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IML_42 t1_j658sd4 wrote

Twenty-eight of something is—depending on the thing—a lot of something. Take, for example, potato chips. Twenty-eight potato chips is a de minimis number of chips—it is just enough to rev your craving engines, but not enough to satiate your need for crispy-potatoey speed. It certainly isn’t even a large enough volume of chips for one to notice if they went missing. On the other hand, twenty-eight days of Christmas is altogether too many days of Christmas—let’s be honest, even twenty-five could be argued as too large a sum.

Similarly, twenty-eight dead crew members for a small courier ship strikes one as far too large of a number. At least that’s what went through the head of Replaceable Crew Member 29 as he stared at his new uniform.

“Sorry. ‘Replaceable Crew Member 29’?” Asked RCM 29 incredulously. “My name is David.”

“Not in here it isn’t,” replied Secondary Support Character 5. “It’s better for crew morale if they don’t get too attached; when you give a farm animal a name, it makes the slaughter needlessly difficult.”

“Farm animal?” Shouted RCM 29 indignantly, “I’m a fucking person!”

“Farm animal isn’t fair. Sure, they don’t eat you when you inevitably die—that’d be barbaric. But, I think you get the point. You’re fodder, just like the twenty-eight who came before you. Such is life.”

RCM 29 noticed a tall, blonde man who was wearing a crisply starched, silver space suit. The man had been standing nearby listening to the whole exchange.

“Don’t worry RCM 29,” Protagonist said, “we’re all replaceable in our own right. I’m not the first protagonist and I won’t be the last.”

Protagonist, was right. While no official records had been kept, the running estimate for protagonists on the crew was anywhere from 85-150 (depending on who you asked and their personal agenda/political alignment). We must—and do—however, disregard the conspiratorial crazies who insist that the standing number of protagonists is negative 33; theirs is a mindset best ignored. Regardless, while twenty-nine may, at first, strike one as a large number, surely 117.5 (the average estimated protagonist count) is a much larger number. Indeed, life as a protagonist, while carrying with it far more panache and praise, was incredibly dangerous.

“Well, sure. That’s easy enough for you to say,” replied RCM 29, “your replaceability is implied. Mine is plastered in bold-print on the back of my shirt.”

“Who among us is irreplaceable?” Said SSC 5 with the disinterested tone of a pseudo intellectual who, while feigning aloofness, is actually really interested in carrying on and involving themselves in the conversation at hand. “We all serve but a temporary purpose in this life. Our impact is but a fleeting whisper in the ever-growing cacophony that is the universe.”

Protagonist 118.5 and RCM 29 shared a look of confusion and burst into laughter at the expense of SSC 5. The laugher helped put RCM 29 at ease. Maybe things would be ok, perhaps the constant reminder of his replaceability would cause him to appreciate each day and live it to the fullest.

Protagonist 118.5 recovered from his laughter and put his arm around RCM 29. “Look. I don’t know what this guy is blabbering on about; leave it to the guy who’s only got four predecessors to wax poetic about the insignificance of life. You and I, we’re not so different. Each of us has a role to fulfill and a certain amount of danger that is ours to face. I like you, RCM 29. Come see me on the bridge when you get settled.”

As Protagonist 118.5 walked away, RCM 29 turned back to SSC 5 and have him an apologetic smile. “Sorry about that.”

“Not at all,” replied SSC 5, “it happens more than you think. Although, a word of caution, if may.”

“Shoot,” said RCM 25.

“Consider the plight of your predecessors and learn from their mistakes. For a history repeated is not an inevitability but a lack of learning,” SSC 5 said gnomically.

“You mind expanding on that, pal?”

“There is much danger surrounding the Protagonist, like an asteroid belt littered about a planet. Assume that you’re not the first RCM to have been pulled into his orbit.”

“So he’s dangerous?”

“You do the math, twenty-nine.”

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, please check out my other stories at r/InMyLife42Archive


Adharc007 t1_j68yo6v wrote

Wow, I love your writing style! It sounds lots like Roddy Doyle, and I love it!


IML_42 t1_j699e32 wrote

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I’m glad you enjoyed!