A family of three smiled out from the static monitor of the frame that sat atop the desk inside of the captain’s quarters. There was a handsome brunette, strong in her looks as well as her frame, and a tall, tired-looking man, with his arm slung lazily around her waist. In front of them was a grinning boy, smiling at the camera as he clutched a model spaceship. Behind them stood a large house and white picket fence to complete the cliché.
Keeping it company was an assortment of sheets, plastic substrates that reflected photos and details, scattered about as if someone had thrown them out of a box. The man behind the desk made perfect company for the mess. His eyes were puffy and didn’t seem to open past the slats that served as windows into a dark and dangerous place.
Winchester Hayes picked up one of the sheets and flipped it around in order to read the information on the back. “Everything checks out,” he muttered to himself and then got up and walked across the room to where the circular porthole revealed the monochromatic horizon line of the asteroid. “If I die on this spud I’m slapping god,” he muttered and then shifted his eyes to watch the miners.
“Yeah, that’s it, work as slow as possible,” he muttered, “this is what they send me out here with. Laggards.” He shook his head and turned back to his desk, his hand smoothing back his thick brown hair.
A slight movement distracted him and he glanced at his bed where a smooth, shapely leg had managed to escape from beneath the covers. “I’ll see you up there,” he announced, as he grabbed his jacket and threw it on before exiting the door.
As he passed by his desk, the edge of his jacket knocked over the frame, and the family became as forgotten as they had been for the last few hours of his life. He walked the dark passageway and then rounded the corner, pushing his way past a deckhand who was going back to his room.
“Morning Captain!” The man said, and Winchester stopped, turned around and regarded him.
“Morning? How the hell can you tell?”
“By the time, sir, it’s 5—”
“Goddamn it, Richard, it’s a friggin joke. I know what time of day it is. We’ve been here, what, fourteen days? Anyway, as you were,” he said and pushed past him to resume his march. The tight passageway was beginning to see a lot of activity, so Winchester pushed past several other workers to climb the stairs that led up to the bridge.
“Captain on the bridge,” a man in a powder blue jumpsuit announced and Winchester stopped and stared at him. When he had looked at the man long enough for it to become uncomfortable, he slowly looked around the room, as if to see if anyone would respond.
“Lu, it’s only us. Who the hell are you announcing that to?”
“Sticking to protocol, Skip, the way you instructed me to. Would you prefer if I stopped announcing your taking the bridge?”
“I need coffee, where the hell is my coffee?”