Story A Day September: Day 4

Today’s prompt was to write a story in the first person, which I find enjoyable regardless. I chose to write about the same character I wrote about (in the 3rd person) on September 2nd. I am thinking about writing a full novel about Millie, the reluctant interplanetary cargo pilot (maybe doing the first draft for Nanowrimo).


New Beginnings

I was exhausted by the time I got through customs and border control and back to my apartment.

It’s actually the apartment I share with my roommate Nikos. He works erratic hours at Atmospheric Control, so he’s rarely here when I am.

Of course, I’m here even less than that, as this is my half-time place to live. The thing with doing the cargo run between the Moon and Mars is that you have a few days turnaround time at each end, so you really need a place of your own on either side. You’re not there enough to entirely justify it, but you’re there too much not to.

So here on Mars, I share a small, but nice enough place with Nikos. I don’t really know him well, given how often I’m here and how little time we spend together. We met though a housing service.

On the Moon, I have a place of my own in the old Armstrong barracks. The happy but unexpected result of the Moon’s former military use is the presence of the old facilities.
I don’t really feel at home in either place, although I wish I did. Sometimes, I think I should make a decision, find a more stable job that doesn’t require travel, and settle down. I want to meet someone (doesn’t everyone?), but it’s hard to date when you spend three-quarters of your time on inter-planetary travel and commute between a satellite and a planet.

The apartments are fine. The job is fine. Everything is fine. If it was awful, it would be easier to make a change, so here I am doing the same thing I’ve been doing for the seven years.

I took my device out of my bag, dumped the bag on the floor, and went to get a drink. I took as little as possible with me when I worked, just enough to occupy me on the ship really. I love being alone, but you need to take everything you might need. For me, that amounts to books, games, and a flask.

I flipped through my messages. It was nothing important, except for one from my boss. I frowned as I opened it, but all Roddy said was that I should get in touch.

He was always doing that and I hated it. Just say what you have to say.

I wanted to go to sleep, but it seemed easier to contact Roddy now and be done with it.

He picked up right away and his face flickered into view. It looked like he was at home.

“Hi, Roddy,” I began.

“Hey, safe and sound here on Mars, are you?”

“Clearly.”

“How was the run?”

“It was fine, the same.”

“Listen, Millie,” he began and I felt my stomach twist. There was something in his tone, something that said that the next things he said were not going to be pleasing to me.

“What is it?” I always want to know things right away, especially if I fear the worst (and I always fear the worst).

“I’m thinking of taking you off the Moon-Mars run.”

“What? Why?” Even though I had just been thinking about how ambivalent I felt about the job, his words spelled change.

“I have something better for you.”

“Better. Really.”

“Come see tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it.”

I wanted to whine, tell me now! but I am (just barely) too much of an adult to do that with my actual boss.

Nonetheless, it was a long evening and I had a hard time falling asleep, wondering what Roddy would say.

I was born on Earth, but it’s been a very long time since I lived there. But I still remember what it was like to wake to a rising sun spilling beams into my room. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that, to be honest, there was something so embracing and enchanting about it. Waking to a pre-determined light cycle intended to mimic the sun is a poor substitute.

I was too nervous to eat anything. I just gulped down a warm caffeine drink and went to the office. I would have gone in this morning anyway. Roddy didn’t really need to call me and let me spend an anguished night.

Okay, that might be overly dramatic. But he still didn’t need to call.

Of course, my apartment is close to the office, that was one of main criteria I had in choosing it. It’s the only place in Musk City that I regularly have to go to. I mean, I go to the gym regularly, too, but there are plenty of gyms.

“Good morning, Jay,” I said to the receptionist as I entered the offices of Interplanet Cargo. Jay had been there for ages. Roddy was fond of him and he was so easygoing that it was hard to find fault with him.

“Millie! How are you? Roddy’s waiting.”

The sick feeling in my stomach only increased as I walked down the short hallway.

I walked straight into Roddy’s office and sat in the chair across from him.

“Hey,” I said.

“Millie. Glad you could come in.”

I looked at him speculatively.

“This is such a great opportunity,” he began and my eyebrows rose. “I wouldn’t offer this to just anyone.”

“Oh god, Roddy, never become a salesperson.”

“We’re expanding and I need a pilot I can trust.”

This was only sounding worse and worse.

“What would you say if I offered you the Mars-Saturn run?”

“There is no Mars-Saturn run.”

“There is now and I want you to do it.”

I paused and tried to think through the implications of what Roddy was saying. There was nothing on Saturn. Like, literally nothing. Exploration had just begun.

“What would I be taking?”

“Are you interested? Tell me you’ll do it.”

Adventure. The unknown. True exploration.

I wasn’t completely sure I wanted any of those things, but I swallowed hard and looked directly into Roddy’s eyes.

“I’ll do it.”

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