I like using real space images that fit the “feel” of the story, even though they’re not exact. Enroute for docking, the 16-foot-long Russian docking compartment Pirs (the Russian word for pier) approaches the International Space Station (ISS). Pirs will provide a docking port for future Russian Soyuz or Progress craft, as well as an airlock for extravehicular activities. Pirs was launched September 14, 2001 from Baikonur in Russia.

Arya winced as the screen pinged for the third time that day. Even though the system had been decommissioned, everything still worked. She just wasn’t being paid to keep track of them anymore, or— heaven forbid— to actually do something about it.

She got herself a bowl of ice cream, flopped on the couch, then scanned the signals coming from Earth. There were a couple of recently released shows she’d been looking forward to, and she clicked them into the queue.

A double ping drew her attention to the small screen laying innocently on a couch cushion next to her. “Ni ta ma de. Tianxia suoyoude ren. Dou gaisi,” she muttered under her breath.

Two? That makes five today. What the gorram hell are they doing? Using the beanstalk for target practice?

She forgot about her half eaten ice cream and walked over to the window. As a highly valued employee of Reus Corp, she had a spacious apartment in the rotating section of the null gee station. Her apartment was on the Earth side, where the planet and the space elevator, affectionately known as the beanstalk, were always in view.

She could barely make out the shimmer of the net that surrounded the beanstalk just above and below the station. Keeping flotsam and jetsam from hitting the beanstalk was a never-ending task. Although the ribbon was incredibly strong, it was vulnerable. Sure, the cleaning and maintenance bots would take care of any problems, but they had been down-sized as well.

She scanned the job list for her current position, the one she been reassigned to when collision avoidance had been deemed a luxury. Restructuring was one thing—the Reus Corp was very good at making money—but the list of tasks she saw was less and less a list of plans and was gradually becoming a list of excuses and a covering of tracks.

When Captain Jack was in charge, things would never have been allowed to deteriorate this way.

Arya turned her back to the window. She loved her apartment. She’d dreamed of living in space since she was a little girl.

But it was time to go. Reus corp might pay her to live her dream, but it was no longer a job she loved.

I wonder if Captain Jack is hiring?

This story was written for the Write On Edge prompt about collision. Since the International Space Elevator Consortium is having their big conference in Seattle this weekend, I decided it was about time to post my space elevator story Jack’s Beanstalk. It’s 3,000 words, and this little short is a prequel to it.

If you’re curious about space elevators in general, check out the Liftport Group. They’re dedicated to making the idea of a space elevator a reality. Liftportal Space Education supports LiftPort.com lunar elevator and other space apps with volunteer/founder matching for IT projects, and lunar space education. If you’re interested in helping  Liftport Group make the elevator a reality, check out their Kickstarter campaign.

The shortlink to this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-o1