Writing Exercises

Silver Pod Part 10: Threshold

Link to part 1

Link to part 9

Besh descended hand under hand, synchronizing the movements of hand and opposite leg. His feet curled to grip the holds. The grippy pads of his fingers found familiar purchase even under the full gravity, the definitive gravity, of Earth.

He had outpaced Fife despite the evidence of muscle rippling beneath her clothing. She wore tight-fitting sleeves and leggings beneath a looser tunic that was cinched at her waist. He detected uncertainty in her movements that he had not seen before.

Beryl fell past, his legs swimming uselessly in the empty air as the seeker drones ferried him down. Besh noted the conflicted frown Beryl cast him as he passed.

Besh finished his descent and waited for further instructions. Beryl had continued onward, sideways through the ship, toward an exit hatch. The thrumming of the seekers’ wings faded in the distance. Fife dropped the final distance and took the impact with a smooth backward somersault.

He looked at her, the question of what to do next plain on his face. Instead of instructing, she asked a question, “Where will I find mechanical equipment, spare parts, that sort of thing?”

He pointed to one of the shafts that ran horizontally from the central tunnel like spokes. She glanced down the indicated tunnel. He could practically see the thoughts flowing through her mind. She was making a decision. No. She was gathering herself to follow through on a decision she had already made.

Fife turned to him, gestured at his nakedness. “Get clothes and food for yourself, only what you can carry, then follow Beryl. You remember Beryl?”

She thought him childlike. The realization didn’t upset or amuse him. It was just another fact. “I remember,” he said. He wasn’t accustomed to questioning anyone other than Helper, but he asked, “You’re not coming with me?”

“Not yet. There’s something else I have to… I’m going to do first.”

“Ok.” Besh headed toward the kitchen without looking back at Fife.

The ship had a well-stocked kitchen with all manner of foods and spices. Water had enjoyed inhabiting Besh’s body to both prepare and savor all manner of recipes. Fife hadn’t specified what type of food to gather, other than “easy to carry,” so Besh emptied a sack of root vegetables onto the floor and stuffed a variety of items into the sack.

Then he retrieved two environmental hazard suits, which were the closest thing to clothing on the ship. He didn’t put either one on before carrying the lot toward the outer hatch.

Bright yellow light filled the hatch and blackened the corridor by comparison. Besh squinted. He stepped up to the threshold. His eyes adjusted. A whole world etched itself into existence beyond the glow of sunlight. Wind-blown waves raced across tall grass on the edge of a perimeter of dirt and sand blasted outward by the crash. Besh inhaled. Sea salt and scented pollens carried on the breeze. Earth. Origin.

Water should be here. Water would want to experience this.

Besh dumped his armful of food and suits. He was leaving the ship. He understood that. There was an instability in the ship’s core. It would explode. The only question was how soon? Besh was unaccustomed to having his own needs, but he had one now. He needed to make sure he had done all he could to find Water.

“Regret,” said Helper, “You don’t want to have regret.”

I’m not familiar with regret, Besh thought. He asked Helper, Where is Water?

“I don’t know.”

Besh thought for a moment. There were other questions he had not thought to ask until now. Did Water leave?


Besh frowned. “What do you mean?” he said aloud.

“‘Leave’ is open to interpretation.”

“What happened to Water?” Besh asked, then, before Helper could answer, “Why is Water no longer here? How did Water go away?”

Helper answered simply, “Water died.”

Besh felt a sudden pressure in his face. He reached up and felt crust in the corners of his eyes. The crust fell away, was followed by a bit of waxy material, followed by uncontrollable streaming tears, the first he had ever cried.

“You’re feeling…” Helper began to say.

No, Besh interrupted. Don’t tell me.

He gathered up the sack and the environment suits. He stepped out the hatch onto the Earth, going onward, not knowing how to go onward.

Link to part 11


2 thoughts on “Silver Pod Part 10: Threshold”

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