Monday, September 12, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night...

Believe it or not, that's the first line to a much loved children's classic, and one of my all-time favorites, tired as it sounds. Major karma if you loved it as much as I did. It's amazing what you can do with a supposedly tired idea if you interpret it in a different way...

Which is just in time for this month's Blog Chain. :) 

Last to post was Michelle, and Shaun will post next, but Christine got to choose the topic:

Since we are all writers, I thought it was about time for us to stretch our creative muscles and do a little writing. So, take the following topic and go crazy! Show us what you've got. Your story can be as long or as short as you choice.

he topic: A dark and stormy night:

Just as soon as I think it's safe to de-reg and bunk down for the next few hours of starless space, the prox-sensors buzz me back into awareness. Farging asteroid cluster wasn't on my map. Hard to see them in the depths of the black like this. My time card says I've been on too long to handle this sitch, but poor Karla's been twelve-on/six-off for so long, I don't want to disturb the last precious hour she's got left. And I know the protocol like I know the ceiling above my bunk, I've run so many sims. And maybe I want to show corporate that I can handle a little more responsibility.

Maybe I should just wake Karla.

No. I shoot a little more O2 into my reg and prime the manual override. Just like the sim. Of course, in the sim, it's not the lives of thousands of pleasure cruise passengers in stasis for the long haul. A trip that takes us all away from our home planets for the better part of four years. Not that they'll age at all during the voyage to Griphon Eta. Not like Karla and I will. Another reason to let her have her beauty sleep. I snicker to myself--there's no one else to hear me--and file the joke away for the few minutes of contact we'll have next hour.

The nearest asteroid is the size of a cargo loader, easier to see on my O-scope than with my naked eye. Barely have to push the thrusters to maneuver out of its trajectory. There's a tight cluster of them at to my right that move slow as a loader, and I swerve back the way I came to avoid them. Only to come face to face with a faster moving asteroid half the size of the ship. 

There's something wrong. Asteroids never crowd this close together in a field, headed in a similar direction. Why didn't I wake Karla? There's another big one just below me. Instead of heading doggedly in a single trajectory until it hit something else, like a normal meteor, it starts rising up toward my belly. I thrust away, back toward the slow-moving cluster. My O-scope is full of huge asteroids angling toward me. Are they magnetized? Is the ship attracting them? The whole screen fills with red. I can't trust it anymore. I need to use my eyes. I raise the ultra-shield from the view-screen and flick on the flood lights.

The lights glint on what at first looks to my eye like ice or some exposed metallic ore. But the cluster sparkles all over, loader-sized balls of diamond. With what look like... tails? The closest one to me rolls, the flood lights almost blinding as they reflect off its shining surface. Until I see eyes looking back at me. Eyes like emeralds, the size of human skulls, over a scaly snout. There are a dozen of them, smaller versions of the ship-sized not-asteroids filling my O-scope screen. In my ten years piloting stasis-cruisers, I've never seen anything like them, but there's only one thing they can be. 


I should have woken Karla. 

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