"What do I want?" asked the astonished Hansen. "It was you, sir, who sent the emergency call."
"I did no such thing," said Fromer with great certainty.
"But the light flashed--"
"How long have you been out of school?" Fromer asked.
"Almost a year, sir, but that doesn't change the fact that--"
"That you're imagining things and that you've been sitting on that asteroid hoping that something would happen to break the monotony. Now leave me the hell alone or I'll put you on report."
"Now look here," Hansen began, practically beside himself with frustration, "I saw that emergency light go on. Maybe it was activated automatically when something went out of order on your ship."
"I don't allow emergencies on the Euclid Queen," said Fromer with growing anger. "Now, if you don't--"
Hansen spared himself the indignity of being cut off. He broke contact himself. He sighed, reached for a book entitled Emergency Procedure Rules, and settled back in his chair.
Fifteen minutes later the emergency light flashed on for the second time in two hundred years. With its red glow illuminating his freckled excited face, Hansen triumphantly placed another call to the Euclid Queen.
"This is Hansen on 43.4SC. Let me speak to Captain Fromer, please."
"Er--the Captain has asked
When everything is automated and career choices basically devolve to what type of button you want to push for the rest of your life, who's going to open a stuck door so the ambassador can get home to mate?
Nicely done story. It gives hope to tinkerers.