Death of a Salesman

The ship hung in space, dead, its lights slowly winking out as the power failed, section by section. Inside, the air was rank and stale; the air circulators were also shutting down far quicker than almost anything else.

The gravity was working, but barely, so Rob practically bounced around the ship in the failing atmosphere, without exerting himself too much. He pushed himself from section to section as the lights failed and stared out the window; the stars were now his only companions.

He was a salesman. He specialised in high-end weapons systems and hand-to-hand combat blades and swords that were dangerous, savage, and very cruel. Cruelty was fine in its place; Bob certainly couldn’t complain, as that was his market. The crew hadn’t particularly liked him, of course, but civilian freighters – even second-rate garbage ratings like this one with twelve crew and slime and muck in every corner – did what they were told, and went where the money was.

But not any more, he thought, as he pushed himself towards a lift compartment. He forced the doors open; his stomach churned as he expelled valuable oxygen. Thankfully, there was still some power to the lift; the lights were on half, and to most people, it would probably feel claustrophobic. Rob just smiled; he wasn’t most people.

The doors finally croaked open with some force, and there was the bridge, slowly shutting down. Captain Phillips was slumped forward in his chair, right in the centre. The helmsman, the communications officer, and the crewman at the sensor station were also slumped, foam drooling at their mouths.

Should I be upset? Rob found himself wondering. He paused, still in the doorway to the lift, and licked his lips. He felt … satisfied, as he looked round, like an engineer studying a particularly difficult machine after it had been stripped down and rebuilt. The ship had now been stripped down of its human life; the poison had spread through the ship as quickly as it should have done, the air ducts doing their jobs perfectly.

Rob, of course, had survived; a decent weapons salesman didn’t conduct a full test for a client’s interest without having a way of surviving. His filtration mask was 100% perfect, and the client had been thrilled. The crew, in their death throes, had been far less willing to accept their fate than Rob had expected. They had scuttled the ship, so that no-one would be able to access any of its cargo. Soon, explosive charges along the hull would blow out and crack the ship’s long spine in two.

Then I’ll die.

But it was worth it. He pulled the personal data padd out of his pocket and looked again at the numbers on it; $1 billion had been transferred for the successful test and sale. He was rich.

The world darkened. It was very cold all of a sudden. He continued to stare at the screen; he’d die rich. He grinned; it turned out that there was a price for human life, and it was right there in his bank account.

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