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Written by James K. Sterling Jr.

(continued from Chapter One)

That night Jim didn’t sleep well at all. Tossing and turning in his bunk eventually became too unbearable to stand so he decided to walk to the cafeteria to try and find something to eat. The hallways were long, long and sterile feeling. He had had a bit of trouble adjusting to it at first. Hell, he had to really. The next six months would be a test of that fact what with the strict requirements for cleanliness they had to adhere to once onboard the ship. Six months…it was going to be tough for everyone, especially him.

Charismatic when it suited him, Jim didn’t enjoy the close quarters or the forced conversations he would be unable to avoid for well, basically the rest of his life. He was okay with that though. At least he would be away from the authoritarians who were breathing down everyone’s neck here on Earth. Yes, it would be a minor inconvenience worthy of enduring for the cause of liberty. “Not sure Bill is going to be alright though.” He jokingly thought to himself as he passed his fellow crewman before arriving at the kitchen.

“Is anyone up in here?” He spoke, just a little louder than he’d normally talk. Everyone was sleeping as far as he knew. Their debriefing after the attempted bombing had gone on well past midnight with one or two falling asleep at their desks.

“Yeah! We up? What you hungry for boss?” The head cook walked out from the storeroom. A fat spliff hanging out of his mouth and a sly grin on his face. ”

“Damn it Dan, you’re gonna get me into trouble smoking that shit in here!” Jim scolded him at the same time as he took a big drag off of Dan’s joint.

“Aw, come on man! You know ain’t nobody up right now. And the fan draws it up just fine. Here, give me that back. Now what you wanna eat now that you smoked up all my weed you bitchin’ about?” The scowl was branded across his face. Was Jim fucking with him? They smoked back here all the time, during the day even!

“Damn it! I can’t fuck with you man! Of course im just teasing. Those bureaucratic assholes can go fuck themselves, they ain’t shutting this shit down now!” They both laughed as Jim scoured the cabinets for something to eat.

“What do you want? I’ll make you whatever you want Jim. We got a little bit of everything here. People send us so much all the time we give damn lobster and crab legs out to the homeless last night. We still got a fridge full of ’em too.”

Dan’s suggestion had peaked his interest and made him abandon the cabinet he was currently diving through. “Snowcrab legs…?” He looked over his shoulder.

“Damn right, let me get you some Jim. They ain’t gonna have no snowcrab legs up there on Mars.”

“No, but who knows what we might find up there…cue the creepy music.” Jim motioned with his hands and fingers as they both laughed.

With the pot on the stove they sat and talked about the upcoming journey. Dan had been a childhood friend of Jim’s who had moved back to Florida years before. He had been chosen for the mission for a number of reasons but the one that dominated was the trust Jim had in his friend. That was of vital importance with them being tucked so tight together for so long. Distrust could be catastrophic to their mission…