Monday November 21st, 2011

The exercise:

Greg made a suggestion almost two weeks ago about having an overarching theme for a week's worth of prompts, and I've decided to test it out this week. You're welcome to have all your responses relate to each other (though with Two Haiku Tuesday coming up tomorrow that could be a challenge) or have them be stand alone pieces.

So here we go. The theme for this week? Outer space.

And today's prompt: contact.


The collision had seemed insignificant at first. Some of the crew weren't even aware that the asteroid had made contact with the hull of the ship. In fact, when the announcement came from Captain Romero over the comm system that they were leaking oxygen, many thought he was joking.

He was not.

A second announcement soon followed the first, this one instructing all crew to don their IES (Individual Environment Suits) while they re-routed to Nukzhul for emergency repairs. The oxygen tanks affixed to the back of each IES would provide enough air for a person at rest to survive for fourteen hours.

Panic didn't truly take hold until the first crewman realized that Nukzhul was fifteen hours away.


Greg said...

Heh, I thought you'd decided against a theme-week actually, exactly because of Two-haiku Tuesday. Still, I think this could be fun :)
I like your set-up, it's clear this is going to be a tension-filled week of near-death and heroic survial from you. When I saw Nukzhul though, I thought it said Nazg├╗l which made me wonder just what kind of story this was going to be!

The shuttle-craft had lifted off two minutes earlier and was now just a spark in the night sky, another star in the heavens. The last eight people on the mining-asteroid Celenthea walked back into the cavern that had been their home for the last eight years. When they'd first arrived the asteroid had been solid and they'd cowered on the surface in geodesic domes while they started drilling and mining out the minerals and rare hydrocarbons. Now the asteroid was nearly hollow and they lived in pressurised caverns with airlock doors, huge hydroponic arrays and stony, carven art-parks. It wasn't a bad life, but no-one was really sad to see it go.
When the asteroid suddenly jolted violently, seeming almost to bounce and throw them up into the air, it shocked everyone. The low gravity meant that everyone descended slowly and safely, and then they looked at one another.
"Contact," said Griffen, the astrogator. "That was the asteroid engaging the planet's atmosphere."
"It's four hours early," said Mogadef, captain of the mining crew. "We're supposed to have left the asteroid before this happens."
There was a silence, while everyone waited for Griffen to say something. Very slowly he spread his hands, looking unhappy.
"They can't lift us off now," he said. "There's no way to land a craft on the asteroid once we're in the atmosphere."

Anonymous said...


She looked into the night sky. It was something she’d been doing on and off since she was a child. She’d often dreamed of the day ... the day that something might happen, something might be seen that would blow her mind.
But there was nothing. Anna packed up the telescope, gathered her warm coat around her and trudged off towards home, the light from the torch lighting her path.
On her way she heard a rustling sound in the bushes nearby. The sound made her catch her breath. She stopped, casting the light bushward, but could see naught. The sound stopped. She dismissed it as something inconsequential. A rabbit, perhaps, or a nocturnal mouse. Something other than what it was turning out to be - something unexpected...

This time, in her path, something shimmered. She couldn’t get round it. She stopped again. She could barely make out  a shape jelling before her very eyes, just discernible in the dim light of her torch, its battery life fading, losing power, now, in the presence of ... of...
The silhouette of a female formed fully in front of her now. None of this made sense to Anna, but her attention was completely focussed on the “woman” in front of her...
The woman offered her hand in the classic sign of friendship. Anna dropped the ’scope, oblivious to the damage it would do to it. She grasped the hand in contact, a reflex action, and shook back.
’Not what you expected.’ Anna heard the words in her mind, for the woman’s lips did not move. 
“I ... I ...” Anna stammered, words escaping her.
’You always look upward, but we don’t all need space ships to come here, you know,’ the woman smiled as she “spoke”. 
“How ... how did you get here? Where are you from?” Anna asked, finally finding herself.
’I come here via the fifth dimension. If I lower my vibration I can find form here any time I choose. It’s easier than ships which land and get shot at. We use wormholes to travel so instead of being up there we actually travel sideways, to put it simply. I live on the other side of the universe but the wormholes makes travel almost instant. It’s more like time travel than space travel. The MTS (molecular transmission suit) allows me to materialise.’
The explanation made a strange kind of sense but Anna was still in awe. “I have many more questions ... I ... I have always wanted contact ...” she said.
’You have it. Let’s talk!’ the woman replied, and the greatest conversation in Earth’s history began.

Cathryn Leigh said...

(Contact you say? - Rachael, Elo's current MC for nano rubs her hands together - did you know Elo's been working on Sci-fi this whole month?)

Don't mind her *grin* though she could make it easier to write about contact... hm, yes I think a side sprout form my NaNovel might be interesting and give a minor character some light to shine.

A large feline sauntered from the bushes and Lolita froze. He had the colorings of a tabby cat, but was ever so much bigger and Lolita found that she couldn't scream as the beast approached.
"Great," she thought, "Rachael's going to be pissed if the first thing that happens to me is get eaten by the wild life."
"Well," a voice purred in her head, "if you had listened to Lupita, perhaps you wouldn't be in this situation now would you?"
"D... Did you just talk to me?" Lolita looked incredulously at the beast before her.
His head raised and his yellow eyes stared into hers. There was a disconcerting smile about his mouth.
"And you heard me," the purring voice responded in surprise. "Well Perhaps there is some intelligent life among the humans after all."
"What are you?" Lolita asked, still trembling in fear.
"The intelligent life you humans have forgotten to look for," he purred.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

I'm surprised how long my bit turned out, given how tired I am, and how much I had to write this morning. I'm rather pleased with it, though. We'll see how I see it in the morning, though. X)

I like the idea of a week-long theme, though!
- - - - -
It never dawned on me that it would move first.

The scene lay as if a Hollywood plane had flown over and dropped the set in the middle of our field: a huge gash in the soil suggesting a fast collision, with a bigger impact mark where it had first hit before skidding through the crops, and a pathetic wreck of a silver pod no longer than I was tall, and about as wide as my arm span and some change. It had probably resembled a bean, or a huge melon, at some point before its presumably-unscheduled landing.

Admittedly the plane had been a bit creative in the type of field, given that we grew watermelons in that field instead of the usual grain or corn, but beyond that it was a scene direct out of one of my brother's cheesy sci-fi movies.

I had enough sense to grab a stick before approaching the rubble. Before I could get terribly close the pod shifted, hissed gently at the change in pressure, and a little hatch eased up as well as it could. My grip on the stick tightened as I waited... for what, I couldn't say. It seemed like forever before a relatively tiny creature shimmied its way out.

I had no idea what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. This creature somehow looked both human and gecko, and there was something cutely rodential in its movements, like a mouse or a hamster. Strange as the combination was, it wasn't repulsive, or even unsettling. It just was, just as I was.

It took a moment to register that this creature was staring at me inquisitively, its intriguingly huge, black eyes that occupied most of its head glittering with curiosity. It finished emerging from its pod, tested the soil below with its foot as one might test water for swimming or ice for skating, and lowered itself to the ground. I couldn't bring myself to move; my grip tightened still on my stick, but I didn't want to let this know that. I didn't want to make a bad impression on the little thing.

It picked its way carefully around the awkward melons, constantly looking to me. It stood within arm's reach, and came up to about my hip. I crouched slowly; I knew I personally didn't like looking up at people, especially funny looking people with sticks that could be used to bash in my skull, so I thought it'd be polite to use its eye-level. It tilted its head, holding out a marriage of a hand and a paw, its fingers padded like a gecko's. Given my limited knowledge of human-alien contact, something felt like I should have done this first, but the next best thing would be to do the same.

I held its oddly soft paw-hand, the grooves of the pads comfortably catching my own skin. It was warm, and safe. So much was in that one touch: reassurance that it meant no harm. Trust that I meant likewise. Happiness that it made it in one piece. Curiosity as to what this planet had to offer.

And fear.

Fear of what this planet might do to it.

Anonymous said...

what fabulously different approaches to the subject. love the punchline, g2 !

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, I probably could have spent more than two seconds on coming up with that name :P

I enjoyed your opening scene as well, and hope that you find a way to continue it on at least a couple days this week.

Writebite - I'd very much like to see you continue your story too! Very intriguing start.

Elor - very cool that this managed to be another outlet for your NaNo work :D

I like this cat. Tell me more!

g2 - well I hope you like it just as much, if not more, in the morning because I thought it was fantastic.

And should be continued! :D

So far I must say I'm rather enjoying this whole 'themed week' thing :)

Jordan Jack Rockerbie said...

The white light is blinking, ignorant of the people clustered around it. No-one had seen it give light before, no-one truly knew what to do. Sure, there was the training, the manuals. But never had acted upon the light before.

"Do we..."

"...flick the switch?" another man finishes. "I guess."

"It's all come to this, then," the first man breathes.

Though the sentiment has been spoken, no-one acts upon it. Eventually a feminine hand reaches out, pulling the small switch down toward her with a red-nailed finger.

No-one speaks. No one moves.

Acoustic fuzz emanates from the embedded speaker.

"False alarm?" the second man whispers.

The woman shakes her head and then, in a somewhat shaky voice, says, "Hello?"

Marc said...

JorJack - wonderful atmosphere, great little details. I look forward to seeing where you go with this :)

Aaron said...

Man I think what you guys are doing is amazing. I wanted to get in on it even though I waited until the penultimate day. Anyways I applaud all who wrote for the whole week. Here is my tale.

The anomaly had been following Eden for three days without disappearing. The survivors of Earth were beginning to frighten. It had been one hundred and thirty two years since the destruction of Earth. In the final hour the people of Earth had put all their resources and hope into a giant space ship, named Eden, that would transport the remnants of Earth across the universe to a new world.
The ship was a wonder of technology, almost fully automated and self-repairing it was capable of continuing the journey if all the human crew died. The massive computer was the closest humanity had ever come to creating artificial intelligence and named Gaia, after the spirit of Earth.
The crew were human, adapted to live in space. When crew Alpha had passed Pluto's orbit and the light of the sun was shrinking the light of one more star, they had known fear. Since then fear had been forgotten almost completely by crew Epsilon.
The fusion engines pushed Eden faster and faster until the stars were a blur passing in the long night.
The current generation of Astro-humans, crew Epsilon, had been born into peace and most had never been afraid. They traveled with the confidence of a photon of light. Then an anomaly had appeared on their instrument panels. Gaia, the ships computer, tracked it as it approached from behind them. The anomaly had never come close enough for human eyes to see and then it had disappeared. Gaia was inspected but upon examination determined in perfect condition. When the anomaly began appearing with increased frequency the fear began.
It would be visible through the starboard windows in one hour. Unless it disappeared again, crew Epsilon would make extraterrestrial contact.

Marc said...

Aaron - all comes are welcome, even latecomers! :)

It really has been a great week and I'm glad you've chosen to get in on it!

Fantastic intro! Really set the scene for whatever is to come :)