Author : Kathy Kachelries, Staff Writer
“You won’t like it there,” Rajani’s brother said. “People go crazy like that, so far from the sun. There’s science behind it. I saw it on the forums.”
Sam’s avatar hung on the screen throughout the call: himself at twenty-one, tanned and grinning as he reclined in a white plastic chair. His UV goggles had been shoved up into his dark hair, and she recognized the backdrop of the mainland relocation center behind him. The photograph was half a decade old, now. Samir was an account manager for a software company in Dhaka.
“I’m not going to go crazy, Sam,” she said with a tired but affectionate sigh. Rajani leaned back as far as her small control chair would permit her and folded her hands behind her neck. “I was a janitor on Mercury, remember? And a receptionist in the Hilton Luna.”
“But the sun was always there, Raj. You just had to travel a couple hours to see it. And an ice moon? The Eskimos used to go nuts, do you know that? Pibloqtok, they called it. You’re not cut out for a place like that, hon. Come back to Bangladesh.”
Rajani was used to her brother’s pleas, though they were less frequent and impassioned than her parents’. “The Sunderban’s underwater, Sam.”
“There are other places above sea level.”
“It isn’t the same.”
Despite the frequent cost of replacing her shuttle’s oxygen filter, Rajani fished a lighter from her pocket and lit a cigarette, exhaling towards Sam’s avatar with mild frustration. Her own avatar, displayed beside his, contained a preteen girl on a pale beach, bands of white surf curling around her ankles. Her father’s small fishing boat was tied up in the background.
“Have you ever seen ice, Sam?” she asked.
“Are you smoking in your shuttle?”
“I asked you a question.”
“Sure. I went to the ice park in Greenland a few years ago.”
“That’s not real ice.”
“It’s frozen water.”
“Not the same thing. They freeze it. I did a fly-by of Io once, a couple months ago. Nothing but black peaks and valleys, and the settlement’s lights reflecting over it.
“Sounds nice,” he said, though his tone was dubious.
“It looks like the ocean at night. The way our flashlights hit the waves when we were hunting for crabs.”
Sam was silent for several seconds. “You’re becoming an ice miner,” he finally said.
“There’s no global warming out there.”
Her brother sighed, but Rajani knew that she had won. “I can’t talk you out of it?”
“I’ll visit on the off-season,” she promised, and flipped the switch to disconnect. With a mechanical click, both avatars disappeared. Rajani angled the nose of her craft upwards, away from Earth, preparing to trade one orbit for the next.