Another week, another space-themed flash fiction piece! This one isn’t intended to be a Star Trek thing but I keep using Star Trek vocab so whatever. Enjoy!
Francie looked out through the large viewing window, bracing herself against the familiar jolt as the ship left orbit and the planet below began drawing further and further away. Another successful beginning to what she hoped would be a smooth trip across the quadrant. They were on a time-crunch, three weeks late out and with a lot of cargo that the colony on Triton IV were in increasingly desperate need of.
Truth be told, when Francie woke up that morning with a crick in her neck that took twenty minutes in a hot shower to get rid of, she really hadn’t wanted to go. Four months of travel, and once they had started there was no turning back. A big ship like this cost too much to send off, its cargo cost too much if it went to waste or was delayed, for any second thoughts to be an option. Still, now that the planet was disappearing quickly in the distance, she was glad she had taken the mission. It would be a smooth ride, and a solid payday once she got there.
Francie snapped out of her reverie and turned to her second in command. “Hm?”
“Here comes the paperwork.” He smiled weakly and handed her a datapad.
She sighed. Oh yeah, the paperwork. She’d almost forgotten about the paperwork.
What felt like a million signature later, Francie could finally leave the bridge and head towards her quarters. She’d had her bags sent there, but she hadn’t been by herself. She never went by before launch. It didn’t feel right somehow. But now… now she could do with some brief shuteye after spending the bulk of the day faffing about the port double checking everything imaginable. After that she’d start to unpack. Despite what the fancy title suggested, captaining a ship like this was mostly paperwork and long stretches of not doing much at all.
On her way to her rooms, she cut across the brig. She was one of the few people on the ship who could come and go there as she pleased, and since it cut the travel time from her room to the bridge almost in half, she planned to make use of it. The brig was an old-fashioned one, actual bars in the door of the little cells. She found the antiquated structure laughable, but at least it was pleasantly empty in the cells this early into the trip. Francie hummed a little to herself as she passed them by.
“Yo!” A voice caught Francie’s attention. “Yo, when am I getting out of here?”
Francie blinked very slowly and turned towards the source of the sound. Yup, there was really someone in there. A girl of maybe fifteen or sixteen, fingers wrapped around the bars to one of the cells. She stuck her chin out, shooting Francie a defiant look, her dirty blond hair piled in a sloppy bun on top of her head.
Francie tapped the badge pinned to her jacket. “James?”
“Ma’am?” her second’s voice came through the communicator, tinny.
“Why the fuck is there a teenager in my brig?”
The line went silent for a moment.
“Did we just fucking leave orbit?” the girl asked, coming up to the bars.
Francie ran her tongue over her teeth, took a deep breath. “Yes. Yes we did.”
“Fuck!” She kicked the bars, the sound echoing. “How the fuck am I still in this fucking brig then!?”
Francie tapped her communicator again. “James.”
“Yes, Captain. Sorry. Apparently Ms. uh…” She could heard him hitting some keys on his console. “Ms. Carter was due to be released not into police custody on-planet but to her family and er… they never showed, so…”
“So they just left her here?”
“It would seem so, ma’am.”
“Well what the fuck am I supposed to do with her!?”
“I uh… I will research what protocol says about this sort of situation and get back to you, ma’am.”
“Thank you, James,” she tapped her badge to close the channel.
“Are you gonna fucking let me out of here or not?” Ms. Carter demanded, leaning her forearms on the bars and fixing Francie with a stare.
Francie sighed and lifted her hand to her neck. That crick it had taken her twenty minutes in a hot shower to get rid off before boarding was back. It was going to be one of those trips.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a RPG show to watch!