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13th December
posted by amber

Cosmic Fable

Mother, I received your letter a year ago. And I’ve had all this time to figure out how to respond.

Not that it’s been a quiet year for us. The pre-engineered shelter was a disaster, almost literally. The asteroid (I know you never can remember its name, although Abanderada isn’t all that difficult, in my opinion) turned out to have some gravitational anomalies, so the first location we chose was too high grav, and the shelter collapsed, and the second place, we never could keep it from trying to float away. Finally we found a location that was just right.

The mining went okay, although the mini-miners had all sorts of glitches. One kept shutting itself off for no reason, one was really particular about its working conditions – too hot or too cold and it would just quit. Then there was Dopey (yes, we named them after the Seven Dwarfs, even though we have eight) who kept mining trash rock and ignoring the lore seams.

Happy had no glitches, he worked exactly the way he was designed to and Bashful wasn’t bad either, except he always seemed to have some kind of problem when we were around. Sneezy’s motor stuttered a lot, but never actually quit running. The repair bot (yes, Doc) couldn’t find anything actually wrong with him.

The eighth one we call Superbot, as he turned out really efficient and high-producing. It’s due mostly to him that we’re sending a good load of ore to the processing station. Not enough to pay back our grub stake, but another year like this and we’ll be profitable.

But we have to buy a new food processor when the shuttle comes, and that won’t be cheap. It’s a miracle we survived this year. Not that we were being poisoned or anything, but all the control templates except Cajun were defective, and Cajun didn’t work too well either. There was no middle ground with spiciness. One setting was so spicy we couldn’t eat the food, and the other was utterly bland. So we’ve had a year of eating faux jambalaya and faux gumbo and faux red beans and rice, all with no discernable taste. Plus we ate our entire supply of emergency biscuits, because they were the only thing that tasted good.

Now, Mom, as to your problem. I’m sorry you lost all your money on that wool futures scam. Really, what did you expect – I mean, Black Sheep Investments??? Anyhow, no – we can’t lend you any money. You think we’re rich because of what it cost to come out here? We sunk everything we could scrape up into this venture, and had to borrow a lot too. And no – you can’t come out here to live with us. Even if you could, it’ll be another year before the shuttle comes back, and by then you’ll have solved your problem, I know you will.

If you still have your house, why don’t you take in some foster kids or something?

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.
This story was inspired by the first line of ‘Sins of the Fathers’ by Sara Genge in Asimov’s of Dec. 2010.

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