Fight of the Cargo Hauler


When pirates board her spaceship, an overweight, middle-aged cargo hauler must use her wits, inventiveness and knowledge of B-grade action movies to survive.

Fight of the Cargo Hauler is a 4400-word sci-fi short story. It was published in The Scarlet Leaf Review‘s May 2017 issue. Read it for free here or read on for an excerpt.


Fight of the Cargo Hauler:

Christina Everett’s day went downhill when the yellow light flashed on her spaceship’s dashboard. Groaning, she eased her bulky backside out of the pilot’s chair. She shuffled out of the cockpit, not bothering to grab the holochart with directions to the faulty boiler.
Yellow wasn’t too bad. It didn’t mean Christina’s cargo hauler was in mortal danger – not like when it flashed red. Yellow just meant minor repairs. More damn repairs. She’d spent most of her six-month trip tightening screws, replacing fuses and wishing TransCorp hadn’t given her a spaceship that had been old at the start of last century.
The holochart would’ve told her to turn right at the junction. Instead, Christina pried open a floor panel and squeezed into a service duct. She shimmied past pipes and wires, her large belly pressing against the walls, and opened another hatch. Climbing down a ladder, she emerged in corridor 2C.
Striding along, she didn’t glance in the storage rooms on either side. When you’ve hauled cargo for half your forty-six years, it stops being interesting – no matter how much TransCorp gets paid for the delivery.
She walked past the room with the hologram projectors. Ahead, gas spewed from the wall and a light flashed above.
Christina checked her chronometer. She smiled. Thirty-three seconds from cockpit to boiler. She’d like to see someone beat that with the dumb computer’s directions – the computer that claimed to know everything about the vessel, but didn’t know half as much as her.
Christina fixed the boiler with two tweaks of her wrench.
Her smile faded. But of course, her skills didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter how she could get from any point to any other in six minutes, even though the maze-like, four-level spaceship was five hundred metres long. It didn’t matter that she could fix every piece of equipment on board.
No one would ever see. No one would ever care. Space was an abyss of nothingness, but the loneliness of her six-month cargo trips was nothing against the loneliness of the spaceports.
Sighing, Christina trudged back to the cockpit, her flabby arms hanging at her sides. She needed to cheer herself up. She’d watch a HoloReel – yeah, a HoloReel! One of her favourites. A Clash of Colonies, or maybe Zanthus: Space Pilot. Sure,Zanthus was decades old, but they’d never made a finer film about the Galactic Navy.
When Christina got back into the cockpit, the warning light was flashing red. (Keep reading)