Ammona, Part 2 [Short Story]

“Come on, let’s go.” Ammona picked up her travel bag.

Drea munched on a bag of chips. She said nothing.

“Come on.” Ammona crossed the hall, and stood in front of her. “I have to go or I’ll miss the flight.” Her roommate slouched over the arm of their couch in the common room, downing comfort food.

“I kind of wish you would.” Drea made a face. “Do you have to go? The new roommate is a nightmare and we haven’t even met in person yet. Just saw the profile.” Flavor-dusted chip fragments surrounded her mouth, the remnants of crunchy comrades slain in a snack battle. Drea licked her lips.

“Your fault for not finding someone you like.”

“I didn’t have enough time!” Drea crunched down on a couple of chips she’d just shoved in her mouth. Bits of potato chip popped out, a frag grenade of sour cream and onion exploded over the carpet. “It was like, too fast after you came back from orientation.”

Ammona raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Enjoy cleaning that up later. And I don’t have enough time to sit around here while you’re moping. My flight’s gonna leave without me and you’re not stopping this.”

“I don’t care about cleaning, you know that.” Drea followed this with the projection of a chip piece onto Ammona’s jacket. “Ugh, fine.” She conceded.

“You’re gonna play it like that?” Ammona giggled and picked the chip off her jacket, flicking it into the kitchen. “Put your slippers on, no time for shoes.”

“Hope my next roommate isn’t as bossy,” Drea mumbled. She placed her crinkly bag of chips on the couch.

“Har, har.” Ammona headed down the long, clean hallway to the door. “And didn’t you say you’ve never met her? I doubt she’s a nightmare.”

“It’s not a she, it’s a he.” Drea followed Ammona down the hall.

“Wow, really? That’s surprising.” Ammona turned to the comm on the side of the door. She pushed a few keys on the panel.

“Please state your name and dock destination.” The friendly female computer voice said.

“Ammona King, Docking Bay B-12, the Luna V.” A tiny scrubbing sound emitted from the comm panel, alerting the two girls of the computer’s processing.

“Enjoy your trip, Ammona,” The computer’s voice continued. “Please go immediately to your transport station for clearance. You have one hour before departure. Average wait time for clearance is 25 minutes. Luna V boards in 30 minutes.” The voice sounded disjointed as it stumbled over the numbers in its recitation.

“Joy,” Said Ammona, pushing a button to silence the comm. “I love people digging through my shit to make sure I’m not carrying anything illegal.”

“Let’s go, you only have an hour before it takes off.” Drea stood at the door, which opened quickly to the side when it sensed her presence.

“Oh, now you’re in a hurry.” Ammona followed her roommate. For a moment she stood in the doorway, looking back down the clean, whitewashed hall that had become so familiar in the last couple of years. So strange, she thought, to leave a place I’ve known as home… For the millionth time.

“Please move away from the door.” Said the computer. A subsequent warning beep began its incessant repetition. “Please move away from the door.”

“Okay, okay.” Ammona growled. “No long farewells around here.”

“Please move away from the door.”

Drea laughed. “Duh! Computers couldn’t care less about farewells.”

With one last glance at her old home, Ammona stepped out of the way of the door and it shut. The warning beeps ceased, and the comm screen on the outside of the door went black.

“Don’t forget to format my vocal imprint.” Ammona told Drea as they walked towards an elevator that would take them to B level.

They walked down a long corridor that had apartment doors staggered across from one another on either side. After a few minutes of walking in silence, they emerged from the residential areas on their level and into the food court. Tables were scattered in a lounge area, and even at this early hour there were hundreds of people getting breakfast, chatting, or shopping. 24-hour shops and restaurants lined the walls as they approached a transport elevator. Both girls weaved between tables to skip the normal walkway, which was crowded with people going about their morning business.

“You alright?” Ammona noticed that Drea had yet to respond to her earlier remark.

“I think so.” Drea said. They approached the elevators. Thirty people stood around, waiting to take them to another deck on the ORB. “This is just so new to me. You’re the first roommate I’ve ever had. And now I have to live with some dude.”

“It will be fine. He’ll probably stay in his room a lot.” They stopped to wait in line. All around them the subtle vibration of the base resonated. The quiet hum of the central grav-core, a thrumming heartthrob in the center of the Orbital Relay Base.

“Or he’ll be the kind of guy that wants to hang out all the time, and then I’ll stay in my room a lot.” Drea said as they got onto an elevator with twelve other people.

“Maybe. There are endless possibilities. B-Level, please.” Ammona said to a person who was pressing all the buttons for the other passengers.

“If you forget to video chat me every day I swear to god I’ll come find you.”

“I wish you would!” Ammona smiled. “I’d be more than happy to have you there. You know that.”

“No thanks.” Said Drea. Her black locks bounced back and forth as she shook her head, brushing her cheeks. Ammona tried not to think about how much she was going to miss her friend. “You know I’m not that brave. I don’t want to go out into uncharted parts of space.”

“You’re already out in space, it’s not that different.”

“It is when they send you through the Gates.” Drea shuddered. “I’ve heard the stories.” She looked up at Ammona. For a moment, as they rode the elevator, they looked into each other’s eyes. Ammona didn’t want to look, but she had nothing else in the elevator to look at. She didn’t want to look away, either.

“Drea…” She started.

“Don’t.” Drea looked away. “I don’t want to hear about all the reasons you wanna do this. I know them, I’ve been listening for years.”

“It’s not about that.” Ammona started again. “It’s about needing to do it. You know I’d rather have you there with me.” She touched Drea’s arm, but the girl stepped back. Ammona felt a cold chill come over her, as Drea pulled away from her emotionally and physically. Goosebumps prickled her skin and made her even more uncomfortable.

“Here we are.” Said Drea, and they both stepped out at B Level after excusing themselves to several other passengers they pushed through. Ammona watched Drea walk towards Docking Bay B-12, and sighed.

She’s never going to get over this. Ammona thought. Not after our conversation last week.

“Are you coming, lazy butt?” Drea turned, hands on her hips, and waited.

“Yeah, I’m coming.”

The two of them walked through the food court on B Level, past shops for coffee, clothing, furniture, toys, candy, groceries, beauty products, and space gear. The huge glass windows on their left let just enough of the blinding, exposed sunlight stream into the base. They walked down the shopping hall, through some residential halls, and came out into an open space.

There were lines of people getting ready for travel clearance, and signs that pointed them towards Docking Bays B-1 through B-6 down the left hallway, and B-7 through B-12 down the right hallway. Space Travel Security Agents looked through travel bags with orange-gloved hands that matched their bright uniforms. Children wailed as they were forced to walk through the weapons detectors without a parent. Shoes, jewelry, and Personal Tech Devices were removed, and discarded into glass bins that slid through mechanical detection devices.

“You’d think they wouldn’t need this many STSA agents just for civilian travel.” Drea broke their silence.

“I think it’s because of the ship that was bombed last week. Even with all the safety efforts on the ORB, people still die because of violent idiots.” Ammona stood at the entrance to the ramp that would carry her up to clearance.

Drea looked worried.

“But I’m sure that won’t happen to me. It’s just a ship full of students.” Ammona finished.

“Sure.” Drea agreed, and looked away.

“Don’t I get a goodbye, or anything like that?” Ammona prompted. She hoped for some of Drea’s usual cheerfulness, her playful personality. “How about a smile to remember you by?”

Drea’s face twisted into annoyance, confusion, and then back to annoyance. She was unable to smile. “Don’t tell me to smile.”

Ammona looked at her friend and rolled her eyes.

“What? I don’t feel like smiling, and you shouldn’t make me.”

“I guess that’s fair.” Said Ammona, “How about a hug then?”

“I can manage a hug.” Drea said, looking up at her best friend. “But you have to promise to send me a video entry the minute you get there.”

“I’ll try.” Said Ammona. “I’m not sure what the Academy is expecting when we arrive.”

Drea stepped forward and hugged her best friend, and the two of them held on to each other for a moment.

“Everything will be okay.” Ammona said quietly, amid the bustle of other human beings and the hum of the base.

“I’m sure it will.” Drea didn’t sound like she believed her own words, but she broke away from the hug. “Now get your ass on that flight.”

“Sure thing.” Ammona grinned. “I’ll miss you.” She began walking backwards, watching Drea.

“I’ll miss you too.” Drea waved. “See you soon.” She watched as Ammona turned her back, and headed for the security line.

 


Read Part 1 of the Ammona Series

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious. I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine. Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.
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Ammona, Part I [Short Story]

It is the end of a long work day at the cafe. Serving everyone their triple-shot-sugar-free-vanilla-light-foam latte for eight hours a day, forty hours a week, felt like a drag after three years of repetitive words and motions. She arrives at her apartment door and punches in the unlock code on the panel.

“Please state your name.” The little electronic screen speaks in an automated female voice.

“Ammona King.” She enunciates for the computer’s voice recognition so it can translate her name. The words sound exaggerated.

“Access granted. Please enter. Welcome home, Ammona.” The female voice plays a digital mantra over a tiny speaker. The door slides open, and reveals the entryway into her apartment.

“Thanks.” She mutters. I know she can’t hear me. What a ridiculous thing to program into an access panel. Ammona knows they try to make apartments on the base station seem more like home, but sometimes it feels downright silly.

“Hello?” She calls, as she removes her boots in the hallway.

“Hiiiiiiiiiii!” Drea’s voice elongates her greeting somewhere towards the living room. “Welcome back!” She shouts.

Ammona shoves off her left boot with her right foot, and then does the same with the left foot, right boot. It feels good to get rid of them. She lets out a prolonged sigh, allowing all the stress of the day to push itself out through her lungs.

The pristine hallway, made of aluminum and falsely dyed decorative walls, is a surreal place to come home to. By now she is used to it. Three years ago when I arrived at the Orbital Relay Base, the place felt sterile. I usually regard it as ‘clean’ these days. 

After she kicks off her boots, she drops her bag to the ground. The small hallway table has a repository bowl for her ID badge and wallet. She grabs her smartphone out of her back pocket to check the Internet, and makes her way to the living room.

She stands in the doorway, watching Drea play a game on a giant screen wall. Her roommate is racing against several other hover cars. In the upper left hand corner, Ammona sees a marker that indicates where Drea is in the race.

“Sixth place, huh?” She teases Drea. The other girl doesn’t look over to acknowledge Ammona’s friendly ribbing. Instead, her brows furrow into a scowl. “What is that, out of nine? Ten?” Ammona prods, trying to get a reaction.

“Shut up.” She snaps, pressing buttons with a ferocity Ammona could never match. “You wouldn’t be able to do any better. I am playing a race above my car’s highest level.”

“Now why would you do a thing like that?” Asks Ammona, grinning while she stands in the doorway and replies to some messages on her device.

Drea says nothing, but concentrates on crashing past the car in 5th place.

“Excellent.” Ammona encourages. I feel like I should after making fun of her. 

“Good thing you’re being nice now.” Drea counters, as the race ends with her in 5th. She chucks the game controller across the room. It bounds off some cushy pillows on a clean green couch, and lands in between two of the seat cushions.

“Don’t break the controller.” Laughs her roommate.

Drea looks up from the couch, her brown eyes pinpointed on the tall girl in the doorway. Her sharp face looks like a living knife. She points at Ammona.

“You got a courier-delivered letter today!” Drea grins. “I wasn’t going to tell you after that bit about sixth place, but you saved yourself.” She bounces off the couch and pushes past Ammona to get to the kitchen.

“What?” Ammona demands. “What courier? When? What letter? Where is it?” She follows Drea into the next room, and watches her rummage around in the fridge. Ammona follows and peeks over the refrigerator door. “Drea!” She insists. “Where is it?”

Drea lifts her head from the bottom shelf where she was retrieving some real imported Earth yogurt.  She waves the yogurt container at Ammona. “In your room, on your desk.”

Ammona bounds up the stairs to the bedrooms as Drea’s voice follows her down the hall. “I wanted you to see it later, but it might be important.”

You’re damn right it’s important. Ammona thinks, as she jumps the stairs two at a time. It’s my letter from the Academy.

She enters her bedroom without a second thought, looking for the letter. The room is messy. She kicks away some sweatshirts and socks on the floor, and looks down at the desk.

There it is. A bright yellow and blue envelope, larger than it likely needs to be. Who uses paper any more? She wonders.

Traditionalists. She answers her own question. It must be from the Academy. I thought they would send me an email. More thoughts rush through her head as she reaches forward, and grabs the envelope.

She looks for the tab that will let her pull it open. It slides right off. She tips open the top of the envelope, careful not to disturb the design. Her fingers are cold. Her hands shake. She notices; it’s hard for her to feel for the piece of paper inside. She reaches inside the envelope nervously, the tension in her body visible. She breathes in, and out. She pulls the sheet of paper halfway out of the envelope.

“Well?” Drea is in the doorway. “What is it?”

“I don’t know yet!” The words are sharp, quick. “It’s from the Academy.” She tries to calm her impatient voice. “I haven’t looked.”

“Look! Look!”

“Hush.” Ammona replies, as Drea looks over her shoulder. The paper is partially out of the envelope, flat, pristine like the aluminum walls around them. Ammona’s heart is pounding. She slides it out the rest of the way, and reads the letter as fast as she can, eager for the news.

Congratulations, it begins, and Drea doesn’t need to read the rest but Ammona does. Drea shrieks with happiness.

“I knew it!” She dances around the room.

I didn’t. Ammona thinks. This is welcome news. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe it.  Her heart feels full, and happy, and heavy all at the same time. So many things will change. Nostalgia hits her, a packed fist tight and ready to fight from the years it’s been dormant.

“What will happen to our place?” Ammona says aloud.

Drea stops her dancing and looks over at her roommate. “I’ll probably try to find another roommate.” She shrugs. She always was so honest. Ammona’s heart squeezes in her chest. I hope I’m not so easily replaceable. 

Drea approaches her. “Stop looking so pouty. Don’t be sad. Be happy! This is what you’ve always wanted! Your grandfather was in the Academy. You can continue a legacy your mother would never have dared to. This is fantastic! We need to celebrate!”

It is what I’ve always wanted. Ammona thinks. I’m just anxious about change, as always. She looks at the rest of the letter, and soaks in the words of acceptance. The practical matters she must attend to in order to finish her admittance to the Academy become rapidly apparent.

A deposit of a few thousand yuan is needed to secure my spot. 

I must send a letter of intent to register as soon as possible. 

There will be an admittance day at this campus location on this date that I must attend. 

All of these items flash before Ammona’s eyes, and she begins to plan. She slides her device out of her pants pocket, and looks at the calendar app. I can easily get several of these days off. She notes that the campus is across the solar system, on Pluto Colony. I’ll need a few days to go and come back. I need to look at the shuttles to the Colonies to find out how much a ticket will be.

“Ammona! What are you doing?” Drea’s voice calls from downstairs. “Morgan and Rona are coming over. I’m messaging Hyatt right now. We need to order some food before everyone gets here.”

“Coming!” She yells down. So much to do. So much to think about. In a few weeks I’ll be headed to Admittance Day. 

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious. I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine. Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.
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Walk on The Edge of Space [Short Story]

By Corissa Haury

looking out to space
drawn by Corissa Haury

The gilded edges of the trophy felt cold and clean in Rayna’s hands. She clutched it close to her while she walked, unable to believe that she had just won it. Something about her own self-doubt usually held her back, but this time she had an object to prove her accomplishment.

“Where should we put that?” Jaren asked, at her side. They were walking back to the apartment together after the competition. The hall was clean, with a slate grey floor smooth as newly poured concrete and coated with a high gloss. The walls around them had a white, sterile clarity. It almost hurt the eyes to look around the fluorescent hall, but there was also art, posters, graffiti, and screens that flashed news headlines or ran an old comedy show.

Rayna shrugged. “Probably with all my other junk on my junk shelf.”

Jaren grinned. “Of course you will.” They both heard the sound of an old sitcom as the two of them passed. Someone had just made a joke; a laugh track played in their ears, and faded away as they continued. “You shouldn’t call it a junk shelf, it’s your souvenir shelf.” She gestured towards the end of the hallway. “Look, it’s the Moon side of the station. Let’s stop for a second.”

The women approached the end of the bright corridor, which emptied into a seemingly endless area. To the left, there were shops, apartments, escalators, people, screens of all sizes, and a large open place where hundreds of people mingled and sat around tables or on couches. Ahead, the two of them could see where the tunnel pointing towards home, continued.

“All right, but I want to get this thing back soon.” Rayna agreed. “And then I want to get some food.”

To their right, giant curved glass wrapped around the belly of the station like a belt. It stood a hundred feet high from floor to ceiling, disappearing into both. The huge panels of glass were cut off at the top and bottom by the beginning of other decks above and below.

“Wow.” Said Jaren. “It gets me every time.”

Rayna laughed. “Really? I’m so used to it by now.”

“Spoiled brat.” Jaren grinned. “It’s too bad you’ve never been to Earth. You should see some of the places there. It’s truly amazing.”

“I can’t fathom a horizon that ends.” Rayna shuddered. “I’d feel so trapped.”

“Space ends, somewhere out there.”

Rayna made a face and stuck her tongue out in disgust. “Blech, I’d hate to see that.”

They fell into silence as they approached a set of empty lounge chairs on the edge of the windows. The two of them had paused at the edge of the giant window-belt, and looked out at the moon, a few miles away in space. It was a planet unto itself.

“You can almost see the skyscrapers.” Rayna said.

“Ironic that they call them skyscrapers still.” Jaren looked out to space, to the void of sparkling stars and twinkling places they’d never been. “They should call them space-scrapers.”

“That doesn’t make any sense, Scrapers are another thing.”

“Well, that’s different.” Jaren sighed. “I do really miss Earth sometimes.”

“Don’t you have to go back for Christmas?”

“Maybe. I don’t know yet.” They fell silent again. Rayna could sense that Jaren wasn’t telling her something, but she knew better than to prod and poke. Being nosy was one of her less useful traits. She examined Jaren’s face, looking up into it and realizing that she didn’t want her to go away for Christmas.

“Well, I won’t be mad if you stayed.” Rayna smiled up at Jaren, trying to see if she could elicit a response, to distract her.

“You’re never mad when I stay.” Jaren broke out of the long stare at the Moon. “Come here.”

Rayna drew close, and the two young women wrapped their arms around one another. Rayna held the trophy in one hand and leaned her head on Jaren’s shoulder.

“Don’t go away for Christmas.” Rayna said. “Screw your parents, they’re just going to tell you how you should stay on Earth and you shouldn’t be in love with a woman.” She looked out at space and wondered how humanity could still be so self-obsessed in the face of such a beautiful, empty void.

“They just don’t know better.” Said Jaren. “They’ve never been to The ORB, or even left the Earth’s atmosphere. They refuse to leave because they’re comfortable where they are.”

They looked into each other’s faces, both people searching for meaning in the lines of their skin, in the patterns of wrinkles they both knew around their eyes, in the softness of their facial hair, in the glitter of light in their pupils.

“Well, I’m comfortable where I am.” Rayna broke the quiet and squeezed Jaren close, trying not to tear up at the idea of being apart from her for the holiday. “Please don’t go.” She looked away, back to the Moon. She knew Jaren would see pain if she continued their stare.

Jaren pulled Rayna closer, too, and squeezed back. “Don’t worry, my love.” Said Jaren. “I won’t go anywhere without you, ever again.”

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious. I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine. Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.
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