In all my life, I haven’t been much more than a bastard. Saving David was just an attempt to make up for that fact.
I had found my way onto a space freighter heading into the dizzying black of what the original pioneers had called the Pit. It wasn’t lower than any other point in space. Depth, being relatively meaningless when depth goes forever. The Pit was so named because the original pioneers believed that they had accidental found Hell. Thousands of people were drifting out into space, their faces stretched into horror masks. The pioneers couldn’t explain how so many people could be drifting in space, in unexplored space. They also couldn’t explain how these people could be irradiated so completely. The energy wasn’t dangerous at al. In fact, the energy was intoxicating. The transmissions that came back to Earth were confused and raucous. The men would have died from simple self-neglect, but the ship’s computer brought them back home and the men promptly coined the name.
As I said, I found my way to the Pit, to what men had thought was Hell to find my little brother, David. Human curiosity and enterprise brought better guarded ship back to the Pit and I was there, working a mini-ship that was too claustrophobic for my broad shoulders. Saying mini-ship gives the impression that the ship was rickety and small, but in this sense, it was just smaller than the hulking freighter it came from. The mini-ships I worked were monsters floating in the night, harvesting the horrified men and women of the Pit.
These poor souls were sent back home and across the universe to be burned in furnaces for their energy. They powered engines better than anything that Earth could produce and the Oil men of old clambered for the great profit when they realized they couldn’t stop its forthcoming.
I often wondered if I should have done something for the others. I was looking for David and somewhere someone was looking for someone else in the Pit. I often wondered, but still I harvested the bodies and kept my eye out for David.
His face glared up at me from a magazine, warped in a permanent scream. Some photographer had gone up with a crew of prospectors and took a total of five useable pictures. He sold them and never had to worry about money again. A widespread mystery plastered across every magazine and that gripped every reader’s mind.
When I saw David’s face, I froze in incomprehension. David was gone for years and his disappearance had broken my mother and turned my father bitter. We had spent years believing he had been murdered. He was gone and the soft spoken man David had shacked up with, had suddenly taken a trip out of the country and even more sudden, a trip off world. I had caught up with him on a neutral space station near Mars. I had killed him for no reason, it turned out.
David was the artist, always taking in soft spoken people. I wasn’t like that. I fought, bare knuckled, in the streets and made my dollar that way. I moved from that to moving freight when I messed up my eye in a fight. I was qualified and was liked well enough to get a good reference when jobs were going around for the Pit.
Moving the mini-ships were different from the freight loaders back on Earth, but not enough that I couldn’t be out with the rumbling beast before I was expected to.
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