Saturday, November 15, 2008


_______ Shet stopped by the next NewsFeed post she came to and stood for a moment trying to get a glimpse of what was on. She didn’t want to push through to the front for a closer view, happy to hang back and see what she could. She timed it and after five minutes, without seeing her face, she set off again looking for a rickshaw. She hailed the first one to go past.

The canopy was a sophisticated solar panel that charged a battery that drove a tiny engine. On a good day some drivers didn’t need to pedal at all.

“I need you to take me to the SpacePort interchange,” said Shet climbing into the pack.
The driver looked at her strangely. He didn’t relish the idea of having to actually pedal most of the way there and back. At 2pm in the afternoon there wasn’t enough charge to get him there and back on the battery.

“Why don’t you just jump on the Solarail out there ma’am.”
“Because it’s a beautiful day and I have some money to burn. And the customer is always correct.”
“If that’s what you want ma’am, who am I to blow off a huge fare in the middle of the day.”
He began to peddle, pulling out into the deserted street heading westwards to connect with the former Western Freeway, to follow the Solarail out to the interchange.

Shet was glad that she had chosen rickshaw to get to the Interchange rather than the Solarail. The Solarail would have got her there in less than 15 minutes. At the current pace it would be at least half an hour before the rickshaw pulled into the Interchange, the driving gagging and struggling to catch his breathe.

The breeze caressed and tousled her hair. The gentle rocking motion of the rickshaw was soothing. Her mind calmed. She needed that. Her whole world had been turned upside down in the same time that it would have taken to have been wined and dined at the Polo Club … and then told that she could still not be given the job. She was used to methodically plotting her course through life. On the moon you didn’t leave things to chance. Leaving things to chance meant death. You checked your distances, you doubled checked your oxygen supply. You planned each job down to the second. You considered and brainstormed salutations to all problems. You thought about and countered potential hazards. Time wasn’t forgiving. If you screwed up, if it took longer than anticipated, if you broke down, got injured there was only so much time and so much oxygen. Then you died. And that made her feel safe, secure.

She’d never had a major incident under her command and she’d certainly never lost a man. She couldn’t say that she’d ever lost a woman … she’d never taken a woman up with her. She’d never given a woman a chance. There had been plenty to choose from, a steady stream of confident, talented and ambitious women coming through and she’d said no to everyone of them. Just what were they willing to sacrifice. Were they willing to make the sacrifices that she had made. She’d decided no, without even asking them. When it came down to it, she was cut from exactly the same fabric as Tennyson.

No job for a woman.

Yet she was confident that she could go into the Polo Club and convince him that she was capable – that she was the only one for the job. That as a woman she could do it. But was she even a woman any more? She never thought of herself in terms of being a woman. She thought of herself as Shet Harmon.

She sat there in the rickshaw, in her crumpled and sweat dampened Chanel suit and wondered who she actually was. Man or woman – or something in between that made even less sense to her. And why did everything have to be reduced down to biology. What ever happened to persona merit.

Now was not the time to get herself into a complicated philosophical debate that ultimately would provide no more answers than she had now, but would twist her mental processes up into knots, cloud her thinking. She needed to think clearly and she needed to think quickly.

She was about to gatecrash the Directorship of her sworn professional enemies. Wasn’t Langely just going to love that? If felt oh so wrong, but oh so right. It gave her a thrill unlike anything she had experience in a long time – since landing on the moon for the first time … since leading a deployment for the first time?

And not only that, she was going to demand that they choose her to go make first contact with aliens on another planet. She was going to insist on being part of a project that didn’t even exist.

Why? Why did she want this so badly, when 24 hours earlier she was chaffing to get back to the Moon, to get back to her team and the end of the project. Why was she ready to give up the accolades that were her due after two years of careful planning, of hard work, of going where no one had gone before to do a job that no one had ever done before.

And that was it. Establishing the Helium-3 mine and overseeing production was never going to make her happy. Her ambitions were currently sated but within a year she would be a manager, behind a desk, running and trouble shooting schedules, transports …

A slow lunar death. She was an adventurer. She pushed boundaries and went places that others were too timid to go.

The fact that it would piss off Tennyson – one of the most powerful, ambitious and well loved men of the Post Apocalyptic period, was just icing on the cake. She was glad that it was straight in her head. Chasing this project was about her, it wasn’t about Tennyson. Because at the end of the day, potentially marooned light years from home she had to drawn on her own individual strength and conviction, not spite for Tennyson.

How she had got herself on a course to undermine and trade blows with a man she had successfully ignored for the past decade was something she had all the time to ponder. To wonder exactly who it was he saw when he opened that door

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