Stars burned in bright whorls as the ship climbed out of the ecliptic. Below them the Milky Way unfurled its arms — bloated gas giants, raging blue first sequence stars and multipennate feathers of interstellar gas—all spun to gravity’s whispering music.
Jeffie Coop stood despondently at the viewport. ‘Wuh…wuh what’s Sharon goin to say?’ Somewhere back over there was a yellow sun with a little blue green world with his own tumble-down house and his best dog Fender and the verandah he really was going to fix if he ever got back. If. He shuddered and pulled the shorty gown tighter about him. Sharon wasn’t going to like this, not one bit.
‘Now don’t start,’ Dain said climbing from the spa, dripping suds. ‘Relax. I ain’t never been worshipped for it before, well not exactly and you sure ain’t.’ Dain’s laugh echoed across the emptiness of their chamber.
It was true, the two brothers were unlikely love objects by human standards but the C’Mell were pleased and called them ‘grrrll’ which Ivory told them meant great lover and marathon sexual partner. And while neither of them remembered much about the sex part the appendage waving and susurration was appreciative and deferential—on the starship they were love gods.
‘Sharon ain’t hardly the most important thing to be worryin about now is it?’ Dain said towelling himself.
Jeffie turned to face his brother. ‘Th…th…there ya go always instructin. It wuh…wuh…was your instructin got us into this,‘ he said sullenly.
‘And it’s that kind of thinking that sees you living out your days in a little town like Mara and boring your only brother to death. Here let’s take your photo to remember what a good time you’re having.’
Jeffie straightened the gown and tried to smile.
He shouldn’t have answered the phone.
He should have just let it ring. What was it about phones, noisy demanding things but people are always picking them up and saying yeah without knowing what kind of trouble was calling? And so he’d said ‘yeah’ and it was Dain. Six months with no word and his brother was back in town and must see him tonight—yes, tonight—for a meeting with the guy. This guy was going to change everything, change it forever.
Sharon wasn’t happy as she’d just put dinner on the table. But he said ‘I gotta.’
And she said ‘Well.’ But as he was walking down the path she’d called out about how he was a fully-grown man and how he didn’t have to run to his brother’s every whim. And she slammed the screen door to make her point.
The car flew, really, just like he said it would. Flew if only for a moment. Then it landed in the tree. Jeffie was in the car in the tree and the world outside was rocking up and down. He looked over at Dain in the driver’s seat, arms straight out still holding the wheel. He had a big smile on his face, so Jeffie smiled too.
Then Dain opened the door and leapt from the car and he was alone: just the smell of vinyl and the sunshine through the shattered windscreen, the world coming into view, the horizon dropping down until he was looking straight down the tree at the quarry floor rushing up to meet him.