Numbers. Numbers upon numbers upon numbers. The screen was crammed with them. Columns and rows, all neatly ordered with tick boxes and inputs at their sides for Aiden to fill in. It was how things were, whiling away the hours at the small desk, keys clicking beneath his fingers. Just number after number. Simple business.

Scrubbing tiredness away from his eyes, he clicked on the next unit, checking off three more ticks and punching in a couple of numbers beside them.



Another list complete. Yet another job to send off to the next level of staff. Another job that was no longer his problem to think about.

Stretching his hands, he clicked across to his emails and pulled up the next list forwarded his way, opening up the file. More columns and more numbers. But there, just off to the side, a new column waited patiently. A numberless column.


Scrolling down, Aiden looked over the new data, names listed off in a neat line.




And, beside that, another column stood out starkly that made Aiden’s chest tighten, his throat going dry.



Truth wasn’t something Aiden faced well in this line of work. He was a desk jockey, not a front line fighter. He had never been a part of that, never had the courage to be part of the fighting force that was sent out to combat the unknown. Star pilots, soldiers, medics. All sent to parts of the system he couldn’t even remember the names of. Parts that fell daily.

Scrolling up, Aiden hovered the mouse at the screen’s top.

Right click.

Delete column.

Numbers. That’s all they were. That’s all they had to be. Aiden was a businessman, not a fighter. He worked to a schedule, and schedules meant no attachment, no delay. So, he did his job, and they did theirs.

Scrolling across, he clicked the correct boxes, ticked the boxes that needed ticking, and continued deleting entries from a system that had grown all too sparse.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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