Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When I have a little time on my hands

I hop in the car and drive off to the spacedock. Sometimes I ride the elevator up to the dock itself, it's a hoot. Riding a glass elevator twelve thousand miles high is not for the faint of heart, so most people opt for the windowless lounge- but I like to watch the plains of La-A falling away.

The dock itself is a bustling place. Lots of techs use it like a fleamarket to sell surplussed or damaged equipment from the jumps, some buy spare parts they think they might need, some use the old pieces as jewelry, some just like the shiny bits. I like to wander between the tables and look at the parts, watch the evolution of the squirt booster drive and marvel at the fact that some people still trust their lives to the crudest of equipment.

You get to see all types. Most spacers and people who live off old earth are pretty comfortable in their own skin. We still get a lot of goths, punks, hair types, steampunk, whatever. I'm often amused by what people will do to "be different". When people have lived in the lockers-for-quarters they issue to techs and steerage passengers onboard freighters, they tend to dress in non-loud soft clothing, and practice impeccable hygeine. Only passengers from Earth who pay full price for their lavish accommodations smell or dress loudly.

The most fun, for me, is the restaurant and offworlder's reactions to it. See, at orbital position, the dock has a mild gravity but it's centrifugal. The elevator switches position as you ascend so the perceived gravity is seamless. But usually ships dock on the night side, and when the passengers debark, the first place they go is the Topsider. Decent drinks, good food, good prices. Not exactly airport food. So people settle in and have a sandwich, a beer, maybe a cocktail, and enjoy some conversation.

Then the sun rises.

As La-A rotates the spaceport comes into sunlight first, and then the crescent of La-A slowly becomes visible. Overhead. If you're not expecting it, it looks as though a planet is speeding toward you out of space, and rare is the day indeed when a passenger doesn't scream out loud. Once, I watched an entire pod (no other word for them, really) of enormous housewives from Lepton-7 gasp and pass out almost in unison.

it's amusing, and since we have good medical care here, hardly anyone ever has any long term ill effects. Still.

And most of the time I rent a room and spend a night. I park my keister in the little 6x6 and imagine it's my bunk on the freighter I would be piloting, had my initial dreams been realized. Sometimes I share the bunk with an offworlder. Sometimes I invite her back to the planet for dinner the next day. Sometimes one takes me up on it.

it's a way of keeping that dream alive. Even if only in my dreams.

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