by Jean McIntosh © 2002

Vinnie could hardly believe his luck. He’d made it to the moon all right and carried out the hit on the victim designated. Then while he was still wiping blood off his hands, two Lunar Patrol cops spotted his lunar lander. They’d chased him for a while, but he had lost them when he sideswiped a solar cruiser; the heavier vehicle had flipped over, exploding across the moon’s bright dust. He had let them to clean up the casulties while he hightailed it to the dark side of the moon. He was just congrau lating himself on his brains when the “loonie” blew a fuel rod, leaving him stranded in the middle of the dark side of the moon.

He checked his oxygen supply of his space suit. Two hours of air. On the other side of the moon, that would have been enough to walk to the next mining settlement and get a new fuel rod. Most of the miners preferred to work on the right side of the moon, where they could see the sun and watch the swirling blue globe of the earth. But here on the dark side of the moon, there was nothing except eternal blackness, garbage dumps and radiation waste, and other things earth had no further use for. On the dark side of the moon, two hours of air was just enough to curse his own stupidity as he slowly suffocated.

He dragged in a deep breath of his thinning air. Five thousand credits for the murder, enough to buy a thousand hours of oxygen, and nowhere to buy it! He shook his head and looked up. And saw a tiny blue light appear on the horizon.

Great, I’m already hallucinating. he thought. I need help so much, I’m seeing things. Then he heard the distant rumble of a lunar lander. I’m saved! he thought. He jumped up and down, waving his laser light. In a few minutes, an ancient lunar lander pulled up beside him. The passenger door hissed open.

“Hello, stranger.” said a musical, feminine voice. “Climb in.”

Vinnie clambered in beside the driver. He couldn’t see much of his rescuer through the helmet of her space suit, but he caught a glimpse of blond hair and the gleam of green eyes. He thought he had died and gone to heaven.

“I’m Frank Gontrell.” he said, using one of his many alias. “You must be an angel.”

Her laugh was low. “No, I’m Dr. Lucosi.” she said. “I’m studying the half life of radiation. I was out patrolling here when I saw your laser signal. Lucky for you.”

And bad luck for you. Vinnie thought. Even though her space suit hid her body, he could tell she was small and slight. It would be easy for him to knock her out, take her lunar lander and race back to the moon base before the cops caught up with him.

“Lonely place for a pretty lady.”

She turned her cool green gaze to him. “It has its advantages.”

Especially to me. Vinny gloated. Better let her take him back to her bio dome and stock up on food and fuel rods. Then he’d play with her for a while. Since she had been kind enough to pick him up, he return the favor; he’d kill her quickly by smashing in her skull, instead of dragging it out for his own fun.

Soon she pulled up in front of a small bio-dome, its bubble top glowing green in the darkness. The door swung open and she drove into the garage. “You can change out of your space suit here.” she said. “I’ll change in the kitchen.”

“Thanks, doc.” Vinnie said. When she disappeared through the door, he changed out his space suit, then he picked up a tire wrench from her tool table. Yeah, that would do. Smash in her skull with one shot, then head back to civilization.

He opened the door and walked into the kitchen, where the short doctor was rummaging through her cupboards.

“Would you like something to drink?” she called, her back to him. He walked toward her, the wrench hidden behind his back.

“Some wine, if you have it.” he grinned.

“Sorry,” she answered as he raised the wrench above her blond head. “I never drink wine.”

Suddenly, she whirled with panther like speed. One small hand shot out and seized his shirt front in a crushing grip. She lifted him up as easily as a kid lifts a kitten. Vinnie choked and gurgled. The wrench clattered to the floor.

“I do, however, indulge occasionally.” she said. “After all, sometimes it’s an advantage to live where the sun never shines.” And she smiled, showing her fangs.

x x x

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