Published on April 25th, 2013 | by Krash Sideways0
9. Horrendous Vertigo
“Where’s Loretta?” I barked at the wobbly see-through shape hovering a foot from my head, hundreds of meters up the scaffold that scaled the side of the rocket. “Loretta! I need to speak to Loretta.”
A hazy face shimmered in and out of focus at the center of the hovering shimmery shape thing.
“There is nobody here by the name of Loretta, sir.”
“What? Yes there bloody is. Where is she?”
“I believe you have virtua-interfaced the wrong number.”
“No. No, I haven’t. I want the Extraordinary Vehicle Agency. Moon Mission Three. This is the number.”
“That is correct, sir. To whom may I direct your call?”
“Loretta! Bloody Loretta!” I was hanging from a length of twang and the slightest disturbance sent me spinning out into the thin air at the top end of the silo. The stupid hovering shimmery gadget waste-of-money gizmo thing bobbing around and attempting to align itself with the angle of my eyes.
“There is nobody here by that name, sir.”
“Who are you? Why are you answering my phone?”
“There is no need for that tone, sir.”
“My name is Woman,” said the woman. “There is no one here called Loretta.”
“Loretta’s the bloody temp!”
“You are mistaken, sir. I am the current bureaucratic executive facilitation assistant at Moon Mission Three. My name is Woman. May I help you?”
“You’re the new temp? There’s a new temp? I didn’t know we had a new temp. Why did nobody tell me we had a new temp? Where’s Loretta?”
“I’d rather you did not employ that derogative title, sir.”
“What title? Temp? I can’t say temp?” A giddying altitude above a terribly solid blast-resistant floor, I twisted on the end of my twang and my shouting echoed around me.
“Is there some service I can provide today, sir,” the new temp wondered, rather frostily.
“I need to know when the new recruit is arriving. And I want to know his name.” I tried to steady myself, no easy task, and I moved a good deal closer to the shimmer. I lowered my voice, scanning the faraway floor for glimpses of blue hair. “And I want to get rid of the first recruit they sent me.”
There was a rustling of paper from the shimmery shape. “Miss Kiss?”
“Miss Kiss,” I hissed. “Yes.”
“Miss Kiss has quintuple contract indemnity, sir.”
“What?” I was developing horrendous vertigo and I wished I hadn’t had Mexican for breakfast. “I don’t know what that means.”
“It means you can’t get rid of her.”
I wanted to howl, to rail. “What if she had an unexpected accident with an airlock?” I grumbled under my breath.
But Woman had the ears of a surveillance satellite. “Miss Kiss has octuple interplanetary mishap coverage. The mission organizer would be held personally financially accountable.”
“And the mission organizer is held to be…”
Another rustle. “Engineer K. Sideways, sir.”
“I mean it.”
“The name of your next recruit is Solar Blast.”
“Alright. Well at least he’s not a farmer,” I said, turning slowly on my twang and fighting back the nausea. “When does he get here? There’s a rocket to launch.”
“Yes, sir. She’ll be on the next bus from Iowa.”
“What the heck is Iowa?”
“It’s a farming community, sir. Somewhere in the United States of, one moment,” a rustle, “America, sir.”
“You are bound by the terms of your twenty year contract renewal, sir. Signed, bear with me… last Wednesday lunchtime.”
I toppled forward and my stomach repeated a fragrance of chimichanga.
I wanted to weep.