The springs, a mineral rich byproduct of the station’s gas mining process, occupied an entirely separate ring above the top deck of the inn. A hundred meters across, the spa spun on a gear independent of the main station gravity fields. An oasis of steamy pools and faux rocks tucked between the barren waste of the black and the hubbub of the refueling docks, the spa provided a singular draw for spacers of all walks. The centrifugal force of the spin held the steaming mineral waters in the synthetic rocky channels wending through the space-bound paradise like a low-grav river.
Atom, clad in a fluffy robe, carried a naked Margo through the lock that linked the springs to the inn.
A squeal of delight escaped the girl’s lips when she saw the swirling pools and the lavender scented steam rising from the mineral waters. After the lift dropped them to the floor of the ofuro ring, she squirmed until Atom set her down on the synth-stone pavers. Shameless in her innocence, she bolted for the nearest pool of mist-wreathed water like a little brown missile, only to stop at the very edge to squat down and poke a finger into the water.
Her face lit with delight and she plopped down on the edge to dangle her toes in the steaming water.
Atom, with more discretion, draped his robe across the back of a chair and slipped into the waters beneath Margo’s perch. He drifted deeper into the waters with a contented sigh, allowing the heat to seep into his sore neck and leg. Closing his eyes, he leaned back against the rock and listened to the trickling water that fell in a spreading, three-hundred-and-sixty-degree waterfall from the spinning hub of the ofuro cylinder.
After her feet adjusted to the heat of the pool, Margo slipped in to stand beside Atom. She kept a small hand on his shoulder for stability.
“Hot, hot, hot,” she chirped as she danced around with the water at her belly.
Atom smiled at the serenity of the moment.
“That’s a lot of scars for a merch,” a soft voice swirled out of the steam.
Atom lurched up, disturbing the tranquil waters. He scanned the surroundings and found nothing to further arouse suspicion. Allaying fears he turned to the voice.
“Who’s there?” he called out, a hand beneath the surface drawing Margo close.
A figure swam from the mist with barely a ripple, a head drifting towards them like an unmoored stone. Atom watched the head approach and relaxed as he recognized the face of the seasoned tumbler. Lilly. She swam closer, but settled on a rocky seat at a discreet distance.
The water lapped at her chin. Atom followed the pale flow of her hands gliding just beneath the surface, like flashes of koi dancing in a decorative pond.
“I needed to get away from the press.” She closed her eyes and soaked. “Sometimes I just need quiet to talk to the voices in my head. My ship is my usual refuge, a quiet sanctuary, but I can’t get there right now”
“I can relate.” Atom settled back, keeping his eyes on the woman. “Except I don’t care who sees me talking to myself.”
Margo eluded Atom’s distracted hand and wandered along the seating ledge towards the trickling waterfall. She crawled out of the pool with childish care as she padded on all fours like a bear to keep from slipping down the water-smoothed stone.
Atom watched, studying her movements.
Without warning, Margo turned, stood tall, and threw herself into the center of the pool.
Sitting still, Atom watched as she plunged beneath the surface. The waters closed over her head and settled. Atom remained motionless, a stern scowl on his face. Bubbled plopped to the surface.
Lilly leaned forward, but Atom held up a staying hand.
Surging water broke in a spray that wet the side of Atom’s face. Margo thrashed with wild panic, then gasped a huge breath and settled enough to remain afloat with novice proficiency. Spluttering water from her mouth and nose, she beamed and doggy-paddled to the ledge near Atom.
Standing in the water up to her waist, she thrust her hands to her hips. “Look, da — I swimmed,” she stated with proud emphasis.
Atom smiled and pulled her into a tight hug.
* * *
We are roughly five months from pub date on Trinity and I’m trying to balance that process with continuing the story in the third installment. My working title on book three is Comet, but I doubt that will stick. I’m currently toying with the idea of taking a day to sit back and watch a marathon of westerns and chanbara to stimulate my imagination for the middle section of this new book. Who knows the course things will take.
On another vector, I have a request to make. With the country in the throes of lockdown, I am unable to do any of the live marketing that I had hoped to. Bookstores aren’t allowing author events anywhere near me and the convention circuit has gone virtual, which is devastating for all the vendors.
I need to go old-school with word of mouth marketing. If you liked Genesis: Atom & Go, it would be the greatest help to me if you would pass it along to your friends. This is kind of like those chain emails and social media posts, but there is the reward of a fun space-western at the end of the chain. I know I’ve asked this before, but I’ve never been in this kind of situation where I am physically unable to promote my book. With the circuit down I am missing the opportunity to pitch my book to hundreds, if not thousands, of new readers per year.
I’m sorry to ask this, but it would be most helpful.
Alright, that’s done. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and whether you spent time with extended family or stayed nuclear, I hope it was a time to cherish the people around you. Make the most of your opportunities to create memories.
So, keep on reading, keep on cooking, and keep on flying the black.