“Somebody save me!” Carrie thought as she flipped the burger.
She flipped the one next to it. There was that hiss as the new side of the meat met the hot plate. She sighed. An observer, maybe someone sitting at the counter behind her, might guess she had troubles on her shoulders, maybe an interesting story to tell, but she didn’t; it was just boredom.
She leant lightly against the burger flipper she was holding, flat point down on the hot plate. Her head throbbed, she thought she might even have a fever. When you were three weeks behind in rent, even when battling the flu, time off was not an option. Her burning eyes drifted to the window on her left. Cars whizzing through the air on three levels, pedestrians slipping by on those moving walkways everybody loved. Everyone busy, doing whatever. Above them, on the other side of the road, that billboard read: “Migrate to Mars! It will put a spring in your step.”
The escape capsule was just big enough for two. Elisa’s companion, Gerhard was strapped to the couch on her right. Standing, lying or falling, depended on your point of view. She avoided his eyes. Easy, as he glared almost hysterically at the enormity of space before him. His eyes darting from side to side. Hands clenched tight to the arm rests, ready to tear them off.
Sweat ran in my eyes as I crouched by the engine. I stared hard at it, hoping to solve the unsolvable. I couldn’t, the engine was dead. The starter motor had fallen to pieces, literally. The pieces lay sullenly in the putrid mix of diesel, oil and salt water that lived contentedly in our bilge.
I put the wooden covers back on and massaged my stiff back as I climbed up into the cockpit.
The picture that met me was textbook, idylic. Blue sky, clear, deep, tropical water. Anchored in a deserted coral attoll, a thousand miles from civilisation. Who could complain?