An Airtight Dream :: Flash Fiction

 

Two men stood in the airlock of the Crooks Comet mining rig wearing BiNDLs.

George’s Bio-Neuro Demolition Limb was small with four articulated ice-chipping limbs folded behind his back calibrated to respond to his thoughts.

Lenny’s BiNDL was for heavy lifting. A huge, shapeless hunk of servos, grippers, a hammer, an awl.

They removed their helmets and entered a small, circular chamber called The Rabbit Hole. A glass dome ceiling peered into space.

“George!” Lenny whispered. “Where are we?”

“Forgot again?” George asked. “Lenny, we’re late. Just work hard and keep quiet. If anything happens on this rig, meet me here.”

“Okay.”

The Rabbit Hole opened to a shuttle bay. Ice shuckers clanked about in their BiNDLs. Ice Bosses examined work orders.

Curley—an Ice Boss—confronted them. Small, elbows out, moon-face scowling. He wore a black jumpsuit and a powered glove on his left hand.

“Where you two been?” His eyes narrowed. “Well?”

Lenny burbled, “We wanna earn our scratch and plant trees.”

George groaned.

“Ain’t no soil on comets!” Curley jeered.

“He ain’t smart,” George conceded, “but he can shuck a quarter-million cubic yards in a shift.”

“Big boy better shuck half-a-million cubes!”

Curley strutted to the crew shuttle.

Two men stood in the airlock of the Crooks Comet mining rig wearing BiNDLs.

Onboard, George noticed Lenny fondling the remains of a dwarf satsuma tree.

“Told you to chuck that.” George took it. “You ruined it….”

Lenny sagged in his BiNDL. “It was for our habitat. Tell about our habitat, George.”

“Okay,” George’s voice became rhythmic. “Guys like us work hard and keep our scratch airtight.”

“Airtight!”

“One day, we’ll undock, point our ship to the brightest planet—”

“And build a habitat-on-the-range! With trees that blow in the wind!”

“Yeah, a million of ‘em,” George exaggerated.

A BiNDLed woman next to Lenny nudged him.

“I’m Lenina.”

Lenny snickered. “I’m Lenny!”

“I can help you two with trees.”

“No, thanks,” George said. “But you can tell us why Curley’s so sour.”

“He’s my fiancé. He goes where I go. But he’s too small to shuck so he vents.”

“He better not vent at Lenny.”

She sighed. “Vents at all of us.”

“Lenny, look out that porthole and keep your eye on our planet.”

BiNDLed shuckers crawled over the comet attacking its ice.  That shift, Lenny effortlessly sheered off three-quarter-million cubic yards of house-sized slabs and loaded them on the ship.

Curley glared from the window of the shuttle.

Later, the crew chatted in the mess hall in their jumpsuits.

Curley appeared before Lenny.

“You damaged the ship with them big slabs and now I gotta pay for it!”

Lenny realized the danger too late as Curley’s powered fist struck his head. He staggered.

Lenina blocked Curley’s way, but he pushed by and hammered Lenny’s gut.

Lenny bawled, “Are we in trouble, George?”

George cursed to himself, looked up at Lenny and shouted, “Get ‘em, Lenny!”

Lenny’s tear-streaked face became fearsome. He lunged and closed a hand over Curley’s glove.

A black blur whipped up over Lenny’s head, then shot across the mess hall. Curley crashed against the bulkhead and slumped. A bloody stump held to his chest.

Lenny, sniffled and dropped the crushed glove.

Lenina quieted everyone, looked at Curley’s flickering eyes and said, “Got his hand caught in Slim’s BiNDL! Got it?”

The crew nodded silently.

“George, come by my bunk in a half-hour,” Lenina instructed. “I’ll have Lenny and something I’ve gotta show you.”

Lenny sat on Lenina’s bed holding her helmet.

“I’m on shift now,” she said.  Even BiNDLed up she was much smaller than him in his jumpsuit. “George and Slim will be here soon.”

“We lost our scratch.”

“Forget it. I’ll do you one better.” She produced a small, potted plum tree from a wall compartment.

Lenny’s eyes lit up and he reached for the plant, but then he folded his hands.

“I can’t touch no trees. I’ll get us in trouble again.”

“Again?” she puzzled. “Here.”

He took the tree.

Lenina smiled. “Tell me about your trees.”

“We gonna point our ship to the brightest planet and build a habitat-on-the-range!”

Lenina’s face dropped. “A fantasy.”

“No, we gonna build that habitat!” Lenny tugged at a branch.

“Hey!”

“We can plant two trees in our habitat!” He yanked the branch off.

“Are you crazy?”

Lenny looked at Lenina and explained. “We can graft it! George needs one, too!”

His fingers brushed another branch, but Lenina swatted his hand away. The pot smashed to the floor, the tree’s trunk broken.

“You ruined it!” she roared as her BiNDL claws dug into his flesh and lifted him to his feet.

Lenny howled pain.  “Please, stop it!

“That was my way out!” Her grip tightened.

Lenny’s face became fierce and to her horror, he effortlessly wrenched his arms free.

“Wait!” she backed away.

“You’ll get George in trouble!” Lenny scolded. He snatched her helmet and placed it over her head, dampening her cries.

She pounded on him.

“Lenina, be still!”

He bear hugged her and her visor reverberated with shrieks.

The suit’s pressure seals broke.

He squeezed harder.

Motors failed.

Her grip slackened and she fell silent.

“It was for George,” he explained.

Lenny lay her on the floor and ran from the room.

Minutes later, George and Slim regarded the broken limbs.

“I’ll take care of Lenny,” George said gloomily.

Slim waited a full minute before sounding the alarm.

George found Lenny in the Rabbit Hole wearing his BiNDL.

They embraced as Curley’s anguished cries sounded from the crew quarters.

“George,” Lenny said, “put your suit on!”

George swallowed hard. He took Lenny’s helmet and pointed to the dome.

“You see that red planet?”

“Yeah, George.”

“That’s our planet. We’re gonna—“

“Undock and point our ship there!” Lenny lumbered into the airlock. George closed it behind him.

The shuttle bay echoed with Curly’s threats.

George dropped Lenny’s huge helmet on the floor and activated the airlock intercom.

“Lenny, look out that porthole and keep your eye on our planet.”

Lenny obeyed.

George blinked away tears. “What are we gonna grow, Lenny?”

“A million trees!” Lenny sang.

The airlock doors opened to space.

 

 

For more great Literary Time Warps, check out the latest issue of Splickety! Want to read for FREE? Subscribe to the Splickety newsletter. Should be right there in your sidebar.

Splickety Magazine - March 2017: Literary Time Warp by [Cross, Katie, Howell, Victoria G.]

Meet the Author

 Milo Douglas first began writing in the 8th grade when he devoted a thick red notebook to writing more dramatic, dragon-filled versions of the fantastic stories he was reading at the time. When the notebook was filled, he was gifted his mom’s green, Smith-Corona typewriter and since then, all limits have fallen away.
Milo is a former English instructor who writes speculative, fantastical, literary and science fiction. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Website: http://www.milodouglas.com/
Email: milodouglaswriter@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/milodouglaswriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiloDouglasBook

Posted in Flash Fiction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*