by Jonathan Pinnock
free horror fiction
free horror fiction
Jake filled the glasses from the still and set them down on the console. Strictly speaking, this was breaking enough of the company’s rules to earn him instant dismissal. But there wasn’t anyone in a position to do that within several parsecs, so he reckoned he was probably safe.
And besides, this was a special occasion.
“Well, here’s to another ten years, eh?” he said, taking a slug from his glass. Whew. This was powerful stuff.
“And then two more to landfall,” said Gary, downing his in one go before handing his glass out for a refill. “Some trip. Y’know, sometimes I wish I was one of those bastards snoozing away in the hold.”
Gary laughed. “Yeah, I’m kidding. Wouldn’t want anyone pissing about with me when I was asleep.”
Jake smiled. It was true. You got bored on a trip like this. Let’s face it, being an Ark Pilot wasn’t exactly a demanding job. The only qualification you needed was to be so pathologically in debt that the only way to save your family was to take a one-way trip into deep space.
But, man, was it dull.
The face painting had got out of hand. When you’ve got a hold full of colonists in suspended animation, it’s just so tempting to take a magic marker and draw the odd moustache on a face or two. But if there are two of you, it gets competitive. And it wasn’t long before the entire hold got to look like a practice session for a Kabuki make-up class. That was going to take some cleaning up before they got to their destination.
And if the truth were told, they’d both fooled around with some of the women as well. Just a bit of a fondle, nothing more. Although Jake wondered about Gary. Sometimes, he had an odd look to him when he came back from the hold.
“So what’s for supper?” said Jake. It was Gary’s turn to be in charge of the catering.
Gary looked thoughtful. “I fancy something a bit different. Not the usual freeze-dried shit. I think we deserve something real tonight. Some proper meat.”
Jake raised an eyebrow. “Like where are we going to get hold of that, man? Pardon me for being a bit thick, but I don’t recall passing a flock of interstellar sheep lately.”
Gary smiled. Jake knew that smile. It meant that Gary had had one of his ideas.
“Remember that fire in bay 12?” said Gary.
“Remember the smell? The burning flesh? Bit like pork?”
Jake stared at Gary.
“I like pork,” said Gary.
“Well, I’m not allowed to eat it,” said Jake.
“Bet your rabbi didn’t mention what I’m thinking of,” said Gary. “And are you going to fill up my glass or not?”
“Well, what d’you think?” said Gary, picking his teeth.
“What do I think?” said Jake. “Well, I’m just wondering how many of those fuckers they’ll miss. I mean, how many people d’you really need to build a colony?”
Jonathan Pinnock was born in Bedfordshire, England, and - despite having so far visited over forty other countries - has failed to relocate any further away than the next-door county of Hertfordshire. He is married with two children, several cats and a 1961 Ami Continental jukebox. His work has won several prizes, shortlistings and longlistings, and he has been published in such diverse publications as Smokebox, Every Day Fiction and Necrotic Tissue. His unimaginatively-titled yet moderately interesting website may be found at http://www.jonathanpinnock.com/.