“No Free Parking at Journey’s End” was second place prize winner of the 2011 Story Quest Short Story Contest. Louis Baum paints a bleak far-future universe, with twists and turns that are well crafted, and a masterful sense of irony. GH
Forty-one years, and now it was at an end. It was hard for Leo to believe. It was like a beautiful dream that once awake you try and hold on to, but whose ghostly substance disappears in the morning light like an evaporating mirage. Only strangely this dream was not fading with sober wakefulness. Instead, every day now, his cherished vision was being made more real, emerging from out of the realm of wishes and growing more solid in its yet opaque flesh.
He was on the cusp.
He was on the cusp of achieving the lifelong ambition of his deceased father, and in turn, the goal around which his entire life had centered. For the last few weeks he had been giddy and had done each hour’s tedious tasks with a big idiotic grin on his face. And yet his patience, which had been eternal his whole life, seemed to expire all at once in the last couple of days. He could not wait. After all, it was not much of a life to live one’s entire existence in space.