This in one of the origin stories I wrote for Sohm.  It’s an event that will have a big impact on her throughout her life.  I wish I could give more information but doing so would be a bit of a spoiler if I were to ever get the book written.

 shipstorm1

Shipwreck

(Approx 1200 words)

 

“Take my hand little one!” A man shouted to Sohm from the flooded deck of a storm damaged ship. He was wearing simple black trousers and a white shirt, water-soaked and stained red. Read the rest of this entry »

Prompt used:  You people scare me

(Approx. 1290 words)

“Come on Thomas, you got to try at least once before they cut her down!”  Jessica said coming up from behind her friend and putting her arm in his, “The old Lady is the only tree left in the park you can commune with.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Sohm – How she came to be.

Posted: July 8, 2014 in Blog

Sohm

 

Sohm has the distinction of being one of the first characters I have ever really developed. She was originally conceived from a teen boys fantasy and over the years changed and developed into the magic wielding steampunk ship captain she currently is. (I’m almost fifty now, to give you all an idea of how long I have known this character.)

Read the rest of this entry »

New Prompt

Posted: July 1, 2014 in Blog

The prompt choices for my next writers group meeting are “Fools Gold”,”Motivated Kiss”, and “Always Anonymous”

When I heard these announced I mentioned I could scratch “Motivated Kiss” off the list, because I just couldn’t see myself writing an emotional “Girly” story.  In the past I’ve browsed through some of my wife’s romance novels and well … yuck.

But then I gave this idea some serious thought.  Honestly, why not give it a shot?  The point for writing to these prompts is the practice after all, and considering the lack of experience writing this kind of thing I certainly could benefit from the attempt.

So I did it.  I took inspiration from my own past and twisted it up some to come up with my latest story called “Goodbye.”    This will be what I read to the group at our next meeting.

Let me know where I failed, I can’t get better if I don’t know what needs fixing …

Cheers!

http://aethyrshadows.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/goodbye/

Prompt Used: “Motivated Kiss”

( Aprox 1200 words)

 

Tonight’s drive was like all of the others that Darrin and Sarah had taken together in the past.  As they traveled the back roads of Upstate New York in Darrin’s little MR-2, they would take turns flipping a coin to randomly choose their next direction at any intersection they happened upon; heads would be left, tails would be right.   They didn’t care about where they might end up, because for them these drives were not about the destinations.  In fact, a destination was something they tried to avoid because once you reach your destination the trip is over, and neither of them wanted their time together to end.

Darrin looked forward to these weekends simply to spend time with Sarah, and it was no secret to anyone that he loved her.  He made this declaration to Sarah herself years ago but to his disappointment he could never get her to return the feelings.

He couldn’t understand her hesitation at saying the words, when even their friends considered them a couple.  Rarely would you see one without the other whenever Darrin made the six-hour drive from Groton to Syracuse to visit home, or more accurately visit Sarah.

Yes, tonight seemed like any of the other nights they spent on the road.  They listened to radio and talked about life, shared dreams, discussed current events, and their plans for the future; and as always they took turns flipping the coin.

Eventually they ended up on a straight country road, the rows of corn blurring as the stalks left the narrow beam of the headlights to disappear into the darkness as they passed.

After years of waiting in vain for Sarah to tell him She loved him and wanted him to stay, he decided to do another four years in the Navy.  Not because he really loved the service, but because he didn’t know what else to do with his life at this point and had nothing truly keeping him home.

If only she would say the words he thought.   If only her could hear her tell him that she loved him, and that she wished he didn’t have to leave again; then his life would be complete and his heart would be full.  He would have a reason to come home for good.

He turned and smiled at her.

She was sipping her diet Pepsi through a curly straw, reclined with her feet up on the dash and occasionally mouthing the words to the Bon Jovi song that was playing on the radio.

Born to be my Baby,” Darrin Thought, how fitting.

She smiled back at Darrin when she noticed his gaze.  “What?” she giggled.

“Just admiring how beautiful you are is all.”

“Oh stop,” She said with a friendly backhand to his shoulder.

Darrin noticed the bracelet he gave her a year ago her still on her wrist at least, though he really wanted to give her a ring, because a bracelet just didn’t scream “I’m taken” like a ring on her finger would; Sarah wouldn’t accept a ring.  Still she almost never took off the bracelet

“No – I’m serious; you’re the most beautiful girl I know.”

She only smiled back at him then returned to her singing.

The reached another intersection; it was heads, and Darrin turned left to continue down the dark highway through more of the cornfields.  This was another thing he missed when he was away – there was actually some distance between towns.  You could tell when you reached another town because the farm land would grow shops and homes instead of corn, or wheat, or beans.

“A groovy kind of love” by Phil Collins had just finished playing when Sarah suddenly sat up in the seat and turned off the radio.   “Did you ever give any thought to what might have happened between us if you hadn’t of re-enlisted?”

Darrin pulled quickly to the side of the road and after throwing the car into park turned to face her, almost angry but certainly frustrated.  His heart was pounding so loud in his chest he was afraid she would be able to hear it.

“I think about us almost every single day Sarah,  You know I love you – I never made that a secret; but it seemed that you never want more from me than a friendship.”

“I’ve been waiting…” she whispered looking down into her lap, unable to look at Darrin.

“Why do you have to wait?  If you love me just say it Sarah, I’ve been waiting a long time too.”

“I don’t want a part-time boyfriend Darrin,” she replied, her own tone having a sharpness to it now too, “I need someone here to hold me when I need it, not someone who spends most of their time three states away.  I just wanted you to be done with the Navy and stay home.  Now you made that is impossible!”

Darrin almost cried.  Why this?  Why now?  Why couldn’t she have said something before he swore an oath that would keep him away for another four years?

“Well then why didn’t you tell me that Sarah?  I’ve only ever believed you wanted to remain friends, so I never even worried about re-enlisting; I didn’t think twice about it.  Hun, If you’d only have said something, anything, to let me know that you wanted more for us.”

Darrin noticed a tear on Sarah’s cheek.  Did she love him?  She sometimes acted like she did but she still wouldn’t say it, she still held those words back from him.

She turned away to stare out at the darkness.

Neither of them talked as Darrin brought her home, both lost in their own thoughts.   Could this really be his fault?  Did he worry too much about hearing her say the words, that he actually missed everything she had been saying without them?

Darrin walked Sarah from the parking lot to her apartment.  She unlocked the door then turned to him to say good-bye, but he hushed her before she could speak.  “Shh, it doesn’t have to be goodbye.”

He reached for her hands, to bring her closer to him.  At first she pulled away, but eventually Sarah gave in to Darrin’s touch and let him pull her into an embrace.  She snuggled comfortably into his chest and he inhaled her, savoring the aroma of her hair and perfume; feeling the warmth of her body as she pressed it against his own.  She was crying now, her body shuddering with each breath.

Darrin pulled back to hold her face in his hands. He wanted desperately to tell her he was sorry but didn’t know how.  Sarah’s normally bright blue eyes were now bloodshot and wet, her tears rolled down her cheeks to dampen her lips and chin.

Darrin tried  to brush away a lock of hair from her face but it stubbornly clung to her damp cheek just as she clung on to him seeming to not want to let go.  He kissed her gently, the tears on her lips wetting his own as he poured out his love into this solitary moment.  He was crying now too as he let  his lips hover near hers, feeling her breath on his face.  This was the first time that he had ever kissed her, and he knew in his heart it would also  be his last.

“Just say the words,” he whispered to her as their embrace ended.

Sarah opened her mouth to speak, and for a moment Darrin thought she might give him what he desired, but after a moment’s pause she only said goodbye, leaving him there at the door as she turned and disappeared into her apartment.

Prompt Used – “Talking to the Dead”

(Approx. 2150 words)

In 2014, NASA began working earnestly on developing a “Warp” drive.   It took seventy-five years to accomplish but in 2090 man had finally become a star-faring species.  Alpha Centauri was selected as the target for the first extra-solar visit. Two weeks and 4.3 light-years after “sparking the rings” NASA’s IXS Enterprise was exploring our Sun’s closest neighbor.

As if the fact that humans had finally reached the stars wasn’t enough of an accomplishment, another discovery was made at Alpha Centauri; a discovery that dwarfed even man’s new ability to visit the far reaches of space.

To the joy of some and the horror of others, NASA’s Enterprise discovered without a doubt that Man was not alone in the universe.

While no actual alien life was encountered at Alpha Centauri, indications of their previous visit littered the system.  Based on NASA’s latest count at least three thousand alien ships of various sizes and configurations are located there.  Most of these alien wrecks were in an area that was dubbed “The Cemetery,” because if the high concentration of derelict ships that had clustered there.

The Enterprise returned to earth and its crew given a hero’s welcome.  It would be another twenty-five years before NASA returned to the cemetery of Alpha Centauri – this time to talk to the dead.

It would not be an easy task considering these derelicts alien origins but NASA came prepared; building a command ship to oversee the task.  The ship was four times as large as the original enterprise and carried a small manufacturing facility in order to design and fabricate any device or item that may be needed to interface with whatever computer systems the survey crews might find.

Small runabouts, called necro-coms, were brought in by the command ship tasked to explore each wreck, their job to search for a way to connect or otherwise retrieve the data.

Major Tom Denali and his civilian co-pilot Paul Grant completed their visit of one of the alien ships at the edge of the cemetery.  With their gear already stowed aboard their runabout they waited for their latest data to upload to Undertaker, the command and control ship.

After about fifteen minutes a sultry female voice spoke calmly from the ships audio channel.

Necro-Two, this is Undertaker.  Data upload complete, you are free to disengage.”

Necro-Two is free to disengage, roger,” Major Denali replied to the message. “Backing out and moving to next target”

Turning a key, Denali disengaged the safety on the mag-locks holding his Necro-com to the hull of the alien ship they had just explored. He cut power to the locks and the ship disengaged.

Looking over at Paul he smiled as the runabout slowly drifted away, “Someday she is going to tell me yes you know. ”

“Not a chance Tom, she the type to be attracted to us younger guys. There is a little too much snow on your roof to warm a number like Megan.”  Paul tapped a finger on his head to highlight his point.

Denali feigned a hurt expression, and then both men laughed.

“All right, give us the next target Paul.”

Paul brought up a list on the center of three computer consoles in front of him. “It looks like we get to move further in now.  Our next target is delta-twenty-three-alpha; it’s one of the first we’ll hit as we move towards the center of the cemetery.”

Denali skillfully maneuvered the runabout away from the ship they just surveyed and aligned towards wreck delta-twenty-three-alpha. Engaging the thrusters,  Necro-Two accelerated towards the distant target. The path was mostly clear and Denali only had to deviate from his course a couple of times to avoid debris as the traveled. When they reached the dead ship a couple of hours later they circled the wreck looking for a safe place to attach to.

“It’s another species four,” Paul reminded his partner as they circled.

“Then that would put the airlock …. Right there,” Denali said pointing to what looked like a circle engraved into the metal plates that made up the ship’s outer hull. Denali picked a clear spot and maneuvered close.

Looking past the group of dead ships nearby, Denali noticed something at the very center of the cemetery cluster unlike anything the pair had encountered so far.

“Hey Paul, look at that structure in the center, it’s spherical.” Denali said pointing. It was about as large as their runabout, its hull covered in shiny gold copper plates, a single groove encircled it at its equator.

“Yeah I see it too, Strange.” Paul said searching a list he brought up on his computer console. “Let’s see if it’s in the catalog … Nope, nothing in the catalog describing a sphere. It seems to be something that was missed on the initial survey pass.”

“Good catch,” Denali said, and he opened a channel to Undertaker.

“Undertaker, this is Necro-Two.  We are uploading the co-ordinates and visuals for a new wreck.”

“Roger Necro- two,” Megan replied, “Receiving data now”

After a few moments Megan radioed back that the data had been received.

“Congratulation boys, the think-tank acknowledges that this is a new species discovery.  Looks like you found species seven. We are designating the sphere as echo-one-alpha and adding it to the survey catalog.”

Denali stopped the forward motion of the runabout and moved the ship slowly closer to the hull of delta-twenty-three-alpha. Paul extended the magnetic locks that would hold their ship to the alien hull, and a few moments later their ship shuddered slightly as it touched. Paul used this as a signal and engaged the locks, keeping their ship safely in place.

“Hardly a bump as always,” Paul said with a grin.

“My goal is to touch without you realizing it.” Denali said.  He set the mag-lock safety and radioed in their status.

“Undertaker, this is Necro-Two. We have reached delta-twenty-three-alpha and are prepping for entry.”

“Acknowledged Necro-Two,” Megan replied, “Time allowed for survey two hours, then return and report.  Major, you will be happy to know the think-tank guys might have found another pattern out of all that junk you necros transmit to us.”

“That’s encouraging Undertaker – hopefully it’s not just another alien maintenance schedule.”  Denali said and closed the channel.

The pair released their safety harnesses and drifted to the rear of the runabout to suit up for their visit to the alien ship. They tested their helmet cameras and microphones, and performed self-tests on the survey equipment they were bringing with them.

“Have you ever given a thought to what happened here?” Denali asked, “I mean why such a large concentration of ships collecting in this spot, and why are we finding only dust in any of the suits we find, no bodies.”

“I used to, not so much anymore,” Paul said. “I suspect time, even if the dust is more char than decay.  The ships have been here a while so who knows what a body would look like after a couple of thousand years, alien or not.

Entering the runabout’s air lock, they vented to equalize the pressure and a short time later they stood at the entrance to the derelict ship.

“Personally I suspect a battle of some sort.” Denali continued, “I mean we’ve found about six different species, based on ship construction and configuration.  Seven when you count the sphere.”

“Perhaps, but almost none of the ships so far have any kind of external damage, and those that do seem to be from collisions not combat.  Doesn’t sound like much a fight to me.” Paul said.

They had little trouble gaining access to the airlock, having already surveyed a number of similar ships. After only a few moments they entered the cramped space and closed the hatch.

There was no way to equalize pressure here; even if they knew how, there was the problem of power, so like the rest of the ships they crawled into it was necessary to use a hand powered jack on the airtight door seal. With only a few pumps the door flew open with a violent thud.

With helmet lights and cameras on they entered the wreck to begin their work, the space beyond the airlock hidden in darkness.

Necro-Two, this is Undertaker, “Megan’s voice crackled on the helmet com channel.

“Go ahead Undertaker.” Denali said.

“Tom, Paul – the think-tank guys found an unusual pattern across all the ships we have surveyed so far, it has something to do with each ships chronometers.”

Denali looked at Paul who only shrugged.

“What kind of pattern”?”

“Something is happening every five years Tom, the chronometers have stopped on all of the derelicts we have scanned so far, not at some random time as you might expect once a ship’s power depleted, but at some increment of five years to each other.”

Denali and Paul had just reached the bridge of the ship and were able to look out upon the rest of the hulks drifting in the cemetery.

“There is always a five-year difference between the clocks, or an increment of five years such as ten or fifteen. This is the same across each species, at least those we have been able to interpret so far. There is some event that is happening every five years that is causing all the clocks to stop.”

“Any idea what?” Denali asked.

“None; but if the team is correct the next event should happen in about three hours.  We are recalling all of the necro-coms and will be moving to a safe distance away from the cemetery in two hours”

“Megan, it took us two hours just to get to delta-twenty-three-alpha.”

“We know, so you better move quickly, Undertaker out.”

“Did you catch that Paul?”  Denali asked turning back the way they had come in.

“Yeah, so let’s get moving.”

Denali and Paul burned up fifteen minutes getting back into to the necro-com runabout and another ten disengaging from hull delta-twenty-three-alpha.  They pushed their runabout as fast as it would go, with Denali skillfully dodging dead ships and debris.  Once clear of the cemetery they aligned to Undertaker again, burned hard for more speed then drifted towards the command ship.

“Undertaker, this is Necro-Two, Megan we are on our way but still thirty minutes short of rendezvous.” Denali radioed.

“Understood, the captain has allowed you another thirty minutes but that is all you will get. The rest of the necro-coms are on board, and we are just waiting on you.”

“Thank You Undertaker,” Denali said, and closed the channel

“If all the chronometers stopped, it’s likely some kind of E.M. Pulse, but that doesn’t explain the dust.” Paul said.

“I was thinking the same thing, and where is this originating from?  Looking at how the ships are clustered – I’m betting on that Sphere.” Denali said.

Necro-Two, this is Undertaker. We have you on grid.”

“Roger Undertaker, are we clear to dock?”

“Negative – the captain has ordered a warp start, there is no time.  You will have to hitch a ride.

“Acknowledged Undertaker.” Denali said

Firing the reverse thrusters Denali slowed Necro-Two as it approached the command ship.  The warp rings on Undertaker were already glowing blue, indicating the captain had initiated the warp start and there would only be another ten minutes before the ships capacitors were charged enough to “spark the rings.”  It was tight, but still time enough for Denali to maneuver through the aft ring set and take station on Undertakers starboard side.

Suddenly in the center of the cemetery there was a sun-bright flash of yellow-green light originating from the area of the strange gold ship. The flash was followed by a growing sphere of scintillating green energy that moved out at incredible speed, engulfing the cemetery as it expanded.

As suddenly as the sphere manifested, the space around Undertaker blurred into a blue mist as the warp drive engaged.  In just thirty seconds it was over and the ship dropped out of warp again, Alpha Centari now a small twinkling light in the distance.

“Undertaker, did you get a scan of that energy?” Denali asked.

“Really major, you’re as bad as those think tank guys.” Megan radioed back with a sigh. “No, we did not get a scan – because we were not about to hang around waiting for it whatever that was to get close enough to get a reading.

“To bad,” Denali said, “Is the dock available for us?

“Necro Two – you are clear to dock in bay two.  Report to conference room three for debrief after decontamination.”

Denali looked at Paul with a grin.  “She seemed concerned for us; I’m telling you she is going to say yes…”

Paul smiled and tapped a finger on his head.

Prompt used: The Stranger.

(Aprox. 1200 words)

 

Corbin Drake lay awake on his bed, his mood growing darker by the minute. It was hard enough to sleep with the storm thundering him awake; now there was someone who apparently didn’t notice it was two in the morning pounding on the back door.

He tried to ignore it, hoping that whoever was assaulting the door would eventually give up and go away, but it became apparent after ten minutes of the constant thudding, the stranger was not going to give up.

Corbin threw on his robe and headed down to the back door, ready to chew out anyone with the audacity to bother him at this time of night.

There was a time that a knock at the back door meant a paycheck. It would mean there was another stranger showing up to have Corbin work his magic; that special kind of magic he was able to do for grieving families or an occasional lonely widower. It was a knock he hadn’t heard since he was forced to give up that work over ten years ago.

Corbin reached the door and shouted through the solid oak. ‘’You have better have a damn good excuse for waking me up at two in the morning.”

To his surprise it was a woman’s voice that he heard on the other side.

“Please sir, I need your help – there is no one else I can turn to.”

“What kind of help are you expecting me to give lady?” Corbin asked, still talking through the door. His tone was a bit softer this time, but he was still very irritated that he was awakened.

“I need you to paint for Me.” the woman said, sobbing now.

Shocked at the request, Corbin opened the door just a crack and looked out. The woman standing there was dressed in rain and tears. In her left arm she was cradling a very young girl whose eyes were closed, body hanging limply.

He looked at the girl, and then back up at the woman.

“I’m sorry miss, but I haven’t painted since the practice was outlawed ten years ago.”

Corbin closed the door and turned his back to it. He knew what she wanted, and he knew he had the power to help her. She wanted him to paint that little girl – to bring her back.

The woman began to pound on the door again, crying desperately for his help.  Corbin stood there listening. Her pleas beat on his guilt with each thump of her fist on the door. He understood her desperation, her sorrow. He lost his little one eight years ago.

He desperately wanted to paint him back when he died too, but painting is outlawed. He would risk a long time in jail for even making the attempt.

Corbin cursed at himself for not taking his son’s blood all those years ago when he had the chance; taken it before his son’s precious life had evaporated from within it.

The law be damned.

He should have ignored the risk, taken the blood and mixed the paints that would have given his boy another chance; a choice that caused his grieving wife to leave him after she begged Corbin to paint their boy only to have Corbin refuse because of his fear of the law.

After years of regret he understood that it would have been better to be in jail if it meant his son would live.

What a coward he was, to not make the right decision out of fear for himself. How heartless he must be, to intimately know of this woman’s pain, yet ignore her cries.

Corbin sighed. He made the wrong decision eight years ago. Certain that he would regret his decision to help the woman, he turned and opened the door; catching the woman’s bruised arm as she swung to strike the door yet again. He jerked her inside quickly, looked about to insure there was no one watching them, then turned down the light and closed and locked the door.

“What’s your name” he asked this stranger, leading her by the arm roughly through the house.

“Sara,” The woman said. “And this is my baby, my Jessica.”

“How long has she been dead?”

Looking down at the lifeless body of her daughter, Sara began to cry again.

“This morning she sobbed.”

“Hush.” Corbin said, “There might still be time.  Take Jessica down to that room at the end of the hall. I’ll be there in a second. Don’t worry – I’ll paint your daughter.”

Sara stopped crying and numbly followed his instructions.  A short time later Corbin was dressed and joined Sara in the studio bringing with him a small box and a towel. He gave the towel to her so she could dry her face, and then moved a stack of blank canvases from a small couch.

“Lay Jessica here.” He told Sara, “Then take a seat in that chair at the back of the room. This will take a bit of time.”

The box he retrieved contained a syringe and some vials which he now used to draw blood from the dead girl. Using her blood he began to mix his paints … to do his magic.

“The blood is mixed with the paints,” He explained Sara as he worked. “There is life in the blood, even for a time after death. This allows the magic to be painted into an image.”

Looking over he saw that Sara wasn’t listening; she was asleep in the chair exhausted from her grief.

Corbin worked for hours while Sara slept; insuring every detail of Jessica’s painting was perfect. When he was done, he woke Sara.

“It’s time,” he said as he shook her awake. “My part is done, now it’s your turn.”

“What do I do?” She asked concerned.

“Go to her and tell her you love her, tell her you need her back.”

Sara walked over and knelt next to her daughter. Corbin’s painting of her was sitting on an easel nearby.  Tears fell again as she expressed her love for Jessica. She told her little girl about all of the dreams she for her future, the plans and hopes she had for her life. She let her love flow out like a warm breeze to wash comfortably over her the lifeless girl.

Corbin watched quietly waiting for the magic. It didn’t take long before the painting began to glow, and silver-gold tendrils of mist danced between the painting and the girl, sparkling like dust in sunbeam. The threads were small at first but became stronger and brighter as Sara continued her adoration of her baby girl.

As the wispy threads coalesced from the painting into Jessica’s motionless form, her image faded from the canvas until the canvas was blank once more.  There was a final flash of purifying golden light that quickly flowed into Jessica and then disappeared.  It was done.

Jessica yawned then opened her eyes. Seeing her mother she gave a smile.

“Mama I’m hungry.” she said.

Sara, realizing the magic was spent and her daughter lived embraced her tightly and began to sob again – this time with pure joy and relief.

She turned to Corbin, her face flushed and wet.  “Thank You sir, thank you,” she said.

Corbin smiled.  “The law be damned Indeed.”

 

 

 

A challenging new prompt for me

Posted: June 5, 2014 in Blog

Well I posted the last of my previously written prompts today, so unless I stumble upon something else buried deep in a file folder somewhere my only options for posting from this point will be posting brand-new stories only. This is a good thing actually because the pressure is on to keep up, forcing me to actually have to write again.

The prompt for the next short was given to me by my twelve-year-old daughter. I honestly do not know how she came up with it, but it’s giving me some issues as far as how to use it and what kind of story to use it in.

This is the prompt she gave me …

“It was only supposed to be one man, not all of these innocent bystanders …”

Wow right?  I’m thinking a spy/assassination theme but unfortunately that would be well outside of my comfort zone. I do not read that stuff and seldom even watch a movie from the genre. I suppose I could spin it into a sci-fi or fantasy thing if I really thought about it though.

Oh well, we’ll see how it progresses when I start writing.

Cheers
-PK

Prompt Used:  “Trip To Mars”

(Approx. 700 words)

 

Jack could have picked any number of ways to kill himself while he languished on board that blasted orbital station he’d been trapped in for the last three years. God knows that after enduring those three long years alone, he had given them each some serious thought.

Ejecting himself unprotected into space was one of the more appealing choices. Sure it wouldn’t be pleasant, and not really all that quick; but at least it would’ve been faster than the alternatives, all which involved slowly dying due to the lack of some needed resource – be it food, water or air.

Of course his nanobots would get to work as soon as whatever was killing him started causing physical damage. They might even succeed to a point; but ultimately even the ‘nanos’ wouldn’t be able to keep him alive and in the end just prolonged his pain.

Yes, ejecting himself would have been his final choice if he hadn’t of figured out how to launch the capsule.

As near as Jack could tell the capsule was docked to be used as a kind of life boat for the station. It was hard to know for sure as every label on the thing was written in Russian, but after years with nothing to do but study it – he at least figured out how to make the damn thing launch. This revelation perked him up, as it allowed him an even quicker way to die; a quick fiery explosive kind of way and that was the most appealing option yet.

Jack never expected he would be launched into space when he volunteered for the cold sleep experiment. Yes, an eventual trip to Mars or beyond was one of the driving forces behind the research but he did not remember signing anything that provided his permission to move him into orbit.

A very moot point at this juncture however. In the capsule now and heading towards the now dead planet he used to call home Jack made his peace and even looked forward to the explosive death he assumed would happen when the capsule meet the atmosphere.

He watched the orbiting station shrink until it was nothing more than a point of light, and a second later he lost it completely among the thousands of stars he was able to see through the escape capsule’s tiny window.

“This is it then,” Jack thought. “In just a few moments I’ll be a fiery red streak across the sky, a kaboom and it’s done.”

His thoughts were interrupted by the shaking of the capsule as it hit the atmosphere.

Chuckling, he cupped his hand in front his mouth and made a mic-keying sound. <Cruuuuussskk, cruusk> “ahh, Vladivostok – we have problem,” Jack said in his best soviet accent.

As he was laughing at himself, and as if in reply to his fake radio message, the capsule suddenly came alive. Indicator lights flashed and signaled messages that were meaningless to the capsules current occupant while the retro-rockets began firing loudly. From the way that the stars moved past the capsule window and the pulling and tugging he felt on the safety straps, Jack clued in that the spacecraft was positioning itself; rotating so that the protective heat shield was positioned correctly and activating maneuvering rockets to keep it stable.

“Oh no you don’t you Son-of-a-bitch!” Jack growled.

Having already decided he wanted to die he was not about to let some tiny metal space ball change his plans. He desperately cycled any switches and buttons within reach, hoping that his reckless tampering would cause the auto guidance system to shut down.

There was as a slight change in the pitch of the capsule and he heard the maneuvering rockets fire some more, but in the end there was no disrupting the capsule’s ordered re-entry. While there would still be a fiery red streak for Jack, he unfortunately would be denied that final kaboom.

He shook his head and let out a long frustrated sigh.

“oh well,”  he thought, “perhaps the parachutes will fail.”

 

Prompt Used: “It was an accident”

(approx. 830 words)

 

Jack Stone watched the earth slowly rotate beneath him; the blue and white surface changing to black as the station’s orbit brought it around behind the planet hiding it in temporary darkness. In a few just a few hours there would be an explosion of light as the sun came into view again; a cycle that repeated just has it had day after day, year after year.

Jack sighed. The experiment was only supposed to last for five years, at least that’s what the researchers told him. It was to be a five-year experiment in cold sleep setting the stage for possible manned trips to mars and beyond.

Jack figured five-year was a small commitment in the big scheme of things. Hell, he wasn’t even going to experience those five years consciously, he would simply be asleep in a tube and the entire five years would be over in a single dreamless blink. He would only suffer a couple of injections and wake up five years later, a very healthy and rich man.

Jack chuckled at the last thought; well at least he was healthy.

The cold-sleep concept was easy to understand. As he could not be safely frozen due to damage the forming ice crystals would cause to his cells, his body would instead be brought to near freezing temperatures bringing his metabolism close to a dead stop while Nanobots worked to maintain and repair his body.

He did not know exactly how the Nano’s worked, only that the microscopic robots used his own DNA as a blueprint to build or repair any cells as needed. So Jack allowed himself to be injected with the Nano’s, followed by an injection of a drug that put him to sleep.

He slipped into unconsciousness in 2061, and in just a blink the years were gone.

The stations chronometer put the current date at 2345, three years after Jack revived and crawled out of his tube. Power and coolant resources had depleted to the point where automated systems kicked in and brought him out of cold sleep for his own safety. So He spent the last three conscious years alone. Three mind numbing years watching the planet below spin in its endless cycle.

Jack had endured it long enough.

He had used up all the bland astronaut food he could find, and if he understood the gauges; water and oxygen were all but used up as well. Nanobots or not – he still had to breath.

Pulling himself away from the view-port, he maneuvered his weightless body down a narrow passage filled with pipes and conduit until he reached an airlock labeled DOCK.  At least that is what he thought it spelled but like most text found on the blasted station it was written in Russian.

With just a little effort he spun the locking handle and pulled the hatch open. He glanced into the capsule beyond the hatch.  It was tiny and cramped and would most certainly be uncomfortable, but comfort mattered little to him at this point because soon it would all be over and he would once again be oblivious to the passage of time.

He entered the capsule, pulled the hatch closed and spun the locking mechanism tight again.

Jack could not read Russian, nor was he an astronaut; but he had studied the capsule pretty
thoroughly over the last three years and made some guesses as to what some of the things inside
were for.

He strapped himself into the seat.  Reaching up, he grasped a foot long lever and gave it five good pumps.  After that he removed a cotter pin that secured a large red handle just to the left of the lever, and gave this handle a big tug, pulling it down.

After a short delay there was a loud explosion and the capsule shuddered violently.

Jack winced in pain. The force of the blast that sent the capsule hurling towards the earth
pressed him heavily into the safety harness, and it pinched tightly into his shoulders and chest.

From the few video and audio recordings he found on the station, Jack was able to determine that the end of mankind had been triggered by a single accident. A test or some kind of readiness drill became more real than any dared imagine. It was just a single missile launched in error that triggered it all, and in less than six hours the world was consumed by atomic fire.

As Jack hurled toward the planet he gave little thought to what could have been.  The money and health gained from allowing himself to be a lab rat did nothing for him now.  He was relieved that he would no-longer have to live with the loneliness and boredom he experienced over the last three years.

He chuckled when he realized he was thankful that in just a few moments he too, like the planet he was approaching, would be consumed by fire.