Feeling The Squeeze

“But I’ve already tried debugging the interconnect” said Isaac. “It just doesn’t seem to fail the same way twice.” The tension in the room was palpable since they’d dropped out of the singularity. No one knew why exactly but if anyone could get them back on course it was Isaac.

“Did you try checking the latency on the sensor relay? Perhaps it’s causing the drive to drop into a fail safe mode?” said Janet. She was fairly new to this spacial thread crew and had recently started shadowing Isaac.

“Shart! You’re probably right” said Isaac. I should have thought of that he mumbled to himself. “Nice thinking, can you grab a nano probe and drop it into the aft spatial junction so we can sync up the clocks? I bet they’re out of sync.”

Janet felt that rush you get when you’re onto solving a really hard problem. She’d felt it a lot throughout here career. Whether it was after spending hours at the terminal finally bringing something new online or when a simulation translated perfectly into the field. She loved the challenge of Spatial Engineering

As Isaac waited for Janet to sprint to the other end of the ship he began preparing for “The Squeeze”. No matter how many times he did it he never really got used to the feeling of entering into the singularity. He imagined it felt a lot like being buried alive without a coffin. That slow build up of pressure as they threw more and more dirt on your body as you used up the oxygen until finally gasping for your final breath only to finally squeeze into the light. Except in this instance the light wasn’t your death but instead the singularity itself.

When Janet reached the aft section of the ship she began calibrating the probe on the main spatial junction. Her communicator let out low pitch tone and then Isaacs voice came through. “Are you almost ready to test this latency theory? The pinch cells are recharged. We’re getting hit by a lot of small debris in this asteroid field, there’s no telling if any larger objects will hit as we haven’t completed our proximity scan yet.”

“It’s ready” she replied really hoping this was the malfunction. As she patched the diagnostics feed into her retinal display she could see there was still something wrong. “That was only part of the problem” she said to Isaac. “Let me check the pinch drive coil to see if there’s an interconnect between here and there that’s malfunctioning.”

Now she was grasping a bit but given that the initial results showed an improvement in the timing it had to be related. As she walked into engineering people were sprinting everywhere and she knew something was wrong. “What’s amiss Norbie? Why’s everyone freaking?”

“We weren’t prepared for any kind of singularity drop. We were caught off guard doing some general maintenance below deck and we didn’t feel the transition. Now we’re rushing to prep the cargo for the squeeze” said Norbie.

That’s something Janet hadn’t even thought of. “Did they start their auto wake procedures?” Janet said. It would be far from ideal having hundreds of cryro pods cracking open.

“No we caught that in time” Norby said. “We just don’t know how they’re going to handle a squeeze while they’re in cryro sleep. Usually when this happens we do a complete cycle forcing everyone awake, do the squeeze, and then put them to sleep again. That’s not an option now that we’re a ticking time bomb in this asteroid field.”

This was a complication Janet had to ignore and trust that the Cryro Engineers would handle this. “Good luck” she said as she sprinted through to head midship toward the coil.

As she entered the Coil Room she slowed to a walk. Every time she entered here she was in awe of the size and complexity of the Coil. It was like a million nautilus coiled around a central rod over 100 meters in length that was itself perfectly cylindrical to a picometer. Down the center of the cylinder was a single hollow nanotube that was used to control the singularity thread they traveled along.

“I’m at the Coil” she told Isaac over her communicator. “Give me a second to align the probe. Remind me to talk to the genius who didn’t build in auto calibration into this thing when we get back to port.”

As she removed the access panel she aligned the probe while at the same time adjusted her retinal display to bring up the diagnostics. As she made some small adjustments to the Coil she was thrown to the ground completely unprepared for the squeeze.

This was the one thing about her job she loathed, the squeeze. That feeling like a boa constrictor was squeezing you to the edge of your life … and then the light.

After she recovered from the effects of the squeeze she stood up and made sure she hadn’t broken anything. “Everything ok back there” burst Isaac over the communicator. “Sorry about that, we had a rock on a precarious trajectory so I had to squeeze as soon as we were calibrated.”

“No biggie” replied Janet. “I was just taking a nap on the floor next to the Coil. Everything go ok with the squeeze? The diagnostics still look to be within guidelines.”

“Textbook squeeze” he said. “All systems are clear. Nice work under pressure Janet, that was a close one”. That rush was back, it never gets old being a Spatial Engineer.

Back in cryro after they recovered from the squeeze they weren’t sure what was going on. All of the pods were green for power and life support but the diagnostic EKG’s weren’t reading anything.

Moments earlier in pod #13 Bailey was dreaming he’d finally entered the Promima Centauri system. His family had been planning this trip for such a long time. He was excited to catch his first glimpse of the systems red dwarf sun in the view portal ahead. The closer he got the more difficult it was to move and then suddenly all noise ended eerily throwing the hallway into absolute silence. He could no longer hear the usual background noise of the ship or even his own breathing. As he finally stumbled to the portal everything around him burst into light.

Word Count: 1061

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