It’s that time of year again… time for flash fiction stories from around the world… for free!
This time, I have a story from just after Amy arrived on Platform Eight, when her relationship with Luis was still… interesting. I hope you enjoy it!
The Triskium hailed me just as I stepped into the security bay—an ozone-scented room full of 2D and 3D monitors used by the security AI to give us a heads-up on problems as it scanned our section of the station—and all was quiet, so I told them I’d be right over to accept my package.
I love surprise presents.
“Problem?” Luis raised one eyebrow.
“No.” I hesitated. Though he was supposed to be my partner, I was still on probation as an officer—which meant I could easily be fired—so I should probably ask for permission instead of assuming. “I need to swing by the Triskium… if that’s all right with you.”
Inclining his head, Luis patted his pockets, then followed me into the corridor.
“Where are you going?”
“Contigo.” At my blank look he translated, “with you.”
He didn’t even trust me to make it to the docks and back? Sure, I’d made some mistakes since I’d been hired, but not that many, and I was learning fast!
Shrugging away my frustration, I led the way.
No problems—and no conversation, either—out to the ship, picking up the package, then back to Section Five. The electronically shielded bag came from my sister, on Oasis, a planet at the other edge of settled space. God, I missed her. Smiling, I paused near a two-person table and chairs—the cheap, non-personalized, non-anti-grav kind any passerby could use for an hour at a time—to open it.
“Don’t put that there.”
Luis’s command—couldn’t he even have pretended it was a suggestion?—was the last bit of mass dropping into the core of a star. I went supernova. “Don’t put that there?” Slamming the bag down on the table, I spun to face my partner.
A couple, two women in matching silver and magenta shipsuits, paused, then turned to avoid us. Smart.
Luis lifted one finger, as if to point. “Er—”
“Don’t put that there, don’t do it that way…” If he was the typical partner here, I should go back to Space Enforcement.
No. No, I left for a reason.
Time to have it out with my partner. “Could you possibly say anything else?”
“No. You know what? I’m sick of this. You don’t treat me like a partner. You treat me like a liability.” I spun back around to pick up my package. “I’m going to talk to the watch commander and ask for a transfer.”
The bag my sister had sent me was gone.
“That’s what I was trying to tell you,” Luis said, leaning against the metal frame of the corridor. “Don’t put anything there cause it’ll disappear.”
I admit it. I moaned. “My sister’s going to kill me.”
That bastard actually cracked a smile—the only one I’d seen since our brawl together—and straightened. “This isn’t space enforcement, chica. It’s not gone till it’s gone.”
“C’mon.” He moved across the promenade, deliberate steps forcing everyone else to get out of his way. At the doorway to the Watering Whole, he looked back.
So I shut my mouth and followed him.
Inside the Whole, the strobing fluorescent lights blinded me, the thumping bass deafened me, and the press of sweaty, prowling dancers shoved me back against the nearest wall. Thirty eternal seconds later, Luis grabbed my elbow and led me back out to the promenade.
“Aural dampers,” he suggested, “and filtering eye lenses help. The rest is what it is.”
I blinked and stepped back, still reeling from the overload.
“Carraig is running this area right now. He’ll know where your package is.”
Like the tail of a comet following the implacable nucleus, I trailed after my partner through three main corridors onto a smaller side branch. He swiped his ID chip across the reader and the door’s access light flashed green. Stepping inside, he pulled me in after him.
“Carraig,” Luis boomed, suddenly cheerful. “One of your boys took something that belongs to my partner.”
“Officer Huerta.” A giant of a man—had to be gene modded to reach the overhead pipes and still be able to move so quickly—stepped forward, holding out a massive, placating hand. “We can work this out, I’m sure.”
We’d walked into some kind of store, despite this being a residential bay. Bright lights shone on hotplates and herbs—both legal, with the right permits—but I was more interested in what items were hiding in the shadows.
“Something new in the last half hour or so?” Luis focused on Carraig. “We came to you first.”
“Ah,” the man rumbled. “Is this what you’re looking for?” He held up a silver bag.
I twitched, no longer peeking at the shelves, but Luis dropped one hand behind his back and splayed his fingers. Wait.
“Contents secure?” he asked.
“Haven’t even had a chance to open it yet.”
“Bueno. Your permits lapsed two days ago, Carraig, but I’d be happy to give you an extension.”
Dark laughter filled the room. “I like you, Officer Huerta.” He dropped the bag into my partner’s hand. “Deal.”
“Buen dia, Carraig.” Luis handed me my package and pushed me back out into the corridor.
“You’re just going to let him—?” My fingers traced the seals and the ID scan lit green.
“He helped us. We helped him. It’s all a big game, chica.”
Finally sure that the leviathan had spoken the truth—my package was still secure—I peeked at Luis. “Sorry… for earlier.”
He shrugged. “We’re partners,” he said. “Good and bad. Thick and thin…”
“Where do you come up with all these old clichés?”
Smiling mysteriously, he pointed. “Put that in your quarters, and meet me back at the security bay.”
“Don’t call me sir. I work for a living.” Luis pivoted on his heel. “Oh,” he called over his shoulder, “you owe me lunch.”
I flipped him a sarcastic salute to hide my relieved grin. A small price to pay.
Powered by: Holly Lisle’s Free Flash Fiction Class
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