Every Day In Every Way

The damn thing has broken down again.

Swearing, viaductor Linnaeus hurls herself down the oil-sweet confines of the tube leading to waste reclamation. Something’s gotten wedged into the outflow pipe, and you can’t leave that to linger or the whole ship chokes on its chyme. Waste reclamation is silent except for the faint buzz of the archipelago of ghost lights that trace an uncertain path down from the digestor.

She’s not superstitious, but.

Last ship she was on, they pulled a half-dissolved woman out of one of the vats. She’d been in there at least a month, going by how decayed she was, and it wasn’t until the baleares started complaining about the strange taste of the taps that anyone came looking. They’d been brushing their teeth with corpse water for weeks. Nobody knew who the dead woman was; she wasn’t part of the crew, and they were a entire ship’s year out from the islands. Coalesced, they said, which sometimes happened; sometimes space clots and spits out a corpse, sometimes people go missing. Deep water is dangerous.

Linnaeus grits her teeth behind the mask and slips into the vat, hoping the ladder will still be there when she resurfaces.