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Excerpt: ‘In A Dangerous Wild’ (My Space Tramps Short Story)

Posted by kayholt on September 23, 2011 in editing, publishing, writing |

Now everyone can read an excerpt from my short story, ‘In a Dangerous Wild.’ It appears in the the Space Tramps anthology from Flying Pen Press.

***

“Araceli! Look at you, all gravved-up and with a moonbase of your own!” Far La stripped half out of her spacesuit to embrace her friend properly.

Petite though she was, Araceli hugged as good as she got. “The kids were ready to murder each other for a little privacy and Ganso Station wasn’t getting any bigger.” She let go of La and drew a young technician – maybe twelve years old – forward from where she waited quietly beside the airlock doors. “You remember Julissa?”

La gaped. “Your Julissa? She was barely talking the last time I saw her!” She squeezed the girl around her shoulders, careful not to disturb the equipment in her hands.

“Juli’s still quiet, but if you’ll show her your provenance, she’s got a pretty new stamp for your collection.”

La grinned and pulled her thermal shirt off over her head. Myriad constellations of vaccine-tattoos dotted her right arm from wrist to armpit. Most people preferred to get stamped on their non-dominant side, but La’s left arm was more prosthetic than flesh, so she made do. “There’s a bit of room midway up the bicep between Cet-Six and Brit Station.”

Juli whistled softly at the evidence of La’s travels, swabbed her bicep, and deftly inked a new entry on La’s expansive physical record. She practically whispered, “A small sample? Your immuno-profile…” La knew the drill, and she didn’t begrudge the girl a little blood. She held still while Juli tapped a vein, and thanked her when she was done. Most med-techs she met were rougher and slower about their work.

Juli hustled away to the lab to study La’s immunity, and La took a closer look at her new stamp. A ring of golden crosshatching surrounded the moonbase’s call sign – in this case, the same as its name, Nido – in bright blue characters. “It’s beautiful.”

“It means ‘nest.'” Araceli led her friend to guest quarters near the lock.

“Like birds used to build in trees? That’s nice.”

“A safe home/for fragile things to grow/in a dangerous wild.” Free People worked art into everything, including their names for things and the designs of their vax-stamps, and Araceli was even more prone to poesy than most. La found this reassuring.

“After Sevgi gets back and Juli clears the crew to share public air, you and I should take a little drift out to that crater to see my cargo and talk.”

“Oh?”

“This moon has gravity close to Earth’s, right?”

“Hijita has just under point-seven-five E-Gees, yes.”

“Good. A nest should have trees.”

Araceli followed La into her quarters and locked the door behind them. “You have seeds.”

“Half-a-million tons, all the way from Earth.”

Araceli swore complexly in an old language in which La was barely proficient. What she understood was enough to make her ears burn.

“We could terraform Hijita.”

“We who? It’s just me and the kids plus Zia based here. That’s nine, assuming you stay, and I’ll believe that when I see it. Wanderluster.”

La grimaced. Even before she’d acquired so many, the stamps on her arm had been a point of tension between them. Araceli liked to keep her friends close and restless La made that difficult. “I’m grounded. No captain will want me aboard ship with baggage like that, except to steal it from me.”

“If you haven’t found a way to get back off the ground within a standard week, I will rename this moonbase after you.”

“What, and redesign Nido’s beautiful stamp?”

“My Carlos is an artist. He could immortalize your little name in an afternoon.”

“He still needed adult supervision to hold a stylus the last time I saw him.” Thanks to the unusually high gravity on Hijita, La flopped harder on the sleeping bench than she meant to.

“He’s seventeen standard years, now. An adult himself. I have grandbabies on three Free Stations, La.” Araceli loomed over her friend. “What’ve you got?”

“The last remains of Earth in a box.”

Araceli sighed. “That’s something, I guess.”

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