Hot Mess Arrival

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The rocket sputtered across the twinkling darkness of space, leaving a trail of gray smoke and debris in its wake.

"Come on!" The man rapped the dashboard with his fist. "Work!"

A panel in the back of the single cabin ship erupted into tiny, glittery sparks that rained over the brown shag carpet and set the hammocks that hung alongside the opposite wall ablaze.

A little girl in a tattered gray dress screamed. She rushed to her mother and clung tightly to her waist. The mother hosed the fire down with a chrome extinguisher, covering the flames with a thick, gray foam.

"Honey?" The woman said to her husband, "We need to fix that console."

"They don't fix those anymore!" He snapped back. Multiple lights across the dashboard started to flicker red.

"Damn it!" He said. He leaned over in the faded black leather seat and quickly punched a large round red button.

An automated voice said, "Transmitting Distress Call. Please stand by."

He quickly got up, slid the wall next to him open and went inside the closet. After moving aside a folded chair, a wooden crate filled with apples, a cardboard box containing a stack of canned food and a red gasoline fuel container, he emerged holding a roll of gray cables. More lights on the dashboard began flickering red.

An alarm sounded, filling the compartment with the ringing of a loud bell.

"Honey?" The mother said hesitantly.

He glared at her. "They don't fix any of this, anymore!"

She pouted, "You mean we can't just take it to Dockmaster?"

"Dockmaster doesn't fix old ships!" He said, fighting back the tears. He shivered and wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. He plugged the cables into a series of round wall sockets that ran along the bottom of the wall.

The woman watched him. She said, "We can't get rid of this ship, honey, it's part of our family. Lael was born here, your father was too, and we had our first..."

The speaker mounted on the ceiling above the dashboard crackled to life, and a calm voice said. "This is Dockmaster, Customer Service Division. Please give me your VIN?"

"Thank God!" He said. He leaned over and pressed the speaker button on the dashboard. "Twelve, nineteen, sixty-one, twenty-three, ninety-four D as in Delta, A as in Asparagus, seventy-one."

The speaker said, "Please stand by."

He quickly plugged the other end of the cables into the top of a chrome keg with 02 written in large red letters. He flipped the toggle on top of the barrel. The small light built into the switch started to flicker red.

"Damn it!" He said.

She eyed him. "Empty?"

The speakers clicked, and the voice returned. "This is Dockmaster. Your VIN is for a Titan-Session Six, is that correct?"

"Yes!" He said. "It's the Kindari variant model."

"One moment, please."

He stared at the speaker in the ceiling, trying not to hold his breath.

The speaker clicked. The voice said, "I'm sorry to inform you that we no longer service your model. We are, however, having a special on newer models, starting at an affordable twenty-five ninety-nine with a one hundred and fifty million mile limited warranty guarantee. A great value."

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