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‘Spaceship Joyride’ by Dominique Dickey

io9 is happy to existing fiction from LIGHTSPEED PUBLICATION. Once a month, we include a tale from LIGHTSPEED’s existing concern. This month’s choice is “Spaceship Joyride” by Dominique Dickey. You can check out the tale listed below or pay attention to the podcast on LIGHTSPEED’s web site. Enjoy!

Spaceship Joyride

The most gorgeous kid you have actually ever before seen in your life is hot-wiring a spacecraf.

It’s a fairly unsexy spacecraf, inasmuch as a spacecraf can be unsexy—a six-seater developed like a 2008 Honda Odyssey, a vehicle version you’re just knowledgeable about since it remains to show up in memes.

The kid is distinctly not unsexy, though. His name is Eddie, he’s your xenobiology laboratory companion, and also he’s presently curved over the spacecraf’s stood out hood. And he’s in his jammies. His fleecy trousers have actually rubber ducks published on them, which he appears completely unashamed of, which just makes him a lot more engaging.

“You’ve done this before?” you ask him, simply to have something to ask him. From the means his hands relocate . . . certainly he’s done this in the past.

“All the time,” Eddie claims. The spacecraf makes a stuttering kind of whirring noise as it powers up. Eddie pounds the hood down. “Bingo. Let’s go.”

He swings right into the motorist’s seat. You climb right into the traveler side. You attempt not to enjoy his slim hands as he twists his five-point harness, believing, Eyes by yourself job, child. You’ve done this half a million times and also you still mess up the clasp over your upper body. The bands click right into area and also cinch down tight.

Eddie dips into at you. His smile is unbalanced, like fifty percent of his mouth is sluggish on the draw. You really feel something change in your digestive tract. “You ready?” he asks. You nod, not exactly sure why you don’t trust your voice. He places the spacecraf on duty. He has one hand on the wheel, the various other on the back of your seat, so near touching you. If he were touching you, you believe you’d lean right into his hand. He’s touched you in the past, very easy: a handshake that introduces a temporary hug, an add the back, ruffling your hair. Like he touches all his pals. Like there’s absolutely nothing to it. Like it doesn’t make his digestive tract do . . . points. Not the means your own does.

He’s absolutely nothing like you. He’s regular, and also you aren’t. What’s not regular regarding you? It’s simply that he is a kid, and also you are a kid, and also children aren’t meant to seem like this. It’s that taking a look at him makes you wish to establish on your own ablaze—and afterwards at the very least your exteriors would certainly match exactly how you really feel on the within, like every surface area of your body is surging and also ignited.

And goddamn, the means he rolls his reduced lip in between his teeth as he recalls over his shoulder makes you really feel something you don’t have words to call. You pressure on your own to watch out the windscreen, at the declining car park bay of Sacred Heart Secondary School. Behind you, open room expands better. You’ve half a mind to want it would certainly simply ingest you and also conserve you from the methods you’re particular to humiliate on your own tonite.

The vacuum cleaner of room is cool, cool sufficient to produce this unearthly fire.

The spacecraf gains ground, after that ideas in reverse out of the car park bay and also right into deep space. You float, stressing up versus the bands holding you in position. Your hair possibly looks foolish in absolutely no gravity, a cloud of waves around your face, however Eddie’s is excellent. He clicks a switch on the dashboard. The door to the car park bay rolls closed. The ship turns over, though it doesn’t matter any longer which means is up, and afterwards you’re zooming far from Sacred Heart.

“Where are we going?” you ask. You’ve understood you don’t recognize, which’s foolish and also greater than a bit careless. Who are you to enter a taken vehicle with a heartbreakingly gorgeous kid without a location?

“I know a place,” he claims. “About an hour out, tops.” He kinds a collection of works with right into the control panel screen. They’re strange to you, however nearby.

“What kind of place?”

“You’ll see.” When he smiles, it provides away.

The radio is broken, or perhaps it’s the audio speakers that are burnt out. All that appears is a tuneless rattle that morphs right into rough fixed, and also Eddie promptly transforms it off.

Either means, the stereo is fired, you have a hr of driving in advance of you, and also absolutely nothing to do however talk with Eddie. He’s very easy to talk with—you like speaking with him—however being alone with him in the little bubble of the spacecraf is not making you anymore significant. The reduced light from the control panel transforms his skin smooth and also blue, however you recognize it just cleans you out, and also any kind of tip of a flush will certainly be much more noticeable on your face. You wish he doesn’t take a look at you. You actually want he were taking a look at you. His eyes relapse and also forth from the windscreen to the control panel displays, his hands at an ideal 10 and also 2.

It’s a hr of driving and also you need to speak about something. So, you speak about the most recent xenobiology laboratory, since this is exactly how you serve to him. You wish to serve to him. You desire him to like you, and also effectiveness is exactly how you’ve constantly tricked individuals right into liking you. And Eddie’s excellent individuals, or at the very least identified to wit you, so he asks you concerns regarding xenophyophores and also makes little sounds as you rattle on to signify that he’s actually paying attention.

“This can’t possibly be that interesting,” you claim eventually. You inspect the control panel screen—you’re about fifteen mins out of your location, currently. Damn. Either time’s accelerated or Eddie’s actually transporting butt in this cumbersome spacecraf, possibly since he’s understood that he’s entraped in it with you and also your limitless scientific research bullshit. “I’m boring you,” you claim. “I must be boring you. Your turn. You talk about something.”

“Hand to god, you’re not boring me.” His voice brings out the very same earnest strength as his list of well worded follow-up concerns. “I think it’s really cool that you know all this stuff.”

Right. Because it’s useful.

“It’s useful, at least,” you claim.

He makes an audio, gazes down at the dashboard. “It’s not just that it’s useful, it’s that you really care.”

“Well, it was xenobiology or football, and you don’t want to see me attempt a free-throw.”

He gets to over and also pushes your shoulder, chuckling, and also your digestive tract does that point once more. Is this what individuals suggest when they speak about butterflies in the stubborn belly? You dislike just how much you like the sensation.

Last term, when you initially involved Sacred Heart, you didn’t appreciate making pals. You were the brand-new child, beginning your elderly year in an odd area because of a collection of recklessness that you’d left half a galaxy away. Whether or otherwise the pupils below suched as you was close to the factor. Your goal was to strike your college graduation demands, pass all your courses, and also ideally enter into a respectable college along the road.

Then Mrs. Marian, the xenobiology instructor, combined you with Eddie for laboratory. Not resembling ended up being a frightening possibility. You desired this kid to like you.

You obtained fortunate. It was very easy to make Eddie smile. When he chuckled it appeared at one time, like the acoustic waves were pressing past a traffic jam in his throat. He welcomed you to consume lunch with him and also his pals in the yard. You claimed yes. He welcomed you to examine with him and also his pals in the commons. You claimed yes.

Halfway with last term, the invites quit coming. After the first stab of panic in your upper body, you understood why: since your existence was an offered. He didn’t require to welcome you, since he recognized you would certainly exist. Because you were his close friend. You’d made it.

A couple of weeks earlier, the invites launched once more. Always messages, never ever concerns, as if he recognized you wouldn’t claim no.

Meet me by the crave lunch. I’ll bring sandwiches.

But why? Why would certainly he head out of his means to welcome you someplace you were currently bound to be? More notably, why does he recognize your unnecessarily challenging sandwich order: a turkey and also swiss with just one piece of bread toasted, additional mustard, and also the barest smidge of mayo on the not-toasted piece?

Meet me at the sculpture in the commons. Let’s do the laboratory record with each other.

You appeared all over he informed you to, at the designated time, also if it implied separating on your own from various other dedications.

Meet me by the collection actions. I’ve obtained an inquiry regarding the xeno test.

Sometimes—typically—the remainder of his pals weren’t there. This made you really feel unpleasant in the beginning, however Eddie’s very easy as heck to talk with, and afterwards there’s the issue of sensation like you’ve obtained the sunlight under your skin when you’re with him. How could you claim no to also a secondly of that?

Meet me on the car park deck after lights out.

How could you potentially claim no, also if you recognize he doesn’t really feel the very same? He’s attempting to be your close friend. The the very least you might do is allow him.

“Ta-da!” Eddie claims, with a prosper that is possibly an effort at jazz hands.

According to the GPS, you’ve shown up. According to the sight gone, you’re specifically in the center of no place. You take a look around, blinking, a little bit scared that you’re missing out on the joke.

“This is it.” Eddie eliminates the engine. The area sign on the dashboard changes to and fro in addition to the ship as it bobs easily precede.

“This is it?”

He transforms in the direction of you without taking his seat belt off. “Yeah. I, uh, didn’t really know a place. I just wanted to take you for a drive.”

“Uh, okay.”

“Are you taking anyone to prom?” he asks, absolutely without prelude.

All his pals—that you still need to advise on your own are your pals, as well—are asking women from Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the women’ college on the following rock over. Who would certainly you ask? Who would certainly ask you? You huff. “No,” you claim.

“Do you want to go?”

“I mean, it’s a tradition, right? I can’t be the loser who doesn’t go—”

“Shut up.” He makes an audio that you can’t position, till you understand he’s midway to chuckling, holding it back. “I’m asking if you want to go with me. Do you want to go to prom with me?”

“Yes.” You don’t need to consider the solution. Your just fear is that you’ve made on your own seem as well excited.

Eddie takes a look at you, responds, begins the spacecraf’s engine once more. “It’s a date,” he claims, with that said tipping over smile, and also you’re definitely flushing currently.

A collection of signs on the dashboard illuminate. The audio speakers snap and also hiss. Beneath the fixed, you can listen to an aborted, smothered alarm.

“Where is it?” he asks, and also there’s not a tip of mirth left in his voice.

You duck your head, after that take a look around. Eddie curses. “Still veiled,” you claim. There’s an emergency situation automobile bring up on you and also it’s undetected by radar or by view, mixing right into the stellar history. A risk you can’t construct.

You listen to the staticky blare of the alarms and also you hesitate, since you consider exactly how your dad’s black skin transforms twelve o’clock at night blue in the darkness, exactly how that darkness comes to be hazardous. Not in the means a tool threatens, however the means a target attracts threat in the direction of it. The blue radiance of black skin is a hazard, in the feeling that it is intimidated.

You feel your dad’s worry: an anxiety so old, so deeply embedded, that you don’t recognize that placed it there. Was there ever before a solitary minute when the globe instructed you to be scared? Or were you birthed ranging from this threat, flinching at alarms? The last appears most likely.

You consider your dad’s worry, your dad’s skin.

You consider Eddie’s worry, Eddie’s skin. The gorgeous kid behind the wheel transforms blue at night. Not you, however. You’re secure, and also you’re afraid—except on your own, however, for the easily great kid in the wacky pajama trousers that hot-wired a spacecraf simply to ask you to senior prom.

The cops ship shows up at one time, streamlined and also black and also impending over you, lights blinking red and also blue. There’s an aperture in the ship’s stubborn belly. A voice comes with the radio, however words are splintered right into nonsense audios. Still, you recognize what it’s stating: You are being drew over. Please get in the police automobile. Failure to adhere to additional guidelines will certainly lead to repercussions. You are being drew over. Please get in the police automobile. Failure to adhere to additional guidelines will certainly lead to repercussions.

“Play it cool,” Eddie claims, as he guides with the space.

You’ve never ever been great a day in your life. You remainder your hands on your knees like you’ve been educated, eyes ahead. The alarm quits. The base of the cops ship shuts behind you, securing you in. There’s the hiss of stress transforming, the gut-wobbling sensation of synthetic gravity settling. This is most definitely not butterflies.

Eddie places the ship in park and also rolls down the home window. An policeman in a timeless dark blue consistent strides as much as the motorist’s side. You check his upper body, attempting to remember his name and also badge number in situation anything goes laterally. Quickly—you’re implied to be encountering ahead, in a scenario similar to this. It’s what you’ve been educated to do.

“Are you aware of why I stopped you?” asks Officer Holt, badge number 070963.

“No, sir,” Eddie claims. His voice brings out such an odd high quality that it’s difficult not to take a look at him. A muscle mass enters his jaw. You can see where his pulse lives under the skin of his throat. You question simply exactly how rapid his heart is going. You don’t need to know. His hands bend versus the wheel, a hold so limited it need to hurt.

You overlook at your very own hands in your lap, your light skin rinsed by the control panel lights, heaven capillaries revealing with, your red plaid pajama trousers.

“Loitering in an active roadway,” the policeman claims, which is foolish, since room doesn’t also actually have roadways. Eddie doesn’t claim anything. The policeman requests his certificate and also enrollment. Eddie introduces every relocation prior to he makes it—“My license is in my pants pocket. I’m going to reach into my pocket. The registration is in the console. I’m going to reach over and open the console.” He hands the paperwork to the policeman, that takes it and also leaves.

Eddie’s hands go back to the wheel, dropping back right into that very same limited hold. “I’m . . . scared,” he claims. It’s not an admission, since it never ever was a trick. You might see the worry in the means his skin tightened up right into goosebumps from the alarm’s very first noise. You’re particular he might see it on you, as well.

“I’m in this with you,” you inform him.

“You’d be fine,” he claims, however there’s no resentment in it, like you believe you’d be bitter in his area. He transforms his head simply much sufficient to take a look at you. “I’m sorry I lied.”

“It’s okay.” You don’t recognize what he was also existing around, till—

“I don’t do this all the time. I never do this kind of thing. I just wanted you to think—”

“I already think the world of you.” Maybe it’s as well straightforward, however the scenario appears to necessitate that sort of sincerity. “Wait, then why do you know how to hot-wire a spaceship?”

He shrugs. “Tutorials are easy to find, if you go looking.”

This kid, that found out to dedicate a felony from a goddamn YouTube tutorial, will definitely be the fatality of you in some way.

A various policeman comes near the spacecraf. He relocates genuine sluggish, his hands on his hips, and also leans thus far ahead his head is nearly in the home window. “Gentlemen,” he claims, “would either of you care to explain why you’re out riding around in a stolen vehicle?”

The panic prickling behind your breast bone seems like it lasts for weeks, months, years, however it should just be a minute since by the moment the areas clear from your vision, by the moment you quit believing shit-shit-shit-shit-dammit-dammit-dammit-motherfucking-hell, Eddie still hasn’t claimed anything and also Officer Moreno, badge number 061941, is still waiting for a reply.

“There must have been a misunderstanding,” you claim, prior to you also recognize what you’re stating, where you’re choosing this.

“Oh?” Officer Moreno asks. Eddie takes a look at you with a lot worry behind his eyes that it downright injures you to see.

“Yes, sir,” you proceed. “We’re students at Sacred Heart Secondary School. The school owns this vehicle, and a fleet of others like it, and regularly loans them out to students for excursions off-campus.” So much, every one of this holds true. The ideal lies are mainly fact. “We’re on an outing, and something must have been misfiled in our paperwork, leading Sacred Heart to believe we’d stolen the ship when we intended to sign it out for a few hours. See? A harmless misunderstanding.” You smile at him like you’re in a tooth paste advertisement. It can’t harm.

Officer Moreno chews on his lip. “An outing, huh? Where were you even going at this time of night?”

“Nowhere in particular.” You’re surprised by exactly how smooth the lie appears. “We’re just practicing driving. It’s easier, you know, with fewer ships out and about.”

“Huh,” Officer Moreno claims, and also mixes away.

You hear your heart beat in your ears, however it appears incorrect. It’s like the rattling of the damaged radio. Static as opposed to a constant thrum. You take a look at Eddie. He’s encountering right in advance, his expression betraying definitely nothing, his hands still on the wheel.

Officer Holt strolls back over, taking extremely lengthy actions—seriously, the means he strolls can’t potentially be very easy on the joints. Eddie’s jaw tenses. The policeman quits close to the open home window.

“All right, boys,” he claims, “here’s what’s going to happen next: we’re going to give you a ride back to Sacred Heart and get this whole misunderstanding sorted out. You two just sit tight, and we’ll have you back at school in a jiffy.”

“Yes, sir,” Eddie claims, in a voice that barely seems like it’s his. Officer Holt leaves. Eddie is still grasping the wheel, encountering ahead.

“I think you can roll up the window,” you inform him, simply to claim something, to perhaps obtain him to relocate, since the icy means he’s resting looks so strained and also abnormal, so unlike the kid you recognize.

“Right,” he claims. He presses the switch to increase the home window, after that returns to grasping the wheel with both hands, despite the fact that the ship’s engine is off. It doesn’t seem like you’re relocating, however the area sign on the dashboard starts to move back in the direction of Sacred Heart. You spin your hands with each other in your lap and also question exactly how quickly you’ll come back, and also what will certainly await you when you get here.

Eddie doesn’t appear that thinking about chatting and also, truthfully, neither are you. You consider a collection of truths, to offer on your own something to puzzle over in the silence:

Eddie wishes to take you to senior prom.

Eddie drove you a hr out right into the center of no place to ask you.

Eddie need to’ve been positive you’d claim yes, otherwise cheeky as heck to take the chance of an uncomfortable drive back to college after you transformed him down.

Eddie recognizes you like him.

Eddie likes you? Unclear. Maybe he wishes to go as pals.

Eddie claimed it was a day. That’s a number of speech. Don’t prosper of on your own.

Eddie’s gorgeous hands are still vise-tight on the guiding wheel.

When he talks, it surprises the ideas clear out of your head. “I thought sneaking back in would be the hard part, but it looks like that plan is shot,” he claims. “Who’s on tonight?”

“Mrs. Marian.” Your xenobiology instructor is the resident manager at work—a reality you just recognize since you needed to slide previous her on your means from your dormitory to the car park deck.

“We’re in trouble.” The stress is beginning to befall of his voice, that makes it clear simply just how much he transformed himself under stress. It’s charming and also interesting and also truthfully a bit frightening.

“We were already in trouble,” you claim.

“We’re more in trouble.”

“She likes me.”

“Everyone likes you,” he claims and also once more, there’s no resentment in it.

“Plenty of people like you.”

“Like who?”

“Um. Me?”

Eddie makes that half-laugh noise once more, like he’s holding the full blast of it behind his teeth. It makes something pain in your upper body: you wish to listen to the genuine point. “After the past half hour, I wasn’t so sure,” he claims.

“It’s not your fault.”

“It’s the textbook definition of my fault.”

“Okay. Maybe that’s true. But I said I’m in this with you and I meant that.”

That’s what lastly obtains him to take a look at you. “Thanks,” he claims, and also something regarding the strength of his voice makes your digestive tract do that aggravating and also fantastic point once more. Butterflies? No, xenophyophores.

The aperture in all-time low of the cops provider opens up. Eddie begins the ship, and also you enjoy him take a look around as he orients himself. The car park bay of Sacred Heart is listed below you and also a little bit away, and also for a minute you’re in room and also it doesn’t matter which means’s up, and afterwards you’re in the car park bay and also all the angles really feel rickety from the abrupt change in positioning. Eddie has one hand on the guiding wheel, the various other crinkled in his lap. He places the ship in park.

“Shall we gaily march to our execution?” he asks—as a result of training course Mrs. Marian will certainly be appropriate within, waiting on you.

You must simply reverse your seat belt and also leave it at that, however you need to ask, while you’re still in the spacecraf with him, since you can inform that as quickly as he unlocks something will certainly transform. The evening won’t be what it was, any longer, which will certainly be both an alleviation and also a sharp grief.

“Wait. You said— You said it was a date. Did you mean that the way I think you mean it?”

He unbuckles his seat belt and also leans throughout the console, near you. He doesn’t kiss you, however he touches your face, and also it really feels a lot more extreme than you’ve ever before thought of a kiss might be. He’s dead major when he claims, “What the fuck are you talking about? We’re already dating.”

It’s your resort to laugh, the noise appearing damaged. He looks injured. You wish to touch the crease in between his brows, so you do. His face loosens up under your fingertips. You are aflame.

“Was this not a date?” he asks.

“You take me to all the nicest places,” you claim. That obtains a correct laugh out of him, his head tipped back and also his mouth widen. You seem like you’ve ingested a celebrity.

“What about all those times I brought you lunch?” Eddie asks. He touches your face once more, a temporary brush of his hand.

“Okay,” you claim. There’s absolutely nothing else to claim.

“You’re a dumbass,” he informs you. You can’t say with that said.

“Well, let’s . . . gaily march forth, and all that.”

He takes a look at you like he doesn’t recognize what to do with you, after that presses a switch on the dashboard. The ship’s doors click and also open. You get down on shaky legs.

Mrs. Marian is waiting as quickly as you remove the car park bay. She’s a tiny brownish lady using a white robe open over a pajama collection, her hair locked up in a silk headscarf. You’ve never ever seen the means temper modifications her face prior to.

“The police went around to the front entrance,” she claims. “They wanted to talk with the headmaster.”

“Christ on a bike,” Eddie claims, voice hardly a breath.

You watch Mrs. Marian as her eyes check over you—2 teen children in their nightclothes, encounters still limited with fear—and also her angry expression burglarize among problem.

“Were you scared?” Mrs. Marian asks.

Eddie takes a look at you for a minute prior to he responds. “Yeah.”

“I was, too.”

“It was my fault,” you claim, prior to you also recognize what you’re stating. Why not? Falling by yourself sword is simply one more means to be beneficial, and also perhaps Mrs. Marian will certainly go very easy on you.

Eddie rakes his turn over his brief, limited swirls. “Can you shut the hell up?”

“It doesn’t matter whose fault it is,” claims Mrs. Marian. “You’re both grounded for the rest of the term. You go to class, you go to study hall, you report to your dorms. That’s it. When Eddie begins laughing—that genuine, loud laugh once more—Mrs. Marian draws him right into an abrupt hug. He’s means taller than her however he goes limp at the get in touch with, eyes dropping closed. “What the hell is so funny?” she asks, as soon as she’s launched him.

Eddie opens his eyes and also takes a look at you, grinning off-kilter. “Guess we aren’t going to prom after all.”

About the Author

Dominique Dickey is an author, editor, and also social professional operating in RPGs and also fiction. In enhancement to developing TEST, Plant Girl Game, and also co-creating Tomorrow on Revelation III, Dominique has actually created for Thirsty Sword Lesbians, Dungeons & Dragons, and also Pathfinder. Their fiction has actually shown up in Lightspeed Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, and also Nightmare Magazine, to name a few places. They reside in the DC location, and also are constantly on the search for their following concept. You can discover them on twitter at @DomSDickey or at dominiquedickey.com.

Graphic: Adamant Press

Please see LIGHTSPEED PUBLICATION to learn more excellent sci-fi and also dream. This tale initially showed up in the June 2023 concern, which additionally includes job by Wendy Nikel, Sarah Grey, Elad Haber, Kyle E Miller, Ruth Joffre, Deborah L. Davitt, Rich Larson, and also a lot more. You can wait on this month’s materials to be serialized online, or you can acquire the entire concern now in practical e-book layout for simply $3.99, or sign up for the e-book version below.

Want a lot more io9 information? Check out when to anticipate the most recent Marvel, Star Wars, and also Star Trek launches, what’s following for the DC Universe on movie and also television, and also whatever you require to learn about the future of Doctor Who.


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