Station Keeping #9: “Gainful Employment”

Welcome to Episode #9 of Station Keeping. If all goes well, we'll begin our run up to the finale of our first episode of station keeping. Next week's episode is a bit longer, and will be posted in two parts, the following episode is a special one, and then we're ready for the finale, which might be a week long, which I think is terribly cool. Remember, as always, to check out past episodes of `Station Keeping <http://tychoish.com/hanm>`_ on the `SK site <http://tychoish.com/hanm>`_. Also, if you're interested in participating or contributing to the Station Keeping project there's `information here <http://tychoish.com/participate>`_ on that kind of participation. We're eager to have your contribution. Feel free to contact me via email: tycho@tealart.com. Enjoy, this week's story! Cheers--tycho

Doctoring

"So doc, am I still alive?" Laben asked.

Marc Perrin looked over his patient skeptically. He was checking for any obvious signs of disease or previously undetected injury, and consulted the medical scanners, and his acute perceptions of the mans autonomic functions. Marc had been a battle medic in a previous life, and he was pretty good at doctoring without input from the patient.

"Seem to be," Marc spoke softly and avoided eye contact. There was a pause before they both chuckled, it was a funny moment, but the tension didn't really fall much.

"Why are you here again?" Marc thought that he might have missed the presenting complaint: he doubted it, but he continued to be mystified.

"Because, that's how it works..." Laben looked quizzically at the doctor.

The awkwardness was broken up by Doctor Mahal Reese who strode in rubbing the scrub solution on her hands "Construction worker, right?" she asked.

"Yep"

"It's policy, and a danm good one, for all of the station-employed labors to get regular checkups: we don't want people with medical concerns going on space walks and dealing with high voltage power systems."

"Fair enough." Marc turned his attention back to his patient. "We'll your in great shape, may you stay that way for a long time. If your worried about anything, please fee; free to stop by," Marc said "That was a silly thing to say, they were the only medical facility on the Station, of course he's going to stop by." He stood there for a moment, but when it was clear that the man didn't have any questions he turned and walked over to a computer terminal and entered information into a report so the patient could leave without being starred at.

The medical facilities were completely abandoned, aside from the two doctors. There were a couple of techs in the adjacent lab that could assist if need be, but it was still erie. "Enjoy it while it lasts," he thought.

"So they teach you to be distant and allof core-side, or is that just how you are?" Reese asked after the door closed.

"Pardon?"

"You didn't interact with Laben very much, and he was here for a physical, at least out here we typically engage the patients a bit more, and stare at them a bit less."

"I haven't taught in a coreside meds-chool for years, so I'm not sure what they're teaching these days," the doctor attempted to deflect the criticism, but realized that the flippant answer might not be completely warranted. "Though I'm ok at assessing mental health, I generally like to examine physical health by observing behavior," he continued. "But I suppose you're right, I haven't given formal physicals in years, or really done a lot of routine doctoring."

"I'm sorry that we can't be more interesting out here, but people still need caring for, and we need you even if you are a little weird."

Marc didn't know how to feel, and attempted to avoid feeling entirely. "We have different approaches, as long as people get better we shouldn't have a problem." This was, Marc realized, an awkward way to establish himself as a leader--it was a good thing he didn't have an interest in establishing an empire in the infirmary.

You're going to hire me.

David was startled when he realized there was another person in the bar, but he tried to hide it, with mild success. "Sorry, were not open yet," David pointed at the hole in one of the walls, where he hoped to have a light fixture installed yesterday. Such was life.

"That's alright, I'm not looking for a drink."

"That's good, cause it's all warm," David said, before he remembered that the people here drank everything warm. Weirdos.

"My name's Carter."

"I'm David." He tapped his collar bone in identification, and suddenly felt embarrassed for his appearance: he'd been working all morning, and he felt dirty.

"Well, if you don't want a drink, and you don't know me, then what brings you to a bar that hasn't opened yet." David extended the broom that was in his hand. "You wanna sweep the floors for me?" He chuckled.

"Actually, I would." Carter took a step closer to David.

David squinted, perplexed. "Um, ok."

"I mean, I'm looking for a job if you're hiring."

"Oh, right." David hadn't really considered hiring help, but upon reflection that seemed kind of foolish, he would need help at some point.

"Well, I don't have anything worked out yet, of course, but yeah, we could give it a shot."

"Great!" Carter smiled.

"No one should be that happy about getting a job helping me," David grumbled to himself.

"Should I start now?" Carter was incredulous.

David took the broom back, actually, all kidding around, the floor doesn't actually need sweeping, but how about you come back the day after tomorrow and we'll talk. I think I should have some things for you to do by then.

"Ok, that works. I'll see you then!" Carter turned and left as quickly and quietly as he entered, leaving David slightly dumb struck, and a little worried about what he'd gotten himself into. At least he'd have an interesting story for Marc tonight...

"Gainful Employment" was written by, `tycho <http://tychoish.com/tycho>`_, the creator of `TealArt <http://tychoish.com>`_ and [Station Keeping](http://tychoish.com/hanm"). He is a student and knitter by day and a science fiction writer by night, you can read his work elsewhere on `TealArt <http://tychoish.com>`_ and at `~/tychoish <http://tychoish.com>`_.

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