We're back in the AI Universe today, a couple of centuries before the events in "Bad First Day." You don't have to be familiar with the universe to understand the story.
“Mum! He’s turned the gravity off again!”
Jada rolled her eyes as she snatched papers out of the air. “I noticed,” she grumbled, irritated by the work she’d have to redo. She used too much force and sent papers tumbling in every direction. Jada bit the inside of her cheek to keep from screaming as all hope of retrieving the file in some semblance of order evaporated.
“Reset the grav system now, Shawn, or so help me, I’ll make sure you’re locked out of every nonessential system on the ship for three months,” Jada said, raising her voice enough to carry through their living quarters.
She received a weak, “Yes, ma’am,” in reply.
Jada went through a mental checklist as she maneuvered herself as close to the floor as possible. She and Michael would have to rework the security measures yet again, and they’d have to figure out some other discipline option. While the threat of simple restriction proved a good motivator, didn’t sting enough to stick in Shawn’s mind the next time temptation presented itself.
The rumble of thrusters firing signaled his obedience to her order. The ship’s inner hull eased into rotation again, creating a disorienting sensation of movement while everything appeared still. Even after a couple decades, Jada wasn’t sure if the sensation was real or a psychosomatic response to the knowledge of what was happening around her.
Her communicator dinged, and Jada groaned. “Please don’t be Commander Reynolds,” she mumbled to herself before answering the incoming call.
“The grav system,” Reynolds snapped over the line without so much as a greeting, “was that your boy again?”
“I’m afraid so, sir,” Jada answered.
“One month’s waste system management duty,” Reynolds said. “I don’t care if it’s you and Michael that do it or the boy, but I expect this to stop. Do I make myself clear, Ensign Marsters?”
“As crystal, sir.”
The line cut from Reynolds’ end as Jada and all the loose items around her settled back onto the floor and other surfaces. With all the furniture welded to the floors or walls and breakables limited, there wasn’t much damage done, at least in their quarters. Still, she’d have to add to the folder on childproofing recommendations they were to file upon reaching the colony.
“Shawn Alexander Marsters, get in here this instant,” Jada called. Sighing, she began picking up papers that’d ended up strewn all around their common room.
“I’m sorry, Mum,” Shawn murmured from the doorway a moment later.
“That’d be easier to believe if you didn’t keep doing this.”
Picking up the last bundle of papers from the sofa, Jada turned to face her son. He shifted from one foot the other, and he seemed fascinated by the floor.
“One month restriction,” she said. “And since you’ll have so much free time to fill, you’ll be working waste system management with your father and me.”
“That’s not fair!” Shawn protested. Forgetting the sudden fascination with their living room floor, he looked up at his mother with wide-eyed indignation.
“Isn’t it?” Jada asked. “Your actions affected everyone on the ship, young man.” She shook the disorganized bunch of papers at him, and his eyes got impossibly wider as he recognized the thesis she’d been working on for the last half a year. “Who knows how much work you ruined with your selfish thoughtlessness? Did you even stop to think what kind of disasters you could cause for those in the infirmary and the things growing in the hydroponics bay?”
Shawn’s expression fell, and he paled. Lowering his gaze again, shame evident in his eyes, the preteen shook his head.
Jada closed her eyes and took a deep breath, counting to ten in her head as she let it out.
“You’re a smart boy, Shawn,” she said. “Too much for your own good sometimes.”
“You have to learn to consider the consequences of your actions before you make them,” Jada continued. “For you and for those around you. Understand?”
Each story in this series is 700 words or less and is prompted by a first line taken either from a random first prompt like this one or reader suggestions like "Don't Forget Me" and "Culture Shock." I much prefer working from reader suggestions over generators, but to do that, I need to hear from you.
If you have a prompt you'd like to see done, comment below, send it to my Tumblr asks, Tweet it at me, or leave a comment on any of the audio stories from this series. I'll screen shot it, write it, and post it for you.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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