Docking Bay Y-9 [short story]

Above Earth
From the library public archives, 1887

By Corissa Haury

I can see the rectangular ship descending from just above the platform outside the entrance to the port. Its gleaming silver coat reflects some of the Sun’s luminescent, uncontrolled rays beaming through our solar system. The tainted glass on the ship’s bow indicates the cockpit. Its thrusters are on low. This is a class D civilian and cargo transport ship. Coming from Earth, probably more immigrants, tourists, and travelers come to inhabit the ORB.

“Astropilot Clark of the Orchid to Docking Bay Y-9. Safety code 975-389-238. Orchid is prepared for landing. Requesting clearance to initiate anchor magnetics.” A static voice comes over the radio. I turn to the left where it sits in the console, beneath the lighting switches and above the air pressure and chemical controls.

I adjust the pressure in the docking bay with the control on the console. It’s always strange when the nothingness of space is just beyond the bay, half a mile beyond my thick glass window from the control room to the opening of the bay. One hundred seventy-three lights and buttons blink at me in varying codes in all different colors.

I flick on the switch beside the speaker on the left. “Docking Bay Y-9 to Astropilot Clark.” I reply into the mic on the console. “Ship Orchid is cleared for landing. Initiate magnetics. Responding magnetics will be ready.” I turn off the mic.

Orchid is dropping anchor now.” I hear Clark’s voice on the radio. I don’t reply. I believe in brevity.

I know what every single light, every single switch means. I switch on the gravity magnetics, and the ship’s thick anchors drop down the last few feet to lock against the platform with a thud. I can see the platform groan underneath the weight of the class D ship. Cargo ships are always heavier. I flip the switch for the intake platform, and it begins its automated slide into the port slowly.

“Prepare to close docking bay doors.” I say aloud.

“Docking bay doors on standby.” Replies Zeres behind me. I hear her charge the engines. There is no wasting energy in space. We only use what we need. The platform has drawn the whole freighter inside.

“Shut the doors.” I can see that the ship is powering down. No residual heat from the thrusters. As the bay doors begin to shut out the intruding sunlight, I hear the pilot’s voice again.

“Astropilot Clark to Control Room Y-9. The Orchid has landed. Permission to open the doors.”

I briskly turn to the mic, angry with him for bothering me while I am still stabilizing the environment. I flick the on switch. “This is Control Room Y-9, Clark, negative, that is a negative. Environment has not been pressurized. The doors are still-“

“Controller Rhys, the doors won’t close.” I hear Zeres’ voice behind me. I turn around and see her fiddling with the controls. My hands still in place on the air pressure, I look out through the glass at the docking bay. I can see the sunlight still streaming through the last several dozen feet from space.

“Why not?” I snap back.

“I don’t know.” She replies, “It feels like something is pushing against the handle.” I see her struggling with the final arm of the mechanism on the wall, the arm that guides the powerful, heavy mechanical doors shut.

“Control Room Y-9, are you there?” I hear the voice on the radio. I notice the microphone is still on. He heard everything that just happened in the room. I turn it off.

“Controller Rhys!” Zeres is calling. “Help!”

I grit my teeth. This is the third time this has happened this week. When are they going to fix the damn doors? I rise from my chair. I look out the window to the doors. I stare them down. Maybe it’s a power problem. They don’t have enough juice to close? I grab the handle from Zeres. “Give it to me.” I say. She lets go her grip. Her young, inexperienced eyes are panicking behind her decent facade.

I grip the handle. It does feel as if something is pushing back, as if something is pushing against the doors.

They won’t close.

I pull and pull, for what seems like a long time.

I sweat and I pull harder than I have all week. I can feel them giving. I can feel them closing.

“You’re doing it!” Zeres squeals. I can hear her smiling. “I can see them closing!”

“Yes, thank you.” I grunt through my teeth.

“Now go to the console.” I say.

Her face looks petrified. “Just do it.” I command in a loud voice.

She walks to it.

“Look for the Greek letter Gamma.” I shout at her. “I need you to activate the magnetic door locks.”

I watch her search for it. “It looks like a strange small Y!” I say impatiently, just as I feel myself about to give up, just as the doors get close enough for the locks to work.

I see her reach for the switch.

I feel the release of the handle as the locks click into place in my peripheral vision. I don’t need to look for sure. I am about to go out there. I can still hear the static of the channel to the Orchid. I walk over to the radio and flick on the mic.

“Control Room Y-9 to Astropilot Clark aboard the Orchid.” I say. I look out at the ship. Several workers are waiting around it to clean and fuel the Class D freighter. “Astropilot Clark, are you there? Come in please.” I hear no answer.

“What happened out there?” Zeres asks. I look over at her with a frown.

“Stop looking so scared, for Sun’s sakes.” I snap at her. “I don’t know.” I turn back to the radio. There is just static. “Clark? Come in, Astropilot Clark.” I repeat this a few times before I hear a crackling sound against the radio, and then what sounds like a strange whoosh. Almost as if air had left the ship in a giant breath. Out in the bay, the lights flicker for a moment. Then they go out. I can hear the shouts of the workers faintly as they scatter.

I walk across the room to the door where my spacesuit is kept. I open the closet. Above the suit there is a huge flashlight.

“All right.” I say to Zeres. “You’re gonna help me put this on, and I’m gonna go check out the docking bay. There is something broken out there and I am going to fix it.”

She crosses the room. Just as she reaches me, the whole place goes dark.

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.
Continue Reading

Conflict [short story]

Conflict

By Corissa Haury

The trip was exhausting. When we got back last night, I was glad to sleep in a real bed on a real space station, instead of in a tiny bunk below three other people in a hallway room. I never thought I would be so grateful for our tiny apartment on the ORB. Especially when I was a girl, when we left Earth.

Cue 7:30am, when my little brother comes in to wake me up.

“Time to get up.” He whispers in my ear, his pre-teenage voice on the edge of puberty. I can tell he is about to pull back the covers and make it cold so I’ll wake up. He doesn’t know I am already awake.

I sit up quickly, and shout in a loud voice, “Good morning!” Emphasis on the morning. He jumps clean out of his skin, and I start laughing. Not a bad way to start the day.

He’s glaring at me, his brows tucked down over his eyes with annoyance. He’s crossed his arms. “That’s not funny.” He says. “You scared me.”

I laugh again. “I didn’t mean to.” I hop out of bed to throw a sweatshirt over my t-shirt. It’s cold in space, but not as cold as it was on the spaceship. Even if we are still on the ORB. I sigh with that thought, and say, “Let’s go get breakfast.” Harrison is a recent teenager. He’s still unimpressed, because when you’re 14, nothing is funny.

When you’re the older sibling, you have more fun teasing. “Come on.” I urge him from the doorway, but he’s still bent on glaring at me. “All right, suit yourself.” I shrug and I am off to the kitchen where Dad is making breakfast.

“Coffee?” Asks my mother, sitting at the breakfast table reading the news on her tab. She points to the pot on the table. My two little sisters, 16 year old twins, are looking at a comic-book together across the table. The synthetic kitchen floor is cold on my feet. Steam rises from the carafe on the table. I can smell the thick darkness of liquid caffeine. My stomach rumbles.

“God, Minni,” Says Mara, the blonde twin, “Eat something before you implode.” She loves to tease.

“Tell Dad to hurry then.” I grin, and take my seat and pour my coffee and reach for the powdered creamer. “Feels good to be home.” I say as I stir my creamer in. It doesn’t have the same swirl as real Earth half-and-half.

“Home?” Mom looks up from her tab and raises an eyebrow. “I thought it was a piece of crap and you wanted to go back to Earth?” It’s my turn to act like a sullen teenager. My mood drops, hard.

“Mom…” Kara, the brunette twin, looks up from the paper comic-book. “Don’t talk about that.”

“I’ll talk to my daughter about her harsh words any time I would like.” Mom says back, and all I can think is, Great, here we go. “Min?” She looks over at me. I stare back, uninterested in answering her stupid questions. “Minni?” She says again, “You called this home, I want to hear why. It sounds like you’ve improved your attitude, which is good.”

“I haven’t improved anything.” I snap back. Dad keeps his back turned. He won’t engage in these arguments I get into with Mom.

“Duh.” Mara chimes in, our eyes meeting. Mine spell murder and hers, mischief.

“I still wish we were back on Earth, I still wish we didn’t have to move to fucking space-” An audible gasp hits the whole room at the F word. “-because Dad needed some stupid job working for something he doesn’t even care about. We had an entire house. I had my own room. Now we are cramped into a tiny 900-square-foot apartment with six people! It’s stupid. But you know what’s more stupid? Riding in a space ship for a week just to go see some dumb gas planet gardens.”

At this point I’ve stood up to give my speech, and everyone stares in shock while I ramble on about my hatred for space. “That’s a shit vacation if I ever heard of one.” (Here my mother furrows her brows and I know I am in for it.) “How about a visit to Earth? Where there are people I actually want to see?” Even Dad has turned around and is watching me with sadness in his eyes. He hates this.

I’m at the kitchen door by now, edging away from the conflict I’ve started. From the conflict I always start. I feel rotten inside, but I can’t stop. I feel hurt, too. “I can’t talk about this any more. Don’t ask me about it any more.” My voice breaks, and I turn away.

“Minni!” Mom shouts from the kitchen.

Two minutes later I’ve shoved on my boots and jacket and I head out the apartment door to stomp around the space station. At least I can look at my planet from the big glass windows. At least I can pretend I am home where there is weather, and animals, and warmth, and real air.

I escape the clamor of my family arguing after me, I ignore their blur of insults, shock, disappointment, and pain. It hits me like a soft wave, but I block the wave with our door and get away. Just for a minute, I think, and I step out into the bustling space station.

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.
Continue Reading

The Tiniest Wrong Thing [short story]

By Corissa Haury

by Corissa Haury 2015
by Corissa Haury 2015

I can’t think about this. I remind myself, while I lie there in my bed with my eyes turned up through the porthole to space. I am safe on a space station. I reassure myself. I am safe in a place with oxygen. I breathe in, and out, full breaths. There is nothing like an environment with real, genuine oxygen in the air. No recycled air. No methane. No evil come to asphyxiate. I touch my cheek while I lie in bed. My face feels free, and clean, without a breathing apparatus attached to recycle the same air I had been breathing for months. It feels strange, smooth, alien. I cannot believe how short a time it has been since I arrived.

I hear a knock on my door.

I sit up from the bed, and look around for some pants. “Just a minute!” I yell. There, on the floor. I grab them and slide my legs through, buttoning up. I am not wearing a bra under my shirt, so I grab a sweater and wrap it around myself. I open the door. It’s Mara.

“Hi.” She smiles at me, too chipper for my taste.

“Oh, hey.” I say, and move out of the way. “Come in, the place is a mess.”

“That’s fine.” She says, “I don’t care.” She steps past me, over some clothes, and plops down on my desk chair. “What are you doing today? Did you just get up? Do you want to get breakfast at the cafeteria?”

“Yes.” I say. I shut the door. She is well put together. Her long dark hair is thick, and frames her face. Her face looks pristine. “How do you do that?” I ask, a little jealous.

“Do what?” She laughs, and touches her hair. She knows what I am talking about. Despite my mental state minutes earlier, she is relieving the burden of my mind.

“Get perfect?” I joke, turning around and removing my sweater. “Turn around, I’m getting dressed.” My temporary studio apartment does not afford much room for privacy.

I hear Mara laugh. “Stop it!” She giggles as she turns around with her back to my back. “I am not perfect. You are beautiful, you know.” I laugh as I put on a bra and a proper shirt, but there is nothing light in my laugh. It feels harsh.

“Sure.” I say, pulling my shirt on.

She turns back around just in time and glares at me. “You shouldn’t be so down on yourself.”

“Mara, come on.” She makes eye contact with me. My attitude is not pleasant for either of us, but we were roommates at Academy. There is no pulling punches. “This is not the fucking time.”

“Jesus,” She looks away, all the smile gone from her. “Fine. Sorry. I was just trying to encourage you.”

I grunt, aggravated for making a nice person feel bad. “I know you’re just trying to be nice, but I can’t do the teasing right now. I don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with my own insecurities this week.”

“It’s been three weeks.” She says back, looking for my eyes. I look away to find my glasses, wallet, and keys. “When are you going to talk about it?” She asks.

“Hardly long enough.” I avoid the question. She rises from the desk chair as she sees I am ready to go.

“I’m sorry.” Mara is at my side by the door, her hand on my arm, sharing her soft energy with me. “It will be good for you to get out of this tiny room. You’re not meant to be cooped up.” She is right. I say nothing, but I unlock the door and leave the room. She follows, with feet and conversation. “So… When are you going to tell me about what happened?”

I look over at her. “Never?” I try to pass it off as a joke. I know I will tell her, to get it off my chest, but I have been trying hard not to remember it. Despite my brain’s ability to regurgitate bad memories as it has been.

“You know how unhealthy repression is.” Mara sing-songs. We stroll past happy people shopping across from massive coated glass panels that look down on Earth. I pull my hair up while we are walking, grab a band from my wrist, and sweep my hair into a long ponytail.

“Your psychology does not make it easier to discuss.” I reply. “If anything, it makes it worse.”

“Look, everyone is going to find out soon.” Mara remarks as we round the corner to the elevators. “They’re releasing the information next week.”

“What?” I stop by the elevators, where there is a crowd of a dozen or more people standing, waiting for the glass circles to deliver them to the next floor. I feel a little sick. “What do you mean?”

“I mean I read online that there is going to be an exclusive released by the Celestial Observer about the mission and why it went wrong. Everyone wants to know. Titan is one of the next habitable moons that would push us out to the edge of the galaxy.” Mara says, making my heart constrict with every word.

“Don’t you think I know that?” I snap back. “I know exactly why the mission was important. You don’t need to tell me.” Her face takes on a wounded quality, her eyes soften and become sympathetic.

“I just don’t think this is healthy for you.” She pushes back gently, in a softer voice. I am getting loud. She always gets quieter when I get louder. I try to calm myself. I realize that my heart is pounding. I look at my watch. One week. No wonder they had me taking a month off. They didn’t want me reporting anything to the press or talking to the Observer. Fuckers, I think to myself. Mother. Fuckers. My head hurts.

“Nothing is healthy for someone who watched their best friend die.” I hiss back quietly, trying not to be an asshole and failing. Mara says nothing. She cannot say anything. No one can say anything to that. The elevators arrive. Everyone files in but us. “Wait,” I say to Mara, and she waits. “Come here.”

I walk over to the giant windows that look out on Earth. I look down at the beautiful blue and white mixture of weather, landscape, and primarily oxygen. Earth is so lovely it makes me want to cry.

“Mara,” I say quietly as she joins me. My voice is broken, a grating, graveled sound coming from the rest of me. “I see that moment, over and over again in my mind.” Mara looks up at me. Her eyes are waiting, her face is contemplative. Not the worst person to vent to. “No matter what I am doing, that moment comes back to me,” I say. I bite my lip and feel the beginning of the sting of tears gather in my nose and cheeks. My voice is about to crack, but I keep going. I push through it. “I see Abrielle’s face, Mara, as her heart seizes and stops beating while she is in my arms. I saw her eyes as the last light faded from them, but most of all I felt… Feel her still… Leave me over the course of several hours. I see her cracked helmet, the glass shards still connected but the oxygen in her suit gone, all in my mind, over and over. How a little crack can kill you. Fuck.” I stop. Tears are streaming down my face as I look away from my friend, ashamed of my own weakness and pain. But I continue, knowing if I stop that I will never get it out.

“How the tiniest wrong thing can affect your whole life.” I struggle through the words. “I feel her here sometimes, even though she is lightyears away in our multiverse, floating through the void in a coffin.” I really lose it at that moment and angry, sad, devastated me takes over. Mara gathers me in her arms, and I sob uncontrollably on my friend while the Earth turns and turns 243,000 miles below.

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.
Continue Reading