The elevator gave everyone the sinking feeling of no escape as it reached escape velocity.
“God, will I be glad to leave this rock.”
“And go where?”
“Anywhere, but here—where there’s less methane.”
“What’s the matter, tired of breathing farts all day?”
“What do you think?”
Living on Planet X was worse than living with a parent who smoked; you got so that you breathed it in, and the poison reminded you of home.
I was hired for interplanetary space work, which is a fancy name for saying, low pay, radiation exposure, and no place to go. When you’re 21, and you have ambition, you will do stupid stuff to get ahead, and often it isn’t until later that you realize “getting ahead” was a clever salesman who lied to you. It takes decades to get ahead, and usually this requires one to use their own head and stop worrying about where they fit into the grand scheme of things.
Working in gas mines is as bad as it sounds, and a lot worse. Sure, you wear a gas mask, but the stuff seeps into your clothes, gets onto your skin, and permanently effects how you smell. I haven’t had a date in three years. I realize that my plan to work on a space station is not much better than working in the mines, but where else is there to go?
I can’t stand people who say, “Pay your dues.” They’re just as trapped as everybody else, and they don’t know it. Maybe they’re one rung up on the ladder, but they’re on the same ladder. If I was to start a political revolution, it would be the party of “self”—not self-aggrandizement or self-love, but self-emancipation. People can’t escape who they are, and other people treat them according to their self-belief. I was expendable, despite my experience, which left me wondering what I had been doing for the last three years. Obviously, not anything important, despite the boss telling me how valuable I was and what a great job I was doing. If I escaped that, and I wound up in the same situation, I don’t know what I would do. It seemed that people in authority never spoke the truth. It was a secret club of saying one thing and thinking another. They were obsessed with their own importance, yet, they knew they were not important outside of their organization, which meant they had to protect their position. They were at the top, and the ladder was leaning against something I could not put my faith in.
Working with up-and-comers is alright, until they’ve moved on. You start to feel stuck; then you realize they are going places you don’t want to go, and you ask yourself, where am I going? It’s not a pleasant thought, if you don’t know.
I was with another group, two years younger than myself. We were headed to a transport that would take us to Planet 59. We would never touch down; no, our job was to take care of the sick and dying. Forty years ago, a ship was going to land on Planet 59, but it turned out the whole planet was one big volcano. Supposedly, it’s saturated with gold, but you can’t land, or even get close to it without burning up.
So, here I am, trapped on this elevator before we get to the ship. I’m hoping boredom won’t afflict me. Give me a sadistic boss, but don’t make me face the same day over and over again, until I can’t tell one month apart from the next.
To be continued…