?

Vote for the best Short Story!

Poll closed Apr 14, 2013.
  1. Drstrong - A Way Out

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. TimHarris - Final Defenders

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. AVCortez - Between Nowhere and Somewhere

    3 vote(s)
    42.9%
  4. CanadianBoson - Throw-Away Child

    3 vote(s)
    42.9%
  5. jredvelvet - The Creeping Monster

    1 vote(s)
    14.3%
  1. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England

    Voting Short Story Contest (131) Theme: Space

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Lemex, Mar 31, 2013.

    Voting Short Story Contest (131) Theme: Space

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned(maybe). No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 14th of April 2013 to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone!
     
  2. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Drstrong
    A Way Out


    Winston McCormack: 45 years old, a genius, yet who’s rational for humanities existence is a skewered one. The vast amounts of idiotic people upsets him greatly, nothing would please him more than to see all of the stupid people of the world be rid of their existence. Seemingly too smart for his own good, he does not yet understand the repercussions of the adventure in which he is about to embark.

    “Three days until initiation.” He mumbles to himself, the only worthy conversation, in his opinion, is with himself, no one else could hold a candle to his knowledge and no one else is worth his time. Winston has created a machine that will transport him to the newly discovered planet, just outside of our solar system, labeled Planet X, which has been deemed suiting for human life.

    When the initial contact was made, Winston was working for NASA, as an analyst of unidentified transmissions. His expertise was being able to pinpoint their origin, which was how Planet X was discovered. While numerous transmissions were received by Winston, there was never any way for him to respond, the technology simple did not exist.

    Frustrated with the lack of ability to speak to these mysterious beings, Winston decides to take matters into his own hands. Quickly becoming a recluse, most of his time is spent in his garage, where he is building, building something that can take him to where these beings dwell; Planet X. Sparsely leaving his home, he has grown further detached from his own people, his only priority is to take a chance and travel to where a more intelligent species is thriving.

    “I’ve done it!” He shouts from his rarely open garage door, neighbors peering inside from the sidewalk, looking curiously at the massive, cube shaped enclosure and what appears to be a crazy person sitting nearby. Once noticing his neighbors gathering, he continues; “Get away from here, all of you!” Immediately slamming his garage door closed with a thunderous bang, he then begins the final sequence of code needed to activate the device.

    After locating the exact coordinates of Planet X, he feels that his chosen coordinates are sufficient. The geography of the large planet has been successfully mapped and what appears to be water is clearly visible in all of the deep space images. While the final adjustments are completed, Winston steps into the large transportation device, the countdown begins from inside the enclosure; “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, LAUNCH INITIATED.”

    Sitting in his seat, Winston holds on for dear life, not sure of what is about to happen. Everything has been meticulously planned, but there could be no planning for what is waiting on the other side. The noise becomes louder and louder, while the rumbling of his transport device is almost unbearable.

    Then suddenly, there is silence.

    Winston gathers himself, waiting for his adrenaline rush to subside. He stands up, while unable to at first, slowly gains his balance and opens the hatch. He crawls out and notices that his transport sits atop a hill which looks and feels like sand, but not able to know the exact composition. What looks to be a small town lays directly down the hill from which he landed. He runs down, shouting as he grows closer to the first building he approaches.

    While suspicious, he sneaks through buildings and spots a humanoid figure with his back turned to him; Winston says nervously “Hello?” The being does not move, only continues to stand with his back turned. As anxiety takes over, he touches the being on the shoulder, which quickly prompts it to turn around. “My name is Winston, I come from Earth, you’re people have been making contact.” The blank, emotionless, humanoid face does not react to Winston’s introduction.

    Growing more and more frustrated, Winston runs carelessly through the town’s streets, stopping at every being he encounters, with the outcome always being silence. They will not, or cannot communicate with him. He decides to enter what looks like a general store, filled with items he has never seen, and cannot identify. Winston quickly notices that there is no form of text, script, hieroglyphics, or anything along those lines anywhere in the store. Grabbing someone in the store he pleads “Do you not speak, why isn’t anyone answering me?!” Another dead facial expression and no sound what so ever coming from the being.

    Winston quickly realizes that maybe these beings do not have an audible way of speaking. With this realization, he returns to his transport. Feeling defeated, he quietly sits in his seat, initiating the launch back home. The countdown beings in the same way as the previous trip, followed by the uncomfortable ride, but this time, he is not riddled with adrenaline, only disappointment. He is returning to a place where his knowledge vastly outweighed that of the normal human.

    The coordinates entered for the return trip should have taken Winston to his garage, but they have not. He now sits in the midst of dense trees, with the only open area being where his transport now lay. Slowly crawling out, he makes his way through the wooded area, not sure where he is. As he begins to run faster, the trees start to grow further and further apart, suggesting the edge of the forest. As he leaves the unfamiliar territory, he is welcomed by a familiar, yet different sight.

    Los Angeles

    Winston stands near the now dilapidated Hollywood sign, which looks as if no one has touched it for years. The downtown area which he was once very familiar with looks completely different and much larger. Confused, he makes his way down to civilization, anxiously awaiting contact with anyone that he comes across.

    Finally, he spots someone, who is very oddly dressed. “Where am I exactly?” Winston asks the stranger. “You’re in Los Angeles, good sir, welcome, how may I be of assistance?” Shocked, Winston stares at the man, who now has very polite smile on his face.

    “Um, why do things look so different?” Winston asks.

    The stranger replies “I do not understand the meaning of your question.”

    “Never mind, I was just here, these buildings weren’t here when I left.”

    “That is strange; the construction of New Downtown was completed 50 years ago.”

    “Wait, new downtown? What do you mean 50 years ago, I was just here this morning!”

    “I’m sorry sir, I wish I could be of more assistance, but I do not have time for subpar conversation.”

    With this news, Winston walks the streets, noticing new things with every turn, unable to identify most. He has somehow traveled forward in time, to a place familiar only by name. He must now realize that he knows nothing of his new environment.

    Numerous citizens shun Winston, as he is merely beneath them. No one in this new world has the time for someone who is so substandard. It seems as if Winston’s feelings towards humanity are now being directed at him, by any and every one whom he meets.
     
  3. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    TimHarris
    Final Defenders
    (2381 Words)



    Oh sleepless void, I hear you call,
    I hear you sing my name.

    You gave me time for hopes and dreams.
    My life, a gift from you.

    And all you asked in me in return;
    My life one day repaid.

    And what better time for endless sleep,
    than here at Battersteel.




    The Takahiira fleet appeared out of nowhere like a swarm of locusts ready for a feeding frenzy. With the amount of ships that jumped into empty space, the combined energy of their warp fields rippled through the installation like a giant wave, briefly knocking out all electrical systems. When the computers came back online, the final count of alien vessels numbered in the thousands. Commander Hansen sent a spray of coffee all over his executive officer, and had to steady himself against the computer racks. “What is this?” he asked, as panic spread through the command bridge like a plague. “There were no warning,” his XO said. “but they are definitely warships.”

    There had been ten years since the last Takahiira vessel had been sighted. After a century of fighting for control over the Secunda sector, the Intergalactic Federation of Man and the Takahiira conclave had signed a peace treaty, agreeing to split the rich sector in half, the border determined by the available resources of the planetary bodies and asteroids. With half the sector under human control, Battersteel space station had been built in orbit around a barren rock planet in the Remolo system on the outskirts of the sector. The installation housed the sectors only long range warp tunnel with the capability of jumping all the way back to Earth.

    “They must be here for the coordinates.” Commander Hansen stated. There were little reason to question it. “What are your plans Commander?” the XO asked. For all eight years that he had served on Battersteel, there had never been any reason to actually make a decision, and so he relied on his superior to make them for him. “For you Moore, I have only one task,” he said. “I want you to get this band of screaming chickens that you call a crew to behave like proper soldiers, then we can talk plans.”

    It did not take long the assemble the crew, but questions were as numerous as the men and women on the bridge. “Did the Takahiira present any demands?” one asked. Others demanded to speak with the General in private, and even more were babbling and shouting so loudly it was impossible to hear anything. The Commander raised his hand, and the command bridge fell silent. “There have been no demands as of yet.” He said, and turned to his communications officer. “Scan all channels. Let me know the moment they try to contact us.” Outside the installation, fighters had been launched from the flight deck, and were now circling the station in a sphere formation, that way they could shoot down any incoming missiles, should the Takahiira attempt to attack. The station batteries were manned, and the general had ordered the nuclear launch keys brought up from the main arms locker. Yet it would not be enough. Now that the Takahiira fleet had launched scout class fighters, they outnumbered their own scorpions one-hundred to one. At the holographic projector the CAG was busy simulating possible attack plans for the installations defense, but any attack plan that did not end in complete destruction of the station and everyone on board had yet to emerge.

    “Commander,” The voice belonged to Lieutenant Rodriguez. “Incoming transmission on channel fifty seven, sending to speakers.” The loudspeakers buzzed and hummed for a little while before the computers could find the proper translation algorithm to translate the harsh incomprehensible Takahiira language into English.
    “Greetings,” said the speakers in a synthesized voice. “I am high chief Dahanaraka of the Takahiira. We have surrounded your installation, and have come to negotiate the terms of your surrender.”
    “God be damned,” said Hansen. “These aliens wants us to surrender without a fight.”
    “We offer generous terms,” said the chieftain, as if he had heard what the commander just said. “We want you to abandon the station, and leave us the warp gate and the location of your home world. In return for your kind cooperation, we will let you live out the rest of your days on Giedo672.” The general picked up the microphone and thundered back. “G672 is a barren wasteland, barely capable of sustaining more than ten million people. There are twenty billion people on Earth, what is to happen with the rest of them? If you think we will just accept those ludicrous terms, you can go fuck yourself.” There were no reply. Instead, the enemy ships began to circle the station, as if the station itself was black hole, and the alien vessels were caught in its gravity well. The only difference being it would be the singularity that would be destroyed, not the ships, if push came to shove. “What do we do now commander?” asked the XO. “We wait, and we let them make the first move. If anyone as much as spit in the direction of their fleet, I will personally put a bullet between their eyes.” He took his pistol out of the holster, and slammed it down on top of the computer terminal to show he meant every word. “We have eight nukes though.” He said and turned to his CAG. “Lieutenant Nordberg, any luck with the simulations yet?”
    “Negative commander. I ran a few simulations on the nukes. If we assume the Takahiira still retain their old way of organizing their fleet, sending a combat patrol to break through the fighters here, here and here, while launching our nukes, should take out half their fleet.” He pointed at three different locations on the holo-projection which now showed a real time projection of the fleet. “But commander, we will still be wiped out good and proper even if our attack should succeed.” Commander Hansen thought for a while, scratching his beard with his tobacco-stained fingers, looking at the projections. “I must fly to their mothership myself. I need to negotiate with them. There must be something that these aliens want. Moore, you have the command.” The XO looked upon his superior with fear blazing in his eyes. “They will kill you. You know that.”
    “It is my fear, but what options do we have at this point? If we surrender the installation, the Takahiira will go straight for Earth. We cannot allow that to happen, it must not happen. Nor can we activate the gate and send a warning home. The Takahiira will record our power signature, and then they wont need our gate; They can just duplicate our signal and warp straight to Earth using their own portals.”
    “Oh, we are truly fucked.” said Rodriguez and laughed hysterically. But Hansen placed a hand on his shoulder, and the lieutenant fell silent. “Let's see how my negotiations go first. Let the Takahiira know I am coming on board with ten men and an escort of two fighters. If the negotiations go sour, then you can weep all you want, but until then you keep your heads clear. That's an order.” Hansen started out of the bridge, and that was the last they saw of him. Only seconds after leaving the defensive perimeter of the installation, the commanders transport got blasted to pieces by alien missiles that sent debris and fire flying everywhere. “So much for diplomacy,” said Moore and made a silent salute, in which all the men on the bridge joined in. “What now?” asked Rodriguez. “Now Lieutenant, now we attack.”

    On the new commanders orders, all station batteries fired a hailstorm of metal and explosives in the direction of the enemy control vessels clustered together inside the enemy fleet. The initial barrage punched a hole in the fleets defenses, but their fighters quickly regrouped and began the counter offensive. The commander called out to the fighters, and ordered three quarters of the squadrons to attack in a delta formation along the left flank of the alien's main batteries as a distraction. When the battle was locked, and all eyes were upon the chaos and destruction, the explosions and blinking lights from gunfire in the empty void between Battersteel and the Takahiira control vessels, commander Moore launched the rest of the fighters as escorts for the medical ship under remote control from the Battersteel bridge. Of course, all the medical supplies had been stripped and replaced with four of the eight tactical nuclear missiles, and through careful reprogramming of the ships communications sensors; To enemy scanners, the radiation signature would read as nothing more than surgical robotics and x-ray tubes. As the small force made its way through the battlefield, meeting only occasional resistance from the fighters not engaged in the main brawl, Nordberg tapped the commander on the shoulder. “Excuse me sir,” he said. “I know it is not my place to suggest something of this nature, but I think I have a way to prevent them from warping to Earth.” The general raised his eyebrows and looked at the CAG. “Well spit it out son. I'm all ears.”
    “Hansen said earlier that the Takahiira might read our warp signature, is that not correct?”
    “He did... Where you are going with this?” Nordberg looked pale as snow as he mustered up the courage to share his plan. “Sir.. My plan will get most of us killed for sure.”
    “We are all dead men anyway Lieutenant, so lets hear it.” At Rodriguez request, Colonel Patroska had joined them, and they were all eagerly listening. “We could reprogram the generator,” Nordberg said. “If we set its coordinates to some that I calculated previously, and feign an escape to Earth through the hole... We would have to send the entire fleet of course, or they would see through the ploy. The, eh, new coordinates...” He paused and wiped sweat off his forehead. “What? What is it with these new coordinates that makes you cringe?” Rodriguez asked. “Well,” he began. “They will take the entire fleet directly into the heart a star.” A deep silence spread across the bridge, and for the longest time, nobody said anything. Patroska broke the silence. “Do it.” Nordberg hurried down to reprogram the warp field, and Patroska turned to Moor. “Do we call off the nuclear strike?”
    “No for gods sake don't do that. We need them to think we the strike is a diversion to buy us time for the pretended escape. In a way, that is true. A ploy within a ploy if you will.” The medical vessel were nearing the Takahiira fleet by now. It seemed the aliens smelled something were up, for they pulled hundreds of fighters off the main battle to assist the small number of defenders battling the escort. “We cannot wait any longer commander,” said Rodriguez. “We need to trigger the nukes. Now or never.” Moor turned to Nordberg, who was busy tinkering with the warp control. “Where do we stand with the portal?”
    “Give me thirty seconds,” he shouted. “Thirty seconds, and the portal will open.” Moor grabbed the microphone and set the channel to main, so he could address the entire fleet all at once. “This is the commander,” he began. “In a short time, a portal back to Earth will open. When it does, I want everyone to head through. We are leaving.” A tear crept down the side of his nose and left a little pool above his lips. He made a silent hand gesture to the Colonel, who with a quick turn of his launch key, unleashed hell itself upon the alien fleet. One enormous ball of fire expanded outwards from the medical vessel like a balloon, consuming its escorts and sending an electromagnetic pulse rippling through the fleet. The blast knocked out all IFM communications systems permanently, but spared the warp engine. When the blast had dispersed enough to lower the radiation levels to an acceptable level, Nordberg triggered the warp engine, and held his breath as space began to curve and bend outside the station. A few purple flashes of light appeared like lightning in empty space, then nothing, then more flashes of light. Finally the portal stabilized, and it was with a heavy heart and a salute, that commander Moor watched squadron after squadron of good men head through the portal to their doom. The first wave of Takahiira fighters followed through, but Moor's heart almost stopped after that. “They don't take the bait,” he announced bitterly. “They don't! They don't go through.” His voice shivered, and he found it hard to stand. “They must have calculated the coordinates and pinpointed its location. God be damned, we just sent a thousand men to their deaths.”

    Nordberg had been wise enough to leave the command bridge as soon as the plan failed, otherwise Moor would have personally strangled him. “There might still be hope,” Patroska announced. “Not of victory perhaps, but we still got four nukes if my memory serves.”
    “And no fighters to deliver them. It's hopeless.” Moor could not believe it was true. He had failed his men, he had failed protecting the Secunda sector, and he had failed as commander of Battersteel; All within minutes of becoming one. But worst of all he realized; He had failed all of humanity. “Commander,” Patroska shouted. “Commander!” But all Moor could do was lean against a steel beam, sink down towards the floor, his eyes red and wet with grief. There were voices shouting and yelling all around him, but he could not make out the words. A shadow bent over him, it might have been Rodriguez. A hand reached down and grabbed something from around his neck. When he realized what it was, a smile flickered across his face. Colonel Patroska and Lieutenant Rodriguez stood on the bridge, the launch keys in the control panel, and their backs straight. The commander got to his feet, paced over to Rodriguez, and pushed him gently out of the way. He raised his hand to his forehead in salute, looked across the bridge and said. “It was an honor serving with all of you.”

    Then Commander James Moor turned the key.
     
  4. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    AVCortez
    Between Nowhere and Somewhere (coarse language)

    (2520)

    Double kicks thudded as the soaring electric guitar reverberated through the cabin. Six months out of Nowhere and a month from Somewhere, Taco lit a cigarette, dusting the remnants of freeze dried chilli Con Carne from the rusted console. Most would say The Battle Hammer, an M class Freight runner was a little worse for wear. Named after a popular heavy metal band, the space faring equivalent of an eighteen wheeler would get shredded by even the lightest assault craft. The six thruster ship hauled four, seventy meter containers, filled with... Well, Taco didn't know what he hauled. He didn't really care either.

    The burning tobacco lashed the back of his throat. With the cigarette resting on chapped lips, he popped open the cap of yesterday's liquor. Mic Mannigan's Wiltin' Whiskey.

    He took a slug from the bottle, patting his hand to the beat of the drum, ash broke away, dusting the dashboard. Licking his lips and savouring the burn, he wiped his mouth as the tar stained plastic that covered the radio unit began to glow. The dirt rimmed screen lit up. A photograph of a women with potent green eyes and dyed green hair appeared. Simultaneously, The man turned down the music and accepted the call.

    'Taco, my man!' April's voice crackled. 'You runnin' a dead head? Over.'

    Taco picked up the receiver. A fat microphone, once steel but now mostly black gaffer tape. 'Negative, April, you know me, rollin' solo. Over.'

    There was a long pause, Taco's eyes narrowed.

    'You never got your I.R.L.F.D. fixed did you? Over.'

    A shiver ran up Taco's spine as the words echoed through the cabin. He swallowed audibly as he raised the mic. He pressed the button, opening the channel but released it again without a word. The radio clicked.

    I.R.L.F.D. stood for Infra Red Life Form Detector. A compulsory device on all inter planetary freighters to prevent “people smuggling”... But really to prevent soldiers out in Nowhere going A.W.O.L.

    'Shit, Taco, what the fuck, man? You told G you got it done. This'll send us broke. Over.'

    'Negative, it's working. Over,' Taco replied.

    He ran his hand through matted hair before realising he held a lit cigarette. Ash drifted into the windless air as he stubbed it out, spilling buts from the laden tray onto the messy console. He returned the receiver to its hook. Dusting the grey powder from his trousers, he crossed the five meter cabin to the I.R.L.F.D. console.

    The Battle Hammer's life detector was an old model, it simply held a steady green light if the cargo bays were empty. Red if it it detected life. It was green. Taco belted the console with the inside of his palm. A thud echoed through the room but the light did not so much as flicker.

    He pursed his lips before returning to his captain's seat, dropping into the cushy chair, he leaned back. 'April, I reckon yours is busted. It's running green how far out are you? Over.'

    'I'm reading you clear as day, mate. You've got yourself a Ghost. Over.'

    'Ah, fuck it,' Taco said indifferently, and without opening the receiver. April's rig was barely two months out of the assembly line. Taco would have to admit that if there was a discrepancy with the scanners, the Battle Hammer would be to blame.

    'You gonna head back and check it out? Over,' April's voice crackled.

    'Yes, April, I am going to check it out,' he said. 'Just give me a minute. Over.'

    'I don't have time, I'll be out of intermittent range in six minutes. Scanners are showing two Sledgers in the area, want me to put a call in? Over.'

    Taco thought for a minute, rubbing his stubbly chin. Sledger was trucker slang for a mercenary ship. Normally on their way to Nowhere, to make some coin fighting on the frontier. Always keen to make a bit of money, Sledgers would often help out truckers in a bit of strife. But, there was a catch. Federation ships occasionally disguised themselves as Sledgers. If one of them turned out to be a Fed, and the ghost was a stow away... Well, suffice to say Federation cruisers don't have much time for people smugglers, and April's cool voice would most likely be the last friendly one he heard.

    'Negative, I'll sort it out. Just one Ghost? Over,' Taco said.

    'Affirmative, just one, second hold. Over.'

    'Alright, take it safe. Over.'

    'You two, Taco. Catch you on the way back. Over.'

    The light faded as April's photo faded from the screen and she drifted out of range. Taco rubbed his face, digging in his nose momentarily, he flicked the crusty wad on the floor before reaching under the dash. He tugged at a drawer, but the metal stuck, he shook it violently before it finally ground free. Going Back of House, as they say, required a little more courage than Taco had on his own.

    He cracked open the snap-lock bag before pouring the white crystals onto the flat drink rest, on the rightside of the dashboard. Chopping at it with his ID card, he leant in.

    The crystals slid up the steel straw. 'Ohhhhh, yeeeah,' he said as a half sigh. Taco stretched out and his back crackled as he stood up. Pressing his palm against his cheek, he snorted hard again. His throat tight he licked his lips and turned the tunes back up, to full volume. He could barely hear himself think. Perfect.

    The double kicks pounding, the base heaving. He swung the locker open, revealing the only piece of modern tech found on the Battlehammer, his Vapourgrind Spacesuit.

    Barely able to keep the grin from his face, there was something about heading through the airlock and into space that still got his motor running... Or perhaps it was because it was always preceded by a thick rail of Ermaine. A somewhat hallucinogenic drug that made a person feel like they could break mountains and walk through walls... He wouldn't be sleeping for a couple of days.

    The Vapourgrind started as a baggy red jump suit with a bauble helmet. he zipped it up. Folding the front flaps down and hooking them in. A flick of his wrist engaged the locks, sealing him in. Then the magic happened. He pumped the button on the wrist and the suit began to shrink. After ten pumps, the suit was pulled taught across his muscular body.

    The red jumpsuit hugging his form, he scratched at his head before remembering the helmet. Entering the airlock he engaged the Mag Tether, the device that would keep him from flying off into space. Shouldering the Battle Hammer's laser rifle, he pulled the lever. Though his suit shielded him from the brunt of it, he winced under the force of the pressure change.

    If his ship hadn't told him otherwise, he'd be inclined to believe he stood stationary. Reds and blues shimmered on the distant horizon, stars twinkled amid dust clouds as he stomped, his boots clinging to the hull. Mind swimming from the drug, he walked along the causeway skirting the first cargo hold. Ten meters high, the monstrous rectangular prism had no intention handholds. Bolted together by rivets as big as his fist, the carriages were hardier than the craft that pulled them.

    Taco scanned his ID badge over the lock and the door to the carriage opened sideways. The container's lights flickered into life as the airlock sealed behind him... Normally a carriage this size would be laden. The walls lined with crates and boxes, with a thin causeway along the centre. But this one, curiously, was empty save for a white box at its centre. A single clamp holding it in place.

    Taco narrowed his eyes and, again, scratched at his head only to meet the glass dome. He unslung the rifle and progressed forward. He shook his head violently as his sight began to tunnel. The Eramine playing with his brain, drowning his focus and honing in on the peculiar crate. A perfect cube, it had no lock, and seemingly no opening.

    'This is fucked,' he whispered to himself before rolling his eyes. It wasn't a stow-away, and that was good enough for him... Or was it?... Something stopped him. Curiosity? Perhaps. The drug pumping through his system? More likely.

    Taco traced his palm along the box but swallowed thickly as the cube began to glow. It's matte white exterior turning luminous before his eyes. He thought to turn. Turn to run. But he did not. Taking two steps back he watched as the cube unfolded like a blooming flower. He raised the rifle as the form of a girl, no older than ten, emerged. Her pallid body was locked in place by steel arms, her head wired with more than one hundred thin cables coiling out of rubber pads.

    'Oh, shit!' Taco snapped unconsciously. Filled with hurt and worry he began frantically tearing at the claws, and pulling off the cables. He placed a hand on her chest. The girl was breathing, her cotton wrapped chest only just moving. He cradled her head, staring at her closed eyes. Through his glass dome he had a realisation... A horrible realisation... The carriage was pressure controlled, yes. But there was no oxygen. How could she?...

    Taco's eyes shot wide, as the girl's opened slowly. Hollow, glowing blue eyes.

    'Liriad!' Taco shrieked. He dropped the girl. 'Fuck, fuck, fuck.'

    The man got to his feet as fast as possible as understanding hit him like a Fed Sweep and Destroy. The Battle Hammer's I.R.L.F.D. Wouldn't detect a Liriad. His mind reeled back, back to the orbital warehouse, the grizzled quartermaster: 'Six million dollar job, Taco. God knows why they want this piece of shit. But they were specific.'

    Who was specific? Who the fuck was specific? Why don't I ask questions... fuck, Taco thought as he turned to run.

    The Liriad began to move, it's face vacant, emotionless. Her race was the human kind's latest conquest. Taco knew the stories, but that was it. He'd never seen one. The race, physically, appeared to be human, save for their curious eyes, but they possessed telekinetic and psychic powers, far surpassing any of the human Chosen. They were the something, the Federation had found in Nowhere.

    'Why flee?' A voice stung Taco's brain. Like it were all around him, it echoed. Almost his own voice at first but broke into a woman's, an old woman, his mother. It sang again and again, stinging his drug addled mind. As his mag boots hammered the steel ground, he turned from his flight, meeting the creature's eyes.

    He was assailed by visions. Falling to his knees, he saw the Liriads extending their hand for friendship after a Federation craft landed on their home-world. Then fire. In a moment, he experienced the two hundred year conflict between his own kind and the Liriads. Liriad children, cut down by machine gun fire, women raped, men enslaved and driven by laser whips into gas mines. Liriads racked by diseases introduced for the soul purpose of annihilation. Gun ships tearing across Olier, their home world, a blue world, with soaring cliffs and crashing oceans. A beautiful world. A beautiful world on fire. Flesh sizzling over the faces of men, women and children. Children screaming. Children crying, their parents lost. Interplanetary missile strikes incinerating cities, annihilating villages and burning... So much burning. He felt hot, like he were there. Amongst the flames. The collective sorrow of a race enslaved was not imparted, but felt. Felt like it were Taco's own.

    Taco cried. Heavy, streaming tears, he clawed at his helmet. He needed to wipe his face. If he wiped his face the tears would stop. That didn't make sense. He curled up on the ground, clasping his head. Screaming, he begged for the creature to stop.

    His spine tingled as the visions faded. They stopped and he was filled with longing. Like a toy, taken from a child, he wanted them back. Why did he want them back?

    Eyes twitching, he looked up. Sweat covered his stubbly face and the involuntary tears had ceased. Wracking mental pain persisted. Taco no longer felt human. Or perhaps he felt more human than ever. The Liriad looked at him from the air lock's interior door. Her ethereal eyes simmering in the distance. As he'd experienced the suffering of a race, she had casually strode past him.

    'Thank you,' said the echo. Not his mothers voice, nobody's voice, he simply knew that was what she said. Like the notion of thanks. The very idea of it had been conveyed.

    Taco shivered as he watched her step into the chamber, locking the door. A momentary flicker of the lights told him that when he opened the airlock, it would be empty.


    Six months later...

    Taco dusted the remnants of freeze dried Chilli Con Carne from the glowing dash of the Battle Hammer II. The glossy display glowed as he lit a cigarette and the photo of a woman with potent green eyes and dyed green hair appeared with blip. He tapped the photo, accepting the call.

    'Yo, Taco my man, how's the new girl working out? Over.' April's sultry voice slid through the speakers, clean and smooth.

    'Stella, a real treat. Over.'

    'Well it was about time. Anyway, mate, heel it. Nowhere's gone. Feds are evacuating. Over.'

    Taco narrowed his eyes, scratching at his matted hair. 'I haven't heard anything about it – 'With a blip the image of a letter, with an exclamation point at its centre appeared on the dash. ' – Scratch that, just got it now. Hold? Over.'

    'Affirmative. Over,' April said.

    Taco tapped the letter, the the screen filled with text:

    E.F.D.F. [Earth Federation Defence Force] Order, to the attention of: All

    All craft ordered to exit Sector H123453443D6. Status amendment 3245: No Fly.

    [VIEW REPORT]

    Taco wasn't one for military reports, they didn't make a lot of sense to him. But he clicked it anyway... And it made perfect sense.

    Sector H123453443D6 Status: Code Red.
    System S88743 Status: Code Red.
    System S88745 Status: Code Red.
    System S88746 Status: Code Red.
    System S88747 Status: Code Orange.
    System S88748 Status: Code Red.
    EFDF Fleet CODE X1123 - 125th Marines: M.I.A.
    EFDF Fleet CODE X3398 - 1023rd Marines: M.I.A.
    EFDF Fleet CODE Q4432 - Archer Class: Stricken
    EFDF Fleet CODE Z3245 - 1922nd Airborne: M.I.A.
    EFDF Fleet CODE Q9983 - Excalibur Class: Stricken
    EFDF Fleet CODE Q8402 – Excalibur Class: Stricken


    It went on, and on and on. Hundreds of ships destroyed and countless divisions missing. Something horrific had happened in Nowhere.

    Lighting a second from the tip of the first, Taco dragged on the fresh cigarette. A thick plume of smoke whispered through the cabin. 'Well fuck it,' Taco said indifferently.

    After a short moment of silence April's voice came through: 'What? Over.'

    Taco chuckled, remembering he did not have to hit a switch to communicate on his new craft. 'Nothing, April, I got it. Turning back now. Over.'

    'Convoy? Over.'

    'Affirmative. Over.'

    As the Battle Hammer II swung in space like a tossed stick, Taco popped the lid to yesterday's bottle of Mic Mannigan's Wiltin' Whiskey. Taking a swig, he looked out into the star studded void and wondered what, if anything, he had to do with plight that had befallen his race's expansion.

    Taco smiled as the cabin shook, the thrusters propelling him back towards Somewhere.
     
  5. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    CanadianBoson
    "Throw-Away Child"
    (2177 words)


    Two toothpicks, one pillow, white retractable blinds. I brought my breath back down. I always count inventory when I get nervous.

    I was watching a biology special on the mammals of Earth. This episode was my favourite, with the pigs. They're so fat and take up so much space in their pen, and in biology the further you go down, the more complex things get, reaching this crazy, perplexing density. But then a tourism commercial came on, to go to the Andromeda for a low rate, and I pounced my finger on the power button of the built-in screen. I hated empty space. That's why I have the blinds.

    It's also why I loathe physics. I remember jolting out of the last field trip: a clean-shaven man in a polyester lab coat had the gall to tell us the universe was 96% empty. And he was happy about it. I remember skipping out of the one before that, when that same buzz-cut scientist pointed at a pie chart on the white projector screen, emphatically declaring that even the atoms that make up you and I are 99% empty. He was making me hate numbers. My parents said they hated numbers once too, and I cheered up for a bit until they pulled out my report card. I never found similarities between my parents and I because my real parents are on Earth.

    31 is the number I detest above all. It means two things to me and they are both bad:

    1. 31 is the age of Kenny Thesi, the postmodern artist. He writes that the best kind of stuff is no stuff at all. That space is the eternal paragon of art. His works all are before and after canvasses. Before is a cluttered room or environment. After is an empty photograph. My parents have his birthday circled around the calendar.
    2. 31 is the anniversary of my birth. There are no real months in space because we don't go around the sun. But we still use the calendar to mark dates. I drew a Sharpie frown on mine, over the capital letters 'DISPOSAL'. Instead of giving me a gift for my birthday, they'd steal my little treasures from my room, saying it was for the best. They got that idea from Kenny. Why can't Kenny follow his own philosophy and just disappear from my life?

    My birthday this year fell on a school day. I looked at the calendar to find the frown I drew had been given additional facial features to give a contorted smile. 'DISPOSAL' was rewritten in a bolder font. Two cereal bowls. One dishtowel. Two ugly adults. "Don't take anything from my room today, please!" My parents shared an expression with the Sharpie drawing, leaning against the counter eating. They didn't believe in dining room tables - took too much room. I grabbed the schoolbag and flew out the door. My stomach sank deep when I walked, and nearly drowned when I passed the garbageman. I felt his eyes following me as I picked up pace to go to class. He better not be going to my room.

    As long as the stupid scientist was away, school was really fun. I liked filling my notebook with doodles and information, and feeding my brain cells until they were full. Sometimes I'd exchange notes with Bess. I made sure she always had the last word so I could catalog our notes in my binder. She was kinda my girlfriend. She shared my love for biology so I forgave her for loving space. She laughed at my obsession with pigs and liked to draw tiny doodles of them on our notes. Those were the ones I kept at the front of my binder so I'd see them as soon as I opened it. My parents couldn't take friendship away, at least.

    I survived the whole school day without thinking about my birthday surprise. But it hit me as I slid the card on the reader to get in my house. What did they take? Sweat beads formed on my brow as I slowly opened the door and stepped in. My parents shot stares at me from their leaning position on the counter. Those same contorted smiles. My breath became paced and uncontrolled. One light. One Kenny portrait. One adjacent empty canvas. Five tears flowing down my face. I knew what they stole before I sauntered in my room, losing balance at the sight of Jupiter. One huge yelp. Three vibrating echoes. Ten curse words. One big empty universe staring me in the face. I collapsed.

    I woke up in the doctor's ward. There was a puff of cotton taped secure on my right arm. I felt incredibly calm. A schoolbag was resting on my feet at the bed. Don't be late, I thought. This has happened before. My parents and the doctor expected me to be in class. Thinking of my parents and their masochist smiles made me shrink but the wounds stayed the same size and overpowered me - the nervousness came back.

    Bess said I was a horrible faker. When I was nervous I'd tap my foot and leg to an invisible bass drum. She joked I should join band. My parents didn't let me bring an instrument home to practice - took too much room. A folded sticky note appeared on my back, and I scratched it off to read it: "Wats wrong?" I scribbled a small font answer on the same note and posted it on my back, anxiously waiting for it to un-stick, then re-stick. It did so soon enough. "That sux! I have some extra blinds in my room if u want them. Ur parents sound like real meanies :X". I felt elated and the drum stopped resonating, with only my heart pounding now.

    We talked about how our teacher didn't look half-bad with spitballs in her hair, laughing down to her apartment. I had never been to someone else's place before. It was wonderful. Her sink had more dishes in it than my family owned. A table stretched across the main room. Paintings were centerpieces without an accompanying blank canvas nearby, with unbounded colour. Portraits were individuals, more than just metaphorical statements. I felt her hand lead me into her room. She started searching under her bed for the extra blinds, while my eyes closed immediately at the sight of the gas planets. "Ah. Here it is." she said. I couldn't see and waved my arms, searching for her in front of me. "Why are your eyes closed?" "Uhmm. I wanted to be surprised at the blinds! Speaking of which, could you close yours?" She probably looked frazzled, but as I heard the blinds of her window fold down to the ledge I smiled and looked around. This confused her further as her brow furrowed. I found a distraction in a big pink glass pig on the shelf. "Is that yours? I love pigs!" She released her face. "Yep. I'm just gonna go to the bathroom for a bit but I'll be right back!"

    I held it in my palms, lifting it in the air and holding it up from every angle. I loved everything about it. It was heavy and dense. I wanted to take it home and plant it right in front of my ugly parents and make them lift it too and appreciate its beauty and give me back 15 birthdays of stuff they took from me, my memories of my real parents. They kept trying to take those too. I became excited - too excited to wait for Bess, and I started to walk to the bathroom, ready to ask her permission to borrow it. But she appeared suddenly and the pig flew into her chest and I dropped my hands, then wailed them down trying to break its fall.

    It shattered. It was hollow. My heart beat went up as I crept down to the floor near the pink pieces. 15, no, 20, no, 31 pink porcelain pieces. 31. 31 tears. One stream.

    Arms wrapped around me tightly and a steady hand beat the part of my back usually reserved for sticky-notes. "It's okay, don't be upset, don't cry" but I kept crying. She held me for a few minutes, whispering short reassurances, and her body was close to feel my pulse indiscreetly. It worked until I fell backwards at a terrifying sight, and Bess fell in the opposite direction.

    The green suited man stood high above us, but focused all his attention on me, breaking my face into tiny pixels and analyzing each hair, tear, and wrinkle. It was the garbageman. He picked Bess up by the shoulders. "Get away from her, monster!" I shouted. My palms pushed into the floor and my feet rowed backward, giving distance between the garbageman and me. I needed space. "What did you call my dad?" My mind tried to process the words, while she shot me a glance of fury. "It's alright Bess. You'll forgive him soon enough." He pushed her aside gently and threw his red glove near my chest and I flinched, with my arms protecting my organs. "Grab it. I won't hurt you. I want to give you back your blinds." I felt a sheet of naivete fall over me, and a bolt of courage shot into my arm and grabbed his glove, which lifted me up. Bess was frozen in place as the garbageman and I left the apartment. "I won't hurt him Bess. Don't look so tense" and the door shut on his last syllable.

    I didn't feel like thinking and I wasn't nervous. Each time I looked up at him he looked back down with a look that was either gentle or stern. I hadn't been to this part of the ship before. It was hard to tell - the walls looked identical unless you were near the top floor where there's colour coding. But we were going down into the bellows. We were mostly silent, but he said his name was 'Gary' but folks call him 'Scoopy'. That made me less tense. He removed his glove with his teeth and punched his fingers into the code. We were greeted by an incredibly pungent smell. "Step in, kid."

    I had been here before. One of the field trips I didn't have to flee because my classmates and teacher agreed the smell was too much and fled. But I actually wanted to stay. Seeing all this stuff in one place, a collection of memories. I wanted to see if I could retrieve some of what was mine. I figured Scoopy wanted to bring me here to retrieve my blinds, and I started rummaging through some of the stuff in a dark corner of the garbage pile. "Not so fast. Come over here." I looked back at him and he had something behind his back. I became jovial and leaped toward him. "Kid, I don't know why you have a problem leaving stuff behind. It can't all be about your parents." He put one of his red gloves on my shoulder, pointed it to my left, then put the grip back on my right blade. "Every day at 5pm, every single piece of garbage gets released. Everything." He looked into my eyes to see if I understood. I didn't.

    He pulled the object behind his back into view. It was a Kenny Thesi portrait, the same one that stared me down when I entered our house after school when Jupiter stared at me with its big stormy eye. "I stole this from your parents." He smiled. "I want you to take this, and throw it in that pile, and remember it will never be seen again." I started to tear up, feeling incredibly gullible. "I feel empty without my things. Empty space scares me." I started to break down again until I heard the words of wisdom from a man who before now was my enemy but after now was my best friend. "It can be hard. But you're not emptying the ship. You're filling up space. Out there. Helping build new stars that keep making themselves anew. Big dense clouds of dust. Do you understand?" I quickly nodded, then ran over to the pile and smashed the portrait into an assortment of tin cans and empty cat food bags. It felt really good. He called me into a room with a big glass window. "Hurry!"

    We ran in and I saw the overhead clock was beating closer to 5pm. "Put your hand on this red button. It will push that Kenny portrait into space, filling it up." He said it with a jubilant tone that gave me confidence. "And... now!"

    The huge hatch doors made a giant clicking sound, then in one motion like a slap to the solar system it split and sucked all the trash out. I watched it fly out like a reverse vacuum cleaner, filling up space. I helped fill up space. I wasn't scared. He gave me a pat on the shoulder. "You're brave kid." And I was full inside.
     
  6. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    jredvelvet
    The Creeping Monster
    1413 Words


    "Sir, I think it's time we let the public know the truth before it‘s too late."

    Famous last words of deceased NASA Official Bob Goldberg. His death came just hours after he spoke with the head of the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas and the President of the United States as he tried to convince them to inform the world of its impending doom. Earlier in the year, the world's largest telescope, the Gran Telescopio Canarias in Spain, provided clear-cut images of Planet X aka "Nibiru" headed straight in Earth‘s direction. Government officials in the United States were forewarned that if anyone opened their mouth and spoke with the public, they would immediately be reprimanded. Bob Goldberg felt like the world needed to prepare for destruction and secretly planned a press conference. Bob made the mistake of informing his distant family by phone and had no idea his phone had been tapped. Once government agents got word of the press conference, Bob Goldberg "mysteriously vanished" and his body was found abandoned and stripped naked in a wooded area near his home. Cause of death was determined to be strangulation and his tongue had been cut out. There was no evidence recovered at the scene of his death. Initially, Bob's family laughed off his hair-brained theory of a planet crashing into Earth, and had not told anyone. Then they found out about Bob's death and immediately became suspicious. However, fearing for their own lives, they kept the information to themselves. They knew the government would be watching their every move so they lived their lives as normal as possible. Although they felt the government was behind Bob's death, they still didn't believe the world was going to end.

    NASA officials feared that even though a press conference was not held, somehow sealed information could've easily been leaked through anyone. Besides that, the strange storms and unpredictable weather patterns all over the world led some to believe that something was definitely up, but not a planetary collision. Two months after Goldberg's death, each continent had massive earthquakes, which led to tsunamis in the Pacific and major flooding in the United States. Tornadoes ripped through the Midwestern states and golf ball-sized hail slammed down in the middle east. Temperatures rose to a sweltering 120 degrees and resulted in colossal-size glaciers being formed from ice sheets breaking off in the arctic circle. The Atlantic and Pacific Ocean water level rose so high and devoured beaches leaving oceanfront hotels permanently flooded and beach homes uninhabitable. The full moon during those two months caused more high tides and only worsened the water level on the coasts.

    More months went by and neither NASA officials nor any government agency spoke a word about Planet X. Finally the day arrived when officials could no longer keep tight-lipped. One side of the world was day and the other side was night, but the whole planet shook in a massive global earthquake. Suddenly the moon began breaking apart piece by piece. The daylight side of the world could not initially see the moon, but the night side had a front row seat. That night happened to be a full moon phase and the moon soon exploded like it had bombs planted in its core. Rock fragments soon fell to earth and burned as they hit the water or hit land. In a matter of minutes there was no moon and the earth's western hemisphere was pitch black. To make matters worse, gigantic waves were coming from every direction. The Eastern hemisphere was fortunate enough to see the waves coming, but those in the dark on the other side of the world were quietly swept away and couldn't run for cover.

    After a while all communication and electricity was terminated. Cell towers weren't picking up signals and land lines weren't working either. Some people barricaded themselves in underground storm shelters and others sought out higher ground in sky scrapers and tall mountains. Time went by and falling moon fragments had ceased. Survivors thought the worst was over. The sun set in the East and was on its way to the dark side. Then people began to realize that the sun had been setting for a long time. Battery-operated watches showed the sun setting at 6 p.m. and nightfall had never come. They concluded that the earth must’ve stopped rotating. Working clocks still showed the time moving ahead, but the sky stayed the same no matter how early or late it was.

    The people on higher grounds saw an object overhead in the position where the moon would be. They also noticed that hour after hour the circular object appeared to be getting bigger; indicating that it was moving closer toward Earth. Space junkies who followed astronomy realized by the object's shape, size, and color that it was indeed the planet Nibiru inching its way to Earth. The proof of Planet X's existence could no longer be denied once it ripped the moon to shreds and left pieces of it falling to earth.

    The government officials who had managed to survive the catastrophes and those who knew about Nibiru felt pure shame when they informed their families. Unfortunately not one person would admit killing Sgt. Bob Goldberg. They questioned whether or not informing everyone about Planet X destroying the world would’ve done any good at all. There was no way to stop it and possibly no way to survive it. Since all communication and electricity was gone, there was no way for those who knew the truth to get a hold of the world and tell them what was going on. More time went by and Nibiru was getting closer. There was no more night because the world had stopped rotating; although, it did continue revolving around the sun. The moon was in its full phase the night it was blown apart. One side of the world had the sun giving off heat and light while the other half of the world sweated ten times worse. Nibiru’s heat was almost as hot as Mercury and it slowly melted earth’s core a little more as time went on.

    Earth was calm and overheated as Nibiru moved forward - - which puzzled many people. They wondered how and why so many natural disasters occurred way before the planet even got close to the moon. Now that the moon was gone and Nibiru ultimately became the new sun, it seemed to have stopped Earth’s rotation and eased the weather as well. No winds, rains, or clouds in the sky; just bright colors shining through the atmosphere giving off immense heat. It made no sense that from afar Nibiru caused all that damage and when it finally came face to face with Earth...nothing seemed to happen. Many thought maybe it wasn’t Nibiru that caused the extreme weather in the first place. Global warming had been affecting the planet for years and it finally caught up to them. No one could ever be sure.

    Survivors waited and watched the sky as time went by. Nibiru grew so big and Earth’s temperatures were off the charts. Many of the lasting survivors had died from heat exhaustion and others who stayed in dark and cooler places underground had no one and nowhere to turn to. Out of the blue shined a huge beam of light and it gave off a breeze of cold air. Those who were passed out suddenly awoke when they felt the breeze. They looked up to see Nibiru completely covering the sky on one side of the world. The opposite side also saw a glimpse of Nibiru because it was that humungous and dangerously close. While the light kept shining and blowing a fresh breeze, it turned into a strong magnetic force lifting all the people who were still alive up to the sky; even those trapped underground. One by one they were lifted in the air and quickly vanished without a trace. Then the beam of light disappeared and the magnetic force had shut down. The entire human race was wiped out in a flash.

    All was quiet and calm for the next few minutes until that same beam of light scorched the Earth again. Little by little everything on Earth was in flames and all bodies of water became lakes of fire. It got so hot, moments later the Earth exploded and debris drifted off into space. Pieces of the Earth floated towards Nibiru’s atmosphere, but were immediately deflected because of its massive protective outer shield. Planet Earth was no more and Nibiru officially took its place as the third rock from the sun. Once it positioned itself in Earth’s spot, it began its rotation and revolution around the sun. As it rotated it started changing into an exact replica of Earth. Atmospheres, continents, and oceans were created. Only time would tell if “the new earth” would produce new planetary life or be just like all the other planets in the solar system quietly revolving around its central star.
     

Share This Page