Author : Benjamin Fischer
The Shore Patrol has to ring three times before she comes to.
â€œMaâ€™am, we would prefer to not break down the door,â€ one is saying. â€œPlease open it now, maâ€™am.â€
Groggy and maybe still drunk, she paws at the suiteâ€™s intercom in response to their annoying persistence.
â€œAye,â€ she croaks, bracing herself against the headboard.
He is nowhere to be seen, of course. They never stay until the morning and most of the time she likes them that way. No buyerâ€™s remorse. No uncomfortable second round of introductions. No waiting for the bathroom while the other showered. And no awkward pauses at the door, no unnecessary questions about a sequel.
One of the shore patrol coughs, loudly.
â€œBe just a minute,â€ she says, her voice cracked and raw.
The champagne had been good and maybe even French–not the usual Tycho knockoffs that nine out of ten casinos in Golden refill their bottles with. Thatâ€™s why she drank so much, she tells herself. Make the most of the boon. Seize the night. Fuck it. She was a superstar and medical can always grow her a new liver.
The room is a deluxe package, with unlimited water and an almost depressingly vast selection of feeds. She dials up FOX LUNA so she doesnâ€™t have to hear herself in the toilet. The news network comes blazing in on three walls, the anchorâ€™s rugged face reaching from floor to ceiling. â€œ-inevitable conflict. NATO forces did not respond to what they have billed â€˜morally bankrupt brinksmanshipâ€™ but multiple sources claim that both America and Luna are rapidly mobilizing strategic-â€
â€œRoom! Mute the TV!â€ she orders from the bathroom.
A complimentary bottle of mint mouthwash clears the last of the bitter taste of vomit from her throat. Gargling the thin green fluid, she rolls her shoulders and stretches her neck. She pads back to the main room, naked and feeling slightly more human.
â€œDo I have time for a shower?â€ she calls through the intercom.
â€œMaâ€™am, anyone not answering the recall by thirteen hundred-â€ starts one of the MAAs.
The other cuts him off.
â€œIâ€™m sorry. No, maâ€™am. You do not.â€
Her whites are strewn on the floor and mixed in with the chaos of the bed, and she decides that her medals and her underwear arenâ€™t worth the hunt. A quick once-over of her uniform determines that while it is unsat, it will get her back to the ship, whiskey stains and all.
The chiseled features of the anchorman silently watch her straighten up her gig line and pull her skirt down to a slightly more modest mid thigh. She clears her throat.
The FOX stud evaporates into an endless series of her. Her hair is shit, but that is what covers are for. She twists the brown mop on her head into a mockery of a bun and sets her hat at a jaunty angle.
She shrugs–she looks even more hung over than before. But hell, sheâ€™s been out all night, drinking and whoring and she doesnâ€™t give a damn if everyone knows. Tonight she can be the talk of every wardroom between here and L5. Tomorrow–well, the wicked and the innocent are one and the same when the tac nukes start flying.
She nods to herself.
She strides out into the bright florescent light of the hotel hallway. A first class and a third class Master-at-Arms are waiting for her, arms crossed and visibly impatient.
â€œGood morning, boys,â€ she smiles.
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