Normally I’m late to the party when it comes to flash fiction competitions starting up, but this time I’m in on the ground floor. Miranda Kate has just started running a weekly one (Wednesdays, up to 750 words, picture prompt that you’re free to ignore if it doesn’t take your fancy). The first picture prompt is glorious, but makes my eyes hurt. Go head on over to the inaugural post to check it out.
Rhena craned her neck back and looked up–actually down–to the orbital to the murky skies of the planet below. The launch pad was empty; the shuttle from the freighter was behind schedule, so she chanced a frantic shortcut across the landing bay. The view was dizzying, due not to the half-glimpsed atmosphere, but because of the serried ranks of windows, lit from within by the phosphorescent glows of various data-feeds and appliances. Rhena’s mind boggled at the inherent luxury in the view held. The rooms may have been meagre, but they were private. A far cry from her dormitory and its rows of impersonal, identical bunks. One day…
A shape in the mist solidified, falling towards her faster than she could believe. She froze for a moment, wistful daydream forgotten as she weighed up her chances of sprinting across the remaining distance or scuttling back. “Go!” she told herself. Her breathing came harsh but she made it to safety with only minimal burns from the reentry thrusters. It would make Jek angry, but these days what didn’t?
That revelation brought Rhena up short. Any goodwill she owed him had long since evaporated. It was only misplaced loyalty to him that tied her to this piss-poor, hand-to-mouth existence below the bottom rungs of the orbital. The apartments above her were unreachable, but they also weren’t far enough from Jek. Freighters were notoriously understaffed, and she was a quick learner. Rhena squared her shoulders. “Go,” she mouthed again, and walked towards the disembarking supercargo, an unfamiliar feeling of joy returning to her.