Did you ever have an urge to taste gun oil?
Vikki sat looking at the weapon in her hands, rolling it back and forth. Chambered for a high-energy hunting cartridge, it was one of those things that every household on Z262 had. The opportunity to add to the community meat supply and keep the pests out of the gardens was one that no one would pass up. Vikki knew all too well what she held and what it was capable of, but it was the blackness in her head that kept calling to her. The chip player mounted up on the edge of her bed kept running. The same song, over and over on an infinite repeat loop. A driving beat, fast chords, and lyrics that spoke to her current mood.
Taste it as it swirls around your tongue?
She thought back to the life she had left behind before coming along on this stupid venture, and tears flowed through the soft fur around her eyes. She had friends there, and a life — of sorts. Not everything had gone the way she wanted, but that was nothing. Sure, it had sucked when Derek left her, but even then her thoughts hadn’t been this dark.
Suck the shining barrel,
The offer had been a good one. A chance to escape from a life that was rapidly spiraling into disuse and disinterest. She had realized that her existence was shallow and vapid, and if she did not attempt to do something with it, she was wasting the one chance she had been given. Without Derek, there was no one even to keep her grounded in reality.
deep into your mouth,
Since the arrival on Z262, life had taken on a decidedly more interesting feel. Constant work kept her from overthinking too much, but on evenings like this, when she had put away one too many glasses of the wine that Buck and Eric made, her thoughts flowed back to the past and she found herself facing a curious mix of homesickness for the life she had left and gratitude that she had gotten away when she did.
pull the fucking trigger
Now she found herself on the definite downslope of the memories. Realization that she was locked in to the contract she had signed, that she was in fact stationed here for a minimum five year assignment, sent her mind tumbling back into the past, where the darker thoughts waited to chew them up. Thoughts of how she would never see her friends again. She could not even communicate with them, save for actual, physical, pen-on-paper letters sent by ferry once a year as the resupply craft landed. That gave her a virtual eternity to wait. Life in the colony for anyone not a miner involved primarily agriculture, and Vikki had no previous experience in that realm. Even the local jobs were slim, most run by a family. Contract law experience was in no demand.
and the deed is done.
“Yeah, it is,” she whispered. She hefted the pistol and jammed the barrel into her mouth.
“Hey, is that Satanika I hear?”
The voice came from her front door – a door that Vikki did not remember leaving open. Her eyes jerked up to see him standing there. Tall, lean of form, and well-muscled. He was one of the security crew, but she couldn’t recall his name. The cheetah was dressed in what she had heard referred to as their casual uniform: A patterned t-shirt was tucked into pants that had more pockets than Vikki could ever imagine needing. He wore boots, but not the spit-polished parade-ground boots she had seen on some military troops. These were sturdy, workmanlike things that spoke of practicality. He wore a handgun of some sort on his hip, and one of the short-barrelled rifles she had seen them holding was slung over his shoulder and rested on his back.
Make the shot!
She slipped the thin barrel of the pistol from her mouth and, eyes flowing freely with tears, nodded.
A smile quirked at the corner of his lips. “Haven’t heard them in years. Saw them live when I was just a cub. Knocked me square on my ass. Thumper spit on me,” he added with a grin that was slowly mirrored on her face.
“He always spits on someone.”
“Yeah, but it was me that time!” His voice was raw and throaty, and a strange thrill ran through her as she heard it. He had a proud grin stretching his features, and she knew why. The fact that, of all the Folk on this miserable planet, they were probably the only two to who Satanika meant anything was not lost on her. Her hand slid down to her lap, taking the pistol with it.
Take your spot!
“You’re Vikki, right? Vikki Duris?” he asked. When he looked at her, she felt urges well up within her. His eyes were so pale that it seemed he had no pupils, but that somehow seemed to intensify his gaze.
“Ummm…yeah?” she answered, her inflection making a question of what should have been an easy statement. She reached up to wipe the tears from her eyes.
“I’m Kurt. I came to escort you to the Captain’s office,” he said.
“Oh?” she asked, eyes widening. “Did I do something wrong?” No one since landfall had been arrested, but she had heard rumors of what had occurred to Folk on other planets that left her suddenly sick.
“Relax,” he urged, helping her to stand. A casual tug removed the pistol from her grasp. He worked the action with a practiced hand, letting the cartridge inside fly free to rattle on the floor. He locked the slide open and tossed the weapon onto the chair where she had been sitting. “It’s something about putting you on a new project.”
Give it all!
“I don’t have the details. I’m just the messenger.”
Vikki looked at him for a moment, questions spiraling around in her brain. She had so many, but Kurt had made it clear he did not have the answers she would seek.
Paint the wall!
She nodded and grabbed her bag. The sling bag that was standard wear for most miners held their property – and frequently their lunch – and it was close enough to the purse she had carried for so many years as to be familiar.
Never too late to heed the call!
He followed her out of the house and closed the door behind them, leaving the chip player running. She took two steps before turning shining eyes onto him.
“Are you going to tell them about, ummm, I mean…”
“The Satanika?” he shot back with a wink. “No way! I’m just glad someone here has good taste in music. I might ask to borrow your chip one day, though.”
“No, I meant the other.”
He shook his head. “Never a word. We all have off days in our lives.”
She took in a long, slow breath and nodded at him again.
“I guess we do at that.”