I, Juancho, finished my first blackberry margarita of the day. It was so refreshing, but I drank it so fast, and I was anxious, that I clutched my handgun and ordered another, to drink more slowly.
The man had not returned to the break room. I thought he’d be back by now. The Coronado is not large. There is the quarters car, and the community car, where I sit in the break room, also called the social club, because there is a break room in the biz car, and another in the ops car. I don’t believe the utility car has a break room. I may be mistaken. I’ve visited it, because that’s where the utility vehicles are housed, and because Madi used to spend her time there. I watched her on the security camera. There was nothing else to do. I was waiting to see who would be last, and I worried that she might be a killer. I don’t know why I wished to stay alive, in this terrible situation.
Holding the gun in my left hand, and my drink in my right, I visited the security post in the room’s corner. From there, I can set down my drink, or my gun, and change monitors and look for people. The system has said that Roger Lancey is dead, so I don’t know if it’ll find him on the ship. I have no idea how he entered the car. No alarms went off. He entered the break room as though he’d been onboard all along. This, I know, is impossible. I, Juancho, have been on the Coronado for four years. The last six months have been alone. Before then, it was Madi and me. We were the last little Indians.
He’d been asking questions about his Uncle Vaughn. Yes, his Uncle was an important man. Apparently, he disappeared before the Beagle’s explosion. I don’t know what that’s about. Perhaps it’s meaningful; a number of the Coronado’s survivors disappeared without apparent reason. It scares me, Juancho, to contemplate the meaning behind these disappearances, and whether they can be connected.
The system does not find Roger Lancey. I, Juancho, am not surprised. I use the manual features to check the cameras, going from place to place. The engineer was looking for Commander Alves, so I look where he should look, at her quarters, and her office in the ops car. Roger Lancey isn’t at either location. I look in the control deck. He’s an engineer, and this seems likely as a location for him to go. He can attempt to contact the Beagle from there. It seems strange that he does not know about the Beagle. But, then, if he is onboard, and it exploded, he was killed. This is why the system calls him deceased.
Yet, he is here.
This begins me on a new tour of my private circle of hell. He is either a zombie, or I am insane. If I’m insane, I could be imagining him, or I could be imagining this entire story. In that regard, as I said to Ricardo before his disappearance, we could be in a virtual simulation or game, couldn’t we? We wouldn’t know. That seemed to greatly upset Ricardo. He disappeared within two days of our conversation. Deceased, the systems say.
I can’t find Roger Lancey anywhere. I think, perhaps he’s gone to the utility car to take one of the remaining vessels and leave. I, Juancho, can’t conceive of where he would go, but other engineers on the Coronado discussed that as an option before their disappearances. The cameras don’t find him there. The vehicles remain.
I, Juancho, am disturbed. He is gone, as he came, without clues or warnings. This seems too much for my personal systems. That cannot happen.
That cannot happen.
He must be on the Coronado.
Yes, I, Juancho, realized. He was hiding, waiting for me to come look for him, so that he can kill me.
That can be the only explanation of events.
Well, I, Juancho, laugh at that. I am a bureaucrat. We are conditioned to wait. We must be patient. Everything takes time. The systems, decisions, and events, cannot be hurried. We understand that better than others. I, Juancho, decided I will have another margarita, and wait for Roger Lancey to give up on his ambush and return to this room to find me.
And I, Juancho, will have my gun, and will be ready for him.
He’ll be sorry that he plotted to ambush me.