Author: Alastair Millar

Most people don’t meet the love of their life with their pants around their ankles, but that’s what happens when you find a rip in your EVA skinsuit and don’t have any patches handy. Fortunately there are emergency suits near all the airlocks; unfortunately, there’s nowhere to change into them except the deck; Aphrodite Station was designed to be functional, not comfortable.

So there I was, down to my skivvies, when Cindy came round the corner with a digiboard. She stopped and raised her eyebrows; I blushed, and she laughed. We’d been introduced briefly when she’d arrived from Earth the day before, but hadn’t spoken. She was fresh blood for the Solar Gain research team – whose arrays I was supposed to be going out to tweak so they could run their next set of tests.

I guess she liked what she saw, because within a month we were in a relationship. The boys in my work crew ribbed me mercilessly for picking up the newbie, but we just hit it off, so I ignored them and spent even more of my downtime with her; and hey, when you’re orbiting Venus there’s a poetic rightness to everything, and it just feels like it’s meant to be.

Most people don’t get proposed to by the love of their life with their pants around their ankles, either, but that’s what happens when you trust the scientists. The headshrinkers at Mission Control had decided we needed pets, and started by shipping us a dog. We had no idea what was about to happen.

When the monthly autoshuttle arrived, Cindy and I had drawn the short straws for inventorying the offload, and found the large crate with “biological specimen” stamped on it; we shared a look, and decided then and there that the geeks shouldn’t have all the fun. She undid all the latches – and this huge pile of shaggy, salivating fur burst out in excitement. Its first charge knocked both of us on our backsides, and it began running all over the deck in joy at its newfound freedom. It took us 20 minutes to catch the beast and manhandle it back into the box, by which time it had tried biting my butt, and ripped my pants off in the process. We sat on the metal floor, backs to the wall, laughing like a pair of lunatics, and that’s when she asked me. It was one of those unrepeatable moments, so of course I said yes.

And most people don’t lose the love of their life with their pants around their ankles, but that’s what happens when you’re sneaking in a quickie in the airlock with the new girl from the planetary investigation crew, and you don’t realise that one of you bumped the button that activates the video link back to Hub, making your little liaison public knowledge.

Cindy was already packed and on her way to new quarters by the time my shift finished. She got a transfer back to Earth on compassionate grounds a few weeks later, and now I’ll never see her again. My own stupid fault.

For a long while after, I just shuffled backwards and forwards from the empty void to the emptiness of my now silent sleep space, and withdrew into myself. Now one of the new rovers down on the surface has glitched, and they want volunteers to go down and fetch it; it’s dangerous, but anything for a change. Perhaps it’ll shake me out of this depression.

I guess it’s time to pull on my big boy pants, and get to work.