Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Danger on the Spectrum excerpt

Richard paced the room from one side to the other, 15 steps each direction. He’d counted it the first three times he’d paced it out, and now he had to make sure it was the same 15 steps each time he did it. They would be arriving at Foster’s Planet by noon ship time tomorrow, and Richard really wanted to watch the approach, but the viewing room was out of the question, almost everyone on the ship, other than the crew obviously, would be there wanting to see the spectacle. That was just too much for him.

With a sigh, Richard walked over to the monitor on the wall, 15 steps, and punched in the codes to get the display to come up on the monitor. The scene in the viewing room would be the actual approach. His monitor would only show him a camera eye’s view of the approach. Not quite the same thing, but he figured it would have to do.

“Computer,” he called out, “How far are we from Foster’s Planet?”

The computer responded, “Rounded or exact kilometers?”

It seemed like the computer had learned that Richard didn’t like the rounded numbers, because it had given him rounded numbers the first few times he’d asked it questions. That might be ok for most, but Richard needed exact numbers, and he’d informed the computer of this.

“Exact please,” he answered.

“We are currently 1,683,477,864 kilometers distance from Foster’s Planet, although this number has of course changed in the time it’s taken to report this. Do you require an updated distance?”

“Not necessary,” Richard answered as his brain started to take the number apart.

Divisible by 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9, he thought. The fact that it was divisible by so many of the single integers pleased a part of his brain, but another part was frustrated like always. Just once he’d like to be able to look at a number and not feel the need to take it apart. It was a great trick when he’d learned it in pre-algebra all those years ago, but his brain had latched onto it and had never let it go.

He shook his head. He’d tried to stop himself so many times in the past, but he could never get his brain to not do it. Why worry about it now?

He took the time to examine the approaching pinpoint of light that was Foster’s Planet. There were no real details to see, although that would change quickly. He’d seen numerous images of Foster’s Planet. He knew it looked quite a bit like Earth, although Foster’s Planet had 10% more land mass than Earth, and a gravity that was 97% of Earth. Most people probably wouldn’t know the difference, but Richard figured that he probably would.

Most important to him was the fact that there were only 174,873 people on the planet. That would be a nice change from the billions on Earth. Only divisible by 3, he thought with a sigh.

For a moment, he thought about resuming his pacing, but he was tired, and even if sleep would be difficult, he knew he had to try.

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