Readers Gazette Short Stories

Short Story Callisto

Callisto by Jim Melanson SciFi short story

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“...forget the cafe latte, screw the raspberry iced tea, a Malibu and Coke for you, a G&T for me...” Callie slowly opened one eye, reaching up to rub away the crusty rheum. That one eye, now free of the sleep crusties, tried to focus on her iPhone alarm. It took a few seconds. She squinted at it but then ducked her head back down, as she caught a flash of a large white object, aimed at her face.


“Shut of that fraking music, will ya?”

“Settle down, Karen. It's time to get up”

She peeked out from behind the white pillow, Karen's pillow, which had landed in front of her. It had managed to pull a big clump of her strawberry red hair down into her face as it landed. Instead of brushing it away, she just blew at it from the corner of her mouth, trying to get it to move. She didn't do much to move her hair, but she realized she was getting a considerable amount of day old lipstick on her sister's pillow. She considered the lipstick, the pillow, and why she hadn't taken it off before going to bed. Oh yeah, Tequila. The secondary alarm on her iPhone activated.

“...and there's a place where I can choose, to walk the fine line between...”

She didn't have it turned off before Karen screamed at her, “Can you at least pick something that was recorded in the last 500 years!”

“Hey, mom loved the Barenaked Ladies, give it a rest, bitch.”

“I'll bitch you,” Karen rolled over carefully in her bed and then launched herself at the groggy Callie. The fight was on! Karen landed on Callie, grabbing a clump of hair, and one boob, to arrest her flight through the small room. Callie squealed in surprise at Karen's choice of handhold, pulled her knees in close to her chest, and gently planted her toes in her twin sister's stomach. A gentle thrust radically altered Karen's trajectory. The view of Jupiter was always inspiring when you body wasn't spinning wildly out of control, heading for the middle of the large glass window. Karen let out a squawk of alarm, then splayed out her arms and legs. She wanted most of her kinetic energy to be absorbed by the framework, not the glass itself. She knew that the two-foot window wouldn't break from her bumping up against it, it was just instinct. The new vector of her flight path, provided by her sisters feet, also caused Karen to spin wildly around all three axis. Aside from having to worry about the window, she now had to worry about puking as well. Low gravity or not, dizzy was still dizzy.

“Oh, shit!” Callie moved fast, spinning around on the bed, holding the straps on the side to gain leverage. She planted her feet on the wall and then launched herself at Karen. She made contact with two of her sisters limbs, changing her sisters flight path once more, her own along with it. They wound up safely crashing into the wall just below the window. Settling to the floor, they sat there, pillows and bedding drifting down around them. They looked at each other, Callie was pissed. Karen scowled at her, then stuck out her tongue. That simple act of defiance broke the mood of agitation between the two voluptuous, thirty-something, redheads. Callie tried to suppress the laugh but wound up snorting it out, just like their father used to.

“Nice one, Sis.”

Callie then yawned and stretched, reached out, and fluttered her hand in Karen's densely freckled face.

“Stop that!”

Such tomfoolery was an ever present commodity with the two bachelorettes. They may play act all rough and tough with each other in public, but behind closed doors, it was a different story. They had been born only three minutes apart, Callie first. That took place on a rattle-trap old cargo hauler, fleeing Mars during the exodus of 2472, when the Eridani Dominion returned. Their parents raised them on Io. The girls had the opportunity to go down-well when they graduated from Third School, but they both chose to retain their Jovian citizenship. Neither one had much interest in marriage, preferring to focus on playing the field and working. After Karen had finished her welding training and Callie earned her low gravity metal fabrication certificates, they went their separate ways, pursuing their own careers.

Karen got her space-legs earning her HPE (High-Pressure Environment) certification working on Mercury, on the CME Project's observation station. For most of her career, the tall, stocky, sexy, redhead had flitted back and forth between Io and Europa. Once in a while, she would spend a few days making emergency repairs way out on Lysithea. It seemed she was the only one of Jovian Mining's welders that were willing to take that high-risk assignment. On those excursions she demanded five times the normal pay rate, on top of the danger pay, and got it. Callie had always been a V-E (Vacuum Environment) woman from her first day of training. Her metal fabrication rating meant that she would never be out of work.

The Jovian Mining Corporation hired the twin sisters on the same day, by chance, ten years ago. It had been Callie's idea that they take the posting on Callisto together. The day they arrived on Callisto, Karen engaged in three hours of batting eyelashes, making the most of a low-cut top, and some ol' skool wheeling and dealing. It was all done to get a residential room assignment with her sister. She figured if she had a posting with no privacy, again, it might as well be with Karen.

“Come on, dumbass, it's time for breakfast.”

“No, I wanna go back to bed, it's past my bedtime.”

“Karen! It's time to get up! We have to go for breakfast and then get crack-a-lackin!”

Sighing and shaking her head, Callie leaned forward to get up, stopped to burp, farted, and then broke out laughing. She looked at Karen, “Sweetums, Tiger-427 is due back again this morning for a fix on that port stabilizer. We have to do that before the propulsion team can fix the short range engines. It's going to take us all day! You know how finicky those old gas miners are.”

“If I had a million dollars, I'd pay you to go away and let me sleep.”

“Well until you do,” she started to stand up, “you're going to get your lazy, hung-over, fat ass up off the floor and get dressed for work.”

Karen started her annoying, nasal, whining, “Nooooo mommy! I don't wanna!”

Callie was used to Karen's histrionics. Her sister would stay up too late, drink too much, then be a miserable ten-year old the next morning. Callie finally stood up and turned to look out the window at Jupiter. The gas giant had been a daily presence for most of her life, most of their lives. Aside from its magnificent beauty, it's sheer size alone always filled her with wonder, wonder at what other objects of beauty lay beyond Pluto. Someday... someday she would make one of those journeys, maybe to Sapro.

She stood there, lost in a day dream of deep-space travel, when movement caught her eye. An old gas miner was limping towards the closest landing field. She could see that the pilot was having problems keeping it level. “That must be Tiger-427, looks like it's having problems.”

“Where's it landing? Four-Left, isn't it?”

“That's what it .... whoa!” The gas miner had started a lazy clockwise spin, it clearly indicated it was out of control. As it was only about 100 metres away, she could see the pilot though it's windscreen, frantically trying to correct its course.

Karen stood up carefully in the, almost, no-gravity environment. Callisto had gravity. It just didn't have much. It was great for the heavy work they did, but aside from that, it was just enough to be annoying. Callisto's weak gravity, however, had a firm grip on the large mass of the old gas miner. It's starboard power-pod clipped a landing pad, bounced up, then hooked briefly on the engine nacelle of a large ore transport that was waiting for repairs. The massive gas miner started spinning in the opposite direction, faster. It's new direction caused both women's eyes to grow large. They looked at each other, both reaching out to hold hands. There simply wasn't time, it was now only 30 metres away.

The two-tone klaxon of the collision alarm filled their ears.

They stepped closer together, quickly embracing. There wasn't even time for tears.

“I love you Sis.”

*Note: Lyrics are from the Barenaked Ladies song, “Alcohol”.

To see more of Jim Melanson's work, click the link to his website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view his member details Visit Jim Melanson's Website.

Images used for the story are
Visit Wikimedia Sunrise 3.

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Short Story written by James

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“...forget the cafe latte, screw the raspberry iced tea, a Malibu and Coke for you, a Gin and Tonic for me...” Callie slowly opened one eye, reaching up to rub away the crusty rheum. That one eye, now free of the...

On Mars: Pathfinder (The Mike Lane Stories Book 1) by Jim Melanson

The Corporation planned to send a full colony crew to Mars. Before they would be allowed to do this, they had to prove that humans could indeed survive on Mars. Sent to the red planet alone, on a proof of concept mission, we meet our everyday man: Mike Lane. His plan is to live on Mars alone for six years, until the first full colony team is sent.
He is overjoyed when he arrives safely. But joy soon turns to catastrophe. Six minutes after his landing craft arrives on Mars, it explodes....

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