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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2188432
A couple deliberates over buying a new piece of property.
Fixer Upper

“Well, you have to admit,” I said, “it’s a bit of a fixer-upper.”

“Yes but imagine the potential,” Fil proposed. He’d been a very patient agent, showing us lots of great properties.

My wife had been quiet since we arrived and I could tell her mind was working in overdrive, summing up every aspect of the listing. “Well, what do you think, Huda?” I finally asked her.

“I’m not exactly a huge fan of orange,” she replied. “That color would have to go.”

“Of course,” Fil agreed. “That’s the beauty of owning your own property – you can do whatever you’d like. Just imagine, a little piece of paradise…retreating to your own little world, lounging on your private beach, far away from the stresses of work and drama of family. And there’s room enough to grow, a home as large as you’d like. Some gardens, a little grass…heck, you could have your own zoo. All it would take is a little terraforming.”

“Two moons?” she asked.

“Oh, sorry about that. There’s actually only one - Deimos. The other one’s the ‘For-Sale’ marquis, and it’s more than a bit filthy. If you’ll check again, you’ll see that this closer satellite’s mass is way off. Like I said, this property’s been on the market for a while now, and our sign’s accumulated some debris over the centuries. Young system, you know. Still a bit dusty. Guess I’ll have to look into getting it cleaned. Anyways, once the transaction is concluded we’ll be taking that with us.”

“And what happened to the last tenants?” I wondered.

“Oh, they needed more square footage and moved into a larger property, next door,” he pointed off into space. “Actually you guys would be neighbors. Third planet from the sun. Nice folks, really. Generally keep to themselves.”

“Yeah, I saw that place when we dropped into the system. Lots of water and pretty green. That one doesn’t happen to be for sale, does it?”

“Well, everything’s for sale I’m sure,” Fil smirked, “for the right price. Unfortunately, that particular parcel is way out of your budget.”

My wife sighed. “It might be too remote,” she doubted.

“But, we’d pretty much be off the grid, which is nice,” I realized. “Total freedom. Plenty of solar. Is there water?”

“Take a look for yourself,” Fil suggested and depressed a button on his panel. The image zoomed down to the surface, with its flowing, weathered erosions and dried, ancient lakebeds. “Plenty of ice at the poles, an underground aquifer system, and we’ve documented all the old canals. It’s a heck of a steal.”

“Isn’t it a bit desolate?” Huda worried, panning over the images of a barren, deserted landscape.

“But the potential,” our agent reminded her.

“What’s that?” Huda suddenly wondered, glaring at one of the live images in the proposal before zooming in.

“Something wrong?”

She picked the image from the virtual brochure and transferred it to the main display. Situated on a broad, sandy plain, a half dozen structures stood alone, glistening in the sun and surrounded by vehicle tracks. Then, the camera focused on a tiny bipedal form in an environmental suit, walking casually from one structure to the next. “Seriously? Squatters?” Fil peered in anxiously, enlarging the image even more. Then he knew. “Great. Humans,” he bemoaned through grizzled teeth. Smoothing his jacket down and smiling nervously, he chuckled, “Not a problem. We’ll have the whole place fumigated, of course.”

“Will they come back?”

“Tough to say. The only way to keep them away for good is to eliminate the hive. I’m sure we can negotiate it into the sales contract.”

“You think the owners would agree to that?”

“Oh, they might even be happy to be rid of them. We’ll be doing the neighborhood a favor, anyways. Bit of a pest really, humans, but the owners tolerate them for whatever reason. Guess they haven’t made it deep enough into the ocean trenches yet to for them to be a bother. But I think even the sellers realize at this point that they’ve kind of let the place go. I should point out that they’re very motivated. Anyways, an extermination would increase everyone’s property value. I’ll talk to them, for sure. It’s really not a problem.”

My wife gazed back to the planet and she smiled, her eyes tearing up. And at that, I knew this was the place for us. So, I agreed, “Where do we sign?”
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