PART 1 / PART October 2218; REUTERS, The United Regions Tribune:

“… The NASA – STRIX UNITED Franchise proudly announced, at a specially issued press conference, that  on Thursday, the first manned aircraft successfully circumnavigated Neptune. Using radically new technology, Cp. M. Rains caught up and overtook the fastest cyclone in the solar system, dubbed Scooter…“

Oscar sat in his dark living room and listening to the rain washing the pavement and his window. It was a gentle rain, sad and persistent. His bags were packed. Everything he possessed stored away in cardboard boxes between crumpled up newspapers. The storage space has been paid for five years. 

He was sipping his beer. Last can. The box with Chinese takeout food steamed on the coffee table. A pair of chopsticks beside it, ready to be unpacked and used. Two days to go. He was leaving the city.

It made him swallow hard. He was leaving the continent.

He had an exclusive contract with Strix, he had been hired right from the academy. He was leaving the planet.

This was important. No! It was top secret. He was leaving the inner solar system.

He thought of his thesis, and the disappointment in his father’s eyes. It wasn’t bad, but… He hated what his mentor thought about it. The young offspring of a rich family, all famous doctors. He must have talked to his father about it. The thesis was mediocre, satisfactory at best. Oscar knew that, of course he did. He wrote his thesis in two weeks, his work had been sloppy, lazy and careless. It didn’t seem important.

Another sip from the can. The beer was a bit warmer than he liked it. The liquid washed away the bitterness on his tongue. Replaced it with another kind of bitterness. An easy bitterness, easy to wipe away with fast-food, or cigarettes… Or women, maybe men. And of course, there always was gum.

His breath made little vapor clouds, they were barely visible. He felt the heat rising from his stomach to his cheeks. With one foot he nudged the coffee table aside, he wanted to smash it.

Suddenly he felt so unbelievably hungry.

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