Act II: Space Beasts

Morning Call

8.3.6 SW
Crowning Point > Residential Hex

The next day, Irving lay flat with his face buried into the pillow. He snored gently when suddenly his SL device started to vibrate on the metal stool beside his bed. The device loudly shook and rattled across. Irving pushed himself out of the bed and wiped the sleep out of his eyes. He picked up the device expecting it to be Maryam telling him he had slept in and was late for work. But it was an unknown caller - reluctantly he answered. The call connected and Shusett saw a face he had never seen before on the monochrome screen. It was an older man, wrinkly, and stern-looking. "Irving Shusett?" he asked, his voice was rough like he had smoked every day since the day he was born.

"Yes, my name is Irving Shusett," Irving replied followed by a yawn.

"My name is Dr. Hodson, I am one of the colony's psychologists. You have been referred by a co-worker."

"Which one?"

"Unfortunately I can't disclose that it was a confidential referral, but don't take offense to it. They are only concerned for your welfare." Hodson placed a pair of round glasses on the bridge of his nose. "So is it okay to talk to you?"

"I suppose so," Shussett sighed.

"How are you feeling this morning? I fear I might have woken you up."

"As a matter of fact, you did. I'm tired, I didn't sleep much last night, it was a long day yesterday."

"Why?"

"Work is just tiring, I feel like the colony handyman. Sometimes I just want to relax but then some idiot has an issue with their terminal because they forgot to plug it in. It's a waste of time."

"You find it infuriating?" Hodson asked resting his chin on his knuckles.

"Yes, it's infuriating. But someone has to do it."

"What about your co-workers? How are they?"

"Respectfully doctor, how I am to know that you won't feed this information back to whoever referred me. I don't trust you with that kind of information."

Hodson leaned closer to the camera, then he said in a quieter voice: "I guarantee you Irving that everything you tell me is completely confidential. Nobody but us two will know this information, that's the purpose of my job, to provide support. It isn't an interrogation."

"You promise?"

"I promise Irving, I am sworn to an oath of confidentially." Dr. Hodson held a bundle of paperwork to the camera and smiled.

"Fine," Irving thought for a moment. "They're okay, maybe a bit lazy. I feel like one of the only people in the department committed to the job. My boss Maryam, she's okay, at least she's encouraging."

"That's good."

"I don't find it very easy to talk to people, but at least it's easier with her."

"Good, being sociable is good. What do you like to do when not at work? Could you give some examples of things you have done recently that weren't work-related?"

Irving knew that even if this was all confidential it would be stupid to let this stranger know of less than legal activities. There were probably multiple terms in that paperwork that allowed Hodson to report any criminal activities, no matter what he said. "I don't get much time to myself but when I do I like to sit down."

"What sort of things do you think about when sitting down?"

"How I wish I didn't have this life."

"You're suicidal?"

"No! I mean I wish I had a different life, I wish it had more purpose. I don't want to be here - there's so many places in the galaxy and somehow I ended up on Sutter's World."

"It's not the worst colony, I have heard of far worse. Tell me Irving, do you wish you had someone in your life? A partner?"

"Nobody wants to be lonely, even those that say they do only think they want to be lonely. Everybody needs somebody. A sibling, a partner, a child, or a best friend. I have none of those."

"I understand. Maybe you should try talking more to your co-workers. Do you know if they go out together at all?"

"I think they do, but nobody's ever asked me."

"Maybe try to strike up a conversation sometime. Find mutual interests, I'm sure there must be someone in your department that would like to get to know you more."

"I don't know about that."

"Don't be so doubtful Irving!" Hodson sighed. "I'm going to give you a task today. Try and speak to somebody a little more, like this Maryam you mentioned, you said that you find it easier to speak to her."

"I will try."

"Good, I can see you're still tired so I will let you get a little more rest. If you need to contact me just send me a message. I'm always here to help."

"Okay doctor, goodbye."

"Goodbye Irving." The call ended and Irving tossed his SL device to the side. He wasn't sure what to make of Hodson yet, but it was nice to get some things of his chest. Even if he couldn't let it all out.

TBC

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