A Short Story

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Lately, I’ve been writing mostly from prompts. I take a word or phrase and spin it into a tale of my choosing. One of the bravest and scariest things in the world that a writer does is share their words with everyone. We, for no good reason, pour out our heart and soul directly in front of the maelstrom of the public eye.

I still hold my breath with every submission, every blog posting, every tweet. Then I see a like, a retweet, a new follower, or comment and my heart swells; there is at least one person out there who read my work. If you are reading this right now, thank you. That’s what writing to me is all about. In simplest terms:

I write it, you read it.

The second thing I love is when I release my words into the world and they mean one thing to me and something else entirely to another. That idea fascinates me; same words, different meanings. Not just one word, but an entire story that is a homograph. I love the different lenses of the many micro-communities. Every single one is shaped by a variety of life experiences and somehow we all found each other. I especially enjoy the critics and cynics. I learn from everyone and each day I improve.

Enough of me rambling…ON TO THE MAIN EVENT!

This particular story was written as a college assignment for Creative Writing. It’s a science fiction story about a man who wakes up alone in outer space. The ending is a familiar and probably over-used trope, but for some reason, this story felt good to write and the ending fit. Now, I share it with all of you, enjoy!

One More Day

The transport freighter Rebellion floated through the emptiness of space. Vex woke up on the ship with a headache and the kind of stiffness that comes from laying in an uncomfortable position for too long. He tried to gather his thoughts but kept drawing a blank. No real memories remained. The ship’s computer held little information about what happened to the ship, the crew, or its human cargo.

The Rebellion’s mission was to transport 20,000 colonists to Centauri 7 a short 4.2 light years from Earth. There was a crew of sixteen that ran the ship. A thorough search of the transport left more questions than answers; no crew and 20,000 empty stasis pods. The last crew member journal entry was from the navigation officer mentioning an anomaly that appeared out of nowhere causing a minor course correction, then nothing.

Vex’s amnesia worried him. He hoped that completing an activity or watching something it would trigger memories of before he woke up on the ship. He often found himself on the topmost observation deck of the vessel. It provided a panoramic, unobstructed view. There was a unique setting that made the room pitch black except for the viewing dome.

Vex sat under the stars, created stories about where he came from, and dreamed of who was missing him. He would have the computer play his favorite classical music from Tchaikovsky. It did not take him long to invent a wife, Helen, and three kids, George, Samantha, and Ginny, who all missed him.

It was a pleasant discovery that the computer could carry on simple conversations, provided there was relevant information in its database. He enjoyed hearing the sound of another voice. He would occasionally have the computer change tones from female to male for a much-needed variation. His absolute favorite way to spend time was listening to an audible book series about a space hero named Jonas Gill; read to him by an enchanting female voice.

He admitted after about a month that he was marooned; adrift in the infinite cosmos. The rest of his waking hours were spent learning how to navigate the ship and watching prerecorded entertainment.

Three months and hundreds of movies later he arrived in an empty system. Vex was not satisfied and moved on to the next system, and the next, and the next. Each empty system stole a piece of his hope. He found himself spending extended amounts of time on the observation deck.

A pistol lay in his lap. It seemed an easy decision for him to make. The statistical chances of running into anything or anyone were meager. The chance it would even be recognizable were much lower. Tears streamed down his face as he placed the barrel into his mouth. The sound of the computer’s voice temporarily jarred him from his depressive state

“Incoming message… Incoming message…”

Vex dropped the pistol and ran to the central console on the bridge. A blinking icon indicated a text-only message. He eagerly displayed it on the monitor.

JONAS…

JONAS CAN YOU HEAR ME…

The message originated from an unknown source.

The computer’s voice sounded again, “Anomaly detected 3303… Anomaly detected 3303…”

Vex slowed the ship’s progress and pulled up a long-range view of the bridge view screen. It looked like a bright tear in the middle of space. Red lights began to flash, and the sounds of a klaxon alarm flooded the ship.

“Code Blue… Doctor Allcome 3303…”

All the navigational instruments showed that the ship was picking up speed and heading straight for the unknown object. Vex powered up the reverse thrusters to maximum, and the ship began to shudder to resist the gravitational pull. A quick pain tore through his chest that felt like an electrical shock.

“What the hell is going on?” he said out loud.

Another message icon appeared. Vex hurriedly clicked on the message.

JONAS COME BACK…

I NEED YOU TO… JONA… COM… ACK…

IT’S ALL… DON’T BELIEVE… WAITING…

WAKE UP…

The ship shook violently, and more alarms began to go off. The panel to his left exploded in a shower of sparks. All indications showed that the ship was tearing apart and the hull integrity was fading fast. The power level of the engines was maxed and near the point of losing containment.

Vex had no choice but to disengage the engines. The view screen showed the anomaly growing in size. According to the computer, it would be an hour before he could re-engage the engines and twenty minutes before the ship collided with the anomaly. He walked back to the observation deck and watched the impinging light. Vex closed his eyes and accepted whatever fate held in store for him.

It was the beeping heart monitor that woke him. A woman sat to his left teary-eyed and smiling. Was he dreaming?

“Welcome back Jonas. You’re at Memorial Hospital in room 3303. You were in a car accident and been in a coma for about 5 days now. I’ve missed you very much,” she said.

His eyes wandered around the room confused and eventually settled on a large book on a nearby table, Marooned: A Vex Hawthorne Space Novel by Jonas Gill. A radio in the corner played soft classical music by Tchaikovsky. Everything came back to him in a flood of memories; the bright lights of an oncoming car; the impact; his career as a science fiction author; his wife and children. Jonas wept tears of joy; he had a lot of catching up to do.

(Authors Notes: I’m not typically a fan of the Saint Elsewhere-esque ending. In fact, 99% of the time hate it when other writers use it. It makes me, as a reader, feel cheated out of a better ending. This story though made me feel for the guy a little bit. He knows in the back of his mind there is someone out there waiting for him to come back. It is a rejection of what you see and an embrace of what you feel/believe.

Of course, that is only IMHO.)

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4 thoughts on “A Short Story

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  1. I can so relate to the beginning part of your post, from mainly writing stories using prompts lately (mainly Twitter prompts) to that hold-your-breath-until-your-heart-almost-explodes feeling when sharing your work with the world.

    From one writer to another, your work is amazing. Don’t ever forget that. By the way, I really enjoyed the story. I, for one, always love a good amnesia-in-space sci-fi story. And while the ending didn’t shock me, it was fitting and it worked really well for this story.

    I loved how everything his wife was doing played into the sci-fi elements of the narrative. That was wonderfully executed. It was a fresh and unique take on a coma. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked your observations at the start of the post (and I enjoyed the story, too!). I write from prompts most days (vss365 on Twitter) but most of my flash and short stories are from my own imagination. Of course I think we are all “prompted” by something. Something catches our eye or our thoughts and then begins to form into a story (or a song).

    Liked by 1 person

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