A Dark Job
What will come of this? Something to build a story on. Sci-fi. Harry always took his coffee with cream and sugar. So what?
Sarah finished her black coffee as she always did—while still hot, before stepping out. Out into the cold night, she walked on leaden feet. Feet that felt only dread. Dread that Harry wouldn’t be back this time.
Time was, he’d go on a mission for a few days and return home. Home where the heart is, bringing small trinkets, worthless souvenirs. Souvenirs that she treasured not for their intrinsic value but for his love. Love that still smoldered after all the years. Years spent in end of the galaxy shacks but sometimes in luxurious penthouses. Penthouses paid for deeds he wouldn’t talk about except in sleep. Sleep that brought dreams better called nightmares.
He’d never been gone more than a week. Two weeks had passed since that call. It left him shaking his head, yelling no into the phone until going out into the barren wasteland—out of earshot. He sometimes talked about the jobs. Others, he told her little. She knew he didn’t want this one—a soul-blackening mission his time no doubt.Ashen-faced when he left, Harry spoke softly, “I’ll be back soon as I can, Sarah,” looking away, “I—have to meet up with some other contractors that you don’t want to know about, out on the rim.”“Do you have to go on this assignment? I heard you yelling no,” Harry.
“Well, I’d rather not, but it’ll be OK,” he said, “I’ve been on worse—not recently, but this one’s worth ten regular runs.” Harry’s smile lasted but a moment as he headed off to grab his gear. He came back with his big duffel and carrying the heavy weapons case.
“You’re leaving right now? Why don’t you wait until tomorrow?
“I can’t—the job won’t wait. Don’t worry,” he said, giving her a nearly rib-crushing hug and a hard kiss before skipping down the stairs.
The icy wind blew cut through her coat, chilling her to the bone. Come back Harry! She had to get out. Out to the pub where she could be around people. People who worked in the mines, at the spaceport or—well, on jobs like Harry did. Did they know anything? Anything they could say would be better than staying home alone. Alone with her worries.