“The Middle of Nowhere” is in beta reader review and not ready to publish until some final editing, but I have started writing the fourth April book which will be titled “A Different Perspective” Here is the rough draft of the first chapter.
April looked at the cubic critically. It was on the half G deck which lowered the price quite a bit. She at first asked about full G cubic and was told there were now only eight residences maintained on Home at the full G level. Mitsubishi politely declined to make usage information public so she had no way to check the agent’s information, and she refused to ask her how she knew that number. She knew a lot of the level had been converted to businesses. A lot of entry hatches were just numbered, so she hadn’t realized just how many.
Growing up she had not appreciated how privileged it was to be able to sleep at home with her family, not to mention her own tiny closet sized bath, but she certainly valued it now. Her grandpa had helped build M3, not as a distant investor but as a working beam dog, and sank every buck he had into the initial auction of private spaces. It was a great investment, but more importantly it allowed him to bring his family up. Leaving Earth was the primary goal of his working life.
When she insisted she was still interested and asked a price she was informed that in the rare event such a property came open she could figure a hundred square meters of floor area would run seven to ten million USNA dollars. Even figuring her recent inheritance from her brother that was still a staggering number to her. That’s why the half G level suddenly looked much better. It ran a third of that.
Children were required by regulation to spend at least their eight hour sleep period in a full G. Most families did that by sending their child to a tiny business that had hot slot beds and a single shared bath. They could miss a few days for something like a illness, but were expected back as soon as they were not contagious.
The full G was needed to stimulate the growth of a normal bone structure. Indeed people were encouraged to add a couple hours a day of vertical time to the sleep hours. Most did this by taking their meals at the cafeteria in full G. That was required until a person was twelve years old or fifteen hundred centimeters, whichever came first.
April was still growing approaching sixteen, but she would be for a long time because she had Life Extension Therapy. What that did to the mix was anybody’s guess since her’s was the first generation to grow up in mixed G and LET. She figured she’d have enough full G exposure to keep her body able to function at that level. If it resulted in her being a hair shorter than she would have grown on Earth that was Okay. Being compact was no disadvantage to a spacer. Indeed being much over two meters made it almost impossible to use standard acceleration couches and P-suits parts.
The cubic was on the inside of the torus with a sloping overhead along one side. If she wanted a view port it would look out at the new ring being built off the hub. That was more interesting than looking at stars streaking by. Even if there was a ship or something to be seen it went by so quickly it was in no way a relaxing view. Her friend Heather lived in similar cubic and she had seen all sorts of tricks to maximize utilization of the area with the low overhead.
The entry door was only twelve meters from an elevator which was very convenient, and that elevator dropped to full G less than a quarter of the ring away from the cafeteria. Some people might not like having the elevator spoke right near the view port pretty much filling a quarter of the view to one side, but April thought the long taper of it ascending to the hub was a dramatic perspective just as her Hawaiian home had a much more interesting view perched on the end of a wooded ridge than a home in the middle of a flat plain of grasslands.
The agent wasn’t talking the place up. In fact she wasn’t chatty at all, had ignored her bodyguard Gunny when she hadn’t introduced him and regarded him as a piece of furniture. But then she was standing off to one side doing a pretty good furniture imitation herself, letting April form her own conclusions about the cubic. April would never guess she intimidated the woman.
“How long has this been empty?” April asked the agent. The floor covering and some of the things left behind and markings by the lighting controls suggested a Japanese speaker if not citizen had lived here. There was a faint odor of tea lingering but nothing unpleasant.
The lady looked surprised. “Just today, the fellow cleared out yesterday. The Sakura Pharmaceuticals company he worked for is in a bit of cash flow trouble on Earth. They still have a production lab on the north end, but they only need three shift workers to oversee the equipment and can’t afford to maintain an on-site administrator. He’d do it remotely now. Residential cubic doesn’t sit vacant, dear. You are the first to look at it, then I have a showing at eleven hundred and sixteen hundred. I’d be shocked if one of you doesn’t take it.”
“What if more than one of us bids on it?” April asked.
“If you bid less than the three point seven million asked I am obligated to present the offer but I’d advise the company to leave it on the market for a second day. I think I priced it very accurately. There is a shortage of materials so the new ring is building slow, yet almost all the cubic there is either pre-sold in this price range or has rental agreements. Mitsubishi is holding back half the new cubic to lease instead of sell. I suggested to the pharmaceutical company they would be better off to rent the space and retain ownership as an investment if they don’t have to provide a local executive living space, but they are eager to have the cash.”
April considered the possibility one of the other interested parties would bid over asking price. A glance at her com said it was 09:17. “I accept your offer at full price. I have the cash to do an immediate wire transfer if you can have the papers ready this afternoon. That should be a plus if they are looking for cash. The other buyers might need financing or time to liquidate something. I want you to communicate this now, and the offer is valid no later than 10:30.”
“That’s smart, but what if they want to hear the other two offers?” he asked.
“That’s their privilege. However if the other parties don’t make as good an offer I’m going to lower my own to the range the others feel is a fair market value,” she warned. “I appreciate this is what new cubic is going for, but I wonder if they will offer as much for used? Surely some of the amenities like lighting and environmental systems are more advanced in the new section, and just like a ground car they only have so many hours life in them before they will need replaced.”
“I’ll text it to them right now,” she offered. If she was offended by April’s reservations on the price she didn’t show it at all. After a few seconds of fingers dancing on the keys she folded the pad away. “It’s up to them now. I’ll contact you when they get back to me,” she promised.
“Thank you.” April checked the time out in the corridor when they stepped out, curious how long it would take her to reach the cafeteria. The answer was slightly less than four minutes plus elevator wait. That was better than the time from her folks apartment so she was happy. She could take the stairs that spiraled around the elevator shaft if she wished, but it was narrow and the angle increased as you went up until the last level was a hand rail and ladder without flat treads. Most folks if they used the spoke section just slid down the rails like a fireman’s pole. Or pulled up it hand over hand it was so close to zero G.
Gunny and she would have a late breakfast, delayed by the cubic viewing.
Heather and Jeff were meeting her for breakfast tomorrow. She belatedly thought she could have had them look at the cubic with her. But then she would have had to reveal all the price information in front of them or go off with the agent to bid. She loved them both, but they were not all joined at the hip. They still had customers and secrets they didn’t share with each her. More than likely things they didn’t share with each other she was sure.
Jeff for example hadn’t shared the existence of the biggest of his private weapons system with them until after it was in place and active with five big warheads. Since then he had expanded that part of the system to an even dozen warheads, replacing one expended, and capped building them at that for now. They were upgraded in new maneuverable buses with decent decoys and jamming. More than that they not only fell at orbital velocity, but now accelerated in the drop phase to the target at another six G, making interception very unlikely.
Her phone gave a priority ding just as they sat down. “You own the cubic,” the lady told her. “Can you meet me at our offices at 13:00 and do the closing?” she asked.
“Sure, I’d be very happy to do that,” April agreed with a big grin. To Gunny she just gave a thumbs up. He simply nodded.