I like fiction. A lot. So when I noticed one of Sugar Kyle's blog posts was an entry into an EVE fiction contest my interest was predictably piqued. I went to the main page for the site and saw the prizes, categories and entries and started getting excited. Then I saw the deadline. Today at noon, EVE-time. I quickly tried to figure out in my head what that would be (I've never been great with arithmetic or time-zones). HAHA, I thought, I have 8 hours. So I got to work. I hope it came out alright for being a kinda rushed piece. In any case I present to you:
36-17-9... no its -19-7, "FUCK!" Smash. Paint chips explode from the rusty locker door under my fist.
"Whoah there, what's got your panties all in a bunch?" Otikin Fai, my boss. The guy is a friggin' sleaze bag. Fired someone last week for not setting him up with his sister. Not to mention that he brought that weird friend of his to the poker game last month, asshole.
"That goddamn capsuleer just pissed me off. I can't believe he came in for seventeen repair and unloads today. Sevenfuckingteen, I counted."
"What'dya expect man, they don't give a shit about baseliners. You saw the amount of loot and salvage he kept loading out. Musta killed two hundred odd ships out there. That's probably like... I dunno eight thousand people. He don't care about four lousy dock workers either," Koshe Ara, a regular surgeon with a torch, not the best with a sentence though.
"The nano-bots do most of the work on them capsuleer ships anyway, we just have to press the buttons. I don't see why you let it bother you so much. Besides we have one of them in at least once a week. You should be used to it by now," Heeto Wro, technician. I swear he can charm a tangle of wires better than any Ni-Kunni snake dancer can charm a cobra.
"Yea maybe so, but what bothers me about them is that they expect us to get everything done in a matter of seconds, no matter what it is. It's absurd. At least when we get the Guristas ships in for repair and unloads they let us take the time we need. And don't get me started on that god-awful PA system he was using either."
"Hah! All that yelling hurt your delicate sensibilities there Tai?" God do I wanna smack that grin off Oti's face.
I leave them to their laughter after I peel off my jumpsuit and head to the showers. The grease and grim comes right off with the Caldari industrial soap they give us. Kinda makes me wonder what's in it, but I'm sure I don't wanna know.
The other three are getting in the showers as I leave. They're talking about going to the dive bar out in the red light district, 426th floor. Man I could go for a drink too.
Otikin is waiting by my locker. He never showers here because he never works hard enough to have to. To be honest none of us have ever seen him do much real work at all. It's a running joke that he only got the job because he's Fatal's third cousin or some shit.
"Hey wanna come over tonight and crack a brew, unwind a bit?" No Oti, that's the last thing I wanna do actually.
"Sure man, sounds good. Lemme just call my wife after I get dressed,"
"Yeah, yeah, of course. I'ma go wait outside and make a few calls myself actually,"
I hate going to his place. He only buys cheap beer that no one likes and he knows it. It keeps us from drinking all of it whenever he asks one of us over. Which he does frequently of course, trying make friends and holding us hostage for a few hours with awkward small talk. Eventually we all just make up a lame excuse and get the hell outta there.
The locker door is cold on my forehead as I lean against it. He's gonna ask me about the money too.
I walk outside and look around. It's like walking out of one building and right into another on a station like this. The streets all have ceilings since the station is just a huge stack of different levels in the people spaces. It has a weird effect on one's sense of direction. Oti is down the street talking to himself with his back to me, though I'm sure he's on a call. I pull out my own data pad and call my wife.
"Hey honey, how's little man doing?"
She looks stressed out, "Good, good. He's uh, sleeping right now," She hesitates, "H-how was work today?"
"Eh same shit I guess. Are you alright you seem a little... frazzled."
"Oh yeah I'm fine. Just fine over here," She nods a bit as her sentence trails off.
"Well alright, just making sure. By the way Oti wants me to go his place tonight so I'll be home late,"
"Oh that's fine dear I'll just uh, make dinner when you get here," She looks down at her hands.
"Wanna walk me over to Chau's bed so I can say goodnight?"
Her eyes dart over to something above the screen while she replies, "Um, well he didn't have a nap today and was kinda cranky to be honest. I'd rather not go in there and risk waking him up."
Oti waves me over, "Ugh, I gotta go anyway. Well, go get some sleep or something you seem like you had about as rough a day as I did, love ya."
"I love you too Tai, I-" She leans in, "I uh, just, I love you a lot."
Oti's place was... weird. It was obvious it cost more than the flat I was in but it still had a grungy feel to it. It was like it knew it belonged to a guy like him and just didn't bother trying to look nice.
"Drinks are in the fridge." He tells me as we walk through the door. He heads up the stairs towards his room.
Yep, nothing in here but canned horse piss.
"So Tai, my buddy has been asking about that money," His voice drifts downstairs, "A month is a long time to not pay up on a ten grand debt. If this were a loan you'd owe him quite a bit in interest."
"Fuck man its like I told him after the game, and like I've told you everyday since. I'm just a dock worker. It's gonna be a while until I can get the money... I shoulda never made the bet in the first place," I finish, mostly to myself.
I haven't even gotten my head out of the fridge yet dammit and he's already brought it up. I put the beer on the counter, pop it open and start to down it. It doesn't matter that its tastes horrible, my day couldn't get much friggin' worse. I hear him walk into the kitchen, up to me and to the fridge.
Shlick. Stars explode behind my eyes, and pain wracks the base of my skull. My body from the shoulders down goes numb and I can feel cold metal under my chin and see the glint of steel beneath my nose.
"You're right Tai, you shoulda never make a bet you can only afford dead,"
I try to reply but I just gurgle. The counter-top rises to meet my face and heat pours down my neck. I feel the blade slide out of my spine and my mind races in its death throes. How could he do this? Is this really how I go? Fuck I haven't seen my son all week! How can this happen to me? Wh....
Otikin drops the knife in his sink and leaves the body to slink down to the floor. He walks over to the data pad on his coffee table and redials the last call. A boy's face fills the screen, gagged and with a knife to his throat. Behind him is a man wearing sunglasses in the dim glow of the screen. And the sound of a woman sobbing fills the apartment.
"He's dead," Her crying crescendos, "The corporation will pay out the health insurance to Ms. Fukusin in a few weeks. After the missing persons investigation is closed."
"Thank you Mister Fai. Can you show us the body please?”
Otikin hesitates, “Are you sure about that?”
“Mister Fai I wouldn’t ask if I wasn't sure. Show us.”
He picks up the pad and walks over to the body, now laying in a pool of blood with eyes transfixed on nothing. Muffled groans and screams from the boy overpower his mother's crying.“Now learn from your father boy, never make a promise you cannot keep.”