Author : Olivia Black, Featured Writer
“Some things are too good to be true.” That’s what my mom would say if she were here. Of course, if she were here she’d also be telling me to tuck in my shirt and watch my language, so thank god she’s not. No, it’s just me here, trying to figure out how I got myself into this situation…
Yesterday, I was an esteemed runner for Handy Delivery Services (nationally syndicated). You need something delivered fast and relatively undamaged? I was your guy. But today, I’m – well, I don’t actually know. Been hiding out in a burnt out mega-structure site. Supposed to be condos, I think. Tall building at any rate. Without the microfab wind shielding walls, it’s real cold up here. I miss feeling my toes.
Anyway, what was I saying? Right, so yesterday, Armpit Joe sends me out on a simple dead drop. Take the package to an apartment build on West Elmhurst, leave it in the trash can in the lobby. You know, the usual SOP.
Deliveries like this always have a deadline, so out the door I scoot. Don’t make it two blocks before my phone starts blowing up. Joe’s probably got a pick up for me on the way back.
“What up?” I answer, breathing hard as I peddle up hill. (Crank assist is for the weak.)
“Am I speaking with Radical Sam?” Instead of Armpit Joe’s coffee grinder growl, it’s a woman with a voice like silk. I’m so caught off guard that I nearly swerve into a parked vanguard.
“Who is this?”
“There isn’t time. You’re in possession of a package that must not reach its destination,” she purrs into my ear.
“No can do, Lady. Destination’s locked in. It’s out of my hands.” As much as I want to do whatever she says. Messing with a packing is a one-way ticket to being un-existed. The Mail Authorities take package violations way too seriously, if you ask me.
“I’ll give you ten grand if that package makes its way to me instead.” Her voice becomes hard as steel.
“This is a joke. Did Lexy put you up to this?”
“Bring it to Carla’s Cantina,” and she hangs up.
Here’s the funny thing; I can’t tell you what make me do it. Ten grand might be a lot of money, but it’s not enough to commit career suicide over. And yet, I turn around fast as can be and peddle my spandex clad butt off all the way up town with the deadline counter still ticking down on the precious parcel. I drop the package with the smokingest babe in exchange for an envelope. The mother load of all paydays.
A few blocks away, I open the envelope expecting to find a preloaded bitcoin chip nestled into protective casing. Well, it’s ten Gs, all right, in crisp outmoded paper bills. In other words, completely useless. Can’t spend it on the street, can’t take it to the bank without getting boned by income oversight. Only low brains use dead currency.
There goes my dream payday down the tube with the rest of my life. And now I’m here, wondering if I’ll manage to make it out of the city before someone comes looking for me.
Hey, did you hear that noi–
Author : Olivia Black, Featured Writer
“Hey Ed? What’s this light mean?” Maureen said, tapping the bulb with her index finger. The panel she examined covered the entire wall with its indicators and switches. The whole thing was dead except for that one blinking red light.
“What light?” Ed’s scruffy head popped out of a hatch in the floor some feet away.
“This one,” she said, turning to scowl at him with one hand on her hip and her thumb jutting back at the panel.
“It’s just your eyes playing tricks on you,” Ed scoffed, returning down his hidey-hole.
“It is not.” Maureen stomped her foot and let out an exasperated growl. “Will you just come look?”
“Fine, but this whole area of the facility hasn’t had any juice for years,” he said smartly, coming over to stand next to Maureen and examine the little light.
“I don’t believe it.”
“Do you think this will be any help in proving my hypothesis?” She asked, biting her lip.
“You mean your theory that the place we’ve lived our whole lives, that our parents have lived their whole lives, is actually a spaceship? No, I don’t think one twinkling light will be much help,” he replied, tapping on the glass just to prove his point. As if in response, the pulsing quickened until the light shone solidly red.
“What did you do?” Maureen shoved Ed out of the way. She bent forward for a closer look, practically shoving her face up against the panel. Beside the light was a switch with something written on it that she couldn’t read. Without expecting much, she flipped it. In the distance they heard a loud squawk followed by what sounded like a woman’s voice, making both of them jump.
“What was that?” Ed said, swinging his lamp around nervously.
“Shh!” Maureen strained to hear, but couldn’t make out any words. “Come on.”
Grabbing Ed’s hand, she led him down a narrow corridor that dead-ended with an ancient hatch. The voice was much louder here, but still muffled by the thick metal.
“I guess that’s that,” Ed says, turning away.
“What do you mean? Let’s open it.”
“It’s sealed. Just like all the other hatches in the dark areas of the facility. You’ll need Phyllis’s boys to bring their gear and cut it open, and you know they won’t. Not after last time.” Ed continued walking back the way they came.
“Damn you, Ed!” Maureen balled her fists and then took a deep breath to get reign in her temper. That wasn’t fair. Ed still came on all her silly expeditions into the dark areas – even after the last time. She faced the hatch and put her hands on the release. Yanking on the stiff mechanism, there was a click and then a groan as the hatch swung open. Maureen gasped, her hands flying up to cover her mouth. Ed turned back to stare, eyes bulging.
Beyond the hatch was a window unlike any they’d ever seen before. And it was filled with an impossibly large expanse of stars, just like in footage from the archives.
“Exploration Vessel Franklin, do you read? Can anyone respond? Your ship has been lost for nearly a hundred years, but we’re still reading life signs. Is anyone receiving this? We’re here to bring you home.”