The Haunting of the Ginger’s Regret

Ginger

Actress Christina Hendricks

From the Flight Log of Freighter Pilot Camdon Rod

For a single op jump freighter from that era, she was in fantastic shape, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling I was missing something.

Oh, my name is Camdon Rod and I’m shopping for a replacement for my dearly departed freighter the Cynnabar Breen. The Breen went down in the seas of an alien planet well outside of known-space due to a jump drive accident (and I’m using the term “accident” mildly).

One trial, one assassination attempt against your’s truly, and one momentary destruction of the universe later (see my previous log entries for details) and here I am on Gamma Outpost Cecil, a mining outfit and trading post on a large asteroid in the Gamma Epsiloni system, looking over an immaculately maintained Teralyn class jump freighter called Ginger’s Regret.

Oberlin Phie, the ship’s current owner, is pushing 150 years old which even by Consortium standards is getting up there. More like one foot in the grave and the other in a puddle of engine lube. I’d guess he was a strong, handsome bastard once upon a time, but it’s time that has a habit of catching up with us when we’re not looking.

Doubt he’d been taking any of the expensive life-extender pharmas produced by the Consortium. Maybe he could have afforded them, but he seems the type to tell those main sequence jackals to take their heavily inflated medical fees and to shove them up their exhaust ports (I know I would).

He didn’t miss a step in showing off his pride and joy. I got the complete tour of the Regret from control room, to both engine rooms (one for space norm drive and the other for jump), expansive cargo holds, galley, med bay, Captain’s cabin, the works. We crawled around access tubes, examined power conduits, tested data relays, and all but performed a proctology exam on the freighter.

Oh speaking of which, there’s a real Ginger. She’s painted on the left side of the hull just under the control cabin. It’s life-size and let me tell you, a very fine piece of work indeed, particularly if you’re into beautiful buxom redheads and mild erotica.

The original 2-D photo used as a model for the painting of Ginger was mounted on the wall of the control cabin just to the left of the primary nav console. She indeed was a beautiful woman. Phie wouldn’t tell me a lot about her, just that she crewed aboard her namesake (which is why there are two seats at the consoles instead of one) and that she died about the time he retired from the freighter business to open the trading post on Cecil.

He’d kept her all these years in a hanger just behind the post. Couldn’t let go of her for sentimental reasons I guess. It’s pretty obvious he’d been hooked up with the real Ginger and that she just wasn’t crew. Lucky guy. She was a knockout in her day.

Phie’s retiring from his second career in about a year. The work at the post and living in the conditions you’ll find on a rough-hewn miner’s asteroid was getting to be too much for him.

I wanted to pilot the hell out of the Regret for the rest of my time in space. Phie’s asking price was more than generous. I didn’t even feel like haggling although I would just because it’s expected.

The Regret was in perfect condition. The old man really took good care of her. She’d be the ideal vessel to get me back in business. I could think of no rational reason not to make an offer on the spot, but something was holding me back.

As I sat drinking a beer at the outpost’s bar, I kept trying to put my finger on it, but nothing came.

I was footloose and fancy free. After the Captain and crew of the Cleric’s Hope, the last ship I served aboard as First Mate, mysteriously disappeared when the universe momentarily blinked out and then back into existence a month ago, I single-handedly fulfilled the Hope’s contractual relationship and delivered the cargo promised for her final run (which wasn’t easy with a ship that requires a minimum of four to crew). I put the ship up for sale, left her berthed in the freighter bay at Urroilus City on Gamma Epsiloni Prime, and then took a shuttle over to Cecil.

I was surprised and grateful that by the time the shuttle docked and I found a room to rent above the trading post that I had a buyer for the Hope. A small out-system cargo firm wanted to break into the interplanetary cargo business in the Outer Region systems. Guess they hadn’t heard of the connection between the Chosen Ones of the Illumination, the religious sect that owned and operated the Hope, and the universe’s temporary “outage”. Those who knew, wanted nothing to do with anything they’d touched.

It was lucky for me, but then again, I’ve always been a lucky guy. I accepted their offer, switched the title under the “all-sales-are-final” agreement, and was off the hook for maintaining the Hope and paying for her expensive berthing fees. Paying to dock a ship for a few days is somewhat affordable as a business cost, but a month or more would eat through my savings, temporarily bloated though they may be.

That took care of the Hope, but what about the Regret? I wonder what Ginger’s actual regret was, if it existed at all? Freighter pilots name their ships after some pretty odd things.

Screw it. I finished half a bottle of beer in a few gulps and waved Phie over. He was tending bar just then, giving the regular gal a break.

“Another beer, Cam?” He might as well have asked, “Decided to buy her yet?” I could see it on his face.

“I’ll take her. The Regret, not another beer.” The joy beaming off the old gent felt like the warmth of the midday sun on my homeworld, which is to say, comfortable at first but with the short-term promise of a sunburn later on, followed by possible skin cancer in a few decades.

I’m not one for caution. If I were, I wouldn’t be a freighter pilot and I sure as hell wouldn’t work the Outer Regions. That’s why I made my offer, which Phie didn’t even haggle over, another danger sign.

Maybe he had a nice little nest egg set aside and didn’t care to increase his profit, or maybe I was right, and in spite of the extensive inspection we made of the Regret, something was wrong with her, wrong enough to get me dead.

I let the beer buzz push my suspicions to one side while he changed the title and I transferred the funds to his account. I meant to pay for a new freighter using the funds from the insurance payoff over the loss of the Breen. Figured I’d have to kick in a few thousand credits extra to make up the difference, which fortunately I had on hand thanks to the Consortium’s finder’s fee to me for locating a new world, which I got to name after myself.

But the old man didn’t want all that much and I even had a bit of the insurance money left over after sales and taxes (I almost paid more in taxes thanks to the Consortium).

I checked out of my room and moved into the Regret. Phie said I could take my time finding a contract and not to worry about keeping the ship in his hanger sans storage fee. He was the most generous freighter pilot, trading post proprietor, and bartender I’d ever met in over twenty years of driving ships through space.

What the hell was wrong with this deal?

Stayed awake a half the night staring up at the ceiling of my cabin aboard the Regret. Kept thinking about the deal. Too late to back out now. I was the new owner of Ginger’s Regret. Phie also used the standard “all-sales-are-final” clause in our agreement, so even if I found a meter long crack in the jump drive’s power system, there’d be nothing I could do about it, at least as far as holding Phie accountable.

But there was nothing wrong with the ship physically. I knew that because I’d inspected her, and I could feel it in my bones. I could also feel there was something terribly wrong or at least terribly strange about the freighter.

I fell asleep sometime before dawn on Cecil and dreamed of well-built redheads.

******

My luck was holding up nicely. Two days after sending out my query for jump freighter services for hire, I got a response from a non-profit medical supply firm on the third planet in the Marconii system. There’d been an outbreak of Simpson’s fever on the Higgleston colony at the edge of known-space beyond the Outer Regions.

The outfit on Marconii was one of those altruistic firms that stored supplies of medicines against the occurrence of plague or some natural disaster and then offered their wares for free and a hefty tax write off. They just needed some freighter jock not afraid of flying cargo to the edge of known-space and possibly risking infection.

They were willing to inoculate me, so the chances of actually getting Simpson’s were practically nil. They asked me to cut my fee down by 25% since this was humanitarian aid, and I figured, what the heck. At least I’m back in business, and putting “professional nice guy” on my resume couldn’t hurt…at least as long as customers didn’t think I made a habit of that sort of thing.

I paid up my bar tab with Phie and agreed to let him have one last walk around the inside of the Regret before I jumped to Marconii.

I knew he felt passionate about the ship, even to the point of sentimentality, but he was really tearing up as he said his farewells. Yeah, that’s exactly what he was doing. He was saying good-bye to the Regret, like saying good-bye to someone who really matters to you, someone you know you’ll never see again.

It’s not like I don’t know what it was like to be attached to a ship. Hell, the Breen had been my home for years.

But this was something different, something more. He wasn’t just saying good-bye to the freighter, he was saying good-bye to Ginger.

I asked him if he wanted to take the photo of Ginger, but he said it was as much a part of the ship as her engines. The painting on the hull I couldn’t have touched. You can’t just paint a jump ship and expect it to stick. Even ordinary space would eventually have degraded the toughest polymers. Hyperspace would have stripped any artificial coloring the first time the ship jumped.

The entire hull is coated with a chemical I can neither spell nor pronounce, but it’s the only substance that will withstand the extreme conditions of hyperspace. The painting was under that coating and short of catastrophic damage occurring to that part of the hull, the gorgeous Ginger was there to stay.

After an hour, the old man had enough of memory lane and slowly shuffled down the cargo compartment’s loading ramp. He stood on the floor of the hanger and took one long look back at the Regret. I could just hear him half-whisper, “So long old gal. Take good care of yourself.”

The bizarre thing was it felt like he was talking to Ginger and not the freighter.

******

The run from Marconii to Higgleston and back was surprisingly routine. Twenty-four hours to load at Marconii, the jump was instantaneous. Thirty-two hours to enter orbit, dock with the sterilized shuttle craft and unload, then get back to the jump point and return to Marconii.

To make sure I had a good, clean destination point for jump entry to Higgleston’s, they used a sweeper leased from the Consortium. In this case, the blood suckers didn’t actually charge the colony their vital organs for the sweeper, otherwise there’d be no trade and no exploitation of resources.

So I had a nice safe place to jump in and out (I have to admit, after the Delta Epsiloni incident, I was feeling just a tad nervous).

After the Captain and crew of the Cleric’s Hope (remember her?) had disappeared along with every other member of their religion in known-space and beyond, I promised myself that in their honor, the first time I got the chance, I’d get blindingly drunk.

Actually it was in honor of forgetting everything I knew or had heard about the whole universe blinking out for nearly three-quarters of a second, but what’s the diff?

I don’t believe in pub crawling. If I’m going to get that stiff, I’m picking just one bar as close to where my ship is berthed as possible. The Obscene Oscar was maybe a hundred meters or so outside the main gates to the freighter bays so I figured I could stagger back to the Regret and collapse in my own bed rather than rent a room and chance being rolled or outright murdered. Marconii’s is a halfway decent world for being on the edge of the Outer Regions, but freighter bays are always in notoriously bad neighborhoods.

Normally when I get that drunk, I don’t remember my dreams, but this time the nightmare was strictly horror show.

******

“You can’t service the jump drive in space, Ginger. Get back in here!”

I’m screaming at the top of my lungs into the mic even though I know the comm unit in her suit would clearly transmit a whisper.

I should never have let her go EVA. I must have been crazy, but she’s always been the level-headed one. I’m the guy who’s supposed to be nuts. Must be why I agreed to let her examine the damage in the first place.

“I think I can get the aux panel of the jump section open.” Ginger’s breathing heavy from the effort of using a spanner to manually loosen the latches holding the panel in place.

This was a bad job from start to finish. Mank, the local manager at the Carnnal Corp warehouse on Slexz accepted our bid on hauling a full load of Styxian Spice to Gamma Epsiloni Minor, then withheld nearly a quarter because of union fees. On top of Consortium taxes eating away our livelihood, now the Loader’s union wants their cut.

That’s why I like working the Outer Region. Screw the unions and damn few rules.

Then they were late getting us loaded, again because of union guaranteed breaks, and if Ginger hadn’t given the Foreman a good look at her amble cleavage so he’d whip his loaders into shape, we might never have gotten out of there.

Then we had to deal with an increase in fuel prices for our space norm drive and the Regret’s landing struts decided to spring a leak meaning we had to delay departure again to repair the seals and replace the hydraulic fluid.

Finally, finally we launched and got to Slexz’s jump point. In a few seconds, we’d be at the jump point near Gamma Epsiloni and we could dump both cargo and job. I’ll be damned if we haul for Carnnal again, the cheap bastards.

Diagnostics detected the short in the jump drive nav controls just as we went into hyperspace. Oh, we jumped alright, but we ended up at the edge of known-space, well outside the Outer Regions. We were light-weeks from the nearest outpost which was years away by norm drive.

Normally, you can’t service a jump drive in space. They’re kept in a sealed compartment that can only be opened in a freighter bay, but Ginger’s been doing a lot of tinkering with the Regret. She hates manufacturer’s limitations and wants to have access to any part of the ship’s systems in the event of the unexpected.

Besides, the Consortium charges an arm, a leg, and several internal organs for rescues, and we are trying to save up for the day when we leave this crazy life and retire, though that won’t be any time soon.

“Aux panel’s off and magnetized to the hull. I can see the fault. I think I can fix it. Seems pretty simple.”

“Simple isn’t safe,” I snap back at her. I’m scared to death. Messing around with a powered down jump drive in a repair bay planet side is tricky enough, but even a minor repair of a live jump drive in space could end very badly, as in an explosion followed by a cloud of dust that used to be the Ginger’s Regret.

“I’ve got it. I’ve got it. Putting the panel back on. It should read all green on the jump drive diagnostics now.”

“Get your ass back in here, Ginger! The diagnostics for the drive read all green but I don’t like the fluctuations in the drive’s power supply.”

“You just want me interior so you can get some ass, you old letch.” She’s laughing, making fun of my age again, but kloogie repairs on a jump drive in space is not funny.

She was halfway up the length of the ship, going hand over hand on the grips attached to the superstructure when the power surge hit. Ginger never had a chance to make it back to the airlock.

I could see her on the monitor right when the ship jumped. One second she was there. Then the image blanked and when the Regret came out of hyperspace, she was gone…just gone. I’d never know if she was peeled off the ship and was left in norm space when we jumped or if she made it into hyperspace and vaporized.

The Regret came out at Gamma Epsiloni’s jump point right on target…this time. But it arrived without the only woman I’ll ever love.

******

I woke up, if you want to call it that, in my cabin with a screaming hangover. Never get that drunk unless you’re prepared to live with it the next day. Actually, I’m not sure I feel alive yet.

The only reason I tried to sit up was I had to pee. I could barely stand and staggered into the head. Sat on the can because I was too tired to stand and I’m sure my aim would be lousy.

I finished and just sat there trying to make my brain work again.

I dreamed about Ginger. Why the hell did I dream of Ginger, and why the hell did I dream I was Phie?

I sat there for maybe fifteen minutes trying to figure that one out and finally gave up. I stood and my legs still felt like boiled plastic. Washed up. Cautiously tried a small drink of water. My stomach objected, but I was dehydrated. It would be a while before breakfast sounded inviting, or was it past lunch time?

I was drying my hands when I heard a noise in my cabin. I’m supposed to be alone on the ship.

I looked out and saw nothing. I would have sworn those were footsteps, though.

Put on a pair of pants and left the cabin. No one in the passageway. Screw it. I’ll get to the control room and check the internal monitors.

Nothing. No one’s here and the only entry in the last twelve hours was me dragging my drunken butt back into the Regret.

Why the hell did I dream of Ginger?

******

What a difference a day makes. I still feel like shit, but not as bad as yesterday.

Nothing yet on my “jump freighter available” query. I need a job to take my mind off of this weirdness.

I keep hearing footsteps on board but that’s impossible. Monitors and logs all say I’m alone and that no one besides me has been inside the Regret since I left Gamma Epsiloni, well, no one besides the crew that unloaded my cargo at Higgleston’s and they only had access to the cargo holds. They never went near the ship’s control room or living quarters, and that’s where I keep hearing someone.

I go outside the ship. I have this crazy impulse and use a lifting platform to raise me to the side of the jump drive section. I had routine maintenance done on my systems when I got back from my last jump and I know the diagnostics came back all green on everything.

I’m staring at the aux port to the jump drive. During my initial inspection, Phie pointed out a number of special modifications he and Ginger made to the ship. I was impressed but I didn’t think any of them had been accessed mid-voyage.

I took a spanner with me and used it to open up the panel. It’s generally safe when the drive is powered down, and I’ve been driving and fixing jump ships since I was old enough to drink, so I know what I’m doing.

I got the panel off and stuck it to the side of the section. There’s a magnetic plate installed there to hold it in place so if you really do have to remove it in a weightless environment, it won’t go floating off.

I point a pen light inside terrified I’ll see the circuit burnt out just the way it was in my dream. Nope. All normal.

What the…!

I would have sworn on all the Holy books of the Chosen Ones, Mandy’s Disciples, and the Followers of Ken that I felt someone put their hand on my right shoulder. I spun around so fast, I lost my balance, but I grabbed the rail on the platform to keep from falling.

No one was there.

I would have sworn I felt someone’s presence, like she was standing right behind me.

She? What made me think it was a she?

I replaced the panel and had the platform get me back on the ground.

I’m tired of this. I’ve got to know if that dream is true or not.

Ship’s logs are public records and anyway, the logs for the Regret are stored locally as well as on the network, so what I want should be easy to find.

I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I check the logs of the Regret before I bought the bloody thing? I did, but only the maintenance records, not the data on the ship’s cargo runs. It would have taken forever, which I didn’t have then. Now, I’m looking for just one run.

There it was. The last run the Regret ever made. It was from Slexz to Gamma Epsiloni by way of and unscheduled stop at the edge of known-space.

Ginger died. She died when the ship jumped into hyperspace. She died because she could repair a simple short to the nav system but couldn’t stop the power surge.

That was over fifty years ago. Phie finished his delivery at Gamma Epsiloni and then never hauled cargo again. He built the trading post on Gamma Outpost Cecil and spent the next half century tending bar, providing supplies to the miners and whoever else visited the outpost, and keeping the Ginger’s Regret in pristine shape.

Then he sold her to me. Knowing she died, knowing how she died, and actually experiencing her die, I know what the ship meant to Phie. Why keep her fifty years and then sell her, especially to a bum like me?

And how the hell do I know all this? Why did I dream of her?

“He’s dying.”

It was just a whisper but it was definitely a woman’s voice. I grabbed at my left ear like I’d felt the breath of someone speaking right next to me.

No one were there, but just like on the platform, I got this creepy feeling that someone was standing just an inch or two away.

Saved by the comm. A response to my query. I’ve got my next job and right here on Marconii. Technical supplies for a stellar research facility orbiting Brel Taurus. I’ve dealt with this customer before back when I was driving the Breen. They’re legit so it’s a solid job. After I deliver, I can spend a day or so gazing at the beauty of the stellar nursery the researchers are studying while waiting for my next job.

That’s the life of a freighter jock. And so it goes.

“And so it goes”.

I nearly jumped high enough to hit my head on the lighting panel.

“Would you stop it!” I screamed to absolutely no one and nothing.

No one and nothing answered with silence.

******

The Regret was loaded and ready for launch the next day at mid-morning. All systems checked out except for the chills I felt creeping up my spine, and I was ready for my next haul.

No visits from the mysterious voice and I’ve got an impossible notion of who it’s supposed to be but not the how or why.

Distracted pilots end up being dead pilots, so I shoved all of that to the back of my mind, launched from the freighter bays and headed to the jump point.

Course calculated and laid into the nav system. Jump drive powered. In about two seconds, I’ll be at the jump point for Brel Taurus and rendezvous with the research station.

Three, two, one, jump.

And this isn’t Brel Taurus. Horribly, I know exactly where the Regret came out of hyperspace. It’s at the edge of known-space, it’s at that location at the edge of known-space. It’s where Ginger died fifty years ago.

I check the diagnostic monitors and it shows a short in the jump drive’s nav system.

“I think I can get the aux panel of the jump section open.” It’s Ginger’s voice, except it’s coming over the comm rather than out of thin air. I can hear her breathing heavy from the effort of using a spanner to manually loosen the latches holding the panel in place.

“You can’t service the jump drive in space, Ginger. Get back in here!” I must be out of my mind. I’m yelling at a woman who’s been dead since before I was born. We can’t possibly be here and she’s can’t possibly be alive.

“Aux panel’s off and magnetized to the hull. I can see the fault. I think I can fix it. Seems pretty simple.”

“Simple isn’t safe,” I snap back at her. Why am I playing out the same scenario with Ginger that Phie did?

“There’s going to be a power surge, Ginger. You’ve got to get your ass back in here now!”

“You just want me interior so you can get some ass, you letch.”

I notice she leaves off the “old” meaning she knows it’s me and not Phie.

“I’ve got it. I’ve got it. Putting the panel back on. It should read all green on the jump drive diagnostics now.”

I can’t see anything in the exterior monitors but she should be halfway up the length of the ship going hand over hand on the grips attached to the superstructure. I’m doing everything I can to get control over the jump drive’s power system but the surge is going to happen and I can’t stop it. If I can buy her just another minute, if I can just…

Jump.

“Ginger!” I’m screaming as the Regret exits hyperspace and arrives at the Brel Taurus jump point.

She’s gone. She’s gone again. Comm from Brel asking for arrival acknowledgement and all I can do is sob.

I was never there. The jump between Marconii and Brel wasn’t interrupted. It had all been a hallucination but every second of it felt astonishingly real.

A distracted pilot is a dead pilot. I pull myself together and acknowledge arrival. Then I power up the norm space drive and feed in the coordinates for the orbiting station.

******

Three days after I deliver my cargo, I’m parked in what I’ve been told is the best viewing spot for the stellar nursery. It really is spectacular. In a few billion years, hundreds of star systems will emerge from all that brilliantly glowing multi-chromatic dust.

I’m in the observation dome at the upper hull of the ship. Normally it’s kept covered even in normal space. I can’t stay here more than an hour or so at a time because even my energy screens can’t keep out the kind of radiation streaming from the nursery.

But it is a terrific sight. One of those once-in-a-lifetime things. It’s even kind of romantic, and I’m not exactly a romantic guy.

“You might as well say something. I know you’re here.” I have no idea how I know, but I know.

Her hand touches my shoulder and I can feel her breath on my ear. “I’m here.”

There are two seats in the observation dome. Like I said, Phie and Ginger ran the Regret together so they had second chairs installed wherever they needed to sit together.

Ginger’s in that second chair. She’s wearing a standard freighter crew’s overalls and she still looks like the most beautiful, desirable woman in known-space.

“I don’t believe in ghosts.” How the hell can I say that? I’m looking right at one.

“Neither do I, handsome.” She’s purring like a predator, lovely, irresistible, and dangerous.

Ginger shifts her position in the chair, tucking her legs under her shapely derriere. She could give every boy and man born in Consortium space wet dreams and never take off a stitch of clothing.

“So what does that make you except maybe a major symptom of my insanity?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I am a ghost. Maybe something happened when the ship jumped the last day I was alive. No one knows exactly how radiation from a jump drive affects living matter, especially at the moment of jump. All I remember is that one second I’m scrambling in a hopeless attempt to get to the airlock and the next I am the ship.”

I’m staring at the apparition like I don’t believe her, but that’s nuts because here she is. I can’t deny her presence. I can see her, hear her, sometimes even touch her, though I’m actually afraid to try that last part.

“What about Phie?” I still can’t believe he could sell the Regret, especially knowing who or what was living on board or, if she’s right, Ginger is the ship somehow. How could he sell Ginger? How could he sell his wife to me?

“Obee is dying.”

“So what? If it was me, I’d have launched myself on a one way trip out of known-space in this ship and it would be just the two of us together for eternity.”

“He didn’t want to leave me alone.”

“But if he died and you’re dead, wouldn’t you have been…ghosts together or something?” Now I really do sound crazy.

“I told you, I don’t think I’m a ghost. I think the jump drive field did something to me and the ship. My body isn’t here anymore, but I never left the Regret. When Obee dies…” She pauses. Her face kind of crumples as she starts crying. It must be tough knowing that you’ve lived beyond death but once your husband goes, he’s gone forever.

“Yeah. I think I get it.” I’m calmer than I have any right to be under the circumstances, but I really do understand. Phie will die and that’s the end of him as far as anyone knows, but also as far as anyone knows, Ginger will be on or just be the Ginger’s Regret for as long as the ship exists. Even then, Ginger’s spirit or whatever can’t actually maintain the freighter, so eventually she’d start breaking down.

For that matter, if Phie died while holding ownership of the Regret, the ship would be sold, probably for estate taxes (bleeping Consortium taking their pounds of flesh and half your bank account), and who knows who would get the freighter or what they’d use it…use her for.

“He trusted you, Obee I mean.”

“You mean he trusted me with the one thing he loved more than anything…you.”

“He knew you’d…take good care of me…the ship I mean. You’re a good pilot, and as much as you hate to admit it, you care.”

“I’ll deny that if you tell another living soul.”

She laughs at my joke. That’s something.

“I don’t think you have to worry about that. I don’t get out much.” We both laugh, but just a little.

An awkward silence hangs between us, but luckily, the comm signals an incoming message.

“It’s time for me to close the shutters on the dome anyway.” I get up from my seat.

“Radiation. I haven’t had to worry about that in a long time.”

I start heading for the hatch to climb down to the main deck then stop and look back at her. She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met and I know I’m repeating myself. But it’s not just what she looks like that grabs me. I have her, her…I don’t know, soul in my hands. For as long as I own the Regret, which will probably be the rest of my life, I will be responsible for Ginger.

“Don’t worry. I’ll meet you in the control cabin.” She’s giving me permission to leave her because she’s really the ship. There’s nowhere I can go on board that is absent of her.

She’s in the co-pilot’s chair when I enter the control cabin.

I read the comm. It’s a response to my “Freighter available” query.

“Krin miners on Denaub Zen Signa have a load of ore they need hauled to their buyers on Carn. Ready to get back to work?”

“Always am, Cam.”

“Okay. Fire up the space norm engines and head for the jump point. I’ll acknowledge the job and do the jump calculations.”

Ginger was one step ahead of me and as I’d soon come to learn, she always would be.

This is the third story in the Camdon Breen series. To find the beginning of his adventures, start reading The Last Flight of the Cynnabar Breen. At the bottom of that tale, there will be a link to take you to story number two.

For the next entry from the flight log of Camdon Rod, read Hijacked! With the Regret hijacked by pirates in a remote solar system on the edge of known-space and Camdon helpless and trapped in the control cabin, can Ginger take control of the ship in time to save both the cargo and Cam?

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