“My name is Jonathan Johanson, and I am here to h-help you adjust to our system,” the tall, lanky, blond man in a navy-blue uniform said after standing behind the podium. Calmly, he carefully surveyed the sea of young black-uniformed recruits seated before him in the instalation’s auditorium. He smiled benignly to put them at ease. Then he continued:
“I know that e-everyone h-here is a b-bit disoriented from having traveled in state of v-v-vitrification for the last f-five months in order to reach this outpost. But this lecture is absolutely necessary in order to remind you about the importance of always adhering to the stringent rules."
“Sir can I show--” Franchesco Garibaldi, the dark, chubby fellow in the last row of seats said in a rather unusual high-pitched voice.
“Not n-n-now P P P-Private Garibaldi. All questions will be answered after the lecture," Johanson responded in a gruff voice sounding similar to a bark. He glared his bloodshot eyes at Garibaldi before resuming in order to get the message across. He detested interruptions. Especially now that his nerves had been severely frayed by his recent infection which had left him with a labial tick and a slight stutter. Interruptions would only make his symptoms appear worse than they really were by throwing his rhythm off. So he couldn't allow them. Furthermore, and much worse, if he failed at this simple task, then the instalation’s administrator, Yamamoto Sunahara, might tag him as dead weight and have him transported back to Earth to an office job with far less pay.
“Now, as I was s-s-s-saying," he continued with several slight twitches of the corner of his thin upper lip, there are certain things you must be aware of that are essential for your own safety and the proper management of this installation. One is that you must at all times maintain proper hygiene. That means that you must sh-sh-shower daily and p-pass through the sterilization chambers before entering the facility’s lab"
“Sir can I show--” Franchesco Garibaldi once more interrupted.
This time Johanson slammed the palm of his pale hand against the lectern’s side. He noticed that Garibaldi was perspiring profusely and had what seemed like a grimace on his wide mestizo face. He attributed it to anger. It was glaringly obvious that this recruit was a troublemaker. One of those guys who hated to take orders. Or else one of those underachievers who had always dreamt of reaching greater heights in life and who was envious of other’s success. But he would learn that here, at the instalation, that kind of disruptive behavior would not be tolerated.
“N-N-Not n-n-n-n-now G-G-G-Garibaldi. Are you d- d-deaf?” Johanson bellowed causing a murmur among the other recruits who had begun to look at Johanson in a rather weird way due to the stutter and facial twitches.
“Well, heh! heh! As I was s-saying, the sterilization procedure is very essential. If any microbe from the outside is introduced into this facility, we run the risk of exposing everyone else to a p-p-potentially fatal threat. What are those threats, you might ask? Well, let me elaborate. We have as of yet not determined exactly how our immune systems can ha-ha-ha ha-handle the microbes of this biosphere. Until we do ascertain the parameters of our resistance, we must consider each one potentially lethal. Especially the Branga virus that was discovered recently in the sweltering swamp-like areas of this rock. That one resembles certain malignant viruses which devastated the Earth several hundred years ago. Breaking this rule actually hit me personally like a ton of bricks. But as y-y-you can see, I have recuperated. My mistake was as simple as it is stupid, because I did not adhere to the strict rules established for the sa-sa-sa safety of us all. You see, back on Earth I was a b-b-b-botanist with a flower garden in my private greenhouse. Flowers ha-ha-have always fascinated me.” Johanson said proudly after several more involuntary twitches of his upper lip.
“So when I first arrived on this r-r-r-rock and saw what appeared like a ma,ma,mamagnolia , I absentmindedly p-p-picked it up, its micro-tendrils penetrated my spacesuit’s glove and injected a powerful neurotoxin. First symptoms were explosive d-d-d-diarrhea accompanied by pa-pa-pa-projectile vomiting,”
He paused for several more lip-twtiches before he continued:
“Then I was gradually paralyzed and almost d-d-died. B-b-b-but here I am. Lesson learned and I truly hope that my experience will prove useful for others. Don’t t-t-touch, sniff or taste anything organic without p-p-proper precaution outside of this facility. Understood?”
“Sir, yes sir! Understood sir!” they all responded in unison.
“Now are there any questions?” Johanson asked smiling broadly and very glad that the session was over.
"I have a question sir!"
Franchesco Garibaldo rose to his feet slowly and laboriously stepped into the aisle to face Johanson. Now finally noticing his lethargy and gaunt appearance, Johanson wondered how the hell such a sickly-looking, specimen of a recruit had been assigned to this installation.”
“And what might that question be Private Garibaldi?"
“So it wasn‘t OK to bring THIS in here?’ he revealed a small green, squirming, gelatinous, blob seemingly stuck to the palm of his hand.
“I found it stuck to the installation’s outside wall sir!" he said holding it up for the horrified Johanson and the other recruits who immediately retreated as far from him as possible to see.
Yamamoto Sunahara, the instalation's supervisor, who had just entered to see how things were going and had been nodding his head approvingly, suddenly swayed several times like a pendulum and then fainted, his small body hitting the black-marbled polished floor with a resounding thud. Recruits began exiting the auditorium in a panicked haste while Johanson swiveled his jaw rapidly in an effort to say something but for some reason no sound was being produced.
“Also, may I b-b-b-be excused to use the latrine n-n-n-now s-s-sir? So I can scrape this shit off my hand?” Garibaldi calmly added.