It’s early morning. 3 a.m. probably. The waves keep coming. The storm was bigger than usual last night. The waves are slowly wearing down to their normal ferocity. They are never calm, not here.
Here, on this unnamed planet, forgotten, alone, the waves are never calm. Nothing is. The days are better than the nights, with the weird calls from the jungle behind me. The shrieks are indescribably loud and strange. Perhaps it is the sound of a monkey’s yowls crossed with a lion’s roar? But the volume is unbelievable. How is it possible that the animals can sleep with all that racket?
I’m thankful for the waves for this alone. Their roars are enough to drown out the worst of the unearthly racket. And unearthly they are indeed.
It’s been fourteen days that I’ve been marooned here. My ship was headed on a routine trip to Beta Four. I’ve done this so often I didn’t even try to fly the scooter-pod this time. It knew the way, so I let it. But there’s something to be said for having semi-intelligent ships. Sometimes having a mind of one’s own means that they get distracted. That’s exactly what happened this time. Some flying thing – a bird? A mistake from a genetics lab? A dinosaur wanna-be? Something flew within half a click of my pod and off it went, like a big dumb puppy, dragging me along for the ride.
‘Cept this time I wasn’t walking my dog in a park. This time I was in a ship, going to visit a client. And this time, instead of just falling down and skinning my knee something fierce, I’ve fallen out of the sky and onto this Spirit-forsaken place.
Maybe they’ve noticed I’m missing. Maybe they’ve sent a rescue mission. I’ve seen some strange lights in the sky. They could be ships looking for me. They sure haven’t found me yet.
So I’m making do here. I don’t really want to go into that jungle. It’s too dark, and too loud. Those animals sound big. Nothing small could make a noise that loud, and it sounds like there are lots of them.
Fortunately there’s a bit of shelter to be had by this rock. The overhang is enough to protect me from the sun, for whatever it counts. The sun isn’t very strong here, not like on Earth. I didn’t make time to learn the name of it when I booked the scooter. It didn’t seem to matter. I certainly wasn’t going to need to know it.
The waves are huge here. The moons are larger than on Earth, and closer. There are three that brighten the night, and that helps. They are the best night-light that an inter-system door-to-door saleswoman could want. The light from them keeps me company.
Well, its’ three, and the sun is coming up just over my rock that I call home. Another murky day awaits. No wonder nobody settled here. The days are dark and thick, like a gumbo left for too long on a burner. Kind of smells like that too – but that could be all the sea-life that has washed up.
I’ve not had to want for food, at least. The seafood is amazing here, and I don’t have to go fishing for it. It just flings itself up onto the shore, gasping and flopping, and I pick it up like a child collects seashells. Thanks to my samples in my sales kit I’ve got all the supplies I could ever want to survive for quite a while here. I can clean a fish and cook it in no time flat with what I’ve got stowed away in my briefcase.
You see, I sell kits to “survivalists.” Preppers. You know, those end-of-the-Universe people. I don’t care what they fear or why, a girl’s got to make a living. Ovens in a can. Oxygen generators that look like necklaces. Water purification tablets by the bag. I’ve got them, and more.
I felt a little guilty about it to start off with. You know, there’s something about not feeding an addiction that my Grams taught me. But then, even she knew how to make do with almost nothing. These people have been pampered so long they’ve forgotten how to open a can without a can opener that isn’t electric. They’ve had everything done for them that they’ve become flabby, and I don’t just mean in their behinds.
So maybe this survivalist stuff will be a good kick in their blobby butts to get them going. Maybe they’ll think twice about the food they get from their vendors. I doubt they’ll grow it themselves – it’s kind of hard to grow anything in the silver sand of Beta Four. But maybe, just maybe, they’ll start taking everything seriously and paying attention for a change.
Meanwhile, I’m glad my Grams taught me something about how to make do with nothing, because nothing is all I’ve got right now. Well, nothing, and an unending supply of fish and a way to cook it. That’s something to be grateful for.
I just wish I could explore further. I know that nobody else lives here. This is one of the planets that Crom had written off as “unworthy of human habitation.” That doesn’t mean that nobody has snuck here and set up camp. Living out of the way has been the way of life for a small handful of people since people started making rules. The moment you say “you can’t do that” there’s always going to be somebody who says “you can’t tell me what to do” and they do it, quick as you please, just to show them they are wrong.
It isn’t so bad here. Maybe I’ll wander today. Maybe I’ll go along the beach instead of into the jungle. I’m sure to get lost if I go in there. If I get lost, there’s no chance of rescue. Maybe I’ll find something that will make me stay.
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