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Random Fiction #1 – 112618

David Haust worked the numbers on the combination lock to the storage unit inside the rover.

“Why did NASA decide to use such old technology to hide away the secrets in this mess?” he wondered.

His fingers turned the dial and worked the magic lock, like that time in the first day of 7th grade and he couldn't get his locker open, meaning he was late for his sixth-period science class. After three tries, he gave up and limped to the science room empty handed, his books safely hidden behind a layer of sheet metal.

The science teacher, a kindly older man a few years shy of retirement, took time out of the first day of class to walk him back to the locker. He showed him the trick to that combination lock, the small fact that one had to go fast three times before entering the first number.

“That's it!” David yelled as his memory settled on that piece of info he once deemed useless. “That's the trick to opening this damn thing.”

Martin Waxcom stared at David like he was an idiot. “You're the dumbest rocket scientist I know,” he said, shoving David out of the way as he manhandled the lock. With a brute force tug, he pulled it free from the handle and it separated into a million pieces.

Being in a war zone on a hostile planet filled with space invaders wasn't a bad thing, especially when David had someone the size of Martin with him.

Standing an impressive 6'6″ and weighing in just shy of 130 kilos, Martin was the brick shithouse of the operations, the thug protector of the mission. It also didn't hurt that nothing could hurt him. His former life turned sour when he was just 24 and stepped on a mine in Iraq back on Earth. The orderlies rushed in to save him and then they had to think fast. A new team lurched into view and worked him into a mutant, a hush-hush project brought on by a dark money group hell-bent on putting new things into play.

“I was just about to open it the old-fashioned way,” David said. “You know, with using the combination. You didn't have to destroy it. What if there were explosives in there and your animal instinct got us all blown up?”

“You'd have been shielded from the blast, little man,” Martin said, puffing out his chest. “Nothing can kill me, at least that's what they say.”

“Well, still, let me try all the way through next time, will ya?” David slumped back into the light, stepping out of the shadow Martin cast over the scene. His own 5'9″ body was no match for the brawn of his teammate, but his brain was the most crucial piece of this mission.

“What did you want out of here anyway?” Martin asked. “The armory is in the back of the rover mod, not here.” He pulled back the crumpled gray metal door. A sheath of papers fell from the top shelf, a sudden draft of wind pulling them into view. Another gust of wind blew them around the room, mistaking things for something important.

“They didn't tell me they were paper documents,” David said, rifling through the interior of the leather sheath, desperate for more info on why the agency hid them in such a hurry.

Paper supplies hadn't been used in that sector for nearly twenty years when a big productivity and efficiency push by the foreign spy office declared an end to paper. All documents after that were to be electronic files to save space and not kill any more trees.

“Do you even know how to read this one?” Martin asked. “All I see are random Russian characters. I never took Russian in school once the glasnost and peace process ended the Cold War.”

He held out the paper for David to translate. Russian was his second language since his mom was a Russian emigre during an earlier period. He couldn't believe what he read. He looked off into the distance as the paper fell out of his hand, floating back and forth before settling into the dusty cobwebs at their feet.

Martin didn't like that look. He'd seen it a few times in the month they'd been together scavenging pillars of salt from any rover they could find.

He rushed forward as David fell backward, crumpling to the floor in a heap. Martin's massive forearm cushioned the blow as he knelt down to rest David gently on the dank. He wasn't about to let David inflict another concussion on himself.

His mind had already been scrambled the first time it happened, and he hit the deck without warning. It took a few days before David came around again and Martin had no interest in twiddling his thumbs playing Words with a random Boru bot while his partner was out cold.

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.

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