The ice miner CSF Buddywasisname coasted into the Kuiper belt without much fanfare. They were on their seventh run of the season. The monotony of the mining runs for water, methane, and ammonia seldom had any excitement. This partly explained the illicit cases of Screech that had been under the bunk of 1st Assistant Engineering Mate George Goodfellow. The key phrase is "had been". The rest of the explanation for this contraband would be that today, by the old calendar reckonin', is Regatta Day. A wee dram, or four, of the dark stuff in the Captain's coffee and he wasn't too particular about, well, much of anytin'.
George had been celebratin' since he woke up. So was his buddy an' his buddy's buddy. Oh hell, everybody had been into the sauce. 'Cept the first mate, dat is. Cordy McVey was a serious lot. He was standing second watch; crisply turned out in his aubergine and orange tunic, dress slacks, braided gold cord perfectly aligned on his left shoulder, and an orange wedge perched jauntily on his head. He glanced at the propulsion figgers' at the engineerin' station, then leaned in close to the course plottin' machine. He didn't want the good ship Buddywasisname to crash into one of the objects it was intendin' to be scoopin' up. It wasn't going to either, according to the plotter sure 'nuff, so he took to relaxin' a might.
Cordy inhaled deeply. Three decks away an' he could still smell the fish 'n brewis. His tummy rumbled. Here it was Regatta day and he drew the damn watch. Just my luck by jiggers, he lamented to himself.
Cordy had wanted a posting on one of the Earth Expansion Force exploratory vessels. However, his bum knee, an old curling injury, prevented that opportunity. He had tried for a position on an Interstellar Space Service luxury liner, the ISS Stephen Hawking. However, no one on the crew could understand a bloody word he was saying, so they said. His thick Corner Brook accent was limiting his options as much as his dodgy joint. Cordy went over to the Captain's chair and sat down, heavily. He was alone on the bridge, alone in his misery. The only option that had remained open to him was the homegrown Commercial Service Fleet. The entire section of the CSF that dealt with belt mining, was based just west of Stephenville, back on the rock. All seventy-two of the spaceships mining the Kuiper Belt and the Oort cloud were from Newfoundland. They were exclusively crewed by the good people from that small slice of island heaven. Cordy was very happy, however, that he hadn't been assigned to the CFS Comebychance ...or the Universal Rescue Alliance's local presence, also from Stephenville. It was yet another ship named after a Newfoundland town, the Dildo.
"Cardy!? Cardy b'y!? Ya dere wha?" The voice blatted over the intercom speaker. Cordy turned and stepped over to it, but not fast enough. Just as he was about to hit the transmit switch, George said, "Don't be never mindin' me son, keep doin' whats yer doin'! Just stay where y'at b'y, I'll come where yer to!"
A few moments later, hearing the clumping of work boots and booze induced belching in the corridor, the bridge hatch exploded inwards, a none-too-small cloud of alcohol vapours rushing in behind it.
"Ahhh! There ya to! I been lookin fer ya'."
Cordy looked at George. George stuck his head through the bulkhead hatch, leanin' with a list on the frame, eyes like a caplin goin' off shore, crooked smile on his mug.
"Fish n' brews is hat an de heat, b'y! I cooked up enough for a schooner's crew, I sure did! Comin' or wha?" George asked with a big toothy smile. No one, not a single one in the CFS, could fry up some fish n' brewis the way Georgie-Boy could.
"Kanna come yet b'y. Gots ta get wee Andy up here ta stand to!"
George chuckled some, "Cardy b'y, Andy's soused up ta da gills wha! He been in the brine all marnin'!"
Poor Cordy closed his eyes in frustration, rubbing his forehead. George stumbled forward a few steps, then paused, weaving, trying to focus on the forward viewscreen. "Well lookie b'y, we just beatin' da pat dere wha? Can't hurt us to miss nuttin' if ya come fer yer tea!"
Cordy looked at George, "B'y! We be in deep space ya daft ol' bat! We kenna leave da steerin's ta da wind, wha? Wouldn't be no good to go ta da scoff n' scuff if we rams a space-berg, wouldn't it now?"
George laughed at him, "Ya ol' sod, ain't nuttin' but space out dere! Lookie the viewer-thingamabob, nuttin' but nuttin' and stars, wha?"
Cordy turned back to the viewscreen, "Dem stars isn't stars Gargie-b'y, dems da icebergs we be snatchin' n' catchin'. Dey's real close b'y, real close."
"Ahh, whatever," George turned around, waving his hand dismissively at the fist mate, "Suit yoursef' me ol' trout, suit yoursef'. The cèilidh's near underway though, Fibber's rosini' up his bow, gonna start the reels soon as the scarfin's done."
George stepped through the hatch and headed towards the ladder between decks.
"Hatch ain't an aresehole!" yelled Cordy, "Won't close itsef'!". A moment later, George had stomped back to the hatch and slammed it shut, dogging it tight.
Cordy thought about what George had said. It was indeed a whole lot of space out there, with not much in it, Kuiper belt or no Kuiper belt. In his four full months of service, a veteran of two ice mining runs, Cordy surmised that a ship could blithely pound around out here for its full service life and never run into nuthin'. The smell a the scoff was indeed fetchin', making his tummy rumble even more.
Shag it, he thought, Course plotter didn't say nuttin' out here on the tickle to get all jumped up about. Cordy stood and headed for the hatch, his tummy leadin' the way. He shut the hatch behind him, dogging it tight again. If he'd waited half a tick, he'd have seen the small red warning light activate on the plottin' machine.
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