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Sound in Space

by Kat Beyer

The Scrabble-playing lawyer, Senshu, (every colony ship should have one—it's amazing how many skills someone like that brings to a new planet) said he'd been fighting with the head chef at the time. What about? Asked the judge. A dictionary entry, the lawyer replied.

The head chef, Montague, said, yeah, that's where he was, too, and anyway while it was certainly his 10-inch steel Martian-made the murderer used, he shouldn't be a suspect, because he'd have had better sense than to use one of his own knives. And anyway he'd have cleaned it afterward. Not like the prep cook. Why didn't they ask her?

Of course I did it, said the prep cook. I'm crazy. Got a card says it. And she pulled out, not a standard colonial Form F-120 (a.k.a. “Crazy-page”), but a dirty napkin with numbers written on it. The judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation, pending charges. But she was one of those get-to-the-bottom-of-it type judges. Jupiter just bristles with them. Anyone wanting quick verdicts should leave the solar system.

I got called up after the prep cook. I told them that I was where the log book said I was, on the bridge, doing the trajectory numbers like a good little subnavigator. Anyway, Jared, I'm sorry, “the deceased,” and I were pretty much finished by the time we came aboard. No, no hard feelings. I started seeing Monty—the head chef—about 1020 hours into flight.

Monty's ex Sarah, who'd never liked me, said she thought I'd taken a break from the bridge about the time she'd heard Jared's life-support hit the landing dock.

At about 0600 hours? Asked the judge.

Yes, she said, and pointed out she'd already testified to that.

The landing dock on the outside of the ship?

Yes, she said, that's where landing docks usually are. Otherwise other ships can't land, y'know.

The judge ignored her sarcasm, and charged her.

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