This is a continuation of Day 83. Prompt: Nothing changes or nothing had changed (open ended).
We lapse into silence, each working on homework, Alex playing background music from his laptop. It’s a comfortable silence between us after the last year as coworkers, broken only when the accelerator readout indicates samples are ready to be changed.
“Did you load the new wheel?” Alex asks.
I nod, gesturing to the sample box.
“Aw, man. I miss all the fun,” he says, winking.
I laugh, starting the sample switch procedure. It’s a long checklist, designed to keep anyone from getting shocked or exposed to radiation. I read each item aloud while Alex checks or completes it. 10 minutes later, we’re in the cage, climbing six feet up a ladder to load the new sample wheel. I watch the pressure pump as Alex loads the wheel, making sure we correctly sealed the valve to the main body of the accelerator. Wouldn’t want to get air in there. It hops around 3.5PSI, low enough not to worry me.
Alex finishes loading the wheel, sealing the samples in. I restart the sample pump, waiting for the PSI to reach vacuum range before opening the valve to the rest of the accelerator. It’s another minute before I’m sure there are no leaks, ushering Alex out and locking the cage behind us. We finish the checklist quickly, and five minutes later the accelerator is collecting data again.
“Dinner soon?” Alex asks, stretching in his chair.
I check the clock. 7:15pm.
“Let’s give it half an hour to make sure everything is running smoothly with the new samples.”
“Aye, aye,” he replies, saluting with a grin.
I laugh and turn back to my homework. Some things never change.