The story is a work of fiction and has no basis in reality.
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Thad and I were a great team. We enjoyed each other in every way, I learned a lot about sex and how to please my partner. I kept to Thad only, because I had feelings for him and I really didn't like doing it with anyone that I didn't have those feelings with. Oh, I tried a few times, but it just wasn't the same. It's really hard to describe, so I won't try.
I looked at the map and found my barracks. It was about 2 miles from the spaceport. Shit, this was going to be a real bitch to walk that far in this heat. I set my body on auto and started walking. I was watching the scenery as I walked, what little there was. Most of the building's looked the same, plasteel and transparent aluminum. All of them a dark dirty brown in color. There were people quickly moving about, looking intent on whatever they were doing. I spotted a small market and filed the location for future reference. Just as I was walking in front of the market a small boy came running out of the door like someone was chasing him. There was someone chasing him,
"Stop you little shit, bring that book back." Yelled an older man as he ran after the boy.
It was just a short six months ago that it happened. Thad and I had been trying to get work for weeks but there wasn't a job around for two unskilled kids. It was my birthday and I was really hungry. Thad and I decided that we would steal a feast for my special day. We ventured into a better part of town where we though the pickings would be better. Well, of course they were. People had money here. We found a really nice little store, lots of fresh food and even a little deli. Both of us were drooling with hunger. I was starting to get stomach cramps just from smelling the wonderful flavors that drifted out of the doors and open windows. Thad had a plan. I would go in and distract the clerks while he swiped what we needed. We usually did it the other way around because Thad was so big, he had a tendency to hold people's attention and me being so small, I could slip in and out without anyone noticing. But, no! Thad wouldn't hear of it. It was my birthday and he was going to get me a present.
I went in first and started chatting up the clerk, asking questions about this and that. Keeping her attention away from Thad who had followed me in. She kept glancing over at him and I would do my best to draw her attention back to me. I was able to maneuver her around so her back was toward Thad. I saw him put a loaf of bread and some meat from the deli in his shirt and turn toward the drinks. Suddenly a guy came charging out of a back room with a laspistol. SHIT! They must have survcams, but where? I didn't see any sign of them.
"Hey you! Stop where you are." He ordered Thad.
Thad froze where he was. The guy then turned to me and yelled. "You stay where you are too."
Shit, both of us caught. I looked at Thad who winked at me and nodded toward the door. Suddenly he threw the things he had lifted at the guy and we both bolted for the door. I heard the guy yell, the laspistol hum and a loud thwack, a grunt and someone fall. I slid to a stop just outside the door and turned to see Thad lying on the floor. He looked at me and with his eyes told me to get out of there. So, I got.
That was the last time I saw Thad. I don't know if he is still alive or not. I was lost without him. I asked around to see if anyone had heard anything, but no one knew a thing. I did find out that there was a bounty out on me though. It wasn't a lot but enough to make some creep turn me in. I kept a low profile for a month, still trying to survive as best I could.
"What are you staring at punk? Are you looking for trouble?" Suddenly jarred back to Epsilon, I looked at the man who had chased the kid.
"Oh, sorry, no I'm not looking for trouble. I apologize if I offended you sir." I quickly replied. I didn't want trouble my first day here.
The man grunted and walked back into the store. I looked around to see if the kid was hiding nearby, but I couldn't spot him. If he were any good at all, he would be hiding where he could watch the store for any official looking vehicles that might come around. That way he would know how much trouble he might be in. I learned that after the botched robbery on my birthday. From that time on, I would hang out close to where I had just completed my last job. Observing and waiting.
One day while I was out scouting for some food, I overheard a couple of guys talking about this company that was hiring people to go to a frontier planet that had opened up to general settlement about a year ago. I wondered if they would hire a kid? Well, only one way to find out. I had to do something different. All of this hiding and starving was getting tiresome.
I asked around and found the hiring office for Epsilon Enterprises. There wasn't anyone inside when I opened the door. The place looked deserted. Just a small desk and two chairs.
"Hello? Anyone here?" I yelled.
"HELLO!!!! IS THERE ANYONE HERE?"
"Yeah, just a minute." I hear a voice from the back room answer.
I walked over to one of the chairs and sat down. I could hear the same voice talking in the back room.
"No, I don't care how you do it. Just get it done."
"Yes, I know we have a quota to meet but I can't Shanghai people."
"Ok, listen. I'll do what I can from here but you have to hold up your end of the deal. Ok?"
I hear movement and this squat rotund little bald man came out of the back room.
"Well sonny what can I do for you?"
"I'm looking for a job."
"Hahahaha, well we're hiring but you are a bit young. You have to be 15 before we can hire you."
"I turned 15 a month ago" I answered.
"Can you prove it?" He asked.
"Sure, I have my birth certificate and my ID with retscan. But, I do have a problem."
"What's that sonny?"
"I have a warrant out for my arrest."
"Not real serious, the reward isn't but 25 credits."
"What did you do?"
"Well a friend an I were stealing some food and we kinda got caught. My friend did get caught, but I got away."
"Ok, that isn't serious. I'll tell you what. I'll give you some tests and if you qualify, I'll pay the fine, but I am sure you will have to go off planet as part of the deal I work out with the authorities."
"That's the whole idea isn't it?" I asked.
"Hahahaha, yes it is, I can tell you are a smart one. Ok why don't we get started."
"Hey would you happen to have any food around here?" I asked as my stomach growled loudly.
"Tell you what. You get started on the tests and I'll go get us both some food." He answered with a smile.
"Ok, let's get on with it then." I answered.
He went into the back room, I could hear him rummaging around, talking to himself. Finally I heard him say, "There you are." and came out with one of the smallest portacomp's I had ever seen.
"Know how to use one of these? He asked.
"I've never seen one that small, but if it works the same, I can figure it out." I replied.
"Ok, the program is self explanatory, just answer the questions honestly. While you are working on it, I'll go get us some lunch."
Actually the tests weren't that difficult. My Aunt's instructions were finally paying off. I knew the answer to just about every question the test asked. The only one's that I had a problem with were the political questions. They didn't make sense to me. I had just finished the last test when the proprietor returned with our lunches.
"Well, did you get the first test done?" He asked as he set the lunch container next to me.
"Actually sir, I finished all of them." I replied.
He looked at me with doubt. "I think you might have missed some, let me take a look."
I passed the portacomp to him. He punched a few buttons and his eyes got very large.
"Holy shit!" He exclaimed. "You did finish all of the tests and you have one of the highest score's I have ever seen. Son, I don't think you have a thing to worry about. You are hired. When do you want to leave?"
"The sooner the better." I replied.
"Ok, we have a transport leaving day after tomorrow. Can you make arrangements by then?"
"I can be ready in an hour." I explained to him that I didn't have any family and not much to pack so I could be ready, no problem.
"That's great kid. I'm going to make a few calls. You sit right here and enjoy your lunch."
With that he got up and went into the back room. I could hear him talking. First he called the Magistrate's office, paid my fine and promised to have me off world within a week. Next he called the Medcenter and set up an appointment for me. "Physical." He told me when he came back out front.
"Be at the Medcenter at 08:00 tomorrow morning. It will take about 4 hours. You will be paid from that time on if you pass the physical. Other than being a little guy, that hasn't had much to eat, I don't think you should have any problem.
Now you know how I got to Epsilon. Some story eh?
Copyright S. John Holder 2000
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