Getting to Know You

The shuddering roar stopped. Now free of the atmosphere’s grip, Lunar Veil’s trek became a silent glide into the black. The primary drive spun up in syncopation with the rhythmic thrumming of the core beneath. Marisol checked the gauges once again. Thrust, coolant pressure, and fuel cell consumption were all close enough. Core temp was a couple degrees warmer than she’d like. A check of the engineering log reflected some recent heat exchanger replacements, but no followup calibrations had been made.

That would be her next job…after finding her bunk and grabbing a bite.

Marisol undid the buttons to her coverall as she opened the locker. Inside was a miniature shrine of sorts, the remnants of Buddha knew how many mechanics who’d personalized the little space. Nude photos were taped to the locker’s side and back walls amid religious icons, fuzzy dice, and post cards. Costume beads hung from a jacket hook, along with a rabbit’s foot. A strange little plastic rat leered at her from the upper shelf, cartoonish hands tucked behind its’ back as if hiding a treasure.

Something lay in a heap on the locker’s floor. At first, she took the black leather for a pair of insulating gloves, maybe a tool mat. Marisol bent at the waist, reaching down to retrieve the object. As the light fell upon it, she realized that she held a pair of women’s leather pants, turned half inside out after the previous occupant’s wriggle to take them off. Worse yet, she was holding the garment by its’ crotch.

”Mā de!” she grimaced in disgust. A wholly different impression of the previous mechanic flitted across her mind as she pinched a belt loop with thumb and index finger. “Eww,” Marisol said as she whisked the offending pants off to the engine room trash. She’d have to wash that hand a dozen times before eating…

Returning to the locker, she peeled off the coverall and the heavy boots. Stripped down to a sleeveless black undershirt and panties, the mechanic fished through her bag for a pair of denim jeans and sandals. Once dressed, she hung the coverall on the hook, stowed her boots, and after a moment to let her hair fall free of its’ binding, closed the locker door.

A little girl stood there.

Aside from a pair of new-ish looking red boots, the child was pretty much in tatters. This would normally invoke sympathy from Marisol. However, that impulse was quashed by the stone killer’s coldness in the girl’s eye. Given the youngster’s lethal appraisal, Lunar Veil’s new wrench turner began to wonder if a pistol might come in handy just about now. “Hi,” she said. “I’m Marisol. Are you Haddie?”

< Prev : The El Vee greets the sun Next > : Lazy bunch ...