Short Story

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10-9-8...

Bee glanced around at the other passengers, trying to judge whether any of them looked nervous.

7-6-5...

Some people had their eyes closed, and some were looking out the window, squinting a bit at the bright Florida sunlight.

4, 3, 2, 1...

The engines roared to life. Liftoff! Bee felt her body pushed into the padded seat as the Firefly-class rocket she was on thrust itself into the air. She managed to turn her head and watch through her window as the sky turned from bright blue to black.

She’d ridden on a rocket like this before, on her first trip to Luna City, but she’d been much younger then and accompanied by her parents. Today she was on her own and on her way to Lunar Camp. Many a thirteen-year-old would have been thrilled to have the chance to spend their summer at camp on the Moon. Bee Williamson was not that person.

“The Moon has no plants,” she’d grumbled to her parents. “And who’s going to take care of my garden?”Her family lived on an Iowa farm that was lush and green and gold. Bee loved it there. Though much of the farm work was automated or operated robotically, Bee had been given a patch of her own to use as she pleased and she loved working it herself. She’d both downloaded books on old-fashioned farming and pored through screens of the latest research so she could experiment with a variety of plant-growing techniques. She’d had big plans for her summer, and a trip to the Moon wasn’t included in them.

“Beyoncé, you know that Lunar Camp will look good on your application to SATAS,” her mother had said. The sound of her given name always made Bee roll her eyes. Besides, it was too soon to even think about leaving the farm to go to the Space Academy of Technical Arts and Sciences, even though it would have something to teach her about plants grown on ships or about terraforming other worlds. That was still more than she could say of Lunar Camp.

She suspected that Lunar Camp had little to do with agriculture or horticulture. Most likely she’d be tromping around in lunar dust collecting rocks and tripping into craters. Rocks were something Bee routinely pitched out of her garden. She didn’t see much point in collecting them.

But all of her protests fell on deaf ears, which is how Bee found herself on the way to the Moon. Though the trip from Earth didn’t take three days anymore, it was still a long journey; once you got to the Moon, you had to pick up one of shuttles that flowed constantly between the orbital docking station and the one at Luna City on the surface. Luna City was a popular tourist destination because the orbital station was a commonly used transit junction for those going on to Mars or the outer solar system.

Someday Bee hoped to see more of what was out there. But for now, it seemed that all she was going to see was monochromatic dust.

Bee sighed heavily as she climbed aboard the people mover at the Luna City docking station. This vehicle, with giant treaded tires, would take her from where the shuttle had left her off to the main terminal where she would be met by Lunar Camp representatives who would whisk her away for what she was sure would be a dull summer vacation. A quick look out the window confirmed the starkness of the landscape, prompting her to pull her hand-held, personal PAL device out of her pocket. After messaging her parents to let them know she’d arrived safely on the Moon, she pulled up one of her agriculture texts and tried to lose herself in it for the duration of the ride.

                                                                             * * *

Bee scanned the terminal for a Lunar Camp sign. There it was in the corner, with one lone boy standing under it. A quick glance at her PAL gave her the local time and she realized it had been hours since she’d eaten. Since she was in no rush to get to her destination and since she was suddenly starving, she stopped at a brightly lit automated food and beverage kiosk. Five credits bought her a butter pie and a hot chocolate, which she alternately chewed and sipped as she strolled toward the gathering area for the Lunar Campers. Bee hadn’t had a butter pie in what felt like centuries and it tasted of every buttery good thing she could think of and didn’t clash one bit with her chocolate drink.

Athena's Daughters anthology - "Lunar Camp" by Maggie AllenRead this story for FREE!