Author : Nicholas Ilacqua

Bill asks, “What’s the other thing?” Then putting down the glass of synthetic whiskey, he runs his hands through his greasy long hair, staring straight ahead.

Pete looks at Jason with a squint and listens, scratching his stubbly salt and ginger chin while shoving around rocket specifications.

“Nothing new,” says Jason. He looks up from the plastic schedule at the grimy room with a plastic table and disassembled engines next to thick plastic coverings. “Just how we got here. So…”

“I want to hear it,” says Bill, taking a gulp of the whiskey.

Jason listens to the crashing waves of rain hitting the aluminum roof. “Yeah, the story. If you want to hear it…”

Bill is looking at the dusty ceiling rafters. “Let’s hear it.”

Pete slams his left hand with the missing pinky on the table, and curls his lip, “Let him talk,” and looks at Jason.

“Ok I guess I’m talking.” Jason leans back in his chair before taking a deep breath and starting, “There was a full moon on the beach.”

“What beach?”, Bill says

Pete gives Bill a look and with his raspy voice says, “Let him talk”

“Somewhere in Bali. The tide was coming in and the milky way rose out of the horizon. It was unnaturally quiet,” Jason says.

“What was the other thing?”, says Bill

Pete loudly sighs. “For god’s sake.”

Jason looks at the clock. “The other thing I hadn’t told you about, this is it. On the beach there was a twisting shell, about a foot long. As Jane walked ahead of me, I saw the shell and picked it up. I put it to my ear and heard the ocean. I thought, ‘How weird, I have to put a remnant of the ocean to my ear, in order to hear what’s right in front of me.’ When I caught up with Jane, I said, ‘I always want to hear the ocean.’ She said, ‘Our world should have an ocean.’ That was the first requirement for our new home.”

Bill sighs and laughs quietly. “That explains why we’re in this hell hole, because you wanted to hear the ocean when it was quiet. And so now we’re in a place where we can never get away from the roar of crashing water.”

Jason feels his face get red. “Yes, the irony has not been lost on me.”

Pete rubs stub on his left hand. “Still like the ocean Jason?”

“Not so much. I have dreams now of picking up sea shells and hearing sand storms.”

Bill slams the last of his whiskey. “That was the other thing, why we’re here.”

Jason leans forward to rest his elbows on the table. “Yeah, the why question always get some sort of answer.” He stands up. “Time for work, boys.”

Pete groans as he lifts himself from his chair. “Suiting up for the last time. Thank god it’s over and we can get the hell out of here.”

The men walk to their lockers and pull out plastic fully body suits and hoods. They slide their legs in and pull the formless shapes over their arms and head. They turn to the person next to them, gesture to their backs and get zipped up. Looking out the tiny window in their hoods, they see each other give the thumbs up in their fingerless gloves. Then they walk out into the never ending storm.