HAPPY LANDINGS • by Michael D. Turner

The spanner’s grip was slick. Harper tried to jerk it around and get the hose connection loose, but his hand slid off instead and he swore as the heavy composite wrench spun away in the micro-gravity. He was supposed to tether any tool he used to his wrist–there was a little rubber band right on the end just for that, but he always forgot.

At least he didn’t have to listen to his pilot nag him about it. All through the last year of training, all through the mission, that was all he’d gotten from her. Nag, nag, nag. God, but that woman could really get under a man’s skin–even when he’d gone along and let her have what she really wanted from him–she still never let up. For the entire supply run–all the way to high orbit and the science station and most of the way back–she’d never gotten off his case.

Alice might have been perfect–and a better pilot than he was–but Harper knew how to land a shuttle. If he could get this damn fuel-line unclogged, that was. He plucked the spanner out of the corner it’d drifted into and wiped the handle off good–using the sleeve of his overalls and picking bits of blonde hair and scalp out of the joint before applying it to the coupling. Five minutes later he had a green fuel light. He racked the spanner and climbed back into his co-pilot’s seat to strap in, ignoring the drone from the radio. What was there to say anyway?

Alice was still strapped in, of course. She wouldn’t interfere with the landing from there, and Harper wasn’t worried about afterward. He was pretty sure he was out of the jurisdiction of any court, for starters.

Sick, twisted, evil. These words have often been applied to individuals, but never more rightly than in the case of Michael D. Turner. His writings have graced the pages of Aberrant Dreams, Amazing Journeys, Alienskin, Between Kisses, Continuum SF, Every Day Fiction, Tales of the Talisman and a variety of anthologies. He is an associate editor of the new Flashing Swords e-zine.

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Joseph Kaufman