Storytime Blog Hop – April 27, 2016
Speculative short fiction from around the world? Check.
New and established authors? Check.
My contribution… Check!
Screams echoed down the corridor, slashing past my partner and me to keep the residents of Platform Eight at bay. Residents of a mining platform are generally a hardy lot, even those who cut hair or sell drinks instead of drilling asteroids, but these screams were in a category of bat-shit crazy all their own, and—I checked over my shoulder to confirm—only the two station security officers were willing to brave them.
I winced when a particularly shrill shriek pierced my eardrums, craning my head to peer into the hole in the ceiling. “Mr. Gray?”
Our original complainant had commed us, told us our suspect’s name, and stuck around long enough to point to the hole in the ceiling before making a quick exit. Not that I could blame him. I’d prefer to leave crazy to someone else too, but this was my job. I tried again. “Orman? Can you hear me?”
My partner and best friend jostled my shoulder. “Hey, chica,” he said. “I need to tell you… I asked for a transfer.”
I turned to stare at him until a piece of whatever the ceiling was made of careened past my head. “You—” I cursed, maybe a little louder than I’d intended, and bellowed up at Orman, “Knock it off!” Three more chunks rained down.
“Now?” I snarled at Luis. “You’re bringing this up now?”
Luis looked faintly embarrassed, but directed his attention toward Mr. Gray. “I think he’s got a sonic cutter up there.” He raised his eyebrows. “You want me to boost you up?”
Hmm, let me think—be tossed up into the pipes and wiring running above the ceiling, face to face with screaming, armed crazy guy? No thanks. Legal sonic cutters had all sorts of fail-safes programmed in to avoid “accidents” but that didn’t mean Orman Gray hadn’t done something to his. Circling around to the other side of the hole, I rubbed at the crick in my neck. “Orman, talk to me! What’s the matter?”
He replied with a string of curses. Better than projectiles, I guess.
Huerta had been my partner for seven years. We’d broken up an epic bar fight the day I’d arrived on Eight. He’d trained me on station protocol, moved with me from Section Five to Section Three and back again when I wanted a change, and introduced me to all the people I needed to not offend if I wanted to keep my job. I’d consoled him between boyfriends while I remained mostly celibate—
“Is this about the nights I’ve been busy?” I spoke to the ceiling, but the words were meant for Luis.
He grunted. “No.”
I peeked at him out of the corner of my eye to gauge his mood. He knew I’d met someone—I’d told him that—but not who or how or any of the details like my new guy doesn’t take no for answer and sometimes that creeps me out…
My partner knew I was keeping secrets and he’d asked more than once for me to come clean, but my… romance, I guess… wasn’t like his, and I could admit—if only to myself—I didn’t think it would last and I didn’t want whatever happened to change my life.
Looks like I wasn’t going to have that option.
The air pressure bobbled, then stabilized. An alarm hooted. A block of distinctive silver pipe which used to be part of the ventilation system fell to the floor, followed by a glob of wiring.
“That is it,” I snapped, drawing my tech-rifle and switching it to oleoresin capsicum projectiles before pointing it at the ceiling.
I heard Luis yelp, “Lock the ventilation to this corridor!”
I squinted at the shadows and fired.
Pop, pop, pop, pop. Pop.
So I probably could have gotten it done with two or three. Sue me. My partner and best friend had asked for a transfer.
The sweet sounds of coughing filtered down from the ceiling. Mr. Gray scrabbled around, probably trying to avoid the overwhelming burn on any exposed skin and eyes. I admit it, I stepped back and smiled.
A man fell through the hole and crashed onto the floor where my feet had been. Thin to the point of emaciation, he clutched a multi-tool in one hand and pawed at his face with the other. Orman Gray, I presumed.
I holstered my rifle, slipped gloves on my hands, and a mask over my face to avoid secondary exposure. Luis bagged the multi-tool for evidence while I dropped a tangler onto the guy’s hands. “You’re under arrest for destruction of station property and assault on an officer,” I told him. The tears and snot running from his face convinced me he wasn’t listening, but I didn’t care.
“Start a repair team. Make sure they suit up. The whole corridor is contaminated.” Luis turned to me. “It’s not about me.”
I shook my head. “What?”
“I asked for the transfer for you, chica. EnnisCorp hired a new officer and I asked the boss to have you train him. It’s time for you to move on. You can com me anytime, but…” He looked at the chaos around us and grinned. “Dios mio, you’ll be a great trainer. The transfer goes through tomorrow.”
He walked away, leaving me in a corridor full of pepper spray with a sniveling suspect… and a jolt of adrenaline at the thought of training a new guy.
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