tagChain StoriesF6: Sing a Dirge in Heaven

F6: Sing a Dirge in Heaven


This story is a submission to the sixth Friendly Anonymous Writing Challenge (FAWC) and a tribute to the founder of FAWC, slyc_willie, who we lost unexpectedly in October 2015. The true author of this story is kept anonymous until the end of the competition. Authors base their story on a list of four items. Their choices included the following letters: S L Y C. Each item was used in the story. There are no prizes given in this challenge; this is simply a friendly competition.

The list for this story includes: yodeler, yarn, yacht, yearn

* * * *

“I don’t know about you, Yodeler, but I’m in the mood for a good nun raping.”

Looking up from the cooling weld bead that I had been trying to push along before I was interrupted, I flipped back my hood and looked at the approaching cargo shuttle. The great silvery-white and flat-black ship was catching the light of the unfiltered sun. It then bent it into a huge drive plume rainbow, making the whole craft blaze a blindingly bright prism spray of colors against the black background of space.

The half-Hindi pilot, Sumer Si Kumen, was standing naked by the observation window making lewd rocking motions like he was having intercourse.

With a tilt of my suit’s helmet, I watched this show for a second longer then keyed my mic.

“Well, Sumer, given your past track record with women I guess it’s a good thing there are no nuns on this station, or you would probably be the one raped.”

“Nah, I can take a nun on my worst day. They fight like girls. And then once I get her out that habit I’ll do such naughty things to her she’ll follow me around like a puppy till I get sick of her.” Not pausing his rocking, Sumer took hold of his cock and gave it a stroke. “Hey, Yodeler, is that girl still down in B-6, you know the one? Big tits, a fat ass and a bush like a forest fire. Loved to suck cock! You know her, what’s her name?”

Watching the shuttle slide past me, I had to smile. Oh, I knew who he meant and fuck him if I was going to help that bastard get laid with the best piece of ass-for-hire, on the whole, damn station. I keyed the mic.

“Sorry Sumer but your mother left a few weeks back. Jumped out an airlock and swam her suit after a departing troop ship.”

“Come on, Ese, cut me some slack! It’s been so long since I got some good pussy I’ve about forgotten which arm it’s under.”

Turning off my communicator, I ignored the shuttle suddenly disgusted with the whole conversation and with the half-Hindi pilot and his never-ending yearning for sex on this station. Changing tools, I igniting my cutting torch, pulsed the plasma stream to test it, and started back to work. I pointedly ignoring the red winking communication light, demanding that I respond, as I torched through the next stuck bolt that was holding this ancient piece of space trash together. With six more hours of salvaging recovered space junk to go before the end of my shift I was … I was …

I glanced over my shoulder at the rainbow spectral rings around the engines of the shuttle. With a sigh, I keyed my mic.

“Her name is Lindy. And she’s in level B-7.”

“Thanks, Yodeler! Remind me I owe you one when I see you next.”

“Yeah.” I shut the com back down, having no desire to talk to anyone. Not even myself.

Leaning back into my work, I ignored the drops of tears that fell to my faceplate and froze against the super frigid clear visor. Even as I mentally cussed myself, in the total silence of my helmet, I pictured that bastard Sumer with Lindy and wanted to be sick. That space maggot didn’t deserve her!

She might be a whore, she might open her thighs at the drop of a coin, but damn it Lindy was station … not Mars-born scum. She deserved to be treated better than a man like Sumer would ever treat her. He would pay his coin, take his lust out on her and then leave. “Wham, bam, and fuck you, ma’am. Here’s your fucking thirty pieces of silver, you slut.”

I had to stop myself from spitting. Then sighed.

“Put it away if you can’t do anything about it, Temp,” I muttered to myself and went back to work. By now my heart was no longer in this drudgery, this mindless day in day out scavenging of old burnt out satellites. I found myself daydreaming. My eyes drifted away from the micrometeorite pitted, radiation blackened, another now useless hunk of metal that once sent entertainment to millions. Overhead the sky was dominated by the half-dead orb that was once humanity’s cradle. Even as I watched, I could begin to see the massive, multiple-ringed crater that was the killer of ninety-nine percent of humanity.

The Pale Horse.

“Stupid name for a comet,” I mumbled. Feeling cotton-mouthed, I keyed my drink tube and then nearly choked as my com was overridden.


Cutting off the plasma torch, I swallowed the lukewarm, bland tasting water.


“Yeah, yeah. I’m here.”


With a deep sigh, I watched the hoof print of The Pale Horse now fully in view. Like a gravestone for humanity, it will stand for our stupidity long after the last of us are brittle bones on the moon, or in the Paradise station behind me.


“I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to be left alone to do my work.”

There was a cold silence from the station as several people were no doubt discussing me, why I was like I was, what the full ramifications of a “person like me” being allowed to live, work, and try to qualify for the right to breed offspring, on their precious station meant. Their station, like I didn’t build the damn thing. Like I wasn’t the one who now ran the huge radiation torches that sculpted it together from N.E.O asteroids and old satellites. Like I wasn’t the only damn one with the skills to keep the fucking place from falling apart now! Like I wasn’t ...


I turned to look behind me as if I expected to see some change in the quarter-century old, metal and rock-foam station after a statement like that from them. Did they understand? What the fuck did that vague …

Then my schedule menu chimed and I saw that I had a psych evaluation now added to the list of crap I had to do today.

“Oh, that’s just fucking capital.”

With my constant stream of foul language keeping my company and the slowly vanishing Hoof Print for my viewing pleasure, I went back to work with a maniac vigor. For the next six hours, I did the work of two men my age or maybe one man half my age.

* * * *

When the helmet was removed from the docking collar that hooked it to my suit, I reached up and pulled the itchy, but wonderfully warm yarn stocking cap from my head and gratefully gave my scalp a scratch. I loved and hated that damn cap. A gift from one of the poor ladies in the Downside, it helped to keep my head and, more to the point, my ears warm in the fridge cold of a ten-hour workday spacewalk.

But fuck it itched! And of course with the helmet on I could not scratch that itch.

“Hey, Yodeler!”

Speaking of itches, I can’t scratch. Looking around, I saw Sumer Si Kumen–shuttle pilot, lecherous, and general pain in my posterior–walk into the desuiting room with a big shit eating grin on his face. I’ll give him props, he did at least start to help the tech with getting me the hell out of the suit. Now if he would have just shut his yap for the half-cycle it takes to get the damn suit off.

Nope, he immediately began to brag. About sex of course.

A tenth of a cycle in and I honestly had begun to considered dislocation a shoulder just to let me slip out of the damn space suit quicker. Anything to get away from his bragging about how good Lindy had treated him, and how little it had cost. And about how Lindy had begged him to stay and pleasure her more, with his massive throbbing member, all the night cycles. By the time he had reached the point where he was describing her mouth on his cock I was only seconds away from igniting my plasma torch, inside this pressurized room–as good a way of violently committing suicide as any devised–and at least having the pleasure of seeing his face catch fire before my eyeballs melted.

The suit tech took it from my hand, sensing I think the desire growing in me, or maybe he was getting close to the same point himself and wanted the torch.

“So, when are you coming to the moon?” He gave me a grin. “I can put you onto some prime pussy when you get there.”

“I’m not.”

“What? Ese, this place is falling apart, you’ve got to come to Luna.” His tone held a level of contempt that men in the past had died for using. “You’ve got to.”

“No, I don’t. I like it here well enough. Day to day crap notwithstanding. Now, I’ve got a psych evaluation I have to go take.” Stepping out of the EVA suit’s legs, I nodded my thanks to the tech and headed for the door. Anything to get away from this fool. “I’ll see you before you leave.”

“Sure, Yodeler. See you then.”

“Not if I see you first.” I thought to myself as I made my way down the long connecting corridors that led into the main station. Soon I was passing others, Paradise Station people. Some nodded their heads at me polite. Others, not so much. Some of them looked at me like I was scum they had stepped in but couldn’t get off of their shoe. Those I simply stared back at like they were made of glass. There was nothing else I could do, not yet anyway.

They were the Cinquedea.

They held the power here on Paradise. And they held it as if it had been given to them by divine right. Sons and daughters of the very scientists that had destroyed humanity, they now lorded their heritage over the last remnants of that dead race. Living as if they were beyond touch, since it was going to take their parent’s scientific knowledge to help humanity survive their fuck up.

Walking past more and more of the glass people, the deeper into the heart of Paradise I walked, I let my eyes rest instead on the workers. The ones on their knees scrubbing the polished deck plates, cleaning already spotless bulkheads.

Doing mindless spiff work, while the station was falling apart for lack of help and available hands to keep it together. A few of these people looked at me in a different way, but then not even all of them. Some of them looked at me with that same contempt. As if their shit didn’t stink as bad as mine, in some way only they could understand.

The waiting room was empty for once, not that that mattered. I still had to sit and count the wall rivets for a half-cycle. There was an unwritten policy here on the station that anyone, not Cinquedea was required to wait for everything.

And the Cinquedea wait for nothing.

Of course.

As I sat and listened to the minute creaks and groans of the station, that only my ears were probably attuned to hear, I found myself thinking of Lindy. Not of her with Sumer, but just of her. Her smile was what always came to mind first. How she could wear such a delighted smile, given where we were and what our most likely fate was, I’ll never know. And that very lack of knowledge was attractive to me. My not knowing what made her smile added a mysterious beauty to an already beautiful woman.

Possibly one of the last of the red heads, she was very popular with the station workers, men like myself too tired to do more than enjoy a moment and join her in a smile as the best tip we could give. During one visit with her, while we rested between slaking my lust, she told me that even the Cinquedea would come to her. Slumming, with a common whore from Downside, was apparently in vogue with the young fools. That and trying to pick fights where their opponent would be banished to the muddy Luna surface to scratch out a living, competing for crop space with the thousands of refugees pouring in from the abandoned Mars colonies.

I knew better than to be doing this. Sitting here mulling over the common concern of everyone, while waiting to take a psych, was like asking for deportation.

The Cinquedea’s parents, the fuckers that killed humanity with their stupidity, didn’t tolerate any sort of mental, or physical, aberration in the lockstep society they were trying to build here on Paradise station. I was already betting on my getting the boot every day just due to my birth race.

Like in all the nations of lost Earth throughout all of history, the Roma, were not welcome here either. Gypsy-blooded was considered the worst insult you could give to anyone here. And my coal black hair, among this sea of blond and light brown, was as clear a sign as could be given.

I was Traveler stock.

The door opened and, getting to my feet, I tried to empty my mind of anything negative. Positive thought patterns. Must have positive thought patterns, to pass.

The scan takes only minutes. The wait for the result is equally short but feels like every second is hours long.

I get to stay for another day. One more day in Paradise for Templar Devereaux. The welder, station builder, repairman, miracle worker … gypsy born scum keeping all these fuckers alive. One more day to walk among humans on metal deck plates, and not mucking in the iron-heavy soil of the terraformed moon. One more day.

I headed for Downside.

The only home I had left.

* * * *

There was a smell to Downside. Not quite a stench but not a pleasant smell either. I’d tried for half a decade to track down just where that particular odor was coming from, but to no avail. The speculation was that it was some fault in the station waste processors or the water purifier system was getting a form of oxidation in some pipe that was unreachable. Or maybe …

It’s that endless list of “or maybes” and hunting through that’s kept me busy on the off hours of my day, for years. Everyone needs a hobby after all, and chasing odd smells is not as unusual as some. It’s even productive. I’ve managed to learn more about this station than I had ever known, and hell I helped build this place. Back when I was a young man, hell a kid really.

In my first years up out the gravity well, I had drifted from building project to building project. Working every odd job, there was; a gypsy in lifestyle as well as ancestry. I worked to keep the old comet “catchers” up and running, not an easy task since the youngest of them was three centuries old. Then I would be on one of the equally ancient comet “smashers” for months, drifting over the thick stormy gray atmosphere of Earth’s moon.

Frozen and then cooked, work cycle, after work cycle. Then, while still young, I had the odd bit of luck fall my way and I got conscripted to work on the new Paradise Station project. A place meant to be the Midpoint in the three day trip between Earth orbit and the newly terraformed Luna.

The main orientating center, for rich colonists escaping the overcrowding in the cities sprawls of Earth.

It had been better than half-finished when the Pale Horse Comet began a boringly routine approach. Guided by, and slowed by, gravity tractors all the way from the shadowed depths of the frozen outer solar system; it had been in motion towards the Earth’s moon for a century.

Following a pathway blazed by hundreds of its icy kin, it had approached the Moon; approached its predestined death at the grinding “hands” of those “smashers” in orbit around Luna.

But then that soul-sucking-bastard Murphy finally showed up to weigh in his opinion of the Luna terraforming project. First one “catcher” wasn’t in position, and then another failed to respond. Then frantic warnings began going out, sending panicked messages around to every possible person in charge. The Pale Horse grazed past the Luna atmosphere, brushing the misty remnants of its dead kin in sad morning perhaps before it sought its vengeance on their killers.

A gravity-assisted whip from the moon accelerated it to the point it easily pulled out the grasp of the last “catcher” in its path.

Walking through Downside, I played over in my mind that moment, when everyone knew … not guessed but knew, that humanities days on Earth were numbered in scant hours. The mindless, helplessness that had fallen over everyone in orbit that day. That mad scramble by everyone from the near-orbit stations, to midpoint stations like this, and even to the half-build Luna colony, had tried, frantically try to figure out some way to stop inevitability.

Then there was the Failed Sacrifice.

That’s what they called it, once word of what happened finally made its way around the survivors of humanity. Using some rich playboy’s pleasure yacht, Gabriel Queen–the person most hold responsible–had tried to turn the comet into a less destructive “window” perhaps enough to make it break upon its approach. That was what they said he had tried to do when he landed the yacht on the comet surface, grappled it down and pushed the engines till they redline, then beyond that till the last of the fuel was gone.

Then Queen rode the comet into the Earth’s atmosphere and died screaming into his mic that he was sorry, and begging for humanity to forgive him.

“Behold a Pale Horse, and the man who sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him,” I muttered unthinking. Then I quickly looked around to see if any had heard. That quote was now punishable by exile, since the Martyr Queens elevation to sainthood by his fellow world killing scientists. Hell, he was all but worshiped by the Cinqueda, the whole butt kissing lot of them.

Walking through the familiar stench of Downside, nodding to the familiar faces, the ones that smiled, and even sometimes to the ones that didn’t. Here it was not like it was up above. Here people didn’t look at you like you were garbage just because your hair was blacker than space. No, here they had to have a reason to hate you.

That I had worked on the “catchers” was enough for a few.

Every tragedy has to have a scapegoat and Gabriel Queen was nothing but ashes among the ashes. I took their dislike, their hate and walked past not giving a sign that it hurt like it did. These people were alive because of me and others like me. We, the workers, had in those frantic days, when suicide rates were higher than sixty percent, had grabbed humanity by the collective ass and got it working to survive again. Hundreds of us had died in those first weeks.

Ninety to a hundred work cycles, out in the cold vacuum, living on stims and little else, working till bodies broke and minds shattered under stresses never before endured, we had gotten this half-built station habitable.

Then we expanded it, as gravity tugs had begun to round up the broken remnants of the near earth stations. Most of the thousands of satellites that swarmed around Earth had been destroyed in the impacts of smaller comet training debris, but some parts of them had been salvageable. We, the workers, had begun the task of fusing those broken bits to this station, expanding it. Huge hydroponic growing habitats were needed to provide humanity’s lost bastards with food. Clean water and processed air also came from those habitats.

There had even been hope. A little.

For a few weeks signals had still come up from the Earth, humanities last death screams, some panicked, some calm simply giving details that burned images into nightmares for us, the survivors. Cities aflame, with human fat, skin, and bone as the fuel, slow cooking till the blackened smoke choked out the oxygen and left cold ashes. Ashes buried under snow. Winter cold descended, under those never ending clouds. Frozen people began then begging for help from people struggling to live themselves.

Then the voices began to fall silent.

Now, it had been decades since the last human voice was heard from Earth. It was believed that all of humanity that survived were either living an animal existence—little different from our cave dwelling ancestors–or they were here.

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