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Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Yay! An entry!

I was hoping someone would pick this picture. This guy creates amazing works of art by folding and cutting paper. Then taking pictures of it. Beautiful.

Now...Read the story...my comments follow in purple.

The platform of concentric tiles curved like an orange peel. Black space framed the symmetric magnificence.
Salina sucked in another breath of stale air, the leftovers of her spacesuit’s oxygen supply. Why the manufacturers couldn’t come up with a better air system that didn’t smell so bad was beyond her keen.
Not that it mattered now.
She let the slight momentum carry her, twist her like a leaf from a tree. Odd that. Thinking of trees and blue sky. Of gravity and windy days and Oklahoma on a hot, dusty day in July. A long way from her job as an engineer tech on Meridian.
The theories about terrestrial-type planets orbiting Barnard’s Star were right. A group of three planets, all within the same mass and size of Earth, became the object of much interest. Two planets, Wreath and Zenith, orbited outside the ideal range.
But Meridian; it called to dreamers of other worlds like a Siren. Green and golden, blue water and ice fields at the poles, it filled the cups of every hopeful spacer.
The Corporation’s highest scientists aided by political monies and interests, studied Meridian’s sun, temperamental red dwarf, Barnard’s Star. Calculations and greased palms judged the star safe. In its youth, the star would have burned the surface of its planets into cinders. Now, ancient in a galaxy nearly as old as the universe, the star put out just enough energy to sustain a vibrant planet with warm rays of heat and light.
Colonists ventured to the new planet held in place by a dodgy star.
Salina volunteered, following her heart and allegiance to the Corporation. Turned down by a faceless committee, Salina lost hope of becoming a part of the Meridian group when someone at the Corporation made a special point of asking her to join. Her skills, he said, were in short supply.
Functioning in space, building the way station that bridged the beyond with the planet below, creating the blueprints and technology; all her shining moments. Her biggest hurdles were surmounting the naysayers and suck-ups who barely survived without an imagination.
A proud moment, a fulfillment of her wishes and dreams came with a pin, a blue six-pointed star that proclaimed her promotion as Chief Engineer to the way station, Bideawee. All her ambitions, work, and motivations rewarded at that ceremony.
 But, like static left from the Big Bang, the cosmic radiation that continually bombards the universe, Salina always felt uneasy. Mutterings came from the fringe, the unsophisticated underground of alarmists. Loudest of these agitators was Coxa.
Named for a star in the constellation Leo, he formulated marches, interrupted meetings, and staged protests to gain attention for his theory; that Barnard’s Star was only sleeping.
At first, Coxa spoke reasonably, passionately about his findings that Meridian’s sun was not to be trusted. Internal forces bubbled and would explode, he said. When none took him seriously, Coxa grew strident, anxious. Still no one listened.
“Barnard’s Star is gonna split open and spill its guts,” he said at an attempt to disrupt the launching of another platform. The authorities pinned him to the side of a memorial wall built as a reminder of Earth. His cheek pressed flat against the carved stone, his gaze caught Salina’s like hooks of supplication.
“Please,” he’d said through a broken mouth. “Listen to me.”
But they didn’t and now…
Salina slowly cart wheeled past the white tiles of the station. Her fuel packs were full but she chose not to stop her revolutions. Why bother? And Bideawee? Unfinished? Mentally she shrugged.
She didn’t bother to look behind her at the planet. Mostly black now but spots of orange still sparkled the last time she’d looked. Salina needed no more confirmation.
Coxa was right. Barnard’s Star had one last puff left in its stellar body, a momentous solar flare that sheared the planet’s atmosphere and cooked everything on the surface.
She’d had a ringside seat to the show. Alone, Salina had cruised her one-man vessel to the station that morning, a privilege accorded to her promotion. An inspection, she’d said to her crew. They’d laughed and waved her off, knowing she loved her creation like a newborn child. Communing with her station was one temptation she couldn’t resist.
Behind a heat plate designed to withstand most radiation, alone on her station, Salina had witnessed the destruction of her home.
Gone. And no one but her in orbit.
At that moment, a primordial instinct struck. The human craves belonging and community, for safety or fellowship. People survive being alone but always there is some tie to their species. Or to a living element.
Salina was utterly alone with no connection to anything or anyone. Her eyes wheeled as if looking for some movement, a biological, living, breathing entity.
Foolishness, she said to herself. But panic creeped into her soul despite her stern admonition. In the dark recesses of her mind, the cancer of terror multiplied. Flourished. And overwhelmed.
She breathed harder, felt sickness creep into her throat and mouth.
She screamed and flailed. Mindless without any quality of human left to her, she took big gulps of air to scream again. Over and over.
But only the Silence took note. Dispassionate and uncaring. Unforgiving.

I am keeping it anonymous...but you can reveal yourself if you want. :)  

I love the feel of this piece. How it starts out, not exactly light and fluffy, but Oh Hey! Remember Earth...This is what I loved about it...and everything is going to be ok. And then slowly, you twisted that down into everything  not being ok. Sort of like how the picture twists. 

You can sense that something is a bit off when you start in, but you're not sure what. The movement from the quiet reserved/removed voice...to even explaining how the planet died in a very scientific way. Sets up the end very well.

I did get a bit tripped up in all the names, but I do tend to speed read (a bad habit from years of college) so I simply re-read it..and they came together.

I also felt the end was very believable. If you're the only human left. And you believe the only BEING left. Yah. Panic in the extreme.

Great piece of Flash Fiction! Thanks for the submission! 

Now....What are Your Thoughts? 


Huntress said...

It has a few *facepalm* errors. Technical mostly. Like her one-man space ship, what happened to it. and the unfinished space station. Why didn't it burn too?

A re-write would fix them.

Maybe a touch of foreshadowing at the first also. Like a creepy-crawling feel of something sneaking up on her, showing she is in shock from the tragedy and unable to comprehend at first.

This would build the drama.

mshatch said...

I liked it. It has a quiet feel to it. The title fits perfectly.

Alicia Willette-Cook said...

I figured the space station etc didn't burn because they were out of range.

And you don't GET to rewrite flash fiction! HA! :P

Unknown said...

I thought it was very inventive and an enjoyable read, but I found it hard not to start skimming in the telling/explaining parts. Maybe I'm too impatient, but I would've liked a bit more action and a bit less telling.