Hello story lovers!
Welcome to the newest addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.
Each week we get a prompt to write our chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words.
This week was without a prompt so I get to write whatever I want.
What’s it like for Arad on board with his new position and life?
Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1
It was an effort to step lightly and not make a commotion. The rattling clang of boots on the metal floors reminded Arad too much of when the corporate mechs dismantled the shanty village on the docks. On occasion he thought of Mareth and the others and what became of them. It wouldn’t be easy, but he told himself they would be fine. They were survivors. The alternative held too much guilt to bear.
Shuffling down the hall, he reached out, brushing his fingertips along the cool walls. Scuffs and scratches aged the once pristine surfaces, giving away their age. He skimmed invisible trails over the worn paint until he passed over the hand reader connected to the cargo bay’s door. A defiant chime blared out of the device as faded red text alerted his entry denial.
The noise brought him to a halt. Just to see what would happen, Arad placed his hand fully on the palm panel and received another loud rejection. He was about to try another tactic when a hard series of footsteps approached. A hand slammed against the wall, barring him from further attempts. Following the arm—muscles visibly twitched under the thermal sleeve—brought Arad face to face with its owner, the main mechanic, Serene.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Bracing and hostile, Serene’s name was ill-fitting. Not once sense he’d arrived had she behaved like her namesake. Serene leaned forward into Arad’s personal space, menacing as ever. The heavy, dark braid which pulled her hair tight to her head accented her sharp features.
“Nothing. Just playing around.” It was difficult to sound casual when faced with Serene’s natural ability to unnerve people.
“You don’t have permission to be in there.”
Arad had learned enough to know the ship’s OS was retired military grade with rank-based access to each area. This had been the first time he’d seen it at work. Up until now, he’d never been denied access to anywhere he’s wanted to go. Granted, he’d never tried to enter the cargo bay before. Usually when confronted with the crew’s cold reception he’d mind his own business, but Serene’s attitude made him feel insubordinate.
“That sounds… mysterious. What’s in there?”
“It’s private. And none of your concern.” Serene stepped forward, attempting to herd Arad away from the door.
For years Arad had dealt with slug squabbles, occasional fights over food and necessities with people who desperately need them. He was hardly going to pushed around by one abrasive crew member, even if she was bigger than him. Arad stood his ground and waved his hands, shooing at her. The gesture forced Serene to lean back to avoid being slapped in the face.
“Sorry. I’m just curious. No need to be so salty.”
Serene’s snarl deepened. It appeared to be a permanent feature. “Don’t think that just because you’re shagging Torrins, you’re something special. You’re not really part of the crew. If it was up to us, you wouldn’t be on board.”
Arad crossed his arms over his chest. “I know. You all find a way to remind me every day.”
“That’s because we see what Torrins can’t… or won’t. You’re extra weight we don’t need.”
“Maybe. But I am here. And as long as I am, I plan to do what I came here for.”
“I can handle the ship fine. I don’t need your help.”
Arad dropped his arms to his side and slumped his shoulders. His voice softened. “What do expect me to do?”
“Exactly what you’re doing. Then on the next dock, no one would think twice if you took your pay and moved on. Don’t worry about Torrins. He’ll just find another boy.”
Putting on his best urchin-face—the kind he used when snatching produce from the market—he looked up at her with wide eyes. “You’re probably right. This is quite a mess I’ve gotten myself into. What do you suggest I do? Would it be best if I disappear without saying a word?”
“It might be for the best,” Serene said in her best attempt at a motherly tone as she laid her big man-hand on Arad’s shoulder. The delivery was so phony, Arad cringed as he cocked his head and narrowed his eyes.
Arad reached up and swept her hand off his shoulder. “Do you think we should we ask Torrins what he thinks of your brilliant plan? I’d be curious to see who he thinks he needs more.” Arad shifted forward into her space. “Are you so sure he’ll choose you?”
If such a thing were possible, Serene’s expression became more severe as her hand curled into a fist. Arad waited to see if she’d raise it. She didn’t.
“Yeah. I didn’t think so. For your information, I’m here to earn my keep and that’s it. I know Torrins brought me on without asking your permission, but it sounds like he didn’t need it. I’m sorry I set foot in your territory, but stop pissing on my feet already. You don’t even have to talk to me. After this cuddly moment, I’d prefer it. Whatever you guys have going on has nothing to do with me. I don’t care what’s in storage.”
Arad turned and walked off, trying not to hyperventilate. There was still a chance she’d slit his throat. That woman was crazy and he’d just shined her on like she was another slug marking her zone. He managed not to start running, and she didn’t follow. One small win.
The closer he came to the bridge the easier he breathed. Hard starlight spilled into the hallway through the open port bringing any and all structural flaws to life in shadowed relief. Voices echoed off the metal walls, giving them a tinny, distant quality.
“Franc, charge the space fold and enter coordinates.” Torrin’s tenor was unmistakable.
“Are you sure they’re still going to be there? We’ve already lost Go.”
Space fold? Go? What were they talking about?
Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1
Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!