AMANDA RE-ARRANGED ITEMS IN HER BATHROOM IN NEAT ROWS AND columns, from smallest to largest. She moved on to evenly space the towels, again, and then out into her quarters where every trinket and decoration was carefully arranged. The view port curtains were straight and tied back. She glanced up when her door opened and two droids came in with two duffel bags.
“Your laundry has been completed, Executive Officer Wrigley,” one said.
“I said I would come get it.”
The unemotional droids waited for an order.
“Place them on the bed.”
They obeyed and left. Amanda removed her clothes and stacked the folded clothes in level piles on her bed, keeping the shirts, pants, and underwear evenly spaced. With the bag emptied, she carefully folded it, fastening a strap around it to keep it folded in storage. She knelt down next to her bed, tapping a button at the end. The doors to the cubby compartments under the bed disappeared. She reached in to place the bag on a shelf and spotted something on the wall. She leaned in, staring at the painting shaped like a brightly colored egg. Amanda touched it and her room’s sequencer activated. She turned as paper confetti spat from the sequencer over her and her room. The confetti stopped and a small egg-shaped cake appeared in the sequencer with frosting of the same color as the egg inside the compartment.
Amanda sprang to her feet, staring in horror at the confetti.
“Gracie!” Amanda screamed.
“Get a cleaning droid in here! Hurry! It’s an emergency.”
It’s confetti, XO. It is not an emergency.
“GRACIE, DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD YOU GOD DAMN MACHINE!”
Silence answered her panicked response. Her door opened and three cleaning droids zipped in and began cleaning. Amanda turned, finding confetti on her clothes and bed.
“This… I can’t… This…” Amanda hastily grabbed clothes and shook them.
Are the cleaning droids still needed? Gracie asked.
“Yes. The bed needs stripped and remade.”
It was made this morning, First Exec—
“Do it!” Amanda snapped, starting to cry and shake.
The droids began making the bed.
“Where’s Captain Barnet?”
Eating in the captain’s mess.
Amanda ran from her room.
Tru leaned on the table, reading the doc-slip in his hand while he ate. The door between the captain’s mess and the senior officer’s mess was open, and bits of conversation drifted to him. This was one of his favorite hobbies – go into a crowded place, listen to the various conversations, and try to deduce the speaker’s habits, livelihood, and home life.
Amanda entered the senior officer’s mess and stormed up to Tru, stopping at his elbow. He slowly looked up at her. He could see she was on the verge of crying, so he waited for her to tell him what was wrong. But she just stared at him.
Tru cleared his throat and asked, “Yes, XO?”
“Do you want to tell me about any other surprises I’m going to find in my room?”
“I was stowing my bags in the cubby under my bed and found a painting of an egg on the inside wall. When I touched it, the sequencer showered me and my room with confetti and then a cake was sequenced.”
Tru smiled, looking down at his meal.
“Don’t touch the egg if you don’t want that to happen again, Wrigley.”
“I demand to know what the purpose of that is! It will take me hours to put my room back in order!”
“Hours to put your room back in the order?” Tru looked up at her. “Wrigley, it’s just confetti and a cake. Request a couple cleaning droids and the confetti is gone. And you eat the cake. You did eat the cake, didn’t you?”
“NO! I can’t eat cake after twenty-one hundred hours!”
“Sweets can’t be eaten after twenty-one hundred!”
“Because they can’t!”
Tru lost his sense of humor, realizing he was seeing the rim of the disorder Larson had warned him about.
“What do you usually do at night after twenty-one hundred hours?”
“That’s none of your business! I want another room! It disturbs me that egg is even there. I’m not comfortable with it.”
“It’s just a painting, Wrigley. What about it bothers you so much?”
“I’m not falling for your psychological bullshit!” Amanda screamed.
Tru and crewmen in the senior officer’s mess stared at her. She looked down, swallowing.
Quietly she said, “I’m sorry, sir.”
“Wrigley… What’s going on here? What’s the real problem?”
Amanda looked at her hands, wringing them.
“Sir, I just… My room can’t be out of order. It takes too long to get everything in the right order,” she almost whispered.
Tru nodded. “I will see if Gracie can take the egg off line so this doesn’t happen again. I won’t paint over it, but if you’d like, we could figure something to cover it up. Would that help get things back in order for you?”
A single tear slid down Amanda’s cheek. “Yes,” she whispered.
“Do you think you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep in your quarters tonight?”
“I don’t know.”
“If you can’t, ask Doctor Equ’Wixal if you can use one of the Sickbay beds for tonight. We’ll take care of the painting tomorrow. Okay?”
Amanda didn’t reply or leave.
“Was there something else?” Tru asked.
“When should I expect my transfer?”
“You shouldn’t, but you should try getting some sleep.”
“Yes, sir. Good night, sir.”
“Good night, Wrigley.”
Amanda turned and left. Tru let out a slow breath. He wasn’t ready to make a definitive decision, but his hunch was she had an anxiety disorder and was maybe borderline obsessive-compulsive. It was going to be a very long nine months.
“Captain, please report to junction F-12,” a male voice said over the intercom. “We have a situation.”
Tru stood and tapped the intercom. “What’s the problem?”
“A fight, sir.”
“I’m on my way.” Tru looked down at his half eaten hamburger and fries. He grabbed a handful of fries and rushed out of the room.
A secret uttered in a servant’s earshot, stays a secret no more.