“Orare est Laborare.” —Benedictine motto

If it had not been for the integrated axiotromic calendar, Brother Leon would not have known which decade he was living in, let alone the day or the time.  Not that time mattered much out here.  Each day on this world, with its three suns and four oddly orbiting moons, provided only fleeting hours of nightfall, and those hours were sporadic at best.  Over the years, he and the other Brothers had adapted to the lack of sleep that so much daylight induced, which suited them well, since their regimen imposed seven periods of prayer and contemplation throughout the day—twelve during Lent and the Holy Week. 

Even so, Brother Leon found his mind a little foggy this morning as he performed the scheduled system maintenance on the hydromatic oxygenator vents.  It was a grungy job that left his hands and face blackened for weeks.  With water being in such short supply on the station, his bi-monthly showers would not begin to remove the greasy build-up, especially the five minute showers he and the novice Brothers were allotted.  It was times like that he felt his old worldly ambitions creep into his soul once again, with their urges to rise in the corporate ranks and enjoy the privileges that men of status and power enjoyed.  Certainly the Abbot was not limited to a five minute shower!  But even as these thoughts began to surface, Brother Leon pushed them back down and refocused his mind on the task at hand and the prayer for this day, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner…Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner…”  Besides, the Abbot had so many more responsibilities than he did, and a man in his position had to make all those reports to the Colonial Exploration Board over the TeleTron;  he had to look presentable.

Brother Leon finished screwing in the panels for duct 14-A and was about to carry his tools across the hall to the adjacent panel when an announcement came over the HumanaVox system.  “Thirty minutes until Matins.  Repeat, thirty minutes until Matins.”  Aside from the recitations and prayers the Brothers heard each day in the chapel, these announcements were the only time they experienced a voice other than the one resonating in their own minds.  For Brother Leon, this was still something he was getting used to.  He had grown up in a family with four younger sisters, and their perpetual babbling had nearly driven him mad as a boy.  It seemed that whenever he had tried to read or watch a DigiFlick, his sisters would be sitting around him, quarreling among themselves or interrupting him with their constant barrage of questions.  The only time he could get away from the chatter was when he was using the Excrovac, and even then they would likely barge in to fetch something from the counter drawer. 

Well, he certainly did not have to worry about female interruptions here.  Although some of the newer congregations had gone co-gender, the Bishop of his order would have none of that, especially for deep-space assignments such as this.  This, of course, suited Brother Leon just fine, and that is why he had requested to serve his first term on New Haven-12.  The sense of order and discipline appealed to him in a way that nothing on Terra Prime offered.  Not only was he serving his God, he was also helping to provide a vital service to his people.  Perhaps if his inner life progressed the way he hoped, he may even be chosen for a long term journey aboard one of the Interplanetary Probes.  Their order’s founder, Bishop Thomas, had been traveling alone now for over seven years on his way to the proposed site for Harmony 7 in the Gamma system.  He is now so far out on his journey that the base only communicates with him once every eighteen months;  soon it will be once every twenty months.  But who could possibly perform this mission better than one of the Brothers?  These men crave quiet and solitude in order to hear the voice of the Lord more clearly—away from all the noisy ambitious squabblings of the world.  Yes, that’s what Brother Leon wanted to be.  It was his life’s true mission, but first he had to finish cleaning these vents before Matins.

About Scott Shields

Years ago, I left the Midwest for the deserts of Arizona. Since then, I have worked in the grocery business and as a high school English teacher. Literature and writing are my passions, and I try to share my love of the written word with my students each day.


  1. Love the weaving together of Sci-Fi and religion!