Having spent a good half hour devoting my affections to Beastie, I turned my attention to more pressing matters. I checked my rota and was delighted to find that I didn't have a duty shift for another twelve hours. It meant that catching up on the sleep I had missed last night would take me neatly into my new 'time zone', so as fatigue began to claw at me and slumber begged to be indulged, I fell happily under its spell without any sense of guilt. I welcomed Morpheus's warm embrace.
* * * * *The gentle warbling of the internal communications system stirred me. Bleary eyed, it took me a moment to get my bearings though. The enormous, fat, brown tribble camped on my pillow, smothering my face didn't help. Usually, Beastie slept in her own little bed that was perched on a unit in the corner of the room, a spot she had chosen to favour herself.
I reached over to the comms system and tapped the channel open.
"Have you checked your mail yet?" It was Al.
"Nah," I muttered.
"Why?" I yawned.
I didn't want to move. I wanted to go back to sleep. I'd been having such a lovely dream although, as the seconds passed, the memory of it was slipping away from me. Desperately, I tried to recall it, to recapture it so that I could slip back into it.
"Our orders are in."
"You should read them."
"Now." There was an urgency in her voice.
I sighed despondently and explained, "I've looked at my rota and I don't need to be anywhere for another ..." I checked the time, "eight hours."
"If you're in the same boat as me, your next shift is the least of your worries."
"Boat?" My mind was still fuddled by slumber.
"Yes, boat. Are you listening to me?" There was a long pause while Al waited for an answer that wasn't coming. "Have you done any of the Academy work you were set?"
"A bit. Why?"
"For crying out loud, Jen!" Al screamed, finally losing her temper with me. "Slap yourself awake, get your idle butt out of bed and read your flipping mail!"
"Oh, all right!" I moaned and heaved myself upright.
I yawned widely and rubbed my sleepy eyes trying to get them to focus. Beastie gave a small yowl of discontent as I nudged her out of the way.
My eyes soon picked up on the message Al was concerned about. It was from the Starfleet Cadet Development Coordinator instructing me to report to Starfleet Academy, San Francisco in ...
"Three weeks!" I screamed.
"But there's s'posed to be nine months between our stints at the Academy!"
"And it's been over eight months already!"
"Oh, knickers! I've done bugger all!"
"Ditto! That's why I'm panicking! We've got just three weeks to cram nine months of study into!"
"What we gonna do, Jen?"
I thought for a moment.
"Well I'm going back to sleep."
"SLEEP! How can you sleep?"
"Easily. I'm tired."
"But we have to study!"
"Yeah, but not now. I need to sleep first, then I have a shift to do and then I'll worry about studying."
"What! Are you mad?"
"No, but a few more hours isn't going to make a scrap of difference in the big scheme of things."
"No buts. Fretting isn't going to achieve anything so I'm going to prioritise: sleep, work, study. Night, Al!" and I flicked the comms channel shut somewhere in the middle of Al's next sentence. I sighed, threw myself back onto the pillow and allowed myself to drift back into a soothing, deep slumber.