Ammona, Part 3 [Short Story]

Ammona knew she had to contain her excitement. Otherwise, she might scream, dance, or freak out, and then the STSA would probably suspect her of something other than travel. So she stood in line like any good citizen would, and waited for someone to tell her to step through the weapons detector. With her boots and bag off and in a glass bin, she had nothing to clutch nervously. Her hands felt sweaty, warm. She tried to dry them on her pant legs. The denim felt scratchy, and her hands were still slick with their salty film afterward.

I can’t believe this is actually happening! She thought.

“Please step forward,” an orange-suited STSA* agent beckoned her through the scanner. She nodded and did so. Ammona placed her sock-covered feet on the two blue feet at the bottom of the scanner. It was over in a minute. She put her boots back on and laced them up. She grabbed her bag, and was off towards her destination, Docking Bay B-12. She looked at her watch, which told her the time, the temperature inside the station, the cycle of the moon, and held her flight pass. She had time to get coffee.

Should you really get a coffee when your hands are already sweaty? She asked herself. Ammona knew she probably shouldn’t pump more caffeine into her nervous body, but something about it was appealing. The dark, toasty liquid steaming up toward her over the edge of a coffee cup. The creamy taste of earth and cream, swirled together in a hot storm. Yeah, I need coffee. She decided. She looked at her watch again. Not boarding yet, I’ve got time.

There was a coffee shop near Docking Bay B-11, and B-12 wasn’t far. She could see the sign for it down the clean, aluminum hall teeming with passengers. There was a line of students, perhaps a few hundred, waiting. Not going to miss that flight. They all have to board first.

“We’ll have time,” said a voice behind her. She turned to face a young person with dark hair and a round face. His nose sloped towards a chin that made his face look much like a cheerful basketball.

“Eric Barrett,” he smiled a polite smile, and extended his hand to shake hers. “I’m going on the same flight.” He was younger than her by a few years. She could tell because of his attitude and his round cheeks. He seemed comfortable in his own skin, though, and that was a mark of maturity. Maybe. She corrected herself. Cautiously she extended her sweaty hand to meet his. His grip was soft, cushioned with a little extra flesh. Not a laborer by any means. Ammona calculated whether or not she cared to be friends with this person.

“I see,” she broke her silence. “Sorry, I’m in another world right now.”

“You said it,” said Barrett.  “We’ll be on another world soon enough.”

Ammona groaned. A cheesy jokester. Great. 

They moved forward in the coffee line.

“So what’s your specialty?” Inquired Barrett.

“Don’t have one yet.” Ammona shrugged. “I’m just happy to be going to the Academy.”

“That makes, oh, 500 of us or so.” Barrett produced a cheshire cat grin that split his round face with a fence of perfectly white teeth. Blinded by the light… Of teeth. Ammona preferred her own sarcastic humor.

“Indeed.” She said, smiling. But not at his joke.

“So, you a first year, too? Or are you returning?”

“First year,” she said, and stepped closer to the counter. Just two more people in line

“You seem a bit old for a first year, I’d have pegged you for a fifth year at least, maybe sixth.” Barrett chattered on.

“…Thanks?” I can’t help it if this kid brings out my inner sarcasm. “And you look like you belong in high school, who cares what year people look like they are?”

“Oh, oh!” Barrett grinned again, then chuckled. “Got ourselves a live one?”

“Yes, I’m alive. Coffee time.” Not a moment too soon. Ammona knew she could turn into a bully quickly, but didn’t want to let herself. I have to be better this time. I can’t give in to being shitty if I want to make it at the Academy. “Yeah, I’d like a medium dark roast please, with room for cream.” The cashier nodded, and they exchanged money via Ammona’s PTD**.

Coffee in hand, cream swirled in, first sip taken, Ammona marched towards the line of students. Hundreds of them had gathered in the area to wait for the flight. She knew Barrett, looking for a friend, would probably try to find her. She got lost in the crowd on purpose. At least he got the message I don’t want to talk very much… For now.

Most of the other students were chatting with another, listening to something on their PTD, or looking out the huge windows down on Earth. Ammona could see the moon in the far distance beyond the horizon of the planet, but it was hard. The sun was bright.

She was excited and scared. Her heart had moved into the bottom of her throat, right where her neck met her torso. She could feel that it would live there for a while, just sitting there. She wished she could already message Drea but they’d said goodbye less than an hour ago.

Maybe I’ll send her a message. She thought. But I don’t have anything to say, other than lame goodbye shit. She hates that. Ammona thought of her best friend’s face, angry, and sad. She tried to think of something else.

“The Luna V is now boarding.” A robotic voice announced to the general area.

The line began to move. She stepped closer to the ramp entrance. I’m getting on a ship and going to Pluto Colony, where I’ll train for the outer regions of space. Train for space flight. Specialty, she thought of Barrett’s question. She had lied to him when she’d answered. I want to fly among the stars. She thought. Maybe it won’t happen right away, maybe it will take me years. But I want to fly, I want to explore, I want to see worlds no one has ever seen. But first… Classes, and grades, and teachers. And before that, getting on this two-week flight to Pluto Colony.

She held her coffee cup, hot in her hands. Her bag was slung over her shoulder. Her heart was with Drea, somewhere else on the Base. Her hands were still slick with perspiration, their warmth amplified by the coffee cup.

“You can do this,” she whispered to herself. “Grandfather did it, you can do it.”

She stepped forward in line, ever closer to her goal.


Previously, with Ammona:

Part 1 of the Ammona Series

Part 2 of the Ammona Series


Glossary of Acronyms

* Space Travel Security Agent

** Personal Tech Device

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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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