Excerpt for The Mortgage Lady by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


The Mortgage Lady


By T. W. Fielding


Published by Three Door Publishing


Copyright © 2017 T. Fielding


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Smashwords Edition, License Notes


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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Contents


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About the Author


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The Mortgage Lady


The phone rang and rang. It took Kelly half a day to find it in a ventilation shaft in the commander's quarters. Someone must have blasted a hole in the shaft and thrown it in there. It was probably just a computer placing the call, but at this point he'd settle for that. He was surprised to hear a human voice.

"Hello, this is Allied Cosmic Mortgage Enterprises," the female voice said.

"Hi. Great! I can't believe it! Finally, I can talk to someone."

"We need to speak to you about payment."

"Payment?"

"You are in arrears on the space station and unless we receive payment immediately we will be forced to shut the station down."

"I'm sorry, but you see my ship was hit by an asteroid and only by luck I made it here in the emergency pod. I don't live here. No one lives here. As far as I can tell no one has lived here in a long time."

He looked out the window at the two nearby stars. The old wagon wheel design space station was halfway between them.

"I need to speak to the owner of the space station."

"Listen carefully: I'm not the owner or the renter." When he talked, he could see his breath. "I'm marooned here. I'd appreciate it if you could send out an emergency rescue ship."

"If you are not the owner or renter, you are there illegally. You must vacate the premises immediately."

"Didn't you hear me? I'M SHIPWRECKED!!!"

"If the owner does not know you are there, you must leave immediately."

"Lady, I'm shipwrecked. Look it up in the dictionary."

"Please stop yelling."

"Sure! Sure!"

"Do you know the owner of the station?"

"What? No. This place is as empty as a politician's mind."

"If no one else is there, then you must be the party in charge."

"Lady, please listen, I'm alone." He looked across the spacious commander's cabin, at the furnishings so dusty they were gray. Though it hadn't been occupied for years the rotation of the station created air currents and some life support still worked. Still, looked like a ghost station. "There isn’t another humanoid around for light-years. I've been calling for help for a week."

"Under Chapter 3 of the Open-space Treaty, you are thereby the party in charge."

"In charge? This place smells like a public toilet that hasn't been cleaned in a hundred years."

The cabin had gray metal walls and floors. Only the seal on the door told him it had been the commander's quarters.

"You are behind in your payments. If you do not pay the back payment we will have the main computers turn off the power.”

"Hey! I just figured out how to turn on the heat. This place was colder than an ice world. Most of the life support is malfunctioning. And there’s some green glowing goop dripping on the food storage."

"Those are not the problems of the mortgage company. Those are owner affairs."

"Lady, I'm not the owner. I'm just shipwrecked."

"You are there. Therefore, you are the proprietor."

"What?!"

"If you don’t pay we will be forced to turn the power off.”

"Turn it off? I only have a small portable handheld heater now. It's not even warming the closet I'm in. I'm freezing my ass off here."

"Unless we receive payment, I will have to take measures."

"This place has been closed for at least a century. Who paid in the last hundred years?"

"There is a lot rent past due."

"You don't expect me to pay all that?"

. . . . (silence)

"Hey, are you a human with a computer-assisted brain? If you are, can you power-up your human components?"

"You need to pay at least last year’s installments."

"You know, you sound kind of cute.” He paused, crossing his fingers. "What do you look like?"

"Excuse me?”

"Maybe you and I could get together."

"That is against company policy."

"What they don't know won't hurt them."

"I'm sure I don't know what you mean."

"Come on, you and me, what harm is there?"

"I—I don't know."

"Are you cyborg, android or human?"

"That's none of your business."

"Let's say you and I meet after work."

"After work?"

"How about we make a date?"

"Well. . . ."

“What are you . . . wearing?

“Why . . . I don’t know. Something for work.”

"Good. Soon as you send a rescue ship, we'll go out."

In the silence that followed he could feel the ice on the phone, and then he heard the anger in her voice.

"If we don't receive payment in one minute, the station will self-destruct."

"You're a little quick to anger, aren't you?"

"My human side is. You did request to speak to my human side. You have ten seconds before I initiate procedure."

“You just said a minute, now it’s ten seconds? That isn’t fair.”

“You’re wasting time.”

"I had some credit slips, but the self-defense system fried my pod's data banks before I could figure out how to shut down the computer defenses.

"Ten."

"YOUR self-defense system destroyed my credit slips."

"Nine."

"I'm shipwrecked. Marooned. Where’s your heart?"

"Eight."

"I demand you contact Space Rescue."

"Seven."

"This is barbaric."

"Six."

"You won't get away with it."

"Five."

"You can't do this."

"Four."

"Hey, I just found a credit slip."

"Three."

"I'm sending the code."

"Two."

"Wait give me a sec. I'm sending it. I'm sending it."

"One."

"HEY! I SENT IT!"

"It's been a pleasure to service your mortgage."

"Okay, how about sending a distress call or contacting space rescue for me?"

"Are your human components powered up?"

"Huh?"

"Good, because I have notified the main computer to begin shut down procedure."

"No, no, you can't."

"Please turn out the lights when you go."

"Go? What are you talking about? I can't leave. I wish I could . . . hey, the station's powering down. What's going . . . ?"

*****


About the Author


Ted Fielding lives in the northwest.



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