Clare McCullough

Short Story

Roller-Coaster in Space

Mark only looked up from his game console when the docking space coaster rumbled through his tipped chair. The blast of air blew his dock Jockey ID into his face. Lights flashed on the spaceship as Mark sighed and took his feet off of the display toggle dash. He heaved himself out of his seat. Pulling out a crinkling bag of snacks from his pocket he popped one into his mouth and let the salt melt on his tongue as he jockeyed the docking mechanism.

“Alright, let’s see if you work this time,” he said to himself, his mouth full. He pulled on the lever to the right of the screen and with a hiss and a reverberation that made his chair tremble loudly, it’s straight tooth legs scraping against the metal ground. He heard a snap. Mark winced. The lights turned red. His bag of snacks fell to the ground and blew away.

“Mark!” A voice boomed out over the intercom. “Goddamn it Mark, what in the sam hell do you think are you doing?”

“Listen boss, I’m sorry! It won’t happen again.”

“No more excuses! You! you son of a bitch! you’re fired! This is the third time this week you’ve broken the docking jockey”

“Boss, please listen to me. I need this job,” Mark pleaded as the tourists on the spacecoaster stared from the inside of the space coaster. “I can do better I know it.”

“No way. You are outta here. Turn in your badge and if i ever see you around space hold again-”

“I’ll do anything!” The boss’s speakerphone was quiet for a moment.

“Meet me in my office,” The speakerphone blared out. Mark winced again.  Walking out of the large bay and into the suffocating hallways of the office section; he was acutely aware of the tourists still trapped in the coastership, staring at him and hearing everything. Mark’s cheek worked and his heart pumped as he opened the 

“This is your last chance. Listen, the only reason I’m asking you is that you’re the only one who knows how to spacewalk.”

“Spacewalk?” Mark asked, the color drained from his face.

“Yes, you got a problem with that?”

“N-no sir,” 

“Do you have your certification on you?” Mark nodded and handed his boss the laminated paper that had dated it’s expiration back two years. The boss looked it over, his brow furrowed.

“Looks good to me Mark,” he said gruffly. Mark nodded, his mouth suddenly dry and without feeling took back his expired certification and tucked it into his pocket. “Now get prepped, time is money and profits are flying faster out the window than your job will be if you don’t make up for it.

Mark put on his space gear and sealed it up. The formerly familiar components blinked as Mark traced his fingers across the smooth material. He sat down for a moment, letting his body get used to the highly oxygenated environment of spacewalk suits. 

The edges of his handheld stuck into his hip, as he contemplated the next level of the game that he had yet to beat. He took a deep breath, knowing that this would be the last job that he would be able to be eligible for. It took him months just to book this gig. 

All sound disappeared as he walked out into space. The space coaster tracks jutted out from the body of the main ship which he called home. He went out into empty space and used the grips along the hull of the ship to make the repairs on the faded advertisement saying SPACE FUN CENTER. The paint dripped down his forearms in brilliant streaks of yellow and red and he applied the pigment. After finishing, he packed up his paints and pressed the enter button.

“Congratulations. You get to keep your job,” The boss’s words greeted the panting Mark as he unsealed his suit.

“Thank you sir, I’ll do better sir.” It was the last time that Mark would play video games on the job.

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