Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Prompt: I’m kind of busy here…

“Incoming call from…Kevin Chantek”

Macey Chantek held her breath and maneuvered the screw in her heavy gloved hand around the back of the strut and into its spot. Three twists seated it firmly enough for the power drill to catch and spin it through the rest of the way. She released her breath with a loud sigh. “OK, open channel, thanks.”

“Macey? When you comin’ in?” her brother’s thin voice quavered.

“Kiddo, I’m kinda busy out here right now. What’s going on? You okay?” She reached for the next screw and brushed it with the seam of her glove. It spun across her field of vision, and she caught it in her left hand. She shook her head. Getting tired was slowing her down, and she had to get these all done before she went in. 103 down, 17 to go. She knew better than to try it left-handed; she leaned out of the alcove so she could bring her gloved hands together to grip the screw with her right glove.

“Gramma’s here,” Kevin whispered. “Please come home quick, Macey. She stinks!”

Macey sighed again. “I know, kiddo.” The air filters could not keep up with their grandmother’s thick, hand-rolled Turkish cigarettes. Actual cigarettes. “Okay, I will finish up as soon as I can and come in. Promise. But you remember I showed you the screws in the relay panel? I still have 17 to go. If it takes me three minutes to do each one, how long is that?”

“Fifty one,” he answered without hesitation.

“Good job.” Macey worked the next screw into place while she spoke. “And how long to come in the locks?”

“Six minutes in, four to get out of your suit, ten to clean up…71 minutes. That’s one hour and 11 minutes, Macey.” She heard the pride in his voice.

“Good job, there, kiddo. I’m going to put you to work in navigation if you keep that up.” It was an old joke between them. When they first came on board three years ago, Kevin was sure his big sister was in charge of the whole space station. “Is Gramma cooking dinner?”

“Yes, she already has cabbage boiling.” Macey could see his wrinkled face and almost laughed aloud. She coughed instead and steadied herself to reach for the next screw.

“I know you’re looking forward to that,” she teased. “Tell you what. I will stop at Adie’s and trade for three squares of chocolate if you behave.”

Kevin whooped with glee. He was an easy kid, really. So many people had tried to discourage her from bringing him, but she had never regretted it. They were family, and she couldn’t bear the look on his face when she suggested he’d be better off staying with their grandmother while she was gone. “Okay, kiddo. I’m going to finish this up and get inside as soon as I can. You behave for Gramma and finish your homework.”

“Kay, Macey. Ex, oh, ex, oh.”

“Ex, oh, ex, oh, Kev. Macey out.” She seated the next three screws without a hitch. Then the station buckled, knocking her out of the alcove. She fell backwards and upside down, watching in horror as the screws spun out around her.

A flash of light filled her right eye, and she turned to see the explosion blast open the passageway connecting the Dorm and Rec pods. She felt the panic flooding her system; it took all her will to force herself to calm down. She had to think! The explosion would have slammed all the ports into lockdown mode. She couldn’t get back in the way she came out. Where should she go?

Only one thing mattered. Kevin.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing:
~35 minutes, interrupted

August word count:

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