Writing Exercises

Silver Pod Part 20: Pins, Needles, and Regolith

Link to part 1

Link to previous part: 19

The aftermath of the explosion spread out over the Earth’s surface like an over-cooked egg, bulging yellow-white in the center, a skirt of ragged and dirty white spreading around it. The western seaboard would have a new shape, but the planet was large and sturdy. It accepted this new cataclysm, one of many in its long history.

…which begged the question: Where have all the Earthlings gone? That question had to wait. First things first.

Fife turned her gaze away from the firestorm to the splash of the Milky Way, crystal clear and so thick with visible stars that many of them ran together. It occurred to her that this was the first time she’d seen them in the physical world. She wasn’t sure the simulations did them justice.

Beryl cleared his throat, a prelude to him spilling his troubled thoughts.

“We made it.” He didn’t sound at all pleased. “But we’re still in trouble. The code that one gave us…” He hooked a thumb at Ohnsy. “…came with a countdown. If I had to guess, it’ll shut us out of the computer systems when it reaches zero in less than thirty-six hours.”

“Her name’s Ohnsy,” Fife corrected gently.

Beryl flushed. “She broke your arm,” he barked angrily.

Fife stroked the glazed cast on her arm. She even enjoyed the pins-and-needles sensation dancing beneath it. It meant she was healing. “I made my decision. No regrets.”

“We have to decide what to do next.” Beryl made the statement an accusation.

“We will all,” Fife gestured at Besh who silently regarded the gradually dimming explosion, “discuss that decision when the time comes. First we will find safe harbor and return this ship to its rightful owner.”

“I’m not the owner,” Ohnsy said from her restrained position strapped into one of the acceleration couches.

“Until the owner returns, you are the ship’s keeper. The ship will be returned to you as promised,” Fife said.

Unable to turn her head Ohnsy glared sideways at Fife, but made no response.

Beryl threw up his hands. “This is all pointless. We lose control in less than a day and a half.”

“More than enough time to reach the moon,” Fife said. “There ought to be working ships there.”

“And if there aren’t?” Beryl shot back.

“Then we land somewhere safe on Earth,” Fife’s tone stiffened. The painkillers were wearing off and there was a limit to how much pessimism even she could tolerate.

“Why not go back to Earth now?” Beryl asked, exhaustion beginning to deflate his anger as well.

“Because the moon’s a better bet to get us a ship.”

He started to protest, but she flicked a display up onto the main view screen from the console at her fingertips. The crater-pocked surface of Luna rushed into view with stomach-dropping speed. The sun cast long shadows over the crumb and boulder surface. A pop-up tagged the location as Peary crater: north rim. Upside down triangles in vibrant green peppered the display.

“If you’d run a scan instead of stewing in negativity, you would have found this already,” Fife scolded. “Multiple active transponder signals.”

Link to next part: 21


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