Paul barely made out the words over the thack… thack-ing of his ball against the concrete walls. He peered out the dusty common room window and saw Wayne running toward him; patchwork hat waving frantically overhead.
“We gotta skeeter incoming!”
The absurdity of Wayne’s words left Paul absent of all ability to move. A freighter hadn’t been seen in this backwater part of the planet for months—since well before the rise of the Galhi Confederation. Its arrival, here in the arse-end of the Cilanari Empire, could only spell trouble.
“Din’t you ‘ear me, you idiot hroll,” Wayne spat, likening Paul to the local beasts of burden. “Incoming. Now!”
“Yer drunk again, Wayne.” Paul fired back. The pair had bickered since being paired over a decade ago in the dirt-dock. The bickering had intensified three years ago when the C.E.E Bravado—the huge orbital space station—had been launched and their days had been relegated to maintaining a broken down, obsolete docking station. “There ain’t been no skeeters incoming, outcoming, or any other Lordsforsaken-coming since that lump up there were…”
Paul trailed off into silence. A curtain of dust billowed from the quad engines as the dented freighter crested the nearby dust-dunes and veered toward the metal racking that would keep the pinion rudders of the spacecraft clear from damage on the ground. The racking was far from as fancy as the remote system on the Bravado, but the freighter settled with a groan and screech of metal-on-metal with relevant ease–given the pace of its approach.
“What do you s’pose this all means?” Wayne asked as the gangway lowered and a once well-dressed woman stumbled out.
“Trouble,” Paul replied. “And the end of an era.”
They bowed in unison to the Empress of Nothing.
Written for Aussie Speculative Fiction’s – Make-it-up Monday.
Each week a photo prompt is posted for the group to write a flash piece (under 300 words) inspired by the image. One flash is published on their website – check out the winning entry here.