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Writing prompts provide ways to challenge creative expression. In this Space Western microstory, the prompt was an imaginary word, “zolark”.
Zolark of Desire
“Shut up, Bill.”
The big miner continued undeterred, “Yup, when we get off this rock, I’m gonna have me a zolark.”
“If we get off this rock. I can see why they abandoned this outpost. Nothing here but dust, heat, and these awful M-rats.” Walt tossed the empty ration tube and watched it land about two meters away. In the 1.3 gravity, everything seemed an effort.
“You know what they say, Walt, not even terrain rats would eat this shit.” Bill’s M-rat tube landed just past the other discard. A pause followed as the big man tried to negotiate a comfortable position on his undersized cot. “Damn, who was at this outpost last, some undersized mole diggers from Kalcon IV?”
“Don’t know. Don’t much care. All this rock’s got is dust, heat, and a mother-load of strachosphyte. KOSMINE would send anyone stupid as us to dig ore here.” Stranded together until KOSMINE sent a shuttle, thankful his sole companion had finally stopped talking about zolarks, Walt shut his eyes to get some rest.
“Yeah, strachosphyte. Who’d ever think them brown nuggets would be worth something again? I ain’t mined this since the Balistan Colony…Balistan…yup…some mighty fine zolarks there.”
“Shut up, Bill.”
“There, and Fruis. Had one of the best zolarkings of my life there. But I was a might bit younger then. When’s the last time you had a zolark, Walt?”
“If I tell you, then will you shut up? We got 4 cycles before the KOSies rescue us. Anyway, I can’t remember; it’s been a long time.”
No response. Walt rummaged, desperate to find something to plug his ears.
“It ain’t right. Just sayin’. If the biggies at KOS headquarters think a man can go 12 or 15 cycles with no zolark…it just ain’t right. We should get paid double.”
“Take it up with Dalton, he’s our union rep.”
“Dalton! He ain’t worth more than a bag 'a recycled urine. He don’t care a nugget of zircon that a miner sweats his balls off diggin’ ore and don’t have no reward for the effort. Not even a cheap zolark.”
“Look.” Walt shifted something in his supply pack, pulled out two small rods and waved one menacingly. “If you say the word ‘zolark’ one more time, I’m gonna shove this mag-strip right up your nose and put us both out of misery.” He cracked the other and a bright magnesium flame danced.
Bill rolled to reposition away from his fellow miner, scratched his scraggled beard and muttered, barely audible, angry and disgusted, “A man’s just lookin’ for a decent zolark…nothin’ wrong with that.” He huffed. The mag-strip burned down, and he thought of zolarks as he gazed longingly at stars overhead.
Walt swirled his zistaroo. The purple concoction, a Taldeun specialty, tasted pretty good, though this establishment itself reeked of dive. He ordered his third. Taldeus, a water moon, was known for two things: zistaroo and zolarks—the latter, legendary in this sector.
“Walt? I see you’re partakin’ of some of the local finery.”
He looked up to see his former comrade, now clean-shaven and showing the biggest platinum caps Walt had ever seen, framed by a giant grin. Chair legs scratched a channel in the dirt floor under the table as Walt made room. “Bill, pull up a seat.”
“Don’t mind if I do.” The smile retracted momentarily as Bill ordered a blue zistaroo from the buxom server droid.
“Did you get what you came for?”
Somehow, Bill’s lips parted even further. “Twice! You know, the zolarks here are galaxy famous. In a little while, I’m gonna get me another.” He gazed in grinning contentment. “Long, sweet, perfumed, and oh so wet and wild. Quite possibly the best zolarkin’ experience I can recall…ever! Even better ’en I dreamt when the two of us was stranded together. You really oughta go for it, Walt, you won’t regret it.” He inhaled deeply. “I think you would really, really enjoy a zolark…the sooner the better.”
Walt drained his mug, wiped purple foam on his sleeve, and stood stretching his legs. “Why do ya think I’m here?” He took a step towards the back stairs.
Bill put down his own drink. “Try the third door on the left. She’s really hot. Best zolark ever.”
“Shut up, Bill. I can pick out my own damn zolark.”
Behind closed doors, Walt stripped naked, eased into the waters, soaked, and scrubbed in long overdue indulgence. Shutting his eyes in pure delight, he uttered to himself, “Best damn zolark I’ve had in a long, long time!”
Victor Acquista is author of the Amazon Bestseller epic Sci-Fi novel, "Sentient". Learn more here