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.

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So I Go [short story]

By Corissa Haury

Copyright H. E. Remus 2015
Drawn by Corissa Haury in Vellum App

I am trembling with excitement and fear. I hold in my hands the last of my cash cards… The last of the money I need to leave. I have waited for over a year for this to happen. I finish closing the store as usual, knowing I will return tomorrow to work again. In my mind I plan my purchase of a timely ticket to the Orbital Relay Base. Every night I look for it in the dark star spotted skies, until with my naked eye I find the biggest visible satellite since the start of commercial space travel.

In the empty quiet of the grocery store I am one person left, along with Audri, a girl who works here when she is home from college every summer. I ignore her while she sweeps and listens to her headphones.

The cash cards feel worn and dirty under my fingers. I think of the way paper cash used to feel when I was a kid, just before it became worthless nostalgia and cash cards were distributed by banks. After I put away the money and she puts away the broom, Audri and I lock up to go home. We part ways; streets fade between work and my bed.

My boyfriend mumbles hello in his sleep as I lay down beside him, my head still full of anxious thoughts and fears about leaving. He says something sweet, I respond.

“Hey sweetheart,” I say, “Go back to sleep.” I kiss him on his neck, just below his earlobe, where I can smell the lovely savory smell of his clean hair, and feel his warm skin under my lips, inviting and soft. I love the way he tastes. I will never love anyone the way I love him. I will never hold anyone that way. I tear up as I think this, hovering over him in the darkness of our bed, where all of the most precious intimacy of my life has happened, in five different states and three different regions of America. My eyes water, and I turn away to sniffle in the dark, into a tissue. I truly hope he does not hate me for escaping. After all we have talked about, after all we have been through, I hope he understands.

That night I cannot sleep, so I plan. I write down secret things in my journals that I know no one will look at. I get on my wristwatch, looking up tickets for travel to the ORB. Along the way, I see so many advertisements for space vacations, space travel, space ship ownership, and space games. I try not to be frustrated that I cannot just buy my own ship and go wherever I please. I do not have the money for that. I just need to get to the ORB. That is the kind of money I have, in cash cards from the grocery store. Just a little every month, I have set aside for a year.

The next day, I am exhausted when he leaves for work. We kiss goodbye, he squeezes me close for a moment. It will not be the last time we kiss, I think. Not just yet. Later I get up, shower, and go to work.

Little do they know my bags are packed. Little do they know my snacks are purchased and saved. Little do they know I took four blank notebooks, skinny and plain, an unheard-of luxury of paper. I do not care. I will write about it all in my notebooks. I bought a special pen.

Weeks go by. My departure date approaches. I watch the rockets take off on my wristwatch, checking their schedules and statuses to insure that they are arriving fine. I know in my heart there has not been a rocket ship crash in years, but my father does not believe in space travel. He thinks man is playing God, and he has to hang on to his God or else he may not feel like a man. I think man is playing Escape. I think man, like me, is playing Another Chance. Yet my father’s paranoia haunts me. I look up to the skies. Nothing can haunt you in space, a place void of oxygen and gravity.

The last day I kiss my lover goodbye, I weep alone in his parting shadow. The airport is crowded, everyone anxious as we don our space suits, protecting us with our own oxygen just in case. I read all about this on the website. My ticket is ready on my wrist.

We file one by one into the ship elevator and go up up up to the rocket ship, only 150 people will fit on one flight. The seats are crowded and the seat belts cross our bodies like giant X’s. Outside the tiny window the size of my fist, I see the airport station far below. I see the giant advertising emblem of the rocket flight company emblazoned on the top of it, my last reminder of Earth’s imagery. I shake my head. Commercialism, I think. At least I can take advantage of its success, and get away.

As the rocket ship ascends, I think of my father. I think of my mother, who will cry when she discovers I did not say goodbye. I think of my lover, sad and alone in his bed. He is the only one I will miss. I blink back tears as we rip through the atmosphere, the only time I will ever leave Earth. I look at the flashing glare of the Sun out my window and turn from its brightness.

I think of the brightness of the ORB in the night sky, hovering over me for a year while I planned, and I think of where I will want to go after I reach that shiny satellite 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