Those We Left Behind by D. A. Houdek
The story is a prequel to a series of other stories and novels (some complete, some not) based in my “Scouter ‘verse.” The story is science fiction and looks at the choices that must be made if we turn our backs on this planet to reach out to others.Originally published in Millennium Science Fiction and Fantasy, September 1998. Reprinted in The Best of Millennium Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine, Vol. 1 Issue 3, Winter 1998, republished in Private Galaxy in February 2003. ©1995 D. A Houdek (Deb Houdek Rule)
“You’ve managed to find the spacer bar,” the man told her. The intent way he studied her was starting to make her uneasy. “Only the hard-core spacers come here. Oh, not the Corp, or the Service, it’s too…” he waved his hand around meaningfully, “unstructured for their tastes. And it’s not on the maps or in the guides.”
“I found it,” she said quietly. “And I’m not a spacer.”
“You’re also not a tourist. What are you doing here?”
Diana stared off toward the window again. Earth was upside-down now, North America at the bottom. The North Pole as “up” was an arbitrary bias, she knew intellectually. It still looked wrong this way. She thought about what lay beneath that frosting of swirling clouds, of who and what she’d left behind.
In a whisper, she answered, “Suddenly I was suffocating down there.”
The man nodded. “I know what you mean. I think that’s why we all keep coming out here, even if it’s not why we went out in the first place.”