Blissfully unaware of the dangerous plan for the ship that was brewing, Ramone looked at his watch and tensed up. It was an hour until karaoke time. His ship-mates would expect a new song or few as well as their previous faves. He’d better pick one and practice up. This was getting a bit crazy. If he didn’t show up, he’d get calls entreating him to go, and they wouldn’t stop until he did. Admittedly, once he was there and into it, it was great; but this really was eating into his time. Well, no point in wasting more of it, he’d better get to it. He put aside his work and called up the music files. This was the fun part, going through songs and choosing one. To save time he called up only ones by the artist he’d aligned himself with. That’s what the audience wanted anyway. Luckily, there was a huge selection. He picked one and tried it out. Some of his Panamanian-Spanish accent remained, he knew, but people didn’t seem to mind. The karaoke machine in the lounge took the vocals out of songs, so singing along to the original artists at home was his chance to practice the inflections. Though the lyrics flashed in front of him in the performance, it was better to memorise the words. There was some agony and longing in this song, so to get the tone right he thought of how he wished he could be at home in the mountains of Panama, where water was pure and the weather was perfect.
His Parents’ house was on the top of a huge hill, with a view to die for. He could picture the lush garden, orange trees with juicy fruit for the picking, and the majestic mountains in the backdrop. His Affenpinscher dog, his dear shaggy little friend Enmarañado, must be missing him so much. That did the trick, all right, real raw craving entered his voice. The nuances were there he knew, he felt at one with the soulful piece. The only thing left to take care of was how nervous he felt when he thought of the crowd that had grown astronomical. They never took their eyes off him, staring up at the karaoke stage in anticipation of a splendid, much needed diversion from the daily pressures to solve the world’s problem with their research. He had a sudden urge to take a walk in the hydroponic garden.
Stepping into the decorative food and medicine production facility, he got a shock. Winter stretched forever in the garden, though Ramone knew the size was only an illusion. For some reason the computer or maybe old Joe had snow slashing down at a fierce angle as wind beat a brave black bird. Strange, he thought.
“Bug killing phase,” a voice said out of nowhere.
Startled, he turned and found Joe standing like a statue, covered in an inch of snow. He wore no jacket. Ok, this guy was just weird. Weird but wonderful.
“Ah,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I was hoping to get a little relaxation from the normal atmosphere in here.”
“Don’t worry. Spring’s coming.” He pushed a button on his controller. Instantly, the freezing and sleezing stopped. Plant covers were lifted to the ceiling, along with the thin layer of snow. Ramone was astounded to see the plants were all right.
“Insulated,” Joe said simply, and walked off to take care of things.
Ramone couldn’t quite fathom the scientific point of all that. Maybe Joe just liked snow.
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