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Short Stories
George Miller  

Short Story: Corporate Property

Here is a short story that first found its way to the world on Literally Stories way back in 2015. One of my first published short stories.

Derrick stared at the red button. Jagged pieces of melted plastic stuck out at odd angles from the surface and sides. The button sat under a clear case, cut from some discarded item, the purpose long forgotten, which was tied down with a piece of old copper wire. Smudges of grease and dirt dotted the cover. Behind him, a clock on the wall with bright red numbers counted down from ten minutes. At zero, Derrick would have a ninety-second window to press the button. Ninety seconds to go home.

A light pulsed on a monitor built into the wall. Derrick tapped the screen and a graphical display of the inner solar system came alive. The inner planets rotated around a bright orange orb at their center. A green line connected the asteroid, which he had lived on nearly his entire life, with Earth. In just under ten minutes their orbits would align in such a way that, if he left in that precious ninety second window, he would slip gently into Earth orbit. If not, he’d have to wait a year to try again.

A red light blinked on the screen and Derrick tapped it. A diagnostic report detailed the status of his pod, the red button, and the explosives that he stole. Those explosives would fire when the button was pressed and push him out from the mining facility and towards Earth.

A ding sounded to Derrick’s right accompanied by the smell of burning chemicals and fried meat. His reprocessed protein dinner, pressed into a chicken thigh molded shape, was ready. The dinner was shit. Literally shit. Waste from a thousand people was churned, sifted, processed and refined until the feces could be served back to the miners. Nutrients and minerals were added to the meal along with whatever chemical cocktail the Corporate wanted to add.

Derrick pulled himself back to the button and ate his chicken-shit. A white light shone into his pod from the only window and illuminated the opposite wall. Derrick cursed. He had forgotten to put up the curtain. Doves and Phil had just returned to their pod and were getting ready for downtime. With his left hand he grabbed a metal support pole and pulled himself towards the window.

Joon waved from across the asteroid landscape at Derrick who smiled and waved back. Their pods were separated by thirty feet of cold dead rock and open space. A loud ring sounded from the old phone attached to his wall. Chips of plastic had fallen off and been replaced over decades with different generations of duct tape. Layers of dried grease helped hold the rest of the ancient device together. The receiver was older than anyone on the station but, unlike most of the miners, it still worked and that’s all the Corporate cared about. Derrick stared at the phone. He knew who was calling as only one person ever did. If he didn’t answer, she’d know. Besides, she was staring at him.

Read the rest on literally stories!

George Allen Miller

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