Felix sat down at the bar and ordered a vodka-tonic. He always ordered the vodka tonic because vodka was the only drink you could rely on being in stock (apparently potatoes could be grown anywhere, even in a spinning chunk of sterile metal hovering over Enceladus). He hated the let down of being told that his actual drink of choice, single malt scotch whisky, was out of stock. It was easier to just order the “vodka” (who knows what they actually served at outposts like this, Then again, who cared?) and choke it down.
The white and cratered surface of enceladus slid in and out of view through the windows on the wall behind the bar, and occasionally even Saturn itself could be seen, though it was mostly in shadow at the moment.
Felix glanced at the shiny white surface and shivered. Who in their right mind would want to live down there? It was cold enough in this floating tin can of a space port, but at least it wasn’t constantly rusting through out here. Plus, even the porter didn’t actually consider himself to live here, though he certainly spent more time here than in South Bend, which he claimed to hail from.
The porter, who was also the bar tender, chaplain, medic, surgeon, welder, carpenter, pilot, janitor, and electrician, dropped the glass in front of Felix with a light bounce. Felix watched as the liquid took a small slosh up, stayed together in a ball, and then settled back into the glass.
“This one’s on the house. Have a safe trip back,” he said, spoken in only the way someone who’s been the last person to say goodbye to someone can.
Felix lifted his glass, nodded, and took a sip. He held the liquid between his tongue and cheek and sighed. One sip closer to departure. One sip closer to months of boredom.
A few stars shined through the window now, small diamonds floating in the ink of space.
The station groaned and shuddered from deep within, and Felix felt slightly better about leaving. His ship might be just as beaten up as this old outpost, but at least he knew what every creek and groan meant.
Enceladus slid by again, and Felix could see the gray outlines of Destiny City (who came up with these names out here?) spreading out from the bottom of the elevator.
No doubt they’d be unloading their shipments now, moving the supplies they’d need for the next year into storage.
I wonder if there was any scotch in there. Probably.
He lifed the glass to his lips and realized that it was already empty. He stared into the bottom of the glass for a few seconds, then set it down on the top of the bar with a clank. He bid farewell to the bar tender, See ya next year, Ted, walked to the exit, then down the hall to the main stairwell. Up the stairs and to the left was the main airlock. He floated over the threshold and into the lock, then closed the door behind him and pressed the green button. There was a loud hiss, his ears popped, and all the lights around the outer door turned green. He pressed another button, that door opened, and he strapped himself into the front chair of the shuttle. After a few seconds the door shut with a solid click, and the shuttle moved away from the station and toward his ship, which was docked at the main port on the top of the Enceladus Main Space Elevator, or Emsey, as everyone liked to call it.
The shuttle was slow, and it took about 10 minutes to make it to the dock at Emsey. Another series of doors and buttons and clicks and hisses and Felix was floating through the main dock passage way.
Finally, he arrived at the last set of doors, and pressed the last button. Clicks, hisses, groans, and creaks, and then the smell of familiarity washed over him. He floated over the last threshold into the bridge of the Greased Lightning, another great ship with a really stupid name.
Behind him, the door closed, and Felix was again alone in the solar system.