We don’t get many visitors round these parts. We don’t take kindly to ’em either. It’s not so much that this is a one-horse town, we just got our own … Continue reading You Ain’t Welcome Here
There’s an ice-cream van at the edge of the Milky Way. It’s been there longer than there has been life on Earth. Commuters stop by on the intergalactic highway as they make … Continue reading Ice-Cream Van at the End of the Galaxy
The flight from New York to LA takes just over 6 hours.
Martin VonBraun hugged his brother Joe goodbye at airport security. He spent some time in duty-free before he headed to Gate 7A. Joeseph made his way back into the city, through crowded tubes and up a cramped escalator to his office. He sat down at his desk as flight 374 was taking off from New York airport.
An hour later, Martin was sitting back and choosing which in-flight movie to watch. Joe was pouring over a legal case on his desk, feeling a little too hot. He called his secretary to open the window.
Two hours into the flight, Martin got up to use the bathroom. Joe was in a bathroom too, vomiting blood.
At hour three, Martin was asleep. Joe was paralyzed, but fully conscious.
At hour five, Joe watched as his fingers shriveled and turned black. Martin ordered a beer from the flight attendant.
The flight from New York to LA takes just over 6 hours. Parasite X kills its host 5 hours and 11 minutes from the time of infection.
Flight 374 was delayed coming into LA airport. Nobody from air traffic control would answer them. When they did eventually pluck up the courage to land, it appeared from the air that all flights had been grounded. As they came closer, they saw the corpses littering the runways. Blackened and shriveled, like a fire had spread through every living person, leaving all else untouched.
The plane sat on the runway, but nobody ran out to meet them and nobody dared leave. They checked their phones. Messages from loved ones came through- emotional jigsaw pieces of the last 6 hours, as the parasite had infected and taken down the country. Possibly the world. The pilot radioed out. Perhaps there were other flights full of the uninfected. Perhaps there were more than these 204 survivors. Or perhaps not. It would only take one infected passenger to take down the whole plane. Maybe they’d all just been lucky.
Martin’s thought about calling his brother, but he couldn’t seem to move his fingers. The corpse of Joe VonBraun lay in a silent office, surrounded by so many more. His dead fingers curled against the floor. The parasite inside him, still hungry, took root in his brain. Joe was gone, but his fingers twitched. His eyes opened.
Via Daily Prompt: Infect
She stood on the shore and watched a star fall down from the heavens towards her. The closer it came, the smaller it got. It burnt brighter as it entered her atmosphere and then dimmed. She almost lost track of it altogether until she heard the thud of it landing in a sand dune behind her. She turned and ran to find it, just a small, flat piece of rock that had once been a star.
She picked it up. It was almost too hot to hold. She turned it over in her hand and couldn’t believe what she saw. There, etched in the stone in shimmering silver were the words: hello. Is there anyone out there as lonely as me?
The words made her heart hurt. She turned the stone over and pulled out a black marker pen from her pocket.
Yes. She wrote back and threw it as hard as she could in to the heavens. It vanished. She stood alone for a while feeling how small she was in this big and empty universe.
The next night she watched as another star fell towards her. This one was much bigger and it said I have thrown my words to the universe for centuries and now it has thrown me back a friend. Who are you?
And so they began to write to each other. The girl on the shore and the girl in the stars had a conversation that spanned the cosmos. It travelled at lightspeeds through moonbeams. It dove in to black holes and bounced across galaxies. The universe was still big and they were still small, but no longer alone. They had fallen in love in the starlight.
One night, without warning, the girl in the stars stopped replying. The girl on the shore waited. For decades she threw words at the stars who stayed silent. Her hair turned grey, her hands hurt when she moved them but still she wrote. Still she waited.
I miss you, she wrote with a shaley hand and raised her arm to throw it. But then in the distance she saw something. At first she thought it was her old eyes failing her, but as she squinted at the sky she saw the light of a falling star. When it entered her atmosphere it did not dim. It grew brighter and brighter until she almost couldn’t bare to look. One last flash and then there in the sand in front of her was a beautiful woman made of stardust.
“My love,” she smiled at the old woman on the shore. “You are so beautiful.”
The old woman blushed. “I am old,” she said.
“Your age is nothing compared to the universe. Everything that is anything no once burned in the heart of a star. Your outer shell does not matter. Not when we are all made of stardust.”
Via Daily Prompt: Blush
There’s a parasite that lives behind mirrors. A detailed shadow that stares back at you when you clean your teeth or get caught in the dark screen between episodes of a Netflix show. It watches the way you walk past shop windows. It studies you from reflective surfaces at times when you think nobody is watching. It knows you better than anyone.
If you get too close it will climb through the image of itself in the reflection of your eye.
It won’t kill you right away. It will paralyse your first and take control. You will watch it live your life. Watch it do things you never wanted to. Watch destroy your relationships with people who don’t know it’s not really you. Because why would they?
It looks like you. It talks like you, walks like you. It fixes your hair like you do.
You will die and nobody will know there is a fraud living on in your skin.
Pictures sent back from early probes had only partially prepared her for how much the new planet looked like Earth. Well… how much it looked like Earth before they’d all fucked it up.
Planet B had been hailed by many back home as a miracle. It had been discovered by an expedition that had run in to technically difficulties and drifted off course, so Sarah saw it as more of a happy accident. They had spotted a small planet that looked a lot like Earth from a distance. Later investigations found that it was a lot smaller, but it had water and a similar atmosphere and that was all most people on Earth had needed to hear. We were saved. Old planet be damned.
The landing was smooth, as if the new earth had been waiting to cradle their shuttle. There was cheering inside the craft and all the way back home in the NASA base. Sarah wondered if this was being broadcast to everyone like the moonlandings. Would there be someone watching from the comfort of a sofa, thinking it was all a hoax and that she was an actor?
The doors opened. She saw grass. And trees, much smaller than the ones back home. They had landed next to a large cliff face that cast a shadow over the land. But above them, two suns were shining in an almost cloudless sky. Everything looked still, with only a little breeze to rustle branches.
Isaac leaped out in front of her. He leaped too enthusiastically and tumbled down the steps. “Fucking hell,” he said over her radio. “Can confirm gravity is the exact fucking same here.”
“Fucking hell?” she repeated. “Is that really what you just said stepping on to a new planet? Is that really going to be our ‘One small step for man…’?”
“Hadn’t thought of that,” he admitted. “Sorry.”
She shrugged it off and stepped out to join him.
They walked away from their shuttle for the first time in years. Sarah ran. It felt good to run again. She reached the bottom of the cliff face. She looked up. There were a series of vines, growing like a large web all over it. They moved in the wind, but everything was perfectly still.
“Don’t see many animals here,” she heard Isaac over the radio. “Wonder why that is.”
“Haven’t evolved yet?” she suggested.
And then she looked to her left and saw someone staring back at her. Isaac heard her gasp. “You alright? Sarah? You alright?”
“Yeah,” her heart was in her mouth. “Isaac there are people here…”
Another face appeared in a well-concealed hole in the rock. And then another one. They had large, dark eyes and what appeared to be a kind of beak. Their skin looked a lot like human skin, except it was leafy-green in colour. The one she had made eye contact with let out a screech that set the rest of them off. She jumped back.
Were they trying to scare her off? Were they threatening her?
It sounded more like screams of terror… were they afraid of her?
Leafy-green arms shot out of the cliff.
“Sarah!” Isaac’s voice was panicked. “Run.”
She looked back. Their ship was gone, devoured by the earth while she wasn’t looking. Isaac was sinking down into it. He screamed. She could hear his bones crunch. She ran towards the cliff. Something bit her foot. She jumped. A hand grabbed hers and helped her scramble up until she was balancing on the cliff.
She climbed up the precipice, the vines making a kind of ladder for her. The ground rumbled underneath her, digesting its latest snack. Worried faces peered out at her until she reached a hole in the rock that was big enough for her to fit through.
The people native to this planet had built an entire civilisation in this rock and now she was trapped here. She sat down and stared at the place her ship and her crew mate had been. It was now just flat and peaceful ground. Like they’d never even landed.
How could she send a message back home? How could warn them that Planet B was ready to swallow up anyone who set foot on it?
via Daily Prompt:Planet