They tell you in your pre-mission psyche evaluation course back at Central that isolation is the leading cause of madness in this line of work. Not a reassuring thing to know when you find yourself completely alone, floating aimlessly through space.
But here I sit, alone in my precious kitchen. My base of operations. My command center. My cold silver crypt. I’m going to force myself to keep talking into this pocket data recorder. I used this thing for recipes mainly, but all that seems useless now. What good are they going to do me when I have no one left to cook for. I might as well do something constructive.
Hopefully documenting this will help you, whoever you are, figure out what the hell happened. It’s important, but it’s probably all in vain. In fact, this really could be just to keep myself sane. Fool myself into thinking I’m doing something important, to keep my mind off the fact I’m the only person alive in this tin can.
How long has it been? I’m not exactly sure. The clock on the stove turned off when the non-essential systems were automatically shut down. It was only four days before I lost track of time. Since then, there is no way of knowing. It’s not as if I can use the sunrises to keep tabs on time. Hell, I can’t even see the sun due to the lack of windows in the mess hall.
Not that it would help anyway, considering the only thing we saw when we looked out the windows on this side of the ship was our own dying planet. Years ago, the surface beneath the clouds would throw up beautiful blues and greens, mixed with the snowcapped white.
Now? Nothing but brown. The oceans shrunk down to half their original size, the large area that was once Europe burned black-brown by the Phoenix Initiative and empty of life. A dead lands for lack of a better term. Nothing much to look at, but a great reminder of what it was we were fighting to save. A reminder of why we were all floating up here. A reminder of what it was we were about to give our lives for.
My name? Does it matter? I have no next of kin for you to notify. No loved ones or children. Unless you want to inform my cat of my death, my name is completely irrelevant. What the hell, it wouldn’t hurt my credibility, would it?
My name is Isaac. Isaac Dalton. Head Chef for the Ceres III flight. Well, I’m the only chef now. My team was one of the first to show the effects of The Illness. For some reason, I didn’t. And now my blessing has turned into my curse. And I’m all alone.
Isolation. The leading cause of madness in this line of work. I wish I could unlearn that.
Staring at the empty metal tables with the tiny metal stools, I can’t help but imagine people sitting in them. Or maybe it’s a hallucination brought on by that madness? Who knows. At this point I’d rather hallucinate people than be completely alone.
I know each food shift by heart now. I knew everyone’s food preferences. Allergies, things like that. I can even tell you where everyone usually sat.
Take that table in the far corner, the circular one, that was the table for security. The dark-blue armor-suits pinning the young kids, and they were just kids, to the benches as they shoveled food into their mouths. Apparently, carrying a large gun around for hours at a time really kicks up an appetite.
They’d sit there playing poker between their shifts. I would hear them all the way from the kitchen, hollering and throwing out crude jokes at the female crew members. They were brash, but they weren’t bad kids at all.
The long table close to the kitchen? Dr. Loren and his team sat there. Working while they eat. The only people on this whole bloody ship that never took a break. Jayson Loren. His team was dedicated, to say the least. They’d have piles of papers and laptop tablets almost obscuring their plates. Half a protein bar in their mouth as the reflection of figures and statistics would reflect off their glasses. A lot of them wore glasses. They basically all look like your typical scientists. That cliché nerd look.
Some of the smartest men in the world, probably fantastic people, but their genius certainly didn’t include conversation skills. Almost everything out of their mouth was something about their current research. A new breakthrough on botany, some random fact about nutrients. It was way over my head. What the hell do I know about chemically treating plants, I’m a chef. You want to know what the perfect mix of seasons is to make an amazing pot roast? I’m your guy. You want to know what it takes to make the cow the healthiest in order to get the most meat out of it? I wouldn’t have a clue.
To think, three years ago I was sitting in a kitchen in a shit restaurant in the Morrison District. Business sector. The swine in suits coming in to stuff my precious art into their mouths between meetings. They’d carve up my steaks before they’d go out and carve out their assets. It made me sick to feed people who had no appreciation for what it was I did. Of course, none of that matters now. I’d give anything to feed one greedy fucker something to eat right now. It would beat the hell out of my current situation.
What is my current situation? I suppose I should start discussing what it is that happened. Isolation, the leading cause of madness in this line of work, that’s the current situation. The Ceres III is staled in high orbit around Earth. As I hinted at earlier, power is on reserve, non-essential generators have been shut down. As far as I understand it, all energy resources have been shifted to life support. Even the com system is trashed.
And believe me, I’ve tried the com system. For a while, it worked. I would talk into the tiny box on my wall, desperate to hear a response from somewhere on the ship. Nothing.
Every single person is dead. It’s now just me. Alone.
The leading cause of madness in this line of work?