Hari wasn’t so much clever, as he was wiley.
To me, it’s that being clever implies a sort of chaotic neutrality into a situation involving pranks, antics or gags pulled on a target. At the heart of it there is nothing malicious, not really, besides a joke at someone’s expense. That’s something I could abide by, even if it wasn’t in my personal nature to pull stunts like that.
But Hari wasn’t clever. He had a mean streak, and one might have almost called it downright evil. I mean, in the grand scheme of this big old universe through which we found ourselves cruising in a space freighter was he the meanest thing around? No. But inside this little ship, the tricks he had thought up to play on Mitch were leaning towards wicked.
Change, some say, can come in many forms. Sometimes change is slow and methodical, passing over us like a shift in the season, a bit cooler each day until short pants weather turns to long pants weather, and you need to replace your brimmed sun hat for a wool toque.
Aboard a space freighter there was no such thing as slow change. When the night came, the lights flipped off with a switch. The air circulation fans stopped or started again in a moments notice. And bad things popped out of corners, blindsiding you in a flash from an unseen place at the edge of your perception.
Slow change can be just as deadly, but when things change for the worse in barely the span of a heartbeat that’s the worst.
That day had not seemed in any way unusual as it began. Those kinds of days never do. You get up, wash your face, brush your teeth, scarf down some rations for breakfast, and get to work. If anything ever seemed unusual at that point, then go back to bed. Those kinds of days sneak up on you. Those kinds of days are lurking in the nooks and crannies of ordinary days, waiting for a bit of the universe to unfold and spring it out in the recirculated air like a mote of angry dust flung from a bunched up bed sheet.
I got up. I washed my face. I brushed my teeth, and I scarfed down a ration pack number fourteen, eggs and an oat bar with a side of black coffee.
Then I followed the other three guys to work, down the wrangler lift to deck eight to relieve the A shift. Not unusual in any way whatsoever.