I was just about to hop into Trigger when my Gizmo beeped. A porter job had just popped up. I had seniority and proximity, so the system offered it to me first.
“PICKUP LOCATION: AG-5250. MASS: ~100KG. DROP-OFF LOCATION: UNSPECIFIED. PAYMENT: 452?.”
Wow. Four hundred fifty-two whole slugs. Roughly a tenth of what I’d just made from a box of cigars.
I accepted. I had to make money somehow.
Dear Kelvin Otieno,
Hi. My name’s Jasmine Bashara. People call me Jazz. I’m nine years old. I live in Artemis.
Ms. Teller’s my teacher. She’s a good teacher even though she took away my Gizmo when I played with it during class. She gave us homework to send email to kids at the KSC complex in Kenya. She assigned me your address. Do you speak English? I can speak Arabic too. What do you speak in Kenya?
I like American TV shows and my favorite food is ginger ice cream. But usually I eat Gunk. I want to get a dog but we can’t afford one. I hear poor people can have dogs on Earth. Is it true? Do you have a dog? If you have a dog please tell me about your dog.
Does Kenya have a king?
My dad’s a welder. What does your dad do?
Dear Jazz Bashara,
Hello. I am Kelvin and I am also nine. I live with my mom and dad. I have three sisters. They’re jerks and the two older ones beat me up. But I’m getting bigger and someday I’ll beat them up. I’m just kidding, boys should never hit girls.
Kenyans speak English and Swahili. We do not have a king. We have a president and a National Assembly and a Senate. Grown-ups vote for them and they make the laws.
My family doesn’t have a dog but we have two cats. One of them just comes around to eat, but the other one is very nice and sleeps on the couch all the time.
My dad is a security officer for KSC. He works at Gate 14 and he makes sure only people who are allowed to go in can go in. We live in assigned housing in the complex and my school is in the complex too. Everyone who works for KSC gets free school for their kids. KSC is very generous and we are all grateful.
My mom stays at home. She takes care of all of us kids. She is a good mother.
My favorite food is hot dogs. What’s Gunk? I’ve never heard of that.
I love American TV shows. Especially soap operas. They are very exciting even though my mom doesn’t want me watching them. But we have good internet here so I watch when she’s not looking. Please do not tell her. Haha. What does your mom do?
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to make rockets. Right now I make models of rockets. I just finished a model of a KSC 209-B. It looks very nice in my room. I want to make real rockets someday. The other kids want to be pilots for the rockets but I don’t want to do that.
Are you white? I hear everyone in Artemis is white. There are many white people here at the complex. They come from all over the world to work here.
It’s too bad you don’t have a dog. I hope you get to make rockets someday. Real ones, not models.
Gunk is food for poor people. It’s dried algae and flavor extracts. They grow it here in Artemis in vats because food from Earth is expensive. Gunk is gross. Flavor extracts are supposed to make it taste good but they just make it taste gross in other ways. I have to eat it every day. I hate it.
I’m not white. I’m Arabic. Sort of light brown. Only about half the people here are white. My mom lives on Earth somewhere. She left when I was a baby. I don’t remember her.
Soap operas are lame. But it’s okay for you to like lame stuff. We can still be friends.
Do you have a yard at your house? Can you go outside anytime you want? I can’t go outside until I’m sixteen because those are the rules for EVAs. Someday I’ll get my EVA license and go outside as much as I want and no one can tell me no.
Building rockets sounds like a neat job. I hope you get that job.
I don’t want a job. When I grow up I want to be rich.
Armstrong sucks. It’s a damn shame such an awesome guy got such a shitty part of town named after him.
The grinding thrum of industrial equipment oozed from the walls as I guided Trigger along the old corridors. Even though the heavy manufacturing plants were fifteen floors away, the sound still carried. I pulled up to the Life Support Center and parked just outside the heavy door.
Life Support is one of the few places in town that has genuine security protocols. You don’t want just anyone wandering in. The door had a panel you could wave your Gizmo over, but of course I wasn’t on the approved list. From there I had to wait.
The pickup request was for a package approximately one hundred kilograms. No problem for me. I can lift twice that without breaking a sweat. Not many Earth gals can say that! Sure, they have six times the gravity to deal with, but that’s their problem.
Other than mass, the request was vague. No info on what it was or where it was going. I’d have to find that out from the customer.
Artemis’s Life Support is unique in the history of space travel. They don’t process carbon dioxide back into oxygen. Yes, they have the equipment to do that and batteries to last months if needed. But they have a much cheaper and virtually infinite supply of oxygen from another source: the aluminum industry.
Sanchez Aluminum’s smelter outside town produces oxygen from processing ore. That’s what smelting is, really. Removing oxygen to get pure metal. Most people don’t know it, but there’s a ridiculous amount of oxygen on the moon. You just need a shitload of energy to get it. Sanchez produces so much oxygen by-product that they not only make rocket fuel on the side, they supply the city with all our breathable air and still end up venting the excess outside.