Departure (Flash Fiction)

“I regret it,” Bob said. He looked through the small port-hole into the emptiness of space. “I didn’t know what I was getting into.” He turned and looked at the others floating in the small meeting room. “I didn’t know this is how it would feel.”

“What did you score on your entry exams?” asked Catherine. She rotated freely in the air. She stopped sitting in chairs weeks ago, and Bob hated her for it. He hated that she could embrace the emptiness so easy, so well.

“It doesn’t fucking matter what I scored!” Bob shouted. He looked to the window again, and his breath fogged the glass in front of him. In the distance, way off, was a star somewhat larger than the rest that glimmered a blue hue. “What matters is where I am now and where I’m going.” He slammed his feet to the floor of the spacecraft. The lack of gravity was increasingly getting under his skin.

“You volunteered,” Brian said. Susanne nodded in agreement next to him. The two were holding hands. “You knew this trip to Mars was one way. You signed up for this.”

“Well I don’t want it,” Bob said. “I’ve changed my mind.”

Catherine casually shoved off a nearby wall and went floating by Bob’s head. “What’s the problem, anyway?” she asked. She tucked her arms close to her body and went into a small spin. “I love it out here. It’s so quiet. Well, except for your whining.”

Bob glared at her, glared at all of them “Shutup, you just shutup! I can’t take it anymore!” Bob punched the glass. “The cold air, the shitty food, all these recycled smells.” He clenched his jaw and hissed through his teeth. “Prisons shouldn’t be built on Earth. They should launch criminals into space.”

“Sounds expensive,” said Susanne. Bob turned with a wild look in his eyes.

“Alright!” Brian said, cutting him off. “Alright, that’s enough.” He shook his head. “Look Bob, there’s nothing to decide. You’re either here with us until we make it to Mars, or we’re forced to kick you outside.”

The room went silent.

“You can’t jettison me,” Bob said. “If you try to shove me out into that nothing, I swear to god I’ll cut your throat.”

Brian reached to the floor and picked up the taser he had hidden there. “Well then, Bob,” he said. “I guess it’s time for you to go.” Susanne reached for the hand that held the electric gun. “No,” Brian said. His voice was even, calm. “He’s made his choice. It’s him against us now, and I intended to survive.”

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