?"
I look at him and chuckled. "You serious?" He didn't answer so figured I would humor him. I walked back to the hydroponics door and he followed me in.
The sight of row after row of brown leaves from dead plants is always shocking. The Captain spoke after closing the door, "Don't take Randy back there personally. Just do your job and serve the food." He reached up and grabbed a leaf from what used to be a potato plant. It crumbled with his touch. "Hell of a thing: solar energetic particles. To just hit us and take all of our plants six months in like that..."
"I don't know what his problem is Captain. We already did all the calculations. There is just no way to ration out the food going in either direction. We all voted."
He looked at the plants pensively. "How many more days do you think we have?"
"Captain, you just had your last meal."