Drip, Drip, Drip

Submitted into Contest #142 in response to: Write about somebody who likes to work in silence.... view prompt

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Science Fiction Speculative Fiction

Taps don't drip when you are on the float, a leak comes out but simply pools at the faucet until someone notices the bulb and cleans it up. Physics was funny that way.  Tightening pipes and checking valves is half of your life when you are on an old shuttle barely rated for space flight. The taps weren't the only thing to leak, but they were the only thing that dripped when you were under thrust. 

Drip, Drip, Drip.

Any leak was louder and faster the higher the burn. Anything close to 1G changed it from individual sounds to an endless drumroll of wasted water. 

The drip was slow, but it was still there. The only other sound was the hum of the ships drive, vibrating Ireson's feet as she closed her eyes and tried to find the source of the tiny betrayals. She was alone on her shuttle, the only person for a million miles or more. Space was big enough for that to be normal, a distance that made the Atlantic ocean look like a puddle, that had seemed insurmountable for so long and now it was just like that same ocean had been after Columbus crossed and re-crossed it. A long journey that could be made with a bit of patience. 

Ireson liked being on the float, she preferred it when the silence of void was matched by her ship. It helped her think and relax, it was easy to focus on her breathing and meditation in the silent solitude. 

Drip, Drip, Drip. 

The leaking ruined her focus. She couldn't think of anything else and that the water gauge slowly ticked down with every wayward drop. She would find the leak, eventually and then she would have a measure of peace, at least until something else broke or started to play up. 

Her shuttle, Collins, named in honour of the man who had flown to the moon without touching the surface, while Neil and Buzz played in the dust, had been a good ship a generation ago. 

Now it was too old and close to the end of its life, it would be stripped for the parts worth keeping and every square millimetre would be accounted for and recycled. It would be soon, maybe even the end of this trip, but until then it was Ireson's solace, her sanctum and her salvation. 

Drip, Drip, Drip. 

She was scuttling an iceberg the size of which hadn't been seen on Earth since the last Ice age, the tethers and nets around it letting Collins’ tiny drive slowly accelerate it to a manageable speed, before doing the same in reverse to slow it to the Moon's orbit. 

It took months and other than latching onto the rock and the point of flipping to deceleration there was very little to do. 

If anything went wrong, one of the clips breaking or the drive failing there was nothing Ireson could do about it. Nothing to do except relax and chase water pipes. 

Drip, Drip, Drip.

The first Iceberg runs had been crewed by up to a dozen cosmonauts. The supply had been low and demand high then. Demand had ticked down as more ice was found on the Moon and even more taken from Mars poles. There was still money to be made but not enough for a full crew. Now there wasn't enough to pay anyone except Ireson. She had old friends on Babylon that would give her a decent price, for the ice and the Collins when it was finally decommissioned. Then she would have to choose between the free state on Luna's surface or returning to the gravity well of Earth. Without a win of the colony lottery there was no chance of Mars in her future. Not unless she had enough money to jump the queue, or connections to skip the process entirely. 

Money and connections were something she was sorely lacking. 

Drip, Drip, Drip. 

Ireson pulled herself up one of the ladders and closed the hatch beneath her. The sound was louder in here. She was close to the drip now. 

It would bring her some peace to silence it. Even more would come when the Collins reached the halfway point and started to decelerate. 

Even the hum of the ship's drive would be silent then. 

A quiet ship and busy hands were all Ireson wanted from life. A freedom from the decisions and dangers of life around others, relying only on herself and skills she has developed over a lifetime of living life in the inky black void of space. 

Like a pioneer boldly going beyond the horizon. 

Drip, Drip, Drip. 

She found a patch of ice, frozen to the metal of the hull like a forgotten stain on a kitchen counter. A drop of water pinged onto it, splashing moisture onto the frost and confirming it was the source of her irritation. 

She wiped at the ice with a greasy hand and tasted it. The flavour was of copper and ozone. Another drop hit her hand and she sucked it from her fingers and then touched them to the culprit. She used her wrench to tighten the valve and then the joint to the leak. 

The drip stopped. Only the hum of the drive interrupted her rhythmic breathing. Ireson smiled and settled down onto the floor to steal a moment's relaxation. 

Whether this was Collins last run or not she would miss the little ship when her life changed chapters. It would manage one more trip she decided at that moment, even if it cost her the journey's profit and her savings to keep Collins flying she owed the ship that much. 

Ireson rested a hand on her forehead and sighed at the cool touch of melting ice. The few melted drops ran down her skin like rainfall after a season of drought. She hadn't felt rain in a lifetime and didn’t realise that she had missed it so much. 

Drip, Drip, Drip. 

Ireson's eyes snapped open and she glared at the valve she had just fixed. She already knew it wasn't from there, the sound was distant somewhere near the base of the ship and the drive. 

"Fucking piece of trash." She cursed and pulled open the hatch to slay another dripping demon that damaged her calm.  

April 19, 2022 10:07

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23:56 Apr 27, 2022

This is a really good story! Thanks for writing it!

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