“Sparky! It’s time to get back to the bunk! I want dinner!” Andromeda called to her dog. Sparky was sniffing at a green shrub close to the walkway. He turned and spoke through his “Speech Collar”
“Missy, I want to sniff this one last shrub. I gotta see who’s been here. Hmph!” Sparky turned to keep sniffing.
Andromeda rolled her eyes. She loved Sparky but ever since she bought the speech collar, she was learning how stubborn her terrier really was.
“Want some food? A treat?” Sparky’s head quickly turned to Andromeda.
“I want a TREAT! Treat treat tre–eat!” Sparky was singing a little jingle. Andromeda laughed as they both made their way back to the base. She and Sparky had just moved there with her family. Andromeda’s father was a Space Engineer. These people helped to maintain different parts of the machinery that made it possible to have outposts on different planets. Andromeda and her family had just arrived at Planet 678. It was called this because it took 678 days for this planet to get around the Sun. But Andromeda liked to call this planet Aquarius. She felt that this name suited the planet better. After all this hunk of rock was just floating through the air, no special rings or moons and no atmosphere either.
Andromeda’s earpiece buzzed. She tapped it and glanced down at her wrist com. It was her mom.
“Hi mom,” she said.
“Ani, it’s time for dinner! We’re all seated at the table!” her mom said.
“Got it mom! Sparky was just being stubborn.” Andromeda looked down and Sparky winked at her. He was still humming his “treats” song. “We’ll be there asap.” Andromeda tapped her ear piece again.
“Alright Sparky Mom just gave the okay to make a dash back to the house.” Andromeda said and started to run. It felt good to let her legs move fast down the hallway. Sparky was shouting after her.
“Run! Run! Run!” His little leggs quickly gained on her and he sped down the corridor to her family’s unit on the base. When she arrived at the door, her brother, Maffei, was holding open the door. Her brother was 3 years younger but just as fiercely competitive as her.
“Hurry up!!” was her brother’s “Welcome Home” and he turned and ran back to the dinner table. It was a rule in her family that they always waited until everyone was at the table to start eating. Her mom mentioned manners, dad said it was tradition, Andromeda always thought it was nice, unless you were the one keeping everyone waiting. She unbuckled her boots and went into the dining room.
“Ah Andi,” her father said with a warm smile. His shiny bald black head reflected the light from the light over the dinner table. “Let’s get started, everyone,” he said.
Andromeda took a seat and started to pass the food so that her mom could start to serve Maffei. She noticed that they had mac and cheese and some green beans. Yum! The food here was surprisingly good. Andromeda knew her dad was part of the team that made sure the agricultural plants were fully functioning and producing top quality foods. She crunched on a green bean.
“You know hun” her mom was saying to her dad. Mom’s curly black hair looked purple in the weird lighting of the room. Her mom’s skin was lighter than her father’s but they were both proud Afro-Earthers with strong ties to their ancestry. Back on Earth, Mom had been a professor at a college in London. She taught physics. So when Dad had the opportunity to live on Planet 678 for a season, mom couldn’t wait.
“Hun, I think that you should take Andromeda out on your parole tomorrow. It would be a good way for her to see more of the base. Since I have to teach remote and everything, I feel like she and Maffei haven’t been out of the house that much.”
“True true.” Dad said, rubbing his forehead. “Parole tomorrow should be pretty straight forward. What do you think of Andromeda? Do you want to see where these green beans are grown?”
Before she could answer Maffei cut in “Hey Dad! I want to go too!” She and Maffei hadn’t started school on the base. Apparently there was some paperwork that needed to be sent through. So they both had ample time to get bored of their family unit.
“No bud, you need to be at least 16 years old to enter a worksite farming zone.”
Andromeda smiled. “Yes! I would love to go! I have been wanting to explore more of the base. Maybe even see the flight training deck!”
Sparky joined in her excitement beneath the table. “Yes! We can see the whole place! And Run Run run!!”
“Ani,” her mom said. “Can you turn off the speech thingy while we are at the table?” Her mom said. Her mom hadn’t thought the newest Speech Controller was such a fun device.
Andromeda tapped her wrist and spoke into her wrist com. Then all you could hear was Sparky’s yips which weren’t as bad as hearing him go on and on about running fast.
“It’s settled then” dad said. “Let’s get out tomorrow first thing!” Andromeda couldn’t wait! She and her family finished their dinner and retired to their bedrooms. Andromeda picked up Sparky and set him on her bed and then she climbed into the bed. It was a cozy bunk that was in the wall. She turned Sparky’s speech back on.
“What do you think we will see tomorrow bud?” she asked.
“I want to see a bush and a tree.” Sparky said. She giggled and pet his head.
“I don’t think there will be any trees there bud.”
“But maybe I will see a squirrel and I can run fast, fast, fast. Faster than a fox. Faster than a bunny. Faster than a-”
Andromeda smiled and switched off the light, slowly lulled to sleep by her dog’s continuous ramblings. She couldn’t wait for tomorrow