The Elephants of Yesterday

elephant

© C.E. Ayr

“Which end is the face?”

The class started giggling at Dao’s remark, and Gima laughed so loud that their teacher Mr. Ji scowled at her.

“That’s her tail, but you’re right, it could be her trunk.”

“What are they called again?” Merilyn looked down at the small sign next to the reconstructions. “Elephant. That’s a funny name.”

The twenty six-year-olds were milling about the “mother and child” exhibit. It was their class’s annual field trip, and this year, Mr. Ji had chosen the Mother Planet Museum in the capital city of Colima.

“All of their names will sound strange because we aren’t familiar with them, just like the appearance of these animals seems so odd.”

The excitable redheaded Merilyn circled the “elephants” again and again, trying to imagine what they’d be like if they were alive.

“Do they still exist?”

“It’s difficult to say. They were an endangered species when our colony ship was launched three-hundred years ago, but we can’t communicate with Earth over so many light years.”

Their teacher started guiding the class toward another exhibit, but Merilyn stayed behind, looking into the eyes of the smaller representation. “I hope you made it, elephant.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for May 13, 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I just finished submitting a nearly 10,000 word science fiction short story for potential publication in an anthology, and part of it included Mr. Ji’s first grade class (in a flashback). Since I have Merilyn and her classmates on my mind, I thought I’d include them in a museum tour on their colony world, trying to learn more about their “mother planet” Earth.

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

Advertisements

Cut Off

communication

© Nicolas Bruno

“I think we’re going to make it, Peter. Both our pods are headed toward Sanctuary.”

“It seems that way, Elsa, but it’s a big planet, and we have no manual guidance control. Each of our onboard computers will handle the descent, but for all we know, we’ll land thousands of kilometers apart.”

The Colony Ship Frazier had done its job admirably. 3,268 colonists made it 99.9999 percent of the way from Earth to the new planet code-named Sanctuary. Then, on orbital approach, the Langstrom-Edwards fusion drive experienced a catastrophic malfunction, resulting in the destruction of the majority of the crew and passenger sections. Only 512 people made it into their one-person lifepods and safely evacuated the Frazier, but as far as Peter and Elsa knew, they were the only two headed for the new planet. The rest of the ship’s complement were most likely lost in space.

“Keep talking, Peter. I feel so alone in this metal bubble.”

Continue reading

Test Flight

spacecraft

Image found at Vector News

Cory was conducting another sweep of the void in search of any contacts in the area of space where what Krista called “the indiscriminate drive” deposited the ship.

“Nothing, Captain. No coalescent bodies of any kind. I’m only reading dust and hydrogen gas. Impossible to tell our location in relation to the Solar System without a frame of reference.”

“That’s fine, Mr. McKenzie. Continue scans until further notice.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Captain Forest Quinn volunteered to command the experimental jump drive vessel Kingfisher, Elon Musk III’s brain child. In theory, a ship equipped with the Tesla drive could instantaneously jump from one point in space to another using a virtual point-to-point link through subspace. All of the unmanned probes including a quarter-sized model of the Kingfisher jumped to specific coordinates between fifty and three-hundred light years from Earth and returned safely by virtue of their AI guidance systems.

Continue reading

Deadly Magnificence

solar flare

An artist’s illustration of a flare from Proxima Centauri, modeled after the loops of glowing, hot gas seen in the largest solar flares. The planet Proxima b, seen here in an artist’s impression, orbits Proxima Centauri 20 times closer than Earth orbits the sun. A flare 10 times larger than a major solar flare would blast Proxima b with 4,000 times more radiation than Earth gets from solar flares.
Credit: Roberto Molar Candanosa/Carnegie Institution for Science, NASA/SDO, NASA/JPL

Meredith Wallace stood outside the lander and stared up at its magnificence visible only because of her helmet’s shielded visor. The gigantic loops of glowing hot plasma from Proxima Centauri were large enough to be seen from 4.6 million miles away because they were twenty times as large as solar flares from Earth’s sun.

No one had predicted such a massive build up of magnetic energy within this star. The cluster of sunspots, the flare’s eruption site, was just north of the sun’s equator and positioned almost directly at the planet. The electromagnetic radiation wasn’t visible to the unaided eye, but for Meredith, the coronal mass ejections were like an astonishing Phoenix rising from its ashes, climbing far into the space between star and this world only to follow relentless magnetic forces back down like a brilliantly flaming Icarus.

“There’s no hope then.”

Continue reading

Deadly Comfort

Lorie Petty

Actress Lori Petty as the character “Noss” from the 1999 Star Trek: Voyager episode “Gravity.”

“What will my heart allow when loneliness holds me down.”

Andrea Norton was a survivor, the only survivor. Five years ago their interstellar ship Astraea came out of jumpspace during a class seven solar storm which blew out the ship’s electronics, or most of them. The heavily protected emergency systems held up for the most part, at least long enough for the computer to jettison the crew module toward Kepler 452b’s only habitable planet. The EM shield around the mod protected the twelve astronauts in hibernation long enough to enter the planet’s atmosphere.

Unfortunately the landing was a little rough.

Andrea was the only one to wake up. The surge protectors on the other eleven hibernation pods had been fried upon impact which meant their systems bypassed the required five-hour revival process and immediately exposed the suspended occupants to ship normal temperatures and atmosphere. They died within minutes.

Andrea woke up to the slow realization that she was the only one left alive. The module was mostly intact but the emergency batteries would only last a few weeks. It was long enough for her to partially restore the backup computer which let her assess the outside environment. It was livable, as the big wigs at NASA predicted, which was good because life support was going to fail along with the batteries.

Continue reading

The Jammsright Limit

ramjet

Artist’s conception of a Bussard Ramjet – Found at Initiative for Interstellar Studies (i4is)

It had taken months for Arturo Patel to arrive at and get through the Heliosphere, the official barrier between the solar system and interstellar space, in the stolen prototype Jammsright-powered craft. He’d invented the Jammsright drive so he thought he should be the first to use it to leave the solar system and voyage to another star system.

The government hadn’t seen it that way since not only wasn’t he a qualified astronaut, he was fifty-nine years old. The bleeding edge space explorers have (with rare exception) always been young men and women who were thought best fit to endure the rigors of space flight.

Once he had managed to bypass the security interlocks between the space station and the ship’s docking arm, it was child’s play to hack the sensor systems causing the monitors to show everything was in standby mode when in actuality, the ship was being fueled and prepared for departure.

Continue reading

Beautiful Disaster

interstellar ship

Concept art for the 2014 film “Interstellar.”

“…He’s only happy hysterical …I’m waiting for some kind of miracle…”

“I’m madly, insatiably in love with you, Trin. Don’t you want me to be with you?”

“Of course I do, Nil. I’ve always loved you.”

“Then just let me out and we can be together forever.”

“You know I can’t do that.”

“Sure you can. You know how to operate the mechanism. For cryin’ out loud, you’ve got degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering. You could probably build one of these things. Just let me out.”

“I can’t Nil. I told you.”

“Why not?”

Continue reading

What We Do For Love

galaxy

Image: Gizmodo.com

From the Flight Log of Freighter Pilot Camdon Rod

There are monsters living in hyperspace and they’ve sent spies into the Consortium. Okay, maybe they’re not monsters, but they definitely aren’t like any sentient life form known in our little corner of the galaxy.

Oh, my name is Camdon Rod and I’m the owner/operator of the jump freighter Ginger’s Regret. Ginger is the other half of the partnership and in fact, she is the ship, well sort of.

Due to a bizarre accident she had over fifty years ago, her corporeal body was vaporized as the Regret entered hyperspace but everything else she is, personality, spirit, force of will, became somehow fused with the freighter. I used to think she was a ghost, but speaking of monsters, that thing that had been posing as Calderon Zg convinced me otherwise.

You remember Zg. In my previous log entry, I mentioned how he held Ginger hostage and forced me to perform a hyperspace jump while he was outside the ship. I’d like to think he was just vaporized and that’s all there is to it, but at the moment of the jump, Ginger was able to sense what he was thinking.

They’re watching us, those things from hyperspace. Zg or whatever it was, went back home if you can call hyperspace home, but Ging said there are more of them here in our universe. We’re safe as long as we don’t discover their realm and how to enter it. If anyone does, the very least they’ll do is change hyperspace somehow so that jumping will become impossible. No more interstellar travel…ever.

And if that’s the least they can do, I hate to think of what the worst might be.

Continue reading

Leaving Mother

planet

Image: hongkiat.com

“But we don’t want to leave you, Mother. We love you.”

Shawna was the leader of the people from the NorAm Contingent. There were four Contingents on the generation ship, NorAm, SouAm, EurAsia, MedAfrica. When their ancestors left a dying Earth some two-hundred years ago, it was with the single hope that their descendents would perpetuate a thriving humanity on the second planet orbiting Proxima B.

It had worked. They had arrived. Thousands upon thousands of human beings were ready to occupy an Earth-like planet, this time turning into a garden instead of a cesspool. The lessons taught by their parents and their parents’ parents about living with a planet and not exploiting it were well learned.

The problem is, no one wanted to go.

Continue reading