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Chapter 4
“I tell you I am going to strangle those horses myself. Do you have any idea how much they breathe?”
Woodford Smythe regarded Mike Paulson silently. O xygen was becoming an emotional topic. Normally
you could just ignore Mike's self-serving hysterics. This was not normally. Woodford had observed that
Mike was about a week and a half ahead of the rest of the ship's company in terms of getting all worked up
about something. And you could not really accuse Mike of stirring up dissent because all of them really were
on a ship lost in deep space with life support failing.
“Go ahead and strangle the horses. They are huge Belgian horses and both your limp pale hands would not
fit around one of their necks. Besides that they are both mean as hell, especially Molly. They will kill you
dead and then there will be a little more life support for me.”
How best to bug Mike? Woodford knew just what to do. “We had a meeting a while back about the horses.
First of all, no one was sure how we could kill them with the equipment on board. Computers don't kill very
many things that size. But the biggest issue was what to do with the bodies. Two dead things that size would
contaminate the air in this ship horribly, so the bodies would have to be disposed of immediately. Vent them
out into space, obviously. The only airlock big enough to put them in is on the main hatch, which is on the
starboard side. And by venting them out that hatch, we would lose all the oxygen in the airlock, since the
pump for that airlock has quit working. We did the arithmetic, and we save a lot of oxygen by just leaving
them down there breathing in and out.”
Mike was suddenly alert. “When was this meeting? I was not notified. I demand a complete and through
Woodford grinned his biggest grin. “Mike that was when you were in the brig. I think it was for … just
being yourself.”
Mike decided to switch from furious to friendly. “Woody, buddy, I heard that the crew has a plan to open
every hatch in The Fair Winds to space and Be Done With It. I even heard there is a special override
programmed into the computer that only the Captain knows anything about. He enters this code and whoom,
we're all dead.
Woodson looked at Mike for another long second. He hated being called “Woody” and he sure was not Mike
Paulson's buddy. But then he did speak.
“What I wonder is if the crew has some kind of plan to get rid of us passengers and then use the life support
for themselves. In times like this a lot of people look out for number one and nobody else.”
Mike's eyes bugged out a little as he absorbed this entirely plausible scenario. “When that happens we have
to all stand together, shoulder to shoulder, nose to the grindstone, power to the people.”
Mike turned to go. “I need to start organizing the passengers. It isn't right for one group to take all the
oxygen for themselves. There are more passengers than crew, I know that. If we strike first, we can get rid
of the crew and run the ship ourselves. You spread the word too, Woody buddy.”
Eldon Smythe quietly played with his toys. It seemed like wherever he went, it was kind of stink y. To get
his mind off that, he had asked his Mommy to tell him about the twin worlds of Calder and Grant. He always
enjoyed hearing about their destination. But Mommy had taken him to his room and told him to play with
his toys. So here he sat playing with his toys.