A caller on line 1

Who: Bruno Downing, former IT Technician on the SS Oregon
Where: White Midget, about 3 light years away from Fernandos
When: Before Xan's post

As he flew out of Polaris IV South he kept the broadcast open. “Groundhog day continues. Let's have a bit of Duran Duran..."
He faded the music up and pushed back into his pilot’s chair.
<end snip>

A day later, and Bruno wike up for his slumber, ready for the morning dock into Serraco Polaris IV South. As usual Bruno looked at his watch, waiting for the exact time to get out of bed. He did so, and started his morning checks. “background radiation level, check” he said, checking the orange light.

He went through his routine, the same as always. In fact everything about today was the same as always, as every day was the same. He did his 15 minute exercise, he picked his nose and wiped it on his watchstrap. He finished off his nutragrain bar, which was starting to churn his bowels even more than ever.

He turned off the song he was broadcasting, which was Cliff Richard's “Young ones”. The broadcast was in the hope that some passing alien would hear it, and he's always wondered what song he'd be playing when (and if) he encountered anyone, and really hoped it'd be Cliff.

Serraco Polaris IV South loomed over him, so he waited until the second hand was at the top and he called the stations' AI, requesting to dock. His stomach made some funny noises, so he jumped out of the hatch as soon as as his second hand reached the top, then waddled over to the AI.

“Any chance of an Immodium today?” He said, before the Nutragrain bar dropped into the dispenser. The AI silently watched him hang his head, then run off to the toilet.
“Your usual payment will be made after another successful cargo retrieval from Serraco Polaris IV North. Goodbye pilot Downing.”

Now, Bruno was desperate for the toilet.


More desperate than ever. But it wasn't time.

He hovered outside the toilet door. Another 30 seconds left.

30 entire seconds before he could poo.

Who made these rules anyway? He started to think about them. As far as he always knew, he had this compulsion that he had to wait until the second hand was at the top. Things didn't go well if he didn't.

He had to.

20 seconds left. He was turtlenecking.

How bad could it be if he just pooed now? He was the one that made the rules up right?

He watched the second hand more intensely than he ever had. 15 seconds. He had to wait.

The pain in his bowels was unbelievable. It's like his body disrespected his love of time and disorder.

He had to wait. He HAD to. If he could start pooing willy nilly, who knows what would happen next? There needed to be some order in his world. He needed his weird compulsion with time.

A cigar poked his leg. “Smegging hell!” He said, and burst into the toilet cubicle and sat down.

His entire body relaxed to the chorus of his relieved bowels. He smiled, at the pleasure of no paid.

But that pleasure ended when he looked at his watch. There was still 5 seconds left. 4. 3. 2. 1. The second hand struck 12 and Bruno sunk his head in his hands with remorse.

The timing was all off. This would ruin his entire day.

In fact, this day with change his life. He'd actually receive a transmission. And Cliff Richard wouldn't even be playing.

Back on the ship, Bruno barely even wanted to look at his watch before setting off. He felt like he'd betrayed it. Might as well just scoff the nurtragrain all in one too. Everything else was smegged.

When he was far enough from the station he did his checks again.

“Check space background radiation”. He glanced at an orange light on the dash and nodded. “perfectly normal” he said through gritted teeth.

He sighed and brought the transmission mic to his face. “This is Bruno Downing broadcasting to any lifeforms out there. Today's unbelievable fact is that the longest stool ever recorded was three hundred and twelve inches long. That was today's unbelievable fact!” He faded his voice away into Duran Duran.

Then he sad, and he waited. That's what he did most days. That and reading the one book he had, a book about facts. It was titled “Interesting facts by Brian Cox”. But Brian Cox the actor, not the scientist. So the facts weren't even that good.

He faded the music up and pushed back into his pilot’s chair, when something unbelievable happened. He picked up a signal.

"SOS, SOS, this is Dr. Artemis K. Pritchard VI, Innovative Sciences Officer of the mining ship Blue Dwarf to...whomever is broadcasting Duran Duran. We're stranded on Fernandos and are in desperate need of assistance. Do you read me?"

Bruno jerked his head. He wasn’t sure if this was a delusion or real. He’d had delusions before, one a giant rabbit calling from the cargo bay. But this seemed further away. There was an echo on the transmission indicating it was from afar.

“Hello? Hello? This is Bruno Downing, are you… a real person?”

Silence. Leaving Bruno to think he imagined it.

“Bruno? This is Dr. Artemis K. Pritchard VI...”
Bruno's face lit up. The first REAL person he's spoken to in over 5 years. He was so excited he didn't even look at his watch.
“Dr Pritchard, you're through on line one. I'm so happy you called. Would you like to take part in my chat of the day?” he said excitedly.
Silence. “...What?”
“Today's chat topic is hatchbacks of the 1990's. Which one is your favourite?”
Silence. “...Is there perhaps someone else we could speak to?”
“Perhaps you'd like a fact instead?” Bruno grabbed his book. “Did you know, that the great wall of china is invisible to lobsters?”
“Sorry I think I've probably got the wrong number.” Said Artemis.
“No wait!” Bruno lunged for the mic. “Are you nearby?”
“The planet, Fernandos.”
Bruno looked out of the window. “Oh yeah? The big blue/green one? It's funny how you forget something as big as that. I've been flying past it for years.”
“Could you rescue us?”
Bruno wasn't sure what to do. This was way out of his comfort zone.
“I'm sort of busy... there's this AI who wants me to deliver some cargo. He gets quite angry if I don't, He only feeds me one nurtragrain bar. I have to make it last the entire day.”
He feels his palms start to sweat.
“I'm sorry. I can't help you. Here's some Iggy Pop.” He faded the music up, then sat on the floor in a corner and rocked himself.

OOC - Bruno will need pursuading, and what's the plan anyway? If he flies too close to the planet his electronics will stop working and crash right? I think Artemis needs to warn him about this and possibly formulate a plan. Could perhaps the Polaris IV South or North stations have any way of teleporting them off world?

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