Sky in the Stars, Part 5

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Skylar embarks on a food heist gone wrong.

13 July 2930

Earth, North Americas

Sol System

 

It wasn’t her fault, Skylar told herself. She chose to run away. She chose to be paranoid of every police officer, and to hide from every siren. She chose to drink water out of the fountains in the park, and sleep on bus stop benches at night. But now, the world seemed so open. Every night she could look up and see the stars, a place she so desired to go to. All she had and needed were the clothes on her back and her bag. Occasionally she met with a stray dog that kept her company; though he was as free as her, primarily using her as a source of warmth, or seeking out a friend in the cold lonely nights. She didn’t have classes to attend, schedules or deadlines to meet. She didn’t have to stress about her failing her parents. She adapted well, though she did not make much money begging outside of the little coffee shop on the corner. A young pretty face did get her a long way.

It was humbling; certainly, watching so many businessmen walk passed her in gray and black pinstriped suits and shiny leather shoes. But as they ignored her and keep their phones to their ears and stared blankly into a routine, robotic future, Skylar pitied them. They go to work in executive offices, where the windowpanes are tinted to block out the sun and Skylar was free to sit outside all day and enjoy it. They stop by the bar on their way home to their wives and have a drink or two, and then go home and crawl into bed without even taking their socks off. Skylar was free to watch the sun as it set and painted the sky. They stare at their ceilings at night, watching their fans spin in lazy circles as their wives sleep beside them. They worry that their pretty little secretary is pregnant and wants to keep it. Meanwhile, Skylar counted the stars as they emerge when the moon rose. Most of all, Skylar pitied them because they did not have a place they could call home. They have a house and an office and a hotel room they rent occasionally during their lunch break. They do not have a place where they can relax and be themselves. But for Skylar, the world became that place.

Skylar chose this life. She may not have had the luxuries of before, but now, the park was her lounge, and her roof was made out of clouds and stars. Many would call her homeless, but the only thing she did not have was a building. Day by day, she moved locations, mostly because she could. Closer and closer she moved herself toward the spaceport, a large bay for space and water ships alike to dock in. The sun would come over the ocean horizon, and she could watch the magnificent vessels depart into the skies. It never got old. She enjoyed the spaceport, and not just for the sights. There was more civilian traffic and thus more donations.

One day she woke up on a bench, surrounded by young men, younger and older than her. They were miscreants, street urchins by the way they dressed, but Skylar supposed that meant she was just like them. Were they awful folk they would have robbed her clean by now, or worse. The homeless were either docile or nasty, and Skylar was still trying to figure out which best described them.

“She’s waking up.” said one of them. Skylar’s eyes were still trying to focus from her long night of sleep. It was morning. Had they waited for her to wake up? One of them, presumably the leader had short ruffled brown hair. He had a toothpick in his mouth, his tan skin dirtied from being out on the street.

Skylar looked at the others. One was short, stocky, with a helping layer of fat to keep him warm in the cold. The most noticeable feature was the pair of goggles sitting atop his black curly hair. The other man, Skylar assumed the youngest, was no taller than her, but lanky. She wasn’t sure if his thin body was from a lack of food or it was simply built that way.

The leader crossed his arms and smirked at Skylar, “’Sup? Name’s Mouse.” He gestured to his short then lanky companions. “This is Tank and Tap.”

Skylar reluctantly waved a hand, “Uh, hi.”

“Seen you around here alot.” Mouse put his hands on his hips, “You new?”

“I guess… I used to live in the inner city.” Skylar answered.

Mouse laughed, “Oh… I can see why you left. There’s jack shit in the city.  No money, no grub. Port’s where it’s at. Got people flying from all over. Not to mention, more opportunities.”

Skylar sat up straight, “Uh huh…”

“You got a name?”   

“Skylar.” She said as she stretched.

“Skylar. Got it. Listen Skylar, can I call you Sky?”

“That’s fine.” She nodded.

“All right, well… we got word of a ship restocking its supplies… supplies which include food.”

That got Skylar’s attention, “Yeah, and?”

“We could use you. You get your share of the spread, we all go home happy.”

Skylar seemed worried. “I don’t know… it sounds dangerous. I’ve never done anything like that before.”

“Nothing could go wrong. Tank and Tap already came up with the plan. We just need one more person.”

Skylar looked to the others. “Well, what is the plan?”

Mouse looked to Tank. “Tank?” Tank smirked.

        

Night fell. Now it was prime time to move. Mouse, Tank, and Tap had taken their positions near the cargo bay doors of the ship that was awaiting its shipment. A single guard stood watch at the side entrance, bored out of his mind, and finding only amusement in watching ships take off from the bay. Skylar looked her newfound friends and nodded in their direction. They all made her move, walking toward the far end of the ship, before walking back toward the guard. She tidied herself up as best she could with what she had available, cleaning her face and styling her hair. Skylar walked closer to the ramp connecting the ship to the dock. With the sway of her hips she tried her best to garner the guard’s attention. The guard gave her a few passing glances before fixating his eyes on her. He did his best to stay guard, but Skylar tried even harder. With a yelp, she fell forward to the ground.  A sprained ankle, to the guard’s best judgment. He ran down the ramp and lowered himself to a sobbing Skylar.

         “Are you all right ma’am?” the guard said.

         Skylar hissed at the pseudo-pain. She got a glimpse of Mouse and the others running up the ramp, “I think I twisted something.”

         “Can you walk?” The guard asked.

         Skylar attempted to push herself up. As soon as she put her weight on one leg she fell down again, “Ow… no I can’t. It hurts too much.”

         The guard looked back to his post and then glanced around. He took her arm over his shoulder and used himself as a crutch, “Come on. I’ll take you to our med-bay. We don’t have much, but maybe we can stop the swelling at least.”

         Skylar limped along with his help, “Thank you, sir. I hate to take you away from your job.”

         “Eh, we’re just restocking. It’s nothing major.”

         The two continued to walk; they were right by the ramp, and also by the water’s edge. She looked at the guard, the edge, and the ramp and paused to think. She had no trust in her new friends. Subtlety she moved the guard closer to the dock edge. It was a clear 30ft drop into the water, with no easy way back out. Confliction plagued her mind. She hated that the only man she trusted to do what he said was the guard holding her up… and she was about to betray him. Skylar stumbled to the left, pushing the guard away, doing her best to make it look like an accident. The guard fell over the edge, Skylar reactively tried to catch him, holding her hand out. It was a moment before she heard the splash and another before he arose to the surface.

         Skylar shouted down, “Oh my God! I am so sorry!”

         “That’s all right, miss. Just contact one of my crew, they’ll get me out. In the mean time I’ll figure something.” The guard replied.

         Skylar huffed a breath. It hurt to do such a thing to the man. It hurt more to think others did the same to her without the same initial remorse. She ran up the ramp and into the ship, unknowing of where she was going. But she wanted to make sure that Mouse and the others weren’t just using her as a distraction. The ship was mostly shut down. There were probably a few crewmen awake for the restocking procedure, and hopefully no more than that. She navigated through the metal and bare hallways. This was no commercial vessel. There was no aesthetic to the interior.

         “Mouse?” Skylar whispered. “Tank? Tap? You there?” She tried heading in the direction of the cargo hold but the hallways turned her into more confusing labyrinths. 10 minutes had passed. Her friends were nowhere to be found. Suddenly she heard a loud hum. Her eyes widened. “Wait…”

         A voice came on the intercoms, “All doors sealed. Strap down for departure.”

         “No…” Skylar said quietly before yelling, “No no no! Hey! Wait! Don’t launch!” She cried running down the empty hallways. The ship began to tilt. Skylar lost her footing, falling back down. Her shoulder collided into one of the doorways. She could feel the g-forces pushing against her as she was pressed against a wall. Skylar crawled as best she could, turning into another hall. Immediately, her body fell into the hallway as the ship tilted more. She tumbled along the floor and hit her head on a door. Her vision blurred as she tried to stand again, but she only blacked out shortly after. The cargo ship left the Earth’s atmosphere with Skylar in it. Mouse, Tank and Tap only watched from the harbor after looking for Skylar. Now they realized what happened.

Mouse dropped the extra bag he had collected for Skylar, “Shit.”

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