Martian Adventures: Ronnie’s Birthday Part 4

Jim’s communicator went silent again, and he spat one of Mr. Barrie’s curses.  "Where’s the observation post?" 

Ronnie’s dad raked his hands through his thinning hair.  "It’s in an old part of the station.  It’s sealed off.  There shouldn’t be any way in." 

"Well, she’s in a ventilation shaft.  One of them must lead into the sealed off part, right?" Jim asked. 

Mr. Dad nodded.  "Yeah, but I don’t know which one." 

"Do you have the station schematics?" Jim asked, thankful that he’d learned how to read them. 

Ronnie’s dad nodded.  He opened them up on his computer, then turned the screen so Jim could see.  "The observation post is here."  He tapped a tiny room.  "It looks like there’s only one air vent.  It’s pretty small, and it hasn’t been maintained since we sealed that part of the station off.  It must have collapsed under her weight."  

Jim traced the ventilation shaft.  "I’ll go in after her."   

"Jim, if it didn’t hold her weight, it won’t hold yours." 

"These sections–the blue ones–should be strong enough.  They’re reinforced.  These red ones are where things’ll get dangerous.  But we don’t have any other choice.  I’m not that much bigger than her, and I’ve spent time in the ventilation shafts before.  And I’m still lighter than any of the maintenance robots.  I can get her out, Mr. Barrie.  I know I can." 

Mr. Barrie stared at him for a long moment, then nodded.  "I should make you wake your mother, get your parents’ permission." 

"I’ll go get some ropes and a safety harness."  Jim ran before Ronnie’s dad could change his mind.  Ronnie needed him.  

About Jamie

Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cats. She has over 160 short fiction credits, and has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. She has a novella and two short story collections available from Air and Nothingness Press. In addition to writing, she spends her time reading, playing tabletop RPGs, baking, and hiking. You can find her online at

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