Chapter Seven




I'd been with Destiny for a week and a half now and it seems like that long that I've been talking into this thing. Is anybody actually going to read all this? I mean, I told you when I got up and what I ate and drank and what everybody said and what we watched for every damned day. Yeah, you're right, as long as they pay me but I'm doing great these days. I'm retiring as soon as I get done with this report and I'm going to open a bar here.
Anyway, Destiny and me was talking about how fewer and fewer droppers were wearing clothes over scrambled eggs and bacon and coffee before I had to go to work. Yeah, my job is work. Only the first week is easy, usually. I have to go to the pilot room and make sure we weren't going the wrong way, then I usually have to inspect the whole ship, and I have a pretty big boat. You think the people part is big? It's tiny compared to the rest of the ship. Yeah, the passenger cabins are like good sized apartments and the cargo pens are big, but storage, tools, robots and other machinery takes up ninety percent of boats. Hell, storage takes a lot more space than passenger quarters and cargo pens combined, including the sick bay and commons. The engines are about five stories high; at least, judging from all the God damned stairs I have to go down on inspections. Five damned flights of them.
And I had to inspect all of it except the occupied passenger quarters, and I only had one passenger. The machinery is every damned day, and sometimes twice if I find anything that's broke. Except cargo pens and passenger quarters, upstairs is only twice a week. It's a lot of walking, believe me. Even though we only have three quarters gravity; we get the gravity from acceleration. When we get more than halfway there I’ll turn the boat around and we'll have zero gravity until we get turned around, but that only takes a few minutes.
I'll have to inspect it twice that day. Something always seems to break when you turn them around, but it's almost always something simple and the robots can usually fix it pretty fast and easy. It usually looks to me like they're engineering this junk to be cheap. Stupid bean counters, if they used better parts repairs wouldn't cost the company so much. The fools are penny wise and dollar foolish, probably all of them know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Anyway, I asked Destiny if she was really going to be a hooker. She giggled, and said “You're not going to turn me in to the company, are you?”
Shit. “Uh, what? I mean, turn you in for what?”
“You'll keep it a secret? If you can't we're done.”
Shit Shit Shit Shit Shit.
“Yeah.” Sweat was running down my cheek.
“Okay, John, I have no intention of becoming a hooker. I just signed up because it was the cheapest way to get to Mars.”
“But your contract...”
“Cheaper to break than buying passage. I have a pretty good lawyer, John. She's also a really good friend that I went to college with and she teaches me stuff.”
“Well, okay,” I said. “As long as nobody knows, I don't know. I Kind of wished you hadn't told me.”
“I don't want to keep secrets from you, John. I think I'm in love.”
“Lets get married!” I was certain I wanted to spend my life with her.
“Lets take it a little slower, okay, John?”
“I guess,” I said. “I'd better go to work.”
“See you, lover,” she said, kissing me. God but I liked this woman.
The pilot room was close to the captain's quarters, of course. Hah! Captain! My crew was a bunch of computers and robots and other machines, I only had one passenger and the passenger and my cargo was whores.
Shit. Some “captain” I was. Captain Hooker and two hundred peter panhandlers.
While I was walking through the boat I heard cats fighting. What the hell? There weren't supposed to be any cats in my boat, but it sounded like two of them were in here fighting. I ran toward the sound, which was coming from the Commons.
It wasn't cats. It was Lek and Lek, two whores from Thailand. There were three Thais on board but the third pretty much kept to herself, I didn't see much of the other one. Lek could talk English okay but Lek only spoke a little pidgin English and not very much at that, almost none.
Wouldn't you know it, two people from the same country with the same names. I couldn't pronounce either of their last names. And they were in the throes of violence – Lek punched Lek so hard she flew all the way across the room and bounced off of a wall. It was like some of the ancient twentieth century kung-fu movies me and Destiny like to watch sometimes. Of course, those movies were silly and the boat's at low gravity. So it looked really silly when that whore knocked the other whore across the room like in one of those stupid old movies. I laughed my ass off.
I'd talked to Lek before, the one who spoke English pretty good, or at least good enough that you could understand her. It seems that in Thailand, prostitutes are revered for their service to humanity. I'm sure all those horny nerds on Mars will agree wholeheartedly.
I think she's full of shit.
“Okay,” I said, “What the hell is this all about?”
“I don't know,” said the semi-fluent one. “She just attacked me!”
“Coon me drops! My me drops! Meow drops!” the other one babbled. At least, that's what it sounded like she said. It was weird, the words almost sounded like English but they made no sense the way they were strung together.
“She think I have drops and she want some. I guess she out of 'em.”
Uh, Oh. “There are drops on my boat?”
“Are you stupid? Yes. Everybody got them.”
She laughed. “Come find 'em,” she said with that twinkle in her eyes with different sized pupils that, well, I saw in most of them when they boarded. Droppers' eyes almost always looked weird, with one pupil big and one small, but I hadn't seen them at their weirdest yet, when they were going through withdrawal. They're downright terrifying then.
I gave the less fluent Lek an hour of confinement, noticing that her eyes looked normal, except that they were a little bloodshot. Kids, you gotta ground 'em sometimes. I didn't have a clue what to do about the drops. I should have went to college.
I went down the five damned flights of stairs and inspected the engines and the generators... shit, I had no idea how they worked but I was supposed to inspect them? Okay, just follow the checklist on my tablet and I don't have to have a clue.
A robot was working on one, the first time this trip a robot was working on an engine. I noted it in the ship's log, which is standard procedure. Even though there's always a robot working on one after the first week or so in space, seems like.
I was still chuckling about the Thai chick flying across the room in the boat's reduced gravity. We could do better than one G but the bean counters say it would cost too much, so I fly 'em like they tell me to, even though it seems stupid to me, because fusion fuel is dirt cheap and lasts forever. Maybe it’s got something to do with maintenance, I don’t think they covered that in training. Times like that I'm glad gravity is reduced, that was hilarious!
See, they tell me the gravity is from propulsion, we're always burning fuel. Or acceleration or something, I ain't never went to college.
I stopped by the houseboat and got a bottle of wine, and walked back to our quarters. I opened the door – and saw her with an eyedropper.
SHIT!!! Destiny was a dropper!


Chapter 6
Chapter 8

mcgrew publishing