29h, 41m, 12s

“How long for you?”

She’d been staring out the reinforced windows of the mess at hills lit up a little too red and a little too bright. She blinked, took a moment to process the question, turned to look at the questioner. “Not sure? Maybe thirty-seven hours… thirty-eight? Thirty-eight hours. You?”

“Only about twenty-six.” He sat next to her, lowering himself into a chair with the focus of someone whose reflexes were written on a different world. His eyelids were heavy, his hands twitchy, his posture hunched. “I don’t do well.”

“Who does?”

“Some people.” There were plenty of them, hundreds and hundreds, laid out in water beds in prefab cabins all around them, in every direction. “My wife was adapted inside of a week. Damndest thing.”

She didn’t have a wife, or a husband, or an anything. “Some people.”

“Yeah.” He rubbed his eyes, sighed, stared at the landscape. “You try a mask?”

“Sure. Keeps me awake. Constricting, like,” she put her hands against the side of her head, squeezed her face, her nose, “ugh. Feels like I’m suffocating. Can’t do it.”

“I had pills. I brought a bottle of pills, you know? I read a paper once, about how the longer day would throw off our rhythms, how some people wouldn’t be able to adapt. I thought, hey, I’ll get a leg up. Big bottle, but only about half a pound. Nothing. They might not even have counted it. Went through it in two months, still didn’t help.  Sometimes I think: if I’d just done it naturally, would I be adapted now?” He laughed. “Anyway, my wife thinks so.”


“So I’m on the couch until it’s better. Which makes it worse. Plus they won’t let me work. I’m a ‘safety risk’.”

“You should apply for a bed at medical. That’s where I am. It’s quiet, and everybody gets it. I’ve been there for a month.” She shrugged. “They reassigned my cabin.”

“That’s not fair. They shouldn’t do that. You have a—”

“It’s fine. They’ll assign me another one if I… when I’m better.”

He got up, walked over to the vending machines, spent too long staring at the labels on the meals, finally stabbed a random button with one finger. “Want anything?”

“I ate already.”

“How long ago?”

She realized she couldn’t remember. “Is there chicken? Chicken sandwich?”

“I don’t think there’s more chicken yet. Still growing.” At least they weren’t out of beef; it would be years until there was fresh beef. “How about pasta salad? There’s plenty of pasta.”


They ate in silence. Others came and went around them, some as haggard and disheveled as they, some just on an early work schedule. She picked at her pasta, pushing it around the container before finally eating it in an act of sheer will.

Eventually she looked up and saw that he was out, head on his tray. She suddenly hated him, and walked out. Eventually someone would come in, roust him, shoo him home.