Indentured to the Stars by Brandon Case

Sweat poured down my back, plastering the mine’s EVA suit to my skin. Musty air fogged the faceplate, reeking of body odor and charred bacon.

My plasma torch bit into the asteroid’s surface, chewing through rock. Reflected heat blistered my hands, but memories of my children dulled the pain.

I freed a fist-sized nodule and held it to my headlamp–praying for a gem.

Prismatic light erupted from the stone, bathing me in rainbows. Tears pooled on my face, diluting the sweat.

Once cut, the diamond would be worth more than a starship–earning my family another month’s rations from the mine.

Brandon Case is an erstwhile government cog, fleeing the doldrums into unsettling worlds of science and magic. He has work forthcoming in the Los Suelos Anthology and you can catch his alpine adventures on Instagram @BrandonCase101.

Subscribe to Martian Magazine to support us! Subscription includes four quarterly digital issues PLUS the year-end anthology for only $8!