The ship’s engines came to a loud, groaning halt.
I jolted up and fell out of my hammock. I bumped my head into the pilot seat and yelled, rubbing my head, “Damn, I need a bigger ship! Computer, what the hell happened?”
The ship’s computer said, “There’s a problem with the engines.”
“I heard that.”
I removed the hammock and tossed it on the floor next to the pilot seat, then entered the narrow corridor to the engine room. I took a deep breath, scared of what I might find this time. My ship was derelict. Anything was possible.
I hit the door controls, but the door wouldn’t budge.
My ship’s computer interjected, “Engine room is on emergency lockdown.”
“And why, dear computer, would you do that?”
“Room is flooded with gas. I informed you the pipes needed replacement when we were at Station 25. You chose not to follow my recommendations.”
“I had a cargo run. Time sensitive. Cargo OK?”
“Cargo is secure in hold. Shall I send a general distress call?”
I banged my fist into the door. “Obviously. And vent the engine room.”
My ship’s computer was as old as my ship, and it sounded like it needed some maintenance too. Sarcasm wasn’t built into the software.
I cautiously moved back to the control room and strapped myself into the five point harness of my seat. There was no reason to, as I was apparently stuck in space, but, for some reason, it felt safe.
“Captain Rogers, you have an incoming communication.”
“That’s fast. Patch it through.”
The smiling face of my ex husband appeared on my view screen. “Well, hello there. Having problems?”
“Yeah, my ex talks to me.”
I leaned back in my chair and watched the screen. Damn him, still as dark haired and lacking in wrinkles as ever. Or did I spot some lines near his bright blue eyes?
“Received your distress call. Anything I can do?”
I turned left, and looked out into the empty, cold dark space through the small viewport. I shrugged, “Rather wait for the Martians.”
“They are two hours away, Ally. Your engine room will burn out by then.”
“Wait… How do you know it’s the engine room?”
I grimaced. “General distress call, dear. Where, pray tell, are you?”
I disconnected the comm, and said, “Is there really a problem with the pipes?”
Computer said, “Why?”
“In the vastness of space, the shuttle of my ex husband is right behind me. I don’t think that is a coincidence. In fact, I call that meticulous planning.”
“Breaking up with him was a mistake.”
“And what makes you an expert in relationships?”
“I am not. Human relationships are a mystery to me.”
I hit the controls. “By my calculations we are close to the Venus Corridor. Two, three hours from the exit, we’ll be at Station 43, schedule yourself for maintenance shortly after arrival. Let’s go.”
“Very well, engaging. He really is a good man, you know.”
I smiled. “Life isn’t binary.”
“As you remind me at least twice a day.”
I grinned and leaned back in my chair again. If only I could see Gareth’s face now I retreated. Served him right for bribing my computer.
(to be continued)