Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fast Fiction: A Sedate Escape

My friend Patricia posted a challenge to a writing group I'm part of:
What does your past or future Malaysia look like, 50-60 years from today? Write it as a story or a poem, both works.
Bonus Points: If your character(s) speak in Manglish or variations thereof
Double Bonus Points: If your setting has magic/future tech
Triple Bonus Points: If it's Malaysia in outer space WITHOUT referencing politics 

Something went bump above the cabin.

"Kek sei," Mariam swore beneath her breath. "Cannot catch a break, is it."

"Jaga mulut, dear," Linli idly commented, running a finger across the screen of her eyeReader5.5. Mariam had promised to report her for Xixocatlan contraband, but Mariam tended to break her promises.

"You jaga kerja first, can?" Mariam snapped, unbuckling and pushing off towards the ceiling. "I thought I fixed the thing already." She regretted, not for the first time, not shelling out for a better ship. This first-gen kapalangkasa felt held together by duct tape and coconut twine. It was serviceable, and would do until they reached their destination, but the amount of little fixes that had to be done to prevent getting blown apart was slightly unnerving. 

"I hope you did," Linli said mildly, "because if you didn't, we will get lost. Again. This time in uncharted space." 

They had been traveling at the edges of charted space that had been mapped by the ASEAN (Asian Space Engineering & Astral Navigation) agency. Which was, sadly, quite a while ago and no one had bothered to update the charts since. Why bother when the known charts worked so well for everybody? Especially the pirates, because pirates loved making their own maps, and loved that no one else had their maps either. 

Mariam made a face like she had eaten a raw Venusian limau. "Don't talk so much, or else it'll come true," she scolded. 

Linli gave her a Look. Mariam recognized it; Linli had given it to Mariam's brother all the time. Abdullah had had the bad habit of talking cock, drawing long-suffering gazes from his loved ones, all the time. It was a married couple kind of Look. It brightened Mariam's mood immediately. 

As Mariam opened the panel in the vicnity of the offending noise, a beep went off on the panel at her station.

"I'll get it," Linli said, putting aside her reader and floating over. She connected the viewer. "Oh."

"I heard that and it does not sound good."

"It's, uhm, Abdullah."

"Oh, okay okay okay." Mariam worked a little faster. 

"Turn off the homing sensor!" Linli almost shrieked. 

"Aiyo, relek can," Mariam grumbled. 

"Missile, wei!" Linli buckled herself back at her station and grabbed the manual pilot controls. 

Mariam found herself tossed to the back of the cabin, a wire in her hand. Well, at least she'd gotten the homing sensor dismantled in good time. She glanced up to the screens at the navigation panels. "We're going into pirate space?" she yelled. 

"You want to see your brother? I open airlock now." 

Mariam was sure that there was something wrong with the logic but she pulled herself back into her chair anyway and buckled up. "Message incoming," she announced. "Looks like Khalil's signal, though."

It was Khalil's, but it was Abdullah's voice that shrilly bounced all over the cabin: "YOU STOLE MY SHIP?"

Mariam and Linli glanced at each other, then around the ship, then back at each other. 

"And your wife," Mariam replied, while Linli looked nonplussed at her soon-to-be ex-husband's priorities. 

"And my wife!" Abdullah roared. "Tak malu, ke!" 

Linli shut off the channel, then set the ship into overdrive.

"The ship can't take that speed!" Mariam panicked. "I notchet finish the modifications!" 

Linli shrugged. "Then we die lor." 

Mariam cursed in her six languages and four dialects, then released a string of prayers and recited several relevant Quranic verses. "Don't fall apart," she moaned, "don't you dare fall apart, bongkah!"

When she glanced around, she found Linli giving her bedroom eyes and a nasty grin. 

"Later," she said. "Get us out of here!"

"Okeh, beb." 

The kapalangkasa seemed to protest the speed Linli pushed it towards. 

When they breached uncharted space, Linli zeroed in on the first available asteroid cave. Without the homing sensor, Khalil and Abdullah wouldn't be able to find them. They stayed put several days, just in case. Or so they told themselves, rolling around in zero gravity when not in bed. 

"There are pirates out here," Mariam reminded Linli. "We should fix the ship up."

When they finally emerged from the asteroid, they found themselves face-to-face with what looked like a tiny armada. Linli sourly opened a channel for Abdullah. 

"Well?" He sounded smug and triumphant. 

They exchanged glances. 

"Kek sei," Linli said, and put the ship into overdrive again. 

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