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Essay on The Morning After The Mast Fell

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“Yes.”
He falls all the way to the floor.
“That’s… that’s no good.”
“Yes.”
Felix sits, blank-faced. He reaches for his soccer ball and gently tosses it up and down. He loses his grip and it rolls underneath his bed; he makes no effort to stop it.
“Tom, what’s my local share of entertainment media? In hours, by type, not including books, please.”
“Two thousand hours of movies, five hundred hours of video programming, five thousand five hundred hours of music.”
“And there are what, eight thousand hours in a year?” Felix asks.
“Eight thousand, seven hundred sixty-five point eight.”
“Seven hundred sixty-five hours of going it alone, maybe talking to Cara, lots of exercising. I can do that, I think,” he says, shaking his head from side to side.
He climbs back into bed.
“Tom, restart Beethoven’s fourteenth piano sonata.”
The music starts. He lies on his back, sheet off, hands behind his head, and quickly falls asleep.

The morning after the mast fell begins like most others for Felix: time on the treadmill, a quick and unpleasant shower, hot oatmeal with a dash of precious imitation brown sugar, and perusal of the station logs. It is unusual in that he rushes through all of this: his normal distance on the treadmill is halved, he abstains from drying himself after his shower, he throws out half of his oatmeal, and he skips every few pages of the logs.
By noon he is in the observation room, the array of cameras playing back different feeds from different viewpoints of last night’s storm damage to the communication mast. The footage is tough to decipher, as the sky is an eerie, dark taupe color. What little can be seen is lit by the rotating, electric blue beam of the station landing pad’s strobe-lit aerodrome beacon....


... middle of paper ...


...most of what’s broken off together, you’ll speed up the A.I.’s repair time. You know how slowly the rovers and maintenance units move.”
“Thanks. I’ll try that. At least it will give me something to do beside watch movies.”
“Don’t attach too much hope to that stuff—you’re going to find that you’re not as into what you think you’re into as you watch it. Hence, get your comms working, Felix. Shoo! I’ll message Control before I hop in the centrifuge. Maybe someone there can figure a solution for you.”
“Thanks. Centrifuge?”
“Part of P.T.—for bone density? A few times per week? Don’t tell mean you’ve been ignoring it,” she says.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have one; no one’s mentioned it.”
There’s a short gap in the conversation.
“Well, we must be on different programs, then. Forget it—it’s not important,” she says. “Adios, Ontario. Kivu, out.”


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