Story A Day September: Day 6

Today’s prompt is to write a story about a character who is not like you. This is such a good exercise. As Julie mentions in the prompt, it’s not about writing a villain and I think that is such a key thing to think about when thinking about characters — especially characters other than the main character. They need to be just as fully developed.

I’m continuing with my nascent science fiction idea about Millie, the cargo pilot. Today’s story is from the point of view of her boss, Roddy (who is not like me in many ways).

Neither Here Nor There

Roddy shuffled through the stack of papers on his desk looking for the proposal he had submitted for the new cargo run.

There wasn’t supposed to be paperwork anymore. That was what they had been saying his whole life and yet here they were.

There it was. Mars to Saturn.

Properly speaking, it was Mars to one of Saturn’s moons. He couldn’t remember which of the fiftysome it was, but it didn’t really matter.

And, equally properly speaking, it had not been so much a proposal as a response to a demand.

Roddy sighed and looked at what, on Earth or somewhere with an equally pleasant exterior, would have been a window. Instead, it was a slo-mo, a real-time recording of a landscape scene. He had chosen it for how exotic it was — a wheat farm on the Canadian prairie. The wheat grew tall and moved gently in the wind, under the bright sun. Roddy could look at it for hours. It was his happy place.

The new cargo run was definitely a mixed blessing. It was an expansion of the business, without doubt. But he was unconvinced that it would be profitable — or, at least, profitable any time soon. The distance was long and the opportunity was embryonic. They would be servicing a new colony. As in, actually delivering the colonists and their initial supplies on the first run.

He wasn’t sure how much money there would be in this. Or how many or how frequently they could do the runs. Not like Earth to Moon or Moon to Mars. Those went back and forth as quickly as you could unpack the ship and repack it.

No, if it had been entirely up to him, he probably would not have submitted the proposal.

But it had not been up to him.

Superintendent Mary Shelley (really) had told him in no uncertain terms that they needed someone to offer the service, as the Mars Extraplanetary Colonization Board was not allowed to provide their own transportation services to colonists. And there was no one else.

Of course, there was no one else, Roddy thought with exasperation.

He got up and began to pace. He thought it was a habit he should quit, but he never got around to it.

It was either do the Mars – Saturn run or lose out on further contracts on the routes they already did. It was a no-win situation.

So here he was. He had given a lot of thought to who he should offer the job to. Someone who was good at their job, but not too good. They would be gone for long stretches and unavailable for the regular routes.

Millie it would be. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Millie. He did. But she was uncommunicative and not overly friendly.

She was good at her job, but showed little ambition or initiative. She was perfect for it.

He head noise outside the office and sat back down.

The door opened and a slight woman with short, spiky brown hair and large brown eyes, wearing a loose shirt and narrow pants, came in.

“Hey,” she said.

“Millie. Glad you could come in.”

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