A selection from Grave Concerns.
Lieutenant Colson crouched against the wall and shoved off, propelling himself down the corridor towards the rec room.
He glided in through the open door, breaking his momentum by grabbing onto the back of the chair where lieutenant-commander Alvarez sat watching sixty year-old reruns of The Big Bang Theory on the antique 16K television he’d brought with him from Earth and refused to part with because “the old shows just don’t look right in HV.”
“Dinner’s here,” he said, and the other looked up, his previously bored eyes now brimming with devilish delight.
“Fresh meat,” said Alvarez, rising. He paused. “And remember, this time, leave the crew alone. Don’t stare at them all crazy, don’t lick your lips. They’re not food. They bring the food. You screw with them, they stop bringing the food. Right? Are we clear?”
“Yes, yes, I know,” he said, foregoing the “sir” bit entirely, which was a bad habit he’d been falling into as of late. “Though I do enjoy the enhanced flavor that only fear and struggle bring.”
“Too gamey,” said Alvarez, frowning. He’d been contemplating giving Colson a refresher course in how to address one’s superior officers, but given that it was just the two of them stationed on the base, he supposed it didn’t matter much. “Let’s go. Lieutenant.”
They floated and bounced back down the hallway past section C.
Upon entering section D, they passed by several viewports from which they could faintly make out the supply ship through the cloud of toxic dust it had kicked up on the cold, grey lunar surface.
When they arrived at the airlock and opened it, two men in spacesuits and two bigger men with spacesuits and guns greeted them.
“Captain Jenks,” said Alvarez with a nod.
Jenks was a civilian Captain operating a private freighter contracted by Space Force, so technically, Alvarez wasn’t obligated to address him by rank. Nevertheless, he always did. Not so much out of respect, but to suggest to him that such was his motivation.
Jenks touched his helmet mic. “Good evening,” came an electronically stifled voice. “How goes it?”
“It goes,” said Alvarez, smiling with convincing warmth from his cold, blue lips. He knew they were all four deathly afraid of him and his subordinate, and though one part of him enjoyed the idea, another part of him was annoyed and even a little offended by it. “Lets get down to business, shall we? Colson, help our friends unload while I handle the paperwork.”
One of the armed men snickered, and in a split second, Colson was in his face, nose pressed against the glass of his helmet.
“What’s so funny?” He could smell the fear coursing through the man’s veins; could smell the sweat oozing out of his pores.
“Nothing,” he said. “Clearing my throat, is all.”
Colson whipped around. “Sorry, sir.”
Alvarez shot him a “What did we just talk about” glare, and the other leapt into action.
By the time the Lieutenant-commander had signed the invoice and shaken hands with the captain, Colson had emptied the entire cargo bay of its contents, save the most important cargo of all.
Alvarez bounced up the ramp into the ship and grabbed the other side of the six foot-long cylindrical stasis pod, and together they carried it into the reception area like a duo of comically strong pallbearers.
“That thing’s 700 moon weight, easy.” whispered one of the men before being promptly shushed by his commanding officer.
“Thank you Captain,” said Alvarez, who, with his hypersensitive ears, had of course heard the comment but opted to remain characteristically diplomatic and ignore it. “We’d invite you to stay for dinner, but somehow I don’t think our tastes are… compatible.”
The captain shivered, almost imperceptibly, and a nervous, awkward chuckle escaped his lips. “Well, alrighty then. See you guys next month. And, uh, try to make this one last the whole month, would ya? Command told me to ask.”
They watched the four men disappear behind the sealed door, and the almost immediate rumble of the engine beneath their feet made both of them smile.
“They were so scared,” said Colson. Did you see that one guy? He nearly defecated in his suit. Now that would be some shit to see. Get it? Shit to see.”
Alvarez sighed. “You know, sometimes I wish I hadn’t been passed up for Mars.”
“They don’t trust us enough for that,” said Colson. We’re too new. You know that. Only ancients get to go to Mars.”
“Yeah, I know. But still. It’d be nice.”
“They don’t get takeout delivery out there. It’s all bagged stuff.” He stuck out his tongue, grimacing. “Now come on, let’s get this one hooked up. I’m starving.”
When they got to the room they’d nicknamed “the pantry,” they very gently set the pod aside and stood in front of a naked, emaciated human enmeshed in an interconnected series of wires and tubes that fed it and maintained its vital functions.
“Looks like it’s time to say goodbye, Jerry,” said Colson.
“It’s disturbing that you give them names,” said Alvarez. “You know that, don’t you?”
Colson shrugged in a way that wordlessly said “Guilty.”
“Long as you know that,” said Alvarez.
They began the removal process, and Colson’s nose crinkled when a bit of pale yellow protein paste from one of the newly disconnected tubes splattered his jumpsuit.
“Yuck. How do you stand that stuff, Jerry?”
A pathetic groan escaped Jerry’s dry, cracked lips.
“Yeah,” said Colson. “I guess you’re right. I shouldn’t complain. After all, it’s what makes your blood so rich in vitamins and nutrients. Part of a well-balanced breakfast!”
Alvarez sighed. “Alright, alright. Shaddup. Wanna do the honors and finish him off so we can put him in waste?”
“Gladly,” said Colson, baring his fangs. He sank them into Jerry’s neck.
I wrote this story during my lunch hour at work earlier today. It occurred to me that vampires would make perfect astronauts: They don’t age, which makes them perfect for long-term missions. They also don’t require oxygen, and they’d be impervious to muscle atrophy, organ displacement, and other problems faced by spacefaring humans. Also, they don’t eat. Much.