Ammona, Part 5

Bunk Room 942 wasn’t quiet for long.  Ammona scrolled through a media feed on her PTD while she lay on her back, left arm behind her head. She tried hard not to listen to the conversation Hian and Barrett were having, but it wasn’t easy.

“So, where you from?” Barrett inquired, while he attempted to play Tetris with his belongings and the locker he had chosen.

“Not really from anywhere,” said Hian, “My parents were military when I was a kid.”

“Not anymore?” Barrett asked, pushing a dark jacket into his locker.

Ammona scrolled past a news video about the Prime Minister of Celestial Affairs. The caption said there will be more restrictions on civilian spaceflight after a series of passenger craft accidents. They no longer seemed like accidents, said the caption. Of course millions of people were commenting on the video. Ammona kept scrolling.

“Nah, they’re retired now. That’s one thing military gets you: early retirement,” Hian answered Barrett.

you make it to the ship? A message from Drea popped up on the PTD. Ammona closed the media feed and flipped to her messaging app.

totally. stupid dude in my bunk room tho. truly hope i have 0 classes with him. She typed back, and tapped the Send arrow. saw some cool magnorcycles in the cargo hold. She added, and hit Send again.

“That sounds like a good deal.” Barrett was busy replying to Hian. Ammona heard the computer voice outside acknowledge someone else, and moved to sit up on her elbows. As always, she was curious about who the last of their bunk mates was going to be.

“Sometimes,” said Hian, and then fell silent as they also realized someone was coming through the door.

“Hey there folks,” a dark-haired person stepped through the door. He was tall, probably over six feet. He looked like a boy that Ammona had been to high school with, but she didn’t think it was him. This person’s face was narrow, his eyes set back, his nose like a beak. Ammona thought he looked like a very intelligent bird, though the way he stood reminded her of a cat. She shook off her initial judgments and sat up all the way.

“Well, hi!” Barrett greeted him warmly. “What’s your name?”

“Romero,” he replied, pulling his backpack off his right shoulder where it had hung carelessly a moment before. With one fluid motion, he flung it up towards the other top bunk, across from Ammona. The bag landed on the pillow, perfectly cushioning its fall.

Show off. Ammona thought. Her PTD buzzed, and she realized she still had it in her hand. She looked down at the screen to see a reply from Drea.

the journey won’t be long. find stuff to do, you’re good at that. you’ll barely see him. 

She’s right. Ammona admitted to herself.

“I’m Hian, and that’s King,” Ammona heard herself being introduced.

“Hi,” she looked up. “Nice to meet you.” Romero met her eyes, something she wasn’t used to.

“Nice to meet you, too,” he said. “I think we’re about to take off.” Ammona looked down at her PTD. She quickly typed a reply to Drea.

you’re probably right.

Ammona closed her PTD.

“It’s about time,” said Hian, “I got on board way too early.”

“When did you get here?” Asked Barrett, as he shut his locker and returned to his bunk.

“Pretty much first thing this morning,” replied Hian. Romero climbed up to his bunk and sat against the wall.

“I didn’t know I was going until the last minute,” said Romero. “I’m pretty sure they held the ship for me.” There was laughter in his voice, and he chuckled to himself after he spoke, like he had made a joke. Ammona could see something behind his eyes, boldness, and entitlement. For a moment she thought to herself that this was very much like her, when she was younger and she had not yet experienced the crushing weight of adulthood and brokenness. She shook off the feeling and focused on what he had actually said.

“They held the ship for you?” Ammona couldn’t help herself. Who is this dude? She wondered.

When Romero laughed, his whole face became a laugh. The laugh wrinkles near his eyes compacted into a sea of future crow’s feet, high cheekbones raised themselves when he grinned into the full laugh. Hian and Barrett laughed too, seemingly for no reason. There was something catching in it. Ammona was annoyed and intrigued. “I’m just kidding,” said Romero, “Well, half kidding. There was another kid they were shuttling down here, but it was just he and I left when we got on board.”

“I see,” said Ammona, “Lucky you made it.”

“Luck doesn’t have anything to do with it,” said Romero, grinning. Ammona didn’t know what he meant. She looked down at her PTD. No reply from Drea yet. She wondered what her best friend was doing.

The sound of an electronic bell rang on the console attached to the wall, near the door. Ammona looked up, and so did everyone else.

“This vessel will depart in 5 minutes.” Said the panel’s speaker. “Please remain on your bunk or in your bunk room until it is safe to roam about the ship. Do not delay in returning to your bunk.” Another bell played on the console, and the screen flashed red with words in white. Ammona couldn’t read it from her vantage point on the top bunk, so she assumed it said the same thing the panel had just said. The bell played again.

“This vessel will depart in 5 minutes,” the speaker began the recording again.

“Oh, hush,” said Hian, “We all have ears.” Barrett laughed, and Romero grinned.

“…or in your bunk room until it is safe to…” the speaker continued. Hian rose from their bed and went to the panel. Barrett followed and stood behind them. Nosy as always, thought Ammona. They both tapped the red screen in a few different places. Hian tried some gestures.

“Do not delay in returning to your bunk,” the recording insisted.

“I don’t think that’s something you can disable,” Romero began, “I’m pretty sure the security on an Academy transport ship is pretty tight.” The recording faded away after the last bell sound, and Ammona laid back down on her bunk.

“Don’t count on it,” Hian said, and the two of them kept trying.

I hope this thing takes off soon. She thought, and checked her PTD for the time. I should’ve checked what time that recording played. I don’t even know if it’s been five minutes yet.

The other two had still not returned to their bunks, but Ammona said nothing. Romero was also quiet. He had fished out his PTD and was typing on it. Habitually, Ammona pulled out hers and checked it again. Still no message from Drea. Maybe that was her fault.

“What about this button on the side of the panel?” Ammona heard Barrett ask.

“Either non-functional or the functionality’s been shut off,” Hian’s voice replied.

The whole ship moved suddenly, and Hian and Barrett both almost lost their footing.

“Don’t delay in returning to your bunks,” said Barrett, as he lowered himself to his bunk.

The whole world was moving then, as the spacecraft lurched out of the Orb’s docking station. Everything shook uncontrollably, as if the planet gods had turned the craft into a tuning fork and tapped it against a celestial object. Vibrations, that was all Ammona could see. She had to put away her PTD. Her whole body was shuddering. Everything she saw looked a little fuzzy, moving back and forth through a million tiny iterations of itself, quivering like a child in a snowstorm. Yet nothing was cold to Ammona.

Forgot what this was like. She thought, and noticed that all her bunkmates had fallen silent. Something, something about being hurled through a canister into the darkness and hoping it all works out. Ammona thought of Drea, of the funny things she said sometimes. She thought of how she might not see her for years. She thought of how Drea hated space travel. She’s scared of so many things. Ammona thought, and she tried not to be angry with Drea. She knew in a way that Drea felt abandoned, but something in Ammona felt abandoned, too.

Sure, she thought, as she became used to a shuddering world, as the vibration became normal and her physical components chose to accept it. She’s the one who is too scared to go out on adventures. She’s letting her fear trap her. That’s why she feels abandoned. But I feel abandoned by her, because she chose a safe cage over me. We are so weird. Ammona shook off the thought and looked at the ceiling several feet above her.

The world still shook as the spacecraft took off, and Bunk Room 942 was quiet for a moment while its inhabitants waited patiently to travel through a starry void.


Previously, with Ammona:

Ammona, Part 1

Ammona, Part 2

Ammona, Part 3

Ammona, Part 4

Collage and story created by Corissa Haury


Glossary of Acronyms

PTD – 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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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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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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