The doors hissed open. The children walked down the stairs and walked out the station, eyes going big at the hubbub happening around them.
The carnival was housed in a barely visible barrier that normalized the atmosphere for the visitors. The dark shy of space sparkled with stars, giving the carnival the nighttime experience all day. The dome was bustling with bodies compared to the station. Laughter, screams and yelling, bright, flashing neon lights, fried foods, all filled their senses.
A person on stilts walked past, bending over backwards as they did so, their head level with the toddlers. They shrieked and clung to each other, then started to laugh. The children moved together, looking at all the attractions. A bearded lady, a man who can eat swords, a fire magician, fun house, games, rides.
Horne tugged on Sasha’s hand. “I want to go play,” they said, pointing at a bounce house. Sasha smiled and nodded, following behind, one little voice from a toddler screaming “waaaaaait for meeeeee” to Horne.
Ron and Aya followed behind with the other two toddlers, the babies strapped to their chests. Ree watched them go, free of any baby or child. She took off in a sprint in the other direction. Koro had slipped her some credits the night before and dammit, she was going to buy herself a fun time. She hit up the fun house, the fastest (but not safest looking) roller coaster. She wandered around, passing a small building, before doubling back and going inside. She came out 20 minutes later, a little ring now placed into her septum, several earrings dazzling her ears. She passed a little store and bought some coloring for her hair.
She continued her lone walk.
“Hey, you there, girl!” a voice rang out to her left. She glanced over in that direction and froze a bit. It was one of the war-monger aliens.
“Got a prize for you if you can throw this dart at this balloon! Free of charge!” She stopped walking and glared before walking up. She took the dart and threw it, missing the balloon by inches… But it still popped as if she hit it. A siren went off, causing her to jump.
“Winner!” The alien said, handing Ree an envelope. She snatched it away and stuffed it in her bag, before taking off again.
“REE! There you are!” It was Sasha.
“We’ve been looking for you for two hours!” Sasha said, before staring at Ree.
“Nice,” Sasha said, point at her nose and ears. Ree grinned like a cat.
“I got hair dye too! Will you help me with it?” Sasha laughed nodded, giving Ree’s arm a squeeze.
They caught up with everyone else, who were enjoying a big helping of cheese fries and hot dogs. Ron and Aya were feeding and burping the babies.
“Ree! Ree! Ree, look! I won this!’ Horne said, pulling up a box of cereal. “I won a lot of it!”
Ree took the box and looked at it.
“Super Fast Jellyfish??”
“It has a toy inside!”
Ree handed the box back, before stealing a fry. Ron and Aya started to fawn over Ree’s new modifications, each of them contemplating getting their own. As they finished lunch and cleaning up sticky children, they started to make their way to back to the tram.
“Hey again, girl! Got another prize for ya!” The group stared at the war-monger alien. Ree took a deep breath and walked toward the stall.
The alien grinned. “Throw a dart in ‘twixt these balloons, and I’ll add something else to ya prize,” they said, handing Ree the dart. She took it and stared at the triangle of balloons. The dart soared and landed right in the middle, the balloons popping in unison. The alien let out a belly laugh and handed her a small box. She took it and ran back to her group. They didn’t say anything.
As the settled into the tram-car to go back to the station, Ron and Aya put the smaller children into the other car, changing them and changing their clothes before laying them down for a nap.
The teenagers sat together in the other car, staring at the box and envelope Ree had won.
“I don’t wanna open ’em,” Ree said, sitting back, crossing her arms.
“What!? You won the shits!” Aya said, pushing the items toward Ree.
“I’ll do it,” Sasha grumbled, grabbing the envelope. She ripped open the top and pulled out a folded letter and tickets. Ten of them, oddly enough.
I am pleased to inform you that you and your family have won a trip to Plastic Beach! Inside this envelope, there are tickets for you and yours to come join our resort for a time of fun and laughs!
Can’t wait to see you,
Huh,” Sasha said, putting the letter aside.
Ron picked up on the tickets and fiddled with it.
“It feels like a real ticket,” he said, holding it up to the light. Sasha had opened the box now. Everyone peered inside. It was an ignition starter, a piece of paper with a name on it and a pass.
“That’s a really fancy key for a really fancy ship but we don’t have the ship,” Ron said, frowning. Sasha picked it up and looked at it.
“There’s a button on it… I’mma press it,” she said, her thumb smashing the little blue button. Nothing happened.
“You got some dud ass prizes,” Aya said. “And the what the fuck is Plastic Beach?”
“A resort,” Ree said. Aya mocked her with a face.
“Yeah I got that, but what IS it? Do you think Koro would know?” Everyone shrugged.
“We can ask.”
At that moment, a rocket flew past the tram, shaking the car. Ron raced to the window, watching it fly.
“It’s headed toward the station!” He cried out.
The ride back to the station seemed like it was faster than the ride to the carnival.
Koro was right at the door when it opened.
“Who gave you that ship?! Hm!? It came flying the docks like a bat out of hell! And the… THING who handed it off. The war-monger!? How could trust them!?”
Aya rolled her eyes. “I won it in a game,” shouldering past him, carrying a sleeping baby on the other shoulder. Koro helped put the smaller children to bed, regrouping with the older teenagers.
“Yeah, what is it?”
Koro’s eyes started to glaze over.
“It’s a magical place. A place where happiness and relaxation are a top priority,” Koro said, almost in a monotone voice.
The teenagers watched Koro before looking at each other.
“Where is it?” Aya asked.
“Beyond the Glitter Freeze,” Koro responded in that same voice. Ron and Sasha felt uneasy.
“Maybe we can just take the ship and go?” Ron whispered to his siblings.
“NO,” Koro suddenly roared standing up. Koro’s whole demeanor had changed all of a sudden. They cleared their throat. “I mean, you all should go. After everything that’s happened to you, you need to recharge,” they said. The teenagers eyed him, before getting up and going to look at their new ship.
It was almost quadruple in size of the little rust bucket Ron and Grampa built. It was so big their bucket could fit in it. There were three decks, enough space for everyone to have their own rooms and then some. The galley was stocked, the ship full of fuel.
Ron was excited about the ship. Something new for him to pilot and learn how to repair. The young women were more excited to have their own spaces. They met up in the captain’s room.
“Everything is brand new,” Aya said. “What the fuck is happening?”
Ree shrugged. “I say we take this ship and just… Go.”
“Where, though?” Sasha asked.
“Maybe we should go to Plastic Beach? I mean, maybe it’s like an island world? But if it’s a resort, there are people and maybe they can tell us where the nearest hospitable planet is? I don’t think they’d let us LIVE there,” Ron said. Everyone was silent.
When they walked back into the station, Koro seemed to be back to their old self.
“Have y’all figured out what you’re going to do?”
Sasha was about to open her mouth, but Ree interrupted.
“We don’t know yet,” she said, glancing at her siblings.
“Yeah… We’re gonna go store our things in it, though. Less for you to worry about when we decide to leave with you,” Ron said, with a small smile.
A few days putting boxes of clothing and maneuvering the rust bucket into the third deck, the children were packed to go. In the middle of the night, the children quickly and quietly packed themselves into their new ship. As Ron settled into the pilot’s seat, the alarm for launch started to go off.
Ron started to scramble, pressing buttons, the ship slowly starting to wake up and turn on.
“Destination: Plastic Beach,” the computer said coolly.
The dock bay doors opened, Koro and a few other station dwellers started to run into the docks. The ship suddenly took off as soon as the doors were fully opened. The speed took Ron by surprise as he was thrown even further back in his seat. The ship whizzed off into the atmosphere, the broken moon turning into a speck within a few minutes. When the ship finally stabilized in speed, Ron tried to alter course.
“Destination: Plastic Beach. Heading north to the Glitter Freeze.”
“Where’s fucking north from here?” Ron demanded, trying to stop the trip to Plastic Beach.