Flash fiction (Guest Author Series)
Today, Kris E. D. skillfully weaves a short science fiction tale of an abrupt awakening on a spaceship.
I’m in a field with tall grass, bright light, and chirping birds. My eyes stay shut as I listen to the chorus of birds. Then beep, beep, beep.
The ship shakes and the cryo pods wake up the passengers—the bridge crew first, while the others remain in stasis until awakened manually. The beeping becomes more distinct, a clanging alarm.
“Proximity alert, proximity alert.”
I open my eyes, feeling groggy, my limbs stiff. Half awake, I punch in the code to open my pod. A hiss, then some steam. I step through, stumble, and fall to my hands and knees. How long has it been? Six months? A year? As I get my bearings, the ship gives a huge jerk and shakes, bringing me fully awake.
Wondering about the alarms, I stumble to the bridge. We shouldn’t be at our destination yet.
“What the what?”
As I sit down, I see a planet getting closer, fast. I push buttons, trying to figure out where we are as I right the ship.
Then Ahma’s voice as she walks in, “What happened, where are we?”
“Your guess is as good as mine, Ahma.”
“Well, at least turn off that bloody alarm, Nyema, so that I can think.”
I punch in a code and the alarm turns off.
“Bring up the flight path and I’ll get her straightened out and prepared for landing, so we don’t crash and end up a bloody mess.” Ahma says.
I swivel to the flight panel and bring up the pre-arranged flight path. Planets appear and a slight, curved line with a blinking dot renders. I type in a command to see where we are in relation to our end destination.
“Interesting, we are way off course. How is this possible?”
The ship gives another huge jerk. I hold on to the console, knuckles turning white.
“Sorry, sorry, smoothing out now.”
The ship hisses, slows down, and descends in an arc instead of straight down.
“Okay, what is this…why’re we off our plotted course?” Ahma asks as I type in another command and bring the map up on the main screen.
“This isn’t possible. It can’t be!”
“Ahma, I double-checked the equation and we are 100 lightyears beyond where we’re supposed to be.”
“Did someone or something alter the coordinates?”
The ship emerges through the clouds and the code shows no signs of tampering. I glance out the ship's window. Green, blues, purples, oranges. We see a planet filled with an abundance of dense greenery and unfamiliar vegetation—it’s what we learned to identify as a jungle. A giant bird soars through the sky. Where the heck are we?
“Where are we? Nyema, what does the map say?”
“It says we’re in the Zednous galaxy, unknown planets and galaxies. It’s so far out that we haven’t even charted it yet.”
“How did we come this far?”
“Great question, Ahma, but let's find a landing spot first.”
I point to a flashing icon on the dashboard, showing our ion batteries are running low. Ahma quickly Lidar-scans the surface after entering a command.
“There, a clearing; punching in coordinates.”
As the ship turns, Ahma and I prepare the ship for landing. It decelerates, hovers for a couple of minutes, and lands.
“My scans detect breathable air, the same atmosphere as old Earth.”
“Well, what good luck! Nyema, open the hatch and let’s check out our surroundings.”
I walk towards the back of the ship, don the required space uniform, and grab the taser closest to it. I enter a code into the panel and the hatch opens with a slight hiss, like a bottle of carbonated water.
The light is blinding. Is this planet in proximity to a star, like the Earth's sun? I find and grab UV-polarized sunglasses. As I walk down the ramp, I pause. A sense of déjà vu hits me.
I am in a field with tall grass, bright star shine, and birds chirping. I close my eyes to listen to the chorus, trying to decipher what they are saying, and breathe in the sweet, cool air.
“Well, Nyema, wherever we are, we better wake the others. No point in keeping them in stasis any longer,” Ahma says.
As a feeling of familiarity washes over me, one word resounds in my mind as I stand in the field: Home.
The inspiration for this short tale comes from Octavia E. Butler's book Dawn—the initial installment in her science fiction series Lilith's Brood—as well as the AppleTV show Foundation.
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