by H. A. Titus -
Cara rattled the lid on a metal storage container. "Pieter, this one's stuck!"
She heard his footsteps clanging overhead, then Pieter jumped down into the cargo hold, forgoing the ladder, and hunched to avoid banging his head. He wedged his fingers under the lip of the container and pulled hard. After a few jerks, the lid popped open.
Cara peered inside. The container was a jumble of clothes and cables.
"Why are we cleaning again?" she asked, lifting a stained shirt out of the mess with a pinkie finger.
Pieter shrugged, took the shirt, and tossed it on the ever-growing pile of garbage. "The Anchor is due for a clean. It's not like we'll be going anywhere soon."
Cara nodded. One the sensors were installed, Pieter would be allowed to fly as long as he stayed away from hotspots frequented by smugglers. It was just the installation that was taking so long. She reached into the box, jerked out a tangle of cables, and tossed them to the side. Pieter turned to sorting them as Cara dug into the box. More clothes, more wires, more clothes—
"By all the stars in the sky!" she said, pulling out yet another wad of clothing. "How many clothes do you need in space?"
"Oh, half of those were disguises that I never needed." Pieter grinned sheepishly. "I have a weakness for disguises."
"I guess so." Cara looked into the box to see how much more she had to go, and drew a sharp breath. A book sat at the bottom of the container. A print book. An old print book, by the look of it.
She carefully fit her hands around it and drew it out. The soft suede cover was spiderwebbed with tiny cracks. The book was sturdier than she first thought. The pages, though yellow and thin, were sill attached to the binding.
"What's this?" she asked Pieter.
He glanced at it and shrugged. "An old family book my mom gave me. Said it was the only possession left from our ancestor on the generation ship. I've had it buried in my boxes of stuff for years. Never was one for books."
Hmm. Might be worth a look at. First time I've ever gotten the chance to read a print book. Cara put it to the side and continued sorting through the garbage. She'd read it tonight, if she got the chance.