Cylinder

cylinder

Computer monitor wallpaper

Suspended from the airlock by his thick umbilical, Astronaut Jonathan Weaver watched the ring of illumination inside the enormous hollow tube code-named “Oumuamua” move away from him toward the other end of the spinning alien habitat, creating the illusion that he was now in early evening. The forty-two year old Air Force Captain, weightless because he was positioned near the center of the tube, marveled at the view. Essentially, the interior of a massive cylinder was filled with atmosphere that included clouds, with the entire rim covered with soil and water that supported farms, forests, lakes, rivers, small mountains, and even buildings and highways. And yet in the fifteen minutes since he had gone EVA inside the object, he had detected no sign of life.

“Weaver, this is Nguyen. Any change in your readings?” Danielle Nguyen was a civilian pilot and exobiologist who had been put in command, and at thirty, was the youngest member of the hastily assembled mission. After the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii had located Oumuamua eight months ago and determined it was approaching the sun from outside the solar system, NASA, in cooperation with two private space exploration companies, had quickly adapted the Argonaut spacecraft, originally designed for a manned Mars mission, to intercept human history’s first visitor from interstellar space.

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Oh Captain!

spacecraft

Image credit: iStock – Found at numerous sources including thepromiserevealed.com

Vanessa struggled to climb out of the Salubrious Pod, sickly yellow and greenish jelly oozing off of her smooth, dark skin. She rolled over the low rim of the tub onto the cold metallic floor of the eight-by-twelve foot featureless chamber, her nude body dimly illuminated by the few flickering light tubes in the ceiling ten feet above. She shivered as the gel evaporated, and she watched a thin mist rising overhead from her body, though some of the goo clung to her short-cropped black hair, and she blinked as one drop fell from her lashes into her left eye.

“Good morning, Captain Chapman. How are you feeling?”

They’d made Sophia’s voice feminine, but the echoes coming from multiple speakers  in the ceiling still made her sound inhuman.

“Like shit, Soph.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” The AI’s reply was meant to communicate concern, but of course, as a machine, she felt nothing at all. “It is important you recover from hibernation quickly. There is a situation.”

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An Ending in Fire

town

Photo credit: Anurag Bakhshi

Kurt stood on the cliff overlooking the tiny Southern California. It was 30 miles west of Santa Barbara and it was all his.

“It looks so peaceful from up here,” he said just to hear something besides the wind. Even the gulls and squirrels were gone, having deserted this doomed land if they could or otherwise having died, just like all the people.

He rubbed his left hand over his short-cropped gray and white hair. “Well, guess I’d better get to it while I still have daylight.”

He knew the National Guard had sealed off everything between Santa Maria and Ventura north and south, and Bakersfield to the east. No one would imagine anyone would want to stay in the danger zone with them, but Kurt did. His family was down there, what was left of them, and now that he’d wired the whole place to blow, he’d exterminate the last of the infected. He wasn’t planning to escape. His wife, kids, grandkids were turned into something like zombies or vampires by the mutant virus. Only he was immune. Standing in town with his back to the ocean, he pressed the remote and the next California wildfire began.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge hosted by Susan. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

I chose this theme for no particular reason other than it was what popped into my head. Although the limited word count didn’t allow for it, I set my tale in the small southern California town of Gaviota. I’m sure it doesn’t look like the image above, but I needed a location that was small and isolated.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Survivalist

garnet mountain fire lookout

© Google 2017

Forty-five year old Faith had been hiding from the Qu’Tufot for over six months, ever since she’d escaped the work camp near Logan. There’d originally been four of them. Jodi and Kurt got shot by the Guard, what the humans collaborators with the aliens called themselves, and Ernie had a heart attack during the climb up Garnet Mountain. He showed her how the alien field generator they’d stolen worked. As long as she wore it, her energy signature was invisible to orbiting and ground sensors.

Hunting near the Fire Lookout was good. Pa had taught her to be a survivalist. The battery on the softball-sized generator would last another year, which would also keep her warm and reclaim water from the air for drinking.

It was just dumb luck that this was a storage cache for the local Resistance. Now all she had to do was wait until they returned.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and/or location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout, Big Sky, Montana. I looked up the site at Recreation.gov and consulted a map of the general area for several hundred miles around.

The name of the aliens and the general situation is taken from a story I’ve submitted and that is still under consideration for an anthology about the fourth world war (yes, you read that right). The location and characters are different, but there are plenty of stories to tell under these circumstances.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. Oh, I’m late today because we had our three-year-old granddaughter sleep over last night, and she’s been up since about seven this morning. I’ve got a bit of a window to write now that she’s taking her nap.

The Hunted

Frankfurt Christmas Market

The Frankfurt Christmas Market – image found at frankfurt-tourismus.de – no credit listed

The Israeli had been born in Frankfurt, so the Christmas market was familiar. He used to sneak out with his Christian friends as a boy to sample the lights, the music, and the smell from the food vendors (though he was still observant enough not to partake).

Elon Rosenberg, late of the Israeli Air Force, victim of a tragic air crash after his F161 fighter had been shot down by a Syrian missile, horribly mutilated, and rebuilt from scratch by an eccentric Scottish scientist, had altered his appearance to look like a typical Frankfurter. His would-be assassins did not recognize him, but he saw the pair very clearly.

“I could just walk away,” he muttered. “But no one must know my secret.”

Hours later, a cook found the two bodies in a garbage bin. By then, the synthetic man was halfway to Wiesbaden and his next assignment.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 147.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Frankfurt, Germany. I discovered that there’s an annual Christmas Market in Frankfurt. Also, being a child of the 1960s, I love a good cold war thriller set in Europe, so I borrowed a character introduced late in my Mikiko Jahn/Synthetic Woman saga and inserted him here.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Rewinding Time

the road

© Sue Vincent

Sixty-six year old Douglas Collier was shocked to find that he was walking out of the foothills toward Idaho State Highway 21 somewhere between Idaho City and Boise. In fact, he didn’t expect to exist at all, let alone be on his feet.

“What the hell just happened?” He stumbled across a low, grassy rise near some abandoned fence poles, gazing down at the asphalt pavement just below the hill.

“Are you talking to me?” The voice sounded like a snarky teenage boy, someone you’d find on social media flaunting their progressive values alongside their World of Warcraft online scores. The harness on Doug’s body, concealed under his faded blue jeans, tan, long-sleeved pullover shirt and dark blue jacket glowed a brilliant white and green as the AI spoke each word.

In a momentary burst of anger, he shot back, “Who the hell are you, Robert De Niro?”

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Legend

bridal veil falls

Image credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News, – 2011

“So Gray Eagle and Norita were like Romeo and Juliet.” Gola looked up at the frozen Falls, her partner Ash having convinced her to make the frigid hike.

“That’s what the legends say.”

She looked up, the mist of her breath wafting toward the fur around his eyes. “I love you when your romantic, but I’m freezing my tail off. Couldn’t you have told me the story at home?”

“With the clan living with us for the winter, I wanted to be alone with you.”

“That’s sweet,” she murmured, nuzzling against his warm neck. Then she nipped the tip of his ear making him yelp. “But I’m freezing my tail off.”

“You win. We’ll go. I’ll have to speak to the Evolutionary about making the next generation more resistant to cold. Let’s go home, Ms. Fox.”

“Whatever you say, Mr. Fox.” Then the orange-furred pair trotted down from the Falls.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps location/image as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Bridal Veil Falls, Utah (which I visited many years ago). I looked up the history of the Falls which told me, among other things, that it can be dangerous to hike there, particularly in winter.

I also found a legend about the falls which included the tale of two ill-fated lovers Norita and Gray Eagle. Click the link to learn more.

I didn’t want to write an “ordinary” romantic scene, so I made Gola’s expression about her tail more literal. Mankind has become nearly extinct, and after many ages, the climate of the Earth has returned to a pre-humanity state. To re-populate the planet, a human scientist known as the “Evolutionary” (which I shamelessly stole from the Marvel Comics character the High Evolutionary) has artificially evolved, among other species, a clan of foxes, making them more humanoid and giving them a much higher intelligence, along with, we can only hope, greater wisdom.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com (and submit something since it seems I’m the only one in the “room” so far).

Thanksgiving

© Sue Vincent

Twenty-eight-year-old Lance Cain watched as Tamara’s ashes floated away over the small waterfall and down the frigid stream. As a veteran of the Talsan War and one of the few survivors of the Prog Lozab campaign, he had long since learned how not to cry, regardless of how harshly his emotions were twisting in his chest.

But somewhere inside the hardened fighter pilot, a little six-year-old boy was sobbing. That’s how old he was when his Mom died pulling him out of the fire that took his two brothers and three sisters. That was the day he swore no one else would die because of him.

The day he graduated officer’s training (and at the memory, he had to bite down on the inside of both of his cheeks, since Tamara was standing beside him at the ceremony), he not only took an oath to defend the Republic, but to defeat the alien horde that had sworn to eradicate humanity from existence, including his beloved fiancee Miranda, the girl he left behind on their homeworld of Senegale.

“Hey, Dancer. I don’t mean to interrupt, but we’ve got to get going. The sun’s setting, and in an hour it’ll be ten below.”

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After the War

waterfall

© Dale Rogerson

The flowing water was marginally warmer than the frigid air, but Lance dressed for the weather and felt comfortable crouching down on a flat rock near the falls. At his feet patiently sat the urn. When he first met Tamara a decade ago, he never thought she liked the cold and the mountains so much. He was used to snow, being raised as a “flatlander,” but he’d have a hard time getting used to the altitude.

Pouring out the open clay container, her ashes rained into the stream like tears. “I wish I would have told you I loved you.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Yesterday, I wrote the opening to a wee Space Opera called The Girl He Left Behind, which was my response to a completely different writing challenge. You can’t tell because of the brevity of this piece, but this is the aftermath of winning an interstellar war, with Lance being one of the few survivors. He takes the ashes of one of his fellow soldiers, a woman he always thought was just a friend, but who had fallen in love with him, back to her homeworld, the only one to have not been destroyed.

War isn’t kind, even to the victors.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Girl He Left Behind: A Short Space Opera

girl

– Kelogsloops @ Instagram

Twenty-five-year-old Lance Andrew Cain immersed himself in Miranda’s psychedelic beauty, his love’s long, white mane sensuously lifting and waving in a thermal updraft, while globules of incandescent plasma rose with her, surrounding her, isolating the both of them from the ravages of the Lorav Nebula, and cold space beyond.

He raised his hands, as from each fingertip, a monarch butterfly, wings painted in the hues of precious gems, soared away from him, dancing around her alabaster form, her full, pendulous breasts, kissing the crimson that shaded her eyes, her cheeks, her lips. He was in an ecstasy of longing, and unfulfilled, his spirit remained suspended between paradise and mundane.

Then the officer saw the twin white chevrons on the sleeve of his royal blue jacket and remembered, and remembering thus, his darling’s vision froze, stuttered momentarily, and then vanished back into digital oblivion. Once again the Lieutenant JG in the service of the Fifth Legion of Garissann, aboard the space cruiser “The Dread of Issac,” was alone.

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