Clive

“You’re paranoid, you have a deluded sense of your own importance and you may very well have been affected by the crushing isolation of a lengthy mission in deep space.”

There was no doubt about it, the ship’s psychiatrist had my number.

The only problem was I wasn’t even in the room.

He started laughing hysterically. “But then, haven’t we all?”

He was talking to an empty chair, set up on the other side of the cell. We gave it to him in the vague hope he would stop yelling about not being able to see his patients because he was locked up.

I looked at Reg. “Why are we having to be on guard duty again?”

“Because The Captain sent most of out security people off to die after he kept saying ‘your mum’ jokes at that alien warlord.”

I grinned a little. “Oh yeah? Your boyfriend?”

Reg tutted. My jibes were getting old. “It was one time. And we were all on some very, very strong drugs.”

“Of course.”

“The dead ladies forced us.”

“Uh-huh.”

“They did!”

“I’m sure.”

“You’re a jerk.”

I felt a presence on my shoulder. “He’s right. You are a bit of a jerk.”

I turned to face the psychiatrist, who was leaning up close to me, shoulder pressed against the glass front of the cell. “Who asked you, Clive?”

“Just giving you my professional opinion,” he pouted.

“Alright then. Do you think Reg and The Captain should talk about what happened?”

He looked over at Reg. A long, slack-jawed gawp that would have made anyone uncomfortable. “Probably.”

I turned to Reg. “See?”

Reg shook his head. “Nope. Besides, he’s crazy.” He nodded vaguely in Clive’s direction without looking at him.

Clive nodded eagerly as he looked back at me. “It’s true. I am. But then, aren’t we all?” He shrieked with laughter as he skipped back to his ‘session’.

“I’m being serious, Reg. Things have started to get out of control since that ‘incident’ between the two of you. The ‘your mum’ thing was just the tip of a very shitty iceberg.”

“Name me one other thing that he’s done.”

“He jettisoned six years’ worth of curry rations into space. It wiped out that alien population when it entered their atmosphere.”

“Two things.”

“Instigated a mandatory Tuesday Hat Day.”

“So?”

“We’re in space, Reg. Nobody has a fucking hat.”

“So?”

“He killed four people because they didn’t have hats.”

“Fine.” Reg narrowed his eyes. “You’re going to nag me until I talk to him about it, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” I realised Clive was back with me and had said the word at exactly the same time as I had. He was staring at Reg again and didn’t notice my glare.

“You’re not going to let this drop are you?”

“No.” Again, Clive joining in in complete unison. How was he doing that?

“Ugh. Fine. I’ll go and talk to him.” Reg stomped off down the corridor.

A thought sprang to mind.

“Be careful! It’s Key Lime Pie Thursday and the Captain might not like it if you interrupt him!”

Clive had yelled the exact same words at the exact same time.

I turned to glare at him. He was giving me the slack-jawed stare, leaning lazily against the glass. He was really close to me.

I toyed with asking him how he did that? Was he psychic? Had he finally gone mad out here because everyone else’s negative thoughts had invaded his mind? Were they amplified by the Captain’s all-out assault on morale while he grappled with his own feelings? Was the length of time out here in the bleak void finally taking its toll on all of us, and he was merely the conduit through which this all manifested? Was there anything I could do to help? Anything I could do to lighten his burden, and perhaps bring him some peace? I had so many questions.

I found the right words.

“Piss off, Clive.”

If he really was psychic he already knew I’d worked it out. No point mincing words.

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