It took Roderick and Emma close to an hour to walk back to town and the sun was just starting to get blocked out by Sub-Prime Alpha. The problem was when the sun was blocked out by the planet it would take three days for it to come back out on the other side of the massive planet. It was going to be dark for quite some time and Roderick preferred to be back in town by the time the sun was completely out of the picture for the next seventy two hours. He had nothing to worry about as both he and Emma made good time and were back with sunlight to spare. Usually, Roderick would b-line for one of the salons for something to eat, but considering that he had a child with him, it was probably best to return the little girl to her home first.
The township of Huntersville was not exactly something you would expect to see considering the technology that was available in the twenty-fifth century. Much like the Amish of the past, these folks preferred to live off as little technology as possible. They used technology help them with their food supply because the seasons were too out of whack to grow a crop on their own. That still never stopped some from trying. Walking into Huntersville, you would have sworn you walked back into the Wild West, which was always why Roderick volunteered to come out to this colony. He liked them and their simple ways, and they liked Roderick for not being a judgmental prick like the some of the other members of the Patrol. The town looked very nostalgic, something that his fellow patrolmen just couldn’t appreciate.
Once they strolled within the town limits, Roderick took one knee. “Emma, I need you to walk me to your parent’s house. I’ll make sure they go easy on you. Okay?”
The young girl nodded. “Okay.”
Roderick walked with Emma as she led the way to a small cabin that near the outskirts of town. Once they reached the door, Roderick softly knocked on the door and waited. A few moments later, a lady about twenty years older than Emma opened the door.
“Emma! Where have you been?” a moment later she realized that her daughter wasn’t alone. “I’m sorry, who are you?”
“Good evening Ma’am.” Roderick replied. “My name is Commander Benjamin Roderick of the Rocket Patrol.”
“Commander.” She acknowledged. “Is Emma in trouble?”
“No Ma’am.” Roderick replied. “I just bumped into her outside town and since I was heading this way, I wanted to make sure she got home safely.”
“Oh, thank you.” the lady replied as she opened the door a little more. “Emma, go wash up for dinner.”
“Have a good night, Ma’am.” Roderick said as he began to back up.
“Good night, and thank you for bringing Emma home.” She replied.
“My pleasure.” Roderick said before walking back toward the road. As he strolled down towards the salon, he calmly whispered. “Inform command that I have arrived in Huntersville for assignment.”
Things looked the same as they usually did in the rural town. People were doing their business, walking around. Motorized vehicles were not permitted in town, only horses and carriages. It was a custom Roderick went out of his way to respect every time he came to visit and conduct his monthly reviews.
“Monitor all channels,” Roderick started, “Contact me if there are any unauthorized life signs within two hundred miles of town. Maintain radio silence unless something urgent comes up or until asked.”
Roderick had been here many times before, so he was getting a good feel for how the town was mapped out. He was polite and greeted every person he passed with a nod, wishing them a good evening. As a member of the Patrol, he wanted to be friendly and outgoing so that when people did have problems, they would not be afraid to approach him. Sending the same patrolman into Huntersville was also a wise move as it built trust among the townspeople who were very untrusting of the people who lived off of advanced technology. Roderick has been making this run into Huntersville for almost two years and compared to the first time he showed up, he could tell the folk here were getting used to him. It was a gradual process and while the other patrolmen couldn’t grasp the idea of living out on the moon with only the most basic tech, Roderick enjoyed visiting Huntersville as the simple life was almost like a vacation to get away from everything and recharge his batteries. Finally Roderick could see the Saloon where he always stayed when he was in town. While not the fanciest place in town to stay, Roderick has a soft spot in his heart for the old place as they not only provided a decent room to stay but having a bar and a good poker game only a few feet away didn’t hurt either. The salon’s staff was always very friendly to him as well and giving as much business to local shops was a good thing too.
As Roderick strolled through the swinging door, he could hear the barkeep call him from bar. “Ben! About time you showed yer face!”
“I had to make a detour,” Roderick said as he approached the bar. “How are things going around here Jethro?”
“Not much changes ‘round here, Ben.” Jethro replied as he set up a shot glass and filled it with homemade whiskey. “Welcome back, Commander.”
“Thanks, Jethro.” Roderick said as he picked up the glass and drained it. “Damn it, Jethro! That’s some strong shit!”
“Puts hairs on yer chest!” Jethro joked.
“That it will.” Roderick agreed.
“Magg Pie is a little upset.” Jethro said. “She doesn’t like it when you’re late. Dinner might get cold.”
“Ah, I forgot about dinner.” Roderick said as he handed his bag to Jethro. “Put that behind the bar, I’ll be right back.”
Roderick walked back to the kitchen where an older lady, around her late fifties was slaving in the kitchen to make food for the patrons. “Maggs, I’m sorry for being late.”
“You had better give me a good excuse to go with that apology, Ben.” Maggs called back out. Roderick liked Maggs. She was a hard working woman that everyone looked up to like a mother. She was also hard on him when he didn’t make his bed in the mornings, which he thought was cute.
Roderick put one leg up on the chair beside her. “Look at my boot.”
Maggs turned around and looked at his boot. “Ew, what is that shit?”
“A Sabre Lion, or what’s left of it.” Roderick said as he took his foot off the chair. “It was trying to eat a local girl who had wandered too far out of town. That’s why I’m late.”
Maggs responded by giving him a smile. “I believe you. There’s no way you’d muck up your boots just to get out of trouble.”
”That is true.” Roderick confirmed.
She gave him a hug and then playfully slapped him on the shoulder. “Now go wash up for dinner.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Roderick said as he walked out to the bathroom to wash up. He didn’t mind her mothering as it was part of the charm that he liked so much about the saloon. He went back to Jethro and took his bag and the key to his room before going upstairs. Once in his room, he changed his shirt, put his bag in the corner and went to think in his room to freshen up. Roderick had an electronic console on his left arm. It looked like a digital watch that covered over half his forearm. It was used to keep in touch with the ship as well as other things. He usually almost never took it off, and chose to wear a dress shirt so that he could hide it at the dinner table. Roderick then washed his hands as Maggs had asked and straightened out his hair before coming back downstairs for dinner.
Maggs always went all out the first night Roderick came to town, and tonight was no different. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, Corn on the cob as well as Yorkshire pudding, which Maggs made only for him. With gravy slathered all over it, Roderick enjoyed ever bite. The only way he could have complimented Maggs more would be to lick the plate. When everything was finished, Roderick helped clear the table and went back to the kitchen to help Maggs do the dishes. “Once again Maggs, that meal was to die for.”
“Thanks hun.” Maggs said without turning away from the dishes. “Is there something I can help you with?”
“Nope.” Roderick said as he grabbed a clothe and nudged her out of the way. “I’ll clean and you dry. You know where to put everything so we’ll be able to finish this a lot faster.”
“Thank you, Ben.” Maggs said with a smile as she grabbed a dish towel to do the drying.
“I’m the one who should be thanking you,” Roderick said as he started scrubbing the first plate. “You and Jethro make this trip well worth the effort. I feel like I’m visiting family, which is why I happily volunteer to come out here for the Rocket Patrol.”
“Thanks hun.” Maggs said again. “You’re proof that not all those Space Cowboys are full of themselves.”
“Many are,” Roderick confessed. “I could give you names.”
“Not necessary.” Maggs said as she slapped him in the arm with her dish towel. “Now pick up the pace up or we’ll be here all night.”