Jason Stalk awoke to the sound of his phone alert for the beginning of his favorite morning TV news show. He opened his eyes and felt the normal urge to take a piss, grumbling as he sat up, swung his feet around and slowly stood, feeling the stabbing pain in his osteoarthritis affected hips and shoulder, then made his way painfully into the bathroom.

As he stood there allowing his bladder to drain on it's own, he went over his agenda for the day in his head. He had an appointment with Dr. Swan down at the V.A. hospital and he was hoping she would be giving him good news.

Yet, he intensely disliked having to get out and take the bus. Partially because of the long, painful walk and wait between stops. But, mostly because the public bus service was used by those who couldn't afford an automobile or the associated expenses tied to owning an automobile.

Jason believed that the poorer the group of people, the more likely individuals are to be involved with some sort of illegal activity. Largely because the theft of, and/or sale of, stolen items and drugs is illegal but, the profit margin for their resale is anywhere from 100% to 200% depending largely on what is sold and the quantity/quality of the goods/drugs one steals/buys originally. Jason had a deep and abiding dislike of thieves. As for drugs, they alter mood and often cause psychotic behavior in individuals under their influence. Jason also had little tolerance for psychos.

Since, Jason had ceased his personal self medication, for going on 12 years. He didn't like being around drugs, people on drugs or people involved in their sale and he had learned that there was a roughly 70% chance that at least one such individual would be on the bus.

Unfortunately, he might even know one or more of them personally although, after 12 years, the chance of that, was becoming much less likely. Because most chemically dependent individuals who do not quit using chemicals, die from it or the associated lifestyle hazards it brings.

Jason gave the last push and clench for the final squirt and dribble, gave his dick a shake, put it away in his boxer briefs, flushed the toilet and made his way to the kitchen. Along the way, he turned on his desk light, TV and kitchen light. Then he started his morning 3 cups of coffee in the coffee maker, started a breakfast burrito in the microwave and drank a glass of milk, while waiting for his breakfast to get ready.

Then he went into the living room to watch the news while his coffee finished and his breakfast burrito cooled sufficiently to be able to be eaten without burning the inside of his mouth.

The news was much of the same ole crap, fracking for natural gas was believed to be causing the earthquakes that had been plaguing the central US, since fracking was given the go ahead by the government. Lawsuits were being filed by individuals, groups and entire small towns against the owners and corporations which owned oil "exploration" companies doing the fracking for oil.

They quickly touched on a meteor striking in the Ukraine which was unexpected by Astronomers and the scientific community was working on discovering why they hadn't been aware of it's approach. The meteor had crashed into and crippled one of their new, state of the art power generating stations. The death toll was at 15 workers, who were in the plant when it was hit.

There was more news about the country's and indeed the world's, push toward space exploration, new communication satellite launches and a multi-billionaire was developing a re-usable rocket design for use in servicing the International Space Station. The long term goal being, that a fueling satellite station was to be built for better ability to travel to the moon for eventual mining and "way-station" capabilities in "deep space" travel to extend our reach into the solar system and eventually the galaxy and universe as a whole.

As he ate his breakfast watching the news, he saw the commercial that had led to his appointment with Dr. Swan at the V.A. hospital this morning. It was an ad for paid participants in a suspension study for application during deep-space travel and that aged veterans were preferred, as this was a government backed study. Jason had applied to be included in the study, due to a lack of funds and not having anything better to do anyway.

This was the day Jason was to find out if he would be included in the study and what would be involved in his acceptance of inclusion.

Jason had made the trip many times and had the time he needed to be at the connecting bus stop down to a science. And since he had settled into a retirement neighborhood in a median income college area, his exposure to persons of questionable moral character and potentially antagonistic behavior was at a minimum.

But there was always the central hub, where he would have to wait for half an hour until all of the connecting buses came in and they would begin their circular routes again. When the bus arrived at the terminal, he shouldered his Viet Nam era canvas ammunition bag that contained his folder of various legal documents, his laptop, a pair of compact binoculars, a magnifying glass, a mirror and a power pack for his phone or laptop along with assorted pens and pencils and got off to get a cup of coffee. After getting his coffee, he stepped into the alley of the convenience store across the street from the bus terminal and smoked half of a cigarette while sipping his coffee.

Then Jason took the glowing coal of the cigarette between his thumb and forefinger, crushed it and threw the remains away, without showing any signs of pain due to the thick calluses on his fingers. Jason had developed those calluses from 20 plus years of removing the many screws used in the building of various commercial, electro-mechanical, equipment he had been servicing and rebuilding since his discharge from the Marine Corps. He then got back on the bus to wait for the driver to finish his own smoke.

Jason waited on the bus, thankful that he wasn't asked for a cigarette or money by one of the many homeless people that perpetually hang around the depot begging from bus station area patrons, while the driver finished his scheduled break and soon he was at the V.A. Hospital.

Jason knew that some of the "down and out" people weren't beggars by choice at the Depot, many were just normal people who had fallen on bad times through no fault of their own. Jason had been one of those people for quite a few years. Although, with Jason, he knew that his "downfall" was largely his own fault.

Jason had spent many years trying to adjust to "civilian life" on his own by "self medication", using drugs and alcohol to alter his never ending severe depression. And using fighting as a way of dealing with his insistent urge to, as he though of it, "rip the head off and shit down the neck" of any antagonist he encountered.

Unfortunately for Jason, society didn't like people who seriously hurt other people in fist fights. And that had been the reason he had joined the Marine Corps in the first place. He had been in quite a few fights in High School, one in particular had forced him to move from his father's house to his mother's house, with a summer long stop at his older cousin's house to learn to be a manufacturing jeweler and to avoid legal issues stemming from the fight.

Jason had been expelled for seriously injuring a "star" football player and bully by knocking him through a second story, plate glass window, in retaliation for slamming Jason's hand in his wall locker. Jason was recalling those memories fondly and smiling to himself when the bus pulled up to the V.A. Medical Center and hissed to a stop, Jason didn't like bullies.

Jason got off the bus and climbed the stairs that would let him into, of all places he always thought, the basement floor of the V.A. Hospital. What made it particularly odd to him, was the fact that from the ground level, he had to walk up a flight of stairs, to get into the basement of the V.A. Hospital. Jason went to the elevator vestibule and took the elevator to the building's ground floor. He went to his assigned check in section and was soon seen by Dr. Juliette Swan, head of the "Mars and Beyond" suspension study.

Dr. Swan was about 5' 6" in heels with a tight bun of hair on her head and looked all business by her demeanor. "She's an attractive woman with a nice shape, too bad she's married." Jason thought, noticing her wedding band.