The Drop

Frank looked up into the dark smoggy sky, the drop would happen any minute now.  He shivered, even in the thermal layering of his body suit.  To think five years ago he wouldn’t of had to wear a suit, since then the pollution and radiation had been growing steadily worse.

Squinting through the haze he could see the other waiting vehicles.  Every man on his team knew what had to be done to secure the package.  It wasn’t the first time they would be risking their freedom for the operation.  Most of the guys held down legitimate day jobs below surface at the government production yards and factories. Frank was already on pension but it hardly covered the oxygen costs let alone the rent.

Tonight’s shipment would be over ten tons, if their calculations were correct then nothing would be left on the wasteland. Problem was if it was in liquid form, transportation was more difficult.  Two kilos or litres of the stuff fetched top dollar on the black market, most of it was sold to those who could afford it, they couldn’t care less where it came from.  How much did the average person earn per day, maybe at most 500 grams if they were in a top paying position, even then it would be fifty percent recycled.

His helmet intercepted the shuttle signal. “Foxtrot, we’re making the drop.  Entry should be in T minus 8”.  The voice was distant and tired.  It wasn’t easy running a boot-leg operation from other side of the moon even if it meant a fortune back on Earth, most guys didn’t get to land but maybe once every five years.  Even then you had a good chance of being caught,  suspicion of boot-legging alone came with a twenty year sentence.  What else were you doing if you weren’t part of the government funded space and exploration programmes?  The Mafia had its own operations running of course, most of their proceeds went into the government tanks in exchange for turning a blind eye.  Private funded operations like the one Frank was part of only counted for ten percent of the pure stuff.

At least they guaranteed it was 100% non-recycled.  Frank had spent the better part of 10 years on the run, four hundred and thirty trips wasn’t bad, more than eight thousand tons from the asteroid belt.  They had grounded him two years ago because of heart problems so now he had to help out with the pick-up operations which were a little less risky.  “OK Foxtrot, we’re handing over the package now, and setting course back to the belt”, his helmet wheezed static again.

The hand held tracking device flickered a pale green as he punched in the release codes.  Five thousand feet above in the starless sky the parachutes opened to break the decent of the precious cargo.  If the authorities picked up their activity they could always punch in the self destruct sequence. The whole cargo would go up in vapour & not a trace of evidence would be found.

The airlock hissed behind him as he clipped off his helmet.  He heard his wife stirring in the bedroom, she would also want a share of tonight’s spoils.  In less than a minute he had stowed away his suite and put the oxygen tanks on to refill.  He slipped his one litre flask from his shoulder bag, it was cold to touch, most of the contents had melted by now which was more natural than defrosting by microwave.  The other stock was now safely in the subterranean warehouse ready for auction next week. “How did it go?, Honey” she asked as he poured her a glass. “Not bad”, he replied as he sat down and sipped his glass of 100% pure water

 

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