Packet Trade – Sample

“My name?”

“Sure. Davy Jones — you know, like Pirates of the Caribbean?”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of it,” I said. You don’t get to be nearly twenty and have a name like mine without hearing it all. Usually it’s that guy from The Monkees, though. “Isn’t it kind of a bad thing, though?”

He shrugged. “Well, I’ve got not desire to be visiting Davy Jones’ Locker, but there’s more to it than that. Supposedly it’s named after this guy who was an incredible seaman—“ He grinned, waiting for me to giggle, which I kind of wanted to do, but stopped myself. “You spend much time on the water before?”

I shook my head. “They told me experience wasn’t necessary. For the sailing part.”

“Yeah, that’s what my people are for. You won’t be able to avoid learning a thing or two about boats, though. And with a name like yours, you should be nautical.” He wiped his fingers on a thin paper napkin, then balled it up and tossed it on to his spotless plate.

I had a moment of panic. Had I been offered this position just because of my name? Was it possible that the selection committee was as superstitious as Isaac seemed to be? I’d been sure it was because I aced the database tuning test — I’d been totally in the zone when I was working on it and I’d gotten it purring like a kitten. Anwar had been so impressed when I told him I’d been called back.

“It’s a real coup,” he’d said. “Half the guys in the program would kill for this spot. Don’t fuck it up.”

I don’t think I really believed it was for real, even when Anwar finally told me a bit about his placement. Who would put a commercial server on a sailboat? And then hire a student intern as an onsite administrator? It’s nonsense. But how could I say no?

“So, you ready to see the Bucket?” Isaac asked. I didn’t want to tell him the truth, that I was most certainly not ready, I’d never be ready, I’d made a terrible mistake. I’d thought I could handle it, that it would be make for a great story. But now that I was here, and the full force of how utterly and completely weird this was came over me… nope. Not ready at all.

But, what could I do? I wasn’t about to let everyone down — my parents, my teachers — just because I was freaked out. If I was expected to get on the boat, I’d get on the boat. That was me: always meeting or exceeding expectations. So, I forced a smile and nodded.

Isaac must have seen something in my face, because he picked up my duffel and threw his arm around my shoulder. “She’s a sturdy ship and she takes care of all aboard. You’re gonna be fine, kid.” Then he let me go and walked out the door into the heat and humidity of the afternoon.

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