Changed–Day Three

“There’s no psychiatrists on board. There shouldn’t have to be. No-one joins without passing evaluations.”

“So why did she do that to herself?”

“Did she?”

“What are you talking about?”

“I know I heard a voice in her room that day.”

“Don’t give me that, Louis. Her own blood was under her own fingers.”

“So answer your own question. Why’d she do it to herself? Why was she sitting in a dark room for an entire day?”

John sighed and sipped his coffee. “Louis, what do you want from me? She’s not speaking. Once she’s out of the hospital, they’ll put her to sleep for the rest of the trip.”

“Then we have to get the answers ourselves.”

“Louis, I know nothing ever happens, but we’ve still got work to do. If we don’t turn our weekly reports in, the Captain will ice us right alongside her.”

“I’ll do the reports myself.”

“Oh you will?”

“Go back to her room, and try to find something. Please.”

John said he’d think about it, but insisted they got back to work in the meantime. He had a curious personality, and really wanted to know what had happened, even if he didn’t especially care about her. He had already decided to investigate before even saying he’d think about it. But something about the situation made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He couldn’t forget the image of Sarah kneeling there before him, concealed in the darkness. He couldn’t forget her wide, black eyes staring up at him.

 

A few hours later, John left for Sarah’s apartment while Louis continued working.

John stood in front of the door for a moment, remembering the previous day. In his pants pocket was the knife Sarah had been holding behind her back as she knelt before him in the dark room. John unlocked the door, and thankfully the lights were still on.

Everything seemed normal enough, except for the laptop at Sarah’s desk. It was on, and must have been the glow in the darkness that John had seen in the darkness the previous day.

After failing three login attempts, a call came through on John’s gauntlet.

“Another breach of privacy, John?” asked Vi.

Vi was the head of the ship’s cybersecurity and the only one who had access to everyone’s computers. She cared about privacy even less than John and was only teasing him. He replied to her.

“Vi I’m ordering you to give me her network history.”

“Yessir! One moment…” Vi didn’t mind being ordered around. She enjoyed being given things to do when there was normally so very little work for her.

Before John could say “take your time,” he had received the report on his gauntlet.

“I’ll never understand how you work so quickly,” he muttered as he pulled up the report. “What’s this? A support forum for anxiety and depression?”

“Looks like it,” said Vi.

John looked through her post history. It was all very recent. The earliest post was just a week ago.

“It doesn’t make sense. She was never prone to depression, they wouldn’t have let her onboard if she was. What changed?”

“You’re asking me?” said Vi.

“No,” said John. “I don’t know… are you reading this? This is dark shit…”

“I see it John… Maybe Louis will know something.”

“Louis? I don’t think so. They’re just friends.”

“He’s her brother-in-law!” Vi said.

“What? Why didn’t I know that.”

“Probably because she didn’t take the family’s name.”

“He never told me though.”

“Well I’m telling you now. Sarah is married to Louis’s brother Peter.”

“Okay Vi, thanks. I’ll talk to him tomorrow. In the meantime, look at her last post on that site.”

“I already did.”

“Who’s this person she’s exchanging contact information with? ‘shmedai?'”

“What am I, a psychic?”

“No, but they might be. Look at their profile.”

“Created the same day Sarah created hers,” Vi noted.

“No comments to anyone else in any other thread,” John added.

“Account was registered with Prevaricator70@unbound.eg. I can’t find that email linked with any other websites.”

“Guy must enjoy his privacy. Can you open up Sarah’s email?”

“We’re not pushing it now?”

“Correspondence through a Company email address? Not private property.”

But Vi had already been looking through it. “Well, you won’t like this.”

“What is it?”

“The only messages between them is shmedai asking for her private email address and her giving it to him. That’s it.”

“Fantastic. We can’t find out what they were saying then.”

Vi started. “Well…”

“No, Vi. If we’re found out, it’ll be both our necks. We’ll… think of something else. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Bye John.”

John looked down at his feet and saw traces of dried blood pepper in the carpet.

“I’ve got to get out of here already,” he muttered to himself. He hardly been there fifteen minutes, but it felt like hours and hours. Reading Sarah’s strange, despairing words—it exhausted him.

John closed the laptop and left the apartment. He stopped at the cafeteria on his way back, but he still had half his shift left by the time he’d eaten. But he didn’t return to the office. He sent a message to Louis, telling him what they’d found, and went home. Louis replied minutes later, but he was too tired to read it. It was too early to be tired, but he collapsed into his bed and slept through the night.

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