Sunday, November 8, 2015
1st 5 Pages November Workshop - Christy Rev 1
Name: Christy C.
Genre: YA science fiction
Title: SEVEN SEAS
The gun clicks and I smile.
Pursing my lips does nothing to hide the foolish grin spilling over my face. So much for acting like a professional.
“It’s oddly exhilarating, isn’t it Lia,” my mentor Chloe notes.
The titanium pistol fits perfectly in my palm. Sleek, classy, dangerous. If it weren’t for the museum inventory number attached to the trigger, I would have thought Chloe swiped the gun off the set of a period drama.
“I’m losing a battle with goosebumps over here.” My body has forgotten it’s always 23.5 degrees Celsius in lab. I know I shouldn’t be smiling over what more likely than not was used to kill, but I push that disturbing thought out of my mind. It’s a lot easier dealing with ancient artifacts than it is dealing with human remains.
Following museum protocol, Chloe takes the gun with gloved fingers. The lid to its velvet-lined casing closes with a quiet hiss, locking automatically. A barcode directs Male_A077’s possessions to the correct shelving unit. “That’s the last of the containers belonging to our pirating friend.”
“I’ll bet he never imagined the contents of his pockets would be so thoroughly analyzed,” I say, disposing used gloves in the bright orange burn box by my feet.
“Everything that belonged to someone has the potential to be significant. Even the castoffs.”
“Is castoff the polite term you archaeologists have for trash?” I’m sure I’d leave a great impression on a future scientist studying the 90th century if they found the half eaten granola bar in my purse.
“Well, his trash is my treasure trove and source of income.”
Chloe punches in the security code and a row of glass cases descend under lab floor tiles for storage. I lean against a metal railing, watching as the large panels glide smoothly back into place.
“Don’t tell me you’ve got the entire pirate ship hidden under there too Chloe.”
“The archaeology team is still preparing shipments from the ongoing excavation, but I believe your fabled shuttle will be here next week.”
I laugh a bit at this. “My ship? Don’t you mean Callum Davis’ ship? I think he’d be turning in his grave if he heard me renaming his pride and joy the Dahlia.”
Naming the famous pirate shuttle after myself might be the most narcissistic thing I’ve done all year.
All children in the Colonies have grown up hearing tales of the dastardly Captain Davis and his wicked band of pirates. Until a few months ago, I was positive Callum Davis was a fictional character made up to scare little kids. I knocked over an entire mug of tea in disbelief when researchers announced the discovery of the space pirate’s fabled ship. Chloe had to install a force field at my desk to protect expensive equipment from future celebratory gestures. It still baffles me that engineers haven’t developed a guaranteed technique to waterproof computers.
Good thing Chloe put that force field up because I nearly had another heart attack when she revealed our lab would be overseeing restorations on the Callum Davis shuttle. Every museum department has been scrambling around for months, trying to get involved on this high profile project. I suppose piecing together the tale of an enigmatic space pirate sounds much more exciting than examining the stomach contents of a person who’s been dead for 10,000 years.
Chloe glances up from her tablet. “Have you heard back about your training grant application?”
I manage to smile despite the fluttering in my chest that appears whenever I picture the two possible outcomes. “Not yet. The museum directors met this morning to decide who they’ll be interviewing, but no announcements have been sent.”
“Why do you sound so nervous? I think you have an excellent shot! The spot is basically yours if you put forth your best work on this upcoming restoration project. I already have a bottle of champagne with your name on it.” She raises her stylus in a toast. “To a future museum employee!”
“Let’s not start celebrations too early Chloe. Wouldn’t want to jinx anything. Besides, there are at least ninety other interns who are just as qualified.” I’m beyond thrilled to be nominated for the career development training grant, but I’m also terrified I’ll be horribly disappointed when the results are revealed if I don’t see my name on the list.
Unlike the other ninety-nine applicants, I’m not an archaeologist by training. I’ve spent most of my high school career in an accelerated engineering program run by a local university. This amounts to long nights finishing lengthy problem sets, debugging confusing lines of computer code, and reviving crashed simulation programs. When Chloe showed up at my desk a few months ago, I was surprised to get an offer for an internship I hadn’t applied for, let alone knew existed. The museum was so far off my radar, even working as a professional asteroid wrangler came in higher on my list of career goals.
“I wouldn’t have nominated you if I didn’t think you would be a competitive candidate,” Chloe reminds me. “I’ve worked with many interns in the past and you are at the top of my list.”
“I learn from the best.”
“Complimenting the boss Ms. Lia? Good. That will get you far in life.”
“I’ve already spent the entire afternoon refreshing my inbox but I’ll let you know if I get any news ,” I say. The systems in lab are touchscreen to prevent dust accumulation, but there are plenty of traditional keyboards waiting at home for me to wear down.
“Did you check your spam folder?” Chloe suggests. “I’ve had important documents end up in there.”
“Yes, but the only message in there was from a lonely Martian prince looking for companionship.”
“You are excited though, right?”
“About a rendezvous with a prince?”
“No, not that. I’m still talking about the grant,” Chloe clarifies. “Earth, remember? You’re only one yes away. Even I’m excited! Promise you’ll take lots of pictures?”
The fluttering returns, accompanied by an uncontrollable shiver. But it’s not the prospect of a permanent job that disrupts my motor functions at the mere mention of the grant.
“I’ll try, but I don’t know if personal cameras are allowed at the Callum Davis excavation site.” It’s probably monitored more strictly than a museum lab, considering its location.
“Then I’ll loan you a lab camera. We’ll say it’s research.”
Of all my coworkers, no one is more familiar with my lifelong obsession than Chloe. Of course, no one else has to sit at an adjoining desk for hours on end, and listen to me ramble about the various ways to earn a ticket back to Earth. No one else has to stare at a screensaver of the rotating marbled planet on my idle computer.
“If my ancestors could hear me now,” I grin. “They’d be scolding this ungrateful space girl. ‘Dahlia Yang-Lee, how dare you plan your return to Earth when we busted our butts to give you the perfect life up there!’”
“The perfect life where we live in constant danger of radiation exposure? We should be scolding them.”
Chloe packs up the remaining items strewn across an otherwise spotless metal table. I follow her lead. My colleagues keep such tidy lab benches, I feel obligated to keep my mess contained. A bot zooms into my personal bubble, vacuuming dirt from my mandated uniform. Rocking the unfashionable green jumpsuit is impossible when the only accessory available is an identification badge.