Dreamways Diner & Fuel Refinery
The Asteroid Belt, GFA#157
“What do you want?”
Otto lifted his face off the red-and-white checkered table and cleared his throat. “Hm?”
“Aren’t you going to order?” The hostess—a spritely red-haired woman in roller skates—had her arms folded.
“Oh.” He wiped his unkempt brown hair from his brow and leaned back into his sparkly red booth seat. “Sodapop. And a chocolate sprinkled donut. And….” Otto quickly surveyed the menu. “Chicken-fried steak. Extra gravy.” The hostess gave him a knowing half-smile and skated back toward the bar top.
Otto surveyed the retro-futuristic diner. The gentle nostalgic hum of lap steel guitars whispered through the radio to an audience of two. The rather peculiar hostess skated around aimlessly as she waited for the faceless cook behind the doors to finish Otto’s dinner. The two were alone. The diner was chillingly empty.
The window Otto now leaned on had a rather bland view of floating asteroids and wandering ships. Still, he had a quiet admiration for the asteroid belt. It was the only functioning human ecosystem in the Solar System independent of Galileus rule. So long as you were a competent enough pilot to navigate the maze of rocks, the Asteroid Belt was as good a place as any.
Otto gazed at his ship, which was parked and gassing up outside. This sleek bucket of bolts was named the “Kingfisher” and had seen wear-and-tear beyond the wildest dreams of this region’s space cowboys.
“Here you go,” said the hostess as she laid out a bountiful feast in front of the weathered space traveler. A steaming chicken-fried steak, glistening chocolate donut, and opened glass bottle of coca cola awaited.
“Thanks,” said Otto, offering a moment of polite gratitude before burying his face into his steak.
The waitress giggled as she intently watched Otto devour his food. “Long day?”
Otto chuckled, his mouth full of food. “You could say that.”
“You must be joking.”
“You should see the kind of royal pieces of shit that fly our way. It might change your perspective.”
“She was a far finer ship when I first met eyes with her on Callisto. She’s been through a lot.”
“Like what?” asked the ginger-haired waitress.
Otto waved his hand dismissively “More than you’d care to hear.”
“You can at least tell me what brings you to our particular asteroid.”
Otto sighed. He looked around the diner again. “I guess you haven’t had much in the way of business or conversation. All right, I’ll bite…”
The waitress gazed at him expectantly.
“I’m headed to Mars in a few days.”
“Oh? Where are you from?”
“Callisto,” Otto lied.
“You and everyone else.”
“Sorry to disappoint.”
“Oh…I’m not disappointed.” The waitress sat at the booth across from Otto and crossed her legs, clearly desperate for any sort of conversation.
“This place sure beats Earth, I’ll tell you that much.”
“You were on Earth?”
“So you’re a vulture?”
“Eh. That’s not how I’d put it.”
“Well, ‘vulture’, my shift wraps up in a few hours. I can stick around and wait for you if you’d like…?”
Otto caught her drift. He gave a half-smile and chuckled under his breath. He splashed a few coins onto the table—plus a remarkably generous tip—before sliding out of the booth. “Perhaps another time.”