Gravity

Sorry I didn’t post anything yesterday; my husband was home from work so I didn’t get around to writing. The thing I wrote today is a little too diary-like to share, I think, so I’m keeping it to myself. :) In its place, here’s something I wrote back in 2006. It’s a start of what could be more but never went anywhere, and came from a prompt “You have stayed too long.” Enjoy a bit of gritty sci-fi:

03/11/2006 “You have stayed too long”

Gravity

Paul never meant to be here this long, at this temporary resting-place, this stopover. After all these long years, he’d become cemented there. At the time, he had no choice. He was out of money, out of options. He needed a rest from the traveling anyway. So he took the job, intending to stay long enough just to get enough money to keep moving along.

Then there was Tina. She’d snared him, tied him to this rotten little place he’d only intended to use a little while, like the mildew-stained mattress on the bed in the room he rented in town. It was on that mattress that she laid the hook for him, and before he knew it he was tangled in her line. Funny, though, because as it turned out, she did it so she could get out. To hitch a ride on him. Whether she intended to continue on with him, or leave him behind as soon as he pulled her from the town’s gravity well, he’d never really know.

As it turned out, she didn’t need him to escape not only the gravity of the town but of the planet, because just when he had given up to the inevitable and was about to marry Tina, the new colonization push started up. They applied together. She made it. He didn’t. Any illusions about their love were burned away in that instant, when she decided to leave him behind.

She didn’t even hesitate. That hurt more than Paul cared to admit. Up until Tina got the call, he had been viewing the impending marriage with a grim dread. Her relatives were so backward they were nearly blueshifted. Any chance for escaping, to continue to travel, was gone. His money was eaten by the wedding plans, plans to buy a house, to raise a family. He didn’t even know how he got into it. One night he brought a pretty girl to bed, and the next day he was getting ready to settle down. And Tina was beginning to realize her plan was backfiring. They fought a lot, resenting each other for ruining each other’s plans.

So he thought that when she left, freed him from his obligations, her relatives melting back into the town with nary a word of recognition for him, he would feel better. Instead he felt cheated. Now he was stuck, and without a woman. She had stolen his ticket. He should’ve been the one on that colonization ship. The fact that he would have just been stuck and settled on a different planet didn’t matter. It would have been off this world, and that was as much as he needed.

Paul went to work, he worked his shift, got paid, and after food, rent, and necessities, he spent the rest on drink. He would get home, sit in front of the wireless and drink, listening to the news of what was happening on the many worlds he would never see. He never got back any of the money he spent on the aborted wedding, and gave up on saving. He was sick of firing his thrusters, burning his fuel out. He allowed himself to sink into the gravity well.

Then, one day, news came over the wireless. The ship should have made it to the planet by now, and everyone had been wondering what was wrong. A late transport, with additional supplies, tailing the ship by a week or so, caught up with floating debris charred by laser cannon blasts.

Paul thought he’d be happy that the little bitch got what she deserved, but found himself shaking instead. He was still in shock when someone knocked on his door. One of Tina’s brothers, Ike, one of the smartest of the litter, was standing there, clenched in rage. “You heard?” he asked.

“I heard,” Paul replied, voice cracking. “Makai?”

“Who else? Can I come in?”

Paul stepped aside, waved the man in. “What are they doing?”

“The feds? They’re scared shitless, as usual. Calling off the colonization program. The Makai said it was a warning. They burned ‘humans go home’ into a piece of the hull. Said we’re too close to their space. So the feds are backing off. Acting like we’re the ones who did something wrong.” Ike was pacing.

Paul shook his head, collapsing back into his chair. “That ain’t right,” he said. “It ain’t right. They could’ve warned us, sent the ship back—“

“Ain’t their way. Well, if the feds ain’t gonna reply, we will. I scraped together some men. Got our hands on a ship. Well, just a boat really, but it’ll do. Gonna add some mods. You interested?”

“Interested? In what?” Paul asked.

Ike’s teeth gleamed in a cold smile. “Vengeance, brother, what else?”

“I think I was the only one she told,” Ike told Paul later, as they stared out the porthole at the cold stars beyond. The rest of the brood was sleeping in their bunks. Paul still hadn’t asked how they’d managed to scrape up this ship, tiny little scrapper though it was. Built like a cannonball, armed fore and aft. Looked like it had been crashed against a few asteroids, but solid. “She said, ‘my prince has come, Ike, to take me away.’ If it makes you feel any better, I think she at least liked you.”

Paul shook his head. “She picked the wrong space cowboy. I saw five each week at the bar more able to leave than me.”

Ike chewed the end of his straw. “So she has bad taste,” he laughed, and slapped Paul on the shoulder. “Had,” he corrected. “Little bitch,” he said, affectionately.

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~ by Amber on June 5, 2012.

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