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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

From the SHOWCASE archives...

Fiction: • “No Accounting for Taste,” by Lance J. Mushung •



I sat on a bench on one side of the small, battleship-gray drop bay of my patrol cutter, Oliveria. The last month and a half of the patrol had been mind-numbing, but taking a ship of wasters into custody would soon make it all worthwhile.

Wasters violated the regulations prohibiting the dumping or processing of toxic waste anywhere except on Ogre, a rogue planet at the edge of nowhere. However, with typical perversity, the government had made the regulations difficult to enforce. It stipulated wasters had to be caught red-handed, and that was exactly what I intended.
The other two humans of my crew, Ngoc and Dieter, were sitting on the bench across from me. The faceplates of our sky-blue environment suits were open, allowing me to study their expressions with no trouble. Ngoc’s delicate light tan features indicated satisfaction, the look of a person about to right a wrong. Dieter’s Nordic face looked eager.

I needed no mirror to know my expression. During a drunken celebration right after graduation, I’d overhead fellow graduates talking about me. One had said, “Antha’s face changes from pretty and gentle to feral and fierce whenever she anticipates action.”

Dieter twisted toward Ngoc. “I wonder why the wasters come here instead of just dumping their tox into a star somewhere? There’s much less chance of getting caught that way.”

“You can ask when we have them. All I know is Mother Nature here will thank us.”

I ignored their ensuing chatter and whispered to Olive, Oliveria’s A.I. and pilot, using my suit mic and our private frequency. “I’d like to work on the summary of an arrest report.”

Olive answered in her distinctive melodic voice, “Ready for dictation...”

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