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Flavor Country

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By Dedwerkz   |   
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Here is a short story I wrote a year ago. It is plain & mediocre but I present it "as is" for your reading pleasure. I use my pseudonym and I don't know why...


Flavor Country by Gunnar Stahl (a pseudonym)

My footsteps echo in the vast emptiness left. My eyes move over the bare walls, tracing the lines of long-departed posters and prints. I can't help but glance down at the floor while retracing long vanished paths, a million little scuffs bringing to mind a thousand little memories. It's all a tumble of images in soft focus, fuzzy at the edges but bright and warm. Who will live here now, what new memories will this place see? I walk from room to room, but that isn't right, not really. I amble with no goal, only stopping to enjoy a phantom fragrance or a stray thought. So much has passed inside this place it's hard to accept it has all ended.

My eyes become dewey, I laugh at myself (or is it in spite of myself?). What would Sheila say if she saw me? I move my hands to my face and push the hair from my eyes, one of the perks of my position. It hangs a little past regulation but no one dares mention it. I ignore the moisture running down my cheeks, under the circumstances a little sentimentality isn't uncalled for. I sit down at the table, the stainless steel countertop is cold and seems to steal heat wherever my sleeves are thin. The environment control has been shutdown since we left. There hasn't been any need to heat the room.

A craving strikes me. I told her I gave it up and I did, for the most part. I only smoke when she isn't around. Digging in my breast pocket comes up empty so now comes the laborious task of checking every pocket and pouch. The problem with an engineer's togs is the storage space, every hand tool seems ensconced somewhere on my being or at least it feels like it. Been awhile since I've had the opportunity to enjoy some downtime and it seems apropos at the dinner table. Deceleration has shaken every bulkhead with the end result being every bolt, screw, and plasteel weld has required my undivided attention. I've been running around the ship clocking more overtime than hours in the day.

At last! I am triumphant, my cigarette case was in my left hip holster with the torch. I remove the cig-tube and make sure to pressurize it's chamber, adding the gel and then it is... flavor country. The aerosol fills up my lungs as I take a long drag. Funny we still call it smoking, but then again I also carry a magnetic particle isolator I refer to as a wrench. Good words never go away. Sheila's voice is in my head chiding me for smoking again. It isn't addictive but the ritual is hard to give up I tell her.

I am chief engineer in a colony-ship, the largest in the fleet if I can brag, and I still have my rituals. It's the duty of every engineer to keep some regular ritual, I suppose. One of them is smoking and the other is brushing my teeth. It is simple really, I just can't get used to not doing either. I may be the only owner of a toothbrush in four square lightyears. Being injected with a million nanobots for upkeep still doesn't mean I can't contribute a little to my own health. Suddenly a passing flash of a tiny robot parked in a capillary having a smoke in his former home makes me laugh.

Tomorrow is gonna be a big day, soon there won't be a need for a ship's engineer. Tomorrow I'll give up smoking. Tomorrow will be the first day of the rest of our lives. Tomorrow we won't be Terran but something new. Tomorrow we make planetfall. I see the soccer ball I came down here to find. It seems to be peeking from behind a storage locker, no worse for wear by its lonesome. I stretch as I stand, an ominous pop from my back to answer for my troubles.

"Tom?" It's a soft voice, it takes me a second to remember its coming from my earpiece.

"Yes, Captain Price?"

"Come to my ready room, if you'd be so kind."

"Yes, Ma'am." Ritual and habit.

"Tom, just call me Sheila, ok?"

"Yes, dear."
© 2015 - 2020 Dedwerkz
A corny little story about moving, memories and cancer sticks.
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