Midnight Smoke

By Renko Rodenburg

It was dark and quiet in the hallways of the Saliëry. With most of the crew asleep, the ship cruised on autopilot. Space was cold and empty, and nothing ever happened. Unable to sleep, a girl by the name of Trail peeked a head out of her quarter. No one around, the deck dark and empty. Good.

Carefully she snuck through the hallway, to the hatch that led to the engineering deck. As she turned the wheel that released the lock, she froze up. Loud clanging from the lock echoed through the hallway. Her ears twitched on her head and her pupils dilated.

Was the lock always this loud?

No one showed up to ask her what she was doing, and the ship returned to silence. She tried to make as little noise as possible descending the ladder to engineering, and then crept immediately into the nearest hallway.

Engineering was always a mess of smells, vapors, and grease. The ship had been shot up more often than she could remember, and not every time she had been fixed to standard. But engineering was considerably better ventilated than the rest of the ship, save for maybe the Captain’s Quarters, to prevent the buildup of toxic chemicals in the air there.

This was what Trail had come for. Finding a corner of the deck to hide in, she took a pack of cigarettes out of her pocket and her lighter. An antique one, with gas instead of electricity.

“Yea, this is the life,” she muttered as she blew a weft of smoke into the corridor.

“Is it now?” a sharp voice suddenly asked.

Caught, Trail’s ears went sharp up, and her fur stood up like she’d been struck by lightning. It was Captain Mairsil, she realized.

“Euh, Captain,” she stuttered as she tried to hide the cigarette behind her.

“You can say Amy tonight,” the Captain said as she stepped into the corner, next to Trail. From her pocket, she grabbed a pack of cigarettes.

“You got a light for me?”

Confused, Trail handed her lighter to her Captain.

“But Captain, I mean, Amy, can’t you smoke in your quarters if you want? Ventilation should be good enough there.”

“Ah, I could. But when I was a young girl I used to sneak out of my quarters and smoke here. I still do so, every so often. Makes me feel a bright young thing again. Nostalgic.”

“Am I in trouble?”

“I wouldn’t know. There’s only you and Amy here, as far as I’m concerned. No captain, no officers.”

Trail laughed. “Thank you Cap- I mean Amy.”

Together they smoked, in the silent dark hallways of their old ship Saliëry


3 thoughts on “Midnight Smoke”

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