Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Nostalgia Trip #7: Made In Heaven

This is the second of three loosely related Science Fiction stories published by OCEANS OF THE MIND (the first being The Draw). Made In Heaven appeared in Issue IV, June 2002, whose theme was "The Industrial Solar System." Enjoy.

Who would have thought that "Mayday" Merrick would have fallen for Olga Golenko? He the handsome, square-jawed pilot who regularly broke the hearts of sighing young women (it was said), she the formidable assistant cook at Olee's Bar on the edge of Ganymede Spaceport, noted for the perfection of her fried eggs and her ability to balance six beer kegs on her broad shoulders when unloading the quarterly supply transport from Earth.

A less likely match could not possibly have been devised by a thousand AIs generating random word combinations for a thousand Galactic cycles. And yet....

Buddy brought the grim news. He stumbled into the bar, pushed his way through the early afternoon crowd and sprawled across the counter, gasping for breath.

"Mayday's a gonner," he told his avid listeners, after they'd poured two beers down his throat to revive him. "He was flying out to Camp Nineteen on South Plateau. Magstorm came up fast, before he could get out of there." Buddy shook his head sadly and started on his third free beer. "And that was all Mama wrote."

The bar's customers might have commented then, but the same magstorm that had swatted Merrick's supply plane out of the sky hit the Spaceport, sending needles into the red. These murderous storms came two, maybe three times each orbit, when Jupiter's moody and unpredictable magnetic field reached out to slap her satellites hard. Nobody knew why, but the Ganny colonists called such storms Mariah. Staff and customers cowered under the tables as Mariah tried to shake the bar to pieces. The Van Allen defense shield activated, instantly flaring into the high violet. Would it hold? That was the question uppermost in everyone's mind. If the shield overloaded then it was frying time for every electronic component in the Spaceport. AIs, control systems, atmospheric recycling plants, heating units, even airlocks would all cease working. A colony's worst nightmare, and very possibly its death knell.

[End of Excerpt]

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