Kaye was dropping off some of her knitting at the medical facility when she heard the sales pitch.
“Ya wanna fly? Really fly? Not like those poddies, wrapped in goo and so ‘connected to the ship’ that they don’t hold controls, don’t feel the thrill.”
She slowed and stood by the doorway labelled ‘Terminal Ward, Paliative only’.
The recruiter wore a flight jacket from a previous era with playing cards splayed across the back. “Ya ya, you could lie here. Be a drag on your family incomes and watch the scenery out the window over there.”
She looked at the window facing the blank wall of another wing of the hospital.
“But I mean going up there. Controls under your hands, flying in a wing of fighter bombers against ships that would blacken the sky if they ever came here. Hitting back at the universe that put you in this room. A chance to be something, to do something or . . . you can lie here, and wait to die.” He paused. “The Aces and Eights are hiring right now. you sign with us and we pick up your medical costs right off the bat. We get you into simulators and train you with pay and then you get to fly. Out there you are the light in the darkness. You are in control and you are earning cash above an beyond covering your medical bills. It is your last chance to not be a debt load on your families, a memory of someone wasting to a skeleton in a hospital bed. Fly the fighter bombers . . . come with me and be one of the Aces and Eights”
The recruiter stepped back and looked across the ward then moved in to hand out forms and take down names. Kaye watched as he quietly encouraged and reasssured hesitent men and women into signing up for their last jobs. He even approached her. “How about it missy? Ready for a life among the stars?”
Kaye swept her hair back to show the plug at the base of her skull. “Ever feel like a vulture? Doing this job?”
“No ma’am. Docs say I got about another 5 months to live. I been out there flying and I want others to get the same chance I did. They pay me a commision for each one I bring in but hell, I’d do it for free. Weren’t no sales pitch, it were the truth. Give the choice between dying in a bed or in a cockpit it is a no brainer. No offense intended, but is the flying a pod what you expected? Or were you hoping for a a yoke in your hands and a throttle at your feet? Leaning into a turn and lighting the afterburners to scream towards a target? We FLY, missy, you command.”
Kaye nodded. “You are right, and I apologise for the question. One day I may fly a carrier and I hope I can have people who care as much about what they do as you.”
Flash Fiction Friday submission