Friday Fiction: Now Serving… (Part 2)

Short today, because I’m packing. And I’m taking a million more dresses, and how the hell am I supposed to fit them all in this little suitcase??

Space stations have their own sort of rhythms. I’ve been on enough of them, I should know. I was born on one, actually. Spacer to the perpetually-low-density-bone.

There’s the ebb and flow of people, of course. The chatter as tourists gawk and merchants hawk; the easy banter of off-shift maintenance workers headed for the bars. Strip all that away, though, and you might just hear the heartbeat of the station itself — the hiss of the air recyclers, the mechanical clanks of the blast doors sliding open and shut, and underneath it all the constant electric hum of the machinery that turns a skeleton of cold steel and carbon fiber into a safe haven among the stars.

I could hear it, the station’s heartbeat. I could hear it, and not much else.

“I think I’ve lost them. Tag, can you scan the security feeds?” Nothing. “Tag?” So help me, if he was playing Starcraft on the job again —

“ Yeah, I — Sorry, I — communications seem a little laggy. Hang on — there we go. Say again?”

“Can you scan nearby security feeds for –”

I was interrupted by Tag’s long, low whistle. “No can do, El. Cameras in this whole section are down.”

No way security hadn’t noticed that. “They’ve got an inside man.”

“Look, Ellie…” Tag sounded worried. He almost never did. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

So did I, but it wasn’t quite bad enough to outweigh the 4,000-credit deposit the lawyer had put in escrow. If we didn’t finish the job, we didn’t get the money.

“Just keep working on those cameras for me.” I left the connection open, and the drone of the station machinery was joined by Tag’s little grunts of concentration. I eased around the corner.

Dead end.

I’d lost him.

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