Europa – Chapter 5 “What do fish think about?”

Click here to return to Chapter 4

That night I had trouble sleeping. All sorts of weird dreams, I was half awake and half asleep. Yes, we have all experienced that. But what was weird was, for a moment, I was in Freds body in the tank.

In this dream, for him, and yet to me.. No matter how big the tank was – it was no ocean to him. He was stymied by bumping into walls. I awoke and fell to sleep and awoke repeatedly that night. Why was I dreaming of fish? What did the walls mean?

Finally I could not sleep any longer, and went out in search of a fresh cup of coffee from the the canteen. I figured the others would soon be along in a hour or so, as duty begins at 6 AM. (As if time has meaning when you have no sunlight). So I started a batch of coffee. Wanting to get a jump on things, I decided to flip on the outside monitors and to my astonishment, the amount of ocean life attached to the hull had become disconcertingly dense..

This was cause for concern.

For us to go outside and de-barnacle the hull would take the collective power of all the engineering teams, bring this ship to a total halt and, yea – we tech teams would have to go outside. Captain and corporate would not be happy if we stopped the boat and stopped the dive, and more importantly, the party topside.

With the monitor on, scanning our section of the hull, I started breakfast. I knew the others would be in soon, so I timed the kitchen well so that we could all have a discussion about this. I thought I would ask their opinions if it was serious enough to bring to the captain, or just something that we would call “maintenance”. Or maybe I hoped one of the other teams would have brought it up, so I didn’t have to.

As always, Paul was first in for breakfast. I asked how he slept and he said he slept well. I mentioned to him about my night and my dream of being Fred.

He poured his coffee and and in a detached way, looked at the monitors and spoke..

“Did you ever wonder what Whales think about? I mean, you live 150 years in the ocean, with no hands and you spend a lifetime eating krill and floating around and waiting to die. What horror to be born into that. Imagine the terror of pure boredom. Remember the elephants on Earth? Did you know they would mourn their dead and other human type rituals? “

I poured my coffee and kept my mouth shut. When Paul has something to say, I’ve learned to listen.

I replied “yea, brain scans of animals and all that revealed 50 years ago they have thoughts.”.

Paul replied, “Think about it. Our little meatbag brains are about 3 pounds of mush. Some of the creatures here, like whales on Earth, their brains come in at over 100 pounds. (remember, Europa lifeforms evolved in low gravity) Now think about that, dude. That’s a lot of neurons. Even if i hacked every computer on this boat, I couldn’t simulate that. I mean, what would a 150 year old whale have to say? What do fish like that think about? What wisdom does a space whale have to say?”

I stopped and remembered my dream. Damn, what DO fish think about?

Right then, Rick and Scott also came along for breakfast. Both as cavalier as always, ruining what was about to be Paul’s wisdom imparted on me. Shortly after, Danny came along also, and we all sat down to plan the day.

After all the thoughts about the status of the ship and crew mates and the status of our hull section, I thought I would decide the next direction of conversation carefully.

To be continued.