Friday, February 11, 2011

Lost Convoy, Part II: Ray Patch

He woke up early, groaned when he looked at the clock, and buried his head back in the pillow. Ray Patch wasn't much for being early, and he was very much for liking his sleep. Today was a big day, but he didn't mind sticking to his routine. A few minutes passed, and he found that he was still more or less wide awake. He fought it, jamming his eyes shut and trying not to think, but the more he tried not to, the more he did. It wasn't even about the launch, either, but random things, odd speculations. What if the sky turned yellow? Would you even notice the sun anymore? And the more he tried to stop inane thoughts like that, the more he thought about them. Still, he held his resolve. He knew exactly how much time he had before he wanted to get up, and he would remain in that bed.

Finally, of course, it was time, and Ray found that he really just wanted to stay in bed. Although he hadn't been sleeping, he still felt sleepy. It was the effect of making himself stay tired, which had put him in a lazy mood. Still, he got up. He dragged himself over to the bathroom. It was funny, he had had to relieve himself for most of the time he'd lingered in bed, and even that wasn't motivation enough to alter his intentions. He'd fought the urge, rode it all the way back down to a simmer, just an impulse he could master. But after it was finally over, he did feel a little better, a little more ready to tackle the rest of the morning. He hobbled over to the kitchen, and prepared a little breakfast. Then he sat at the table and read a little more from the literary anthology of the space theorists he'd been pecking through for the past few months now. He only sometimes felt it was urgent to make real progress in it, even though he only read from it while having breakfast.

He hopped into the shower some thirty minutes later, letting the hot water settle into his body, the first time he truly felt good all morning. He casually finished up his morning ritual, and then was out the door and on the way to work before he could think of something he'd rather be doing. That was perhaps a bad way to put it, because Ray truly loved his job. He loved the sensation of flight, even if confined inside a cabin, almost literally shut off from the rest of the world. When he was in the air, or finally clearing orbit and among the stars, he could imagine that he was alone, floating through space, without a care at all. It didn't matter how routine it had gotten, after all the months when he had first entered training when it seemed every single moment brought with it a new and worse challenge. Ray really loved his job.

Well, he loved what he did specifically. If he could do his job without having to think about why he was doing it, or for whom, and who he carried, he would have been infinitely happier. He could have done without the constant feeling of irritation that swelled up in him whenever he thought about those factors. Even if he could block out most of it, there was still far too much of it that slipped past the barriers, and wormed their way into his awareness, dominating it until his serenity was effectively ruined.

Maybe that was why he liked that bed so much. He could imagine the idea of sleeping to be the perfection of what made him most happy. Still, before long, there he was, Ray Patch, aeronautical aviator, prepared to saddle up one more time.

It would have been perfect if things had gone half as well as they ordinarily did, but that just happened to be the day the world ended.

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