Between the Cracks

Eustace looked at the young man sitting across from him who was staring at the floor between his shoes. “I can’t spend a day in a warm office or house during the winter without getting bloodier knuckles than I’ve ever gotten from a fight.”

Eustace clenched his fist and watched the blood run from the split skin of his knuckles. “They say Humans are very adaptable, but really we’re just good at ignoring discomfort.”

The young man didn’t look up so Eustace leaned forward, placing his arms and hands on the desk, careful not to spill blood on the report he was supposed to fill out. “That said, the discomfort is the price we pay for being the most prevalent race in the galaxy. We get hired to terraform and colonize planets for other races.”

Eustace chuckled and leaned back again, hands resting on his head. “We get paid tons of money to live our lives on a new planet while a bunch of machines work. Easy living.”

He leaned forward quickly, slamming his bloody knuckles down on the desk as he practically leapt at the young man. “Unless some jackass comes along and breaks the damn machine! Then we get nothing!”

Eustace rounded his desk, hauled the young man up by his lapels and shook him. “Got anything to say in your defense, Reddik?”

“I-” Reddik swallowed and tried to pull back from the gentle oozing of Eustace’s knuckles. “It’s too dry here, Director.”

“Next time” Eustace sneered as he dropped Reddik, “Just get a bottle of lotion or deal with the bloody knuckles.” Eustace sat down in his chair and sighed. He picked up his pen and started filling out the report. “A bucket of water. Really?”

Reddik’s chapped lips quivered. “I just wanted to adjust the humidity.”

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