Thursday, March 8, 2012

Another Short Story

     Waking up was hard.  Having been in cryosleep for over a hundred years didn't help matters.  Jack Harper slowly rolled his head, loosening up neck muscles that hadn't had much exercise during the trip, except for the neurostims that kept his muscles from atrophying.  His mouth tasted like dry cotton and he moved his head to the left to catch the spigot that was set into the wall panel.  Tepid water squirted down his throat, relieving the thirst and giving him a chance to rinse his mouth after the first few gulps.
     Climbing out of the cryochamber, Jack took a quick look around.  Capsule looked the same, he thought.  But, then, why shouldn't it?  He was the only one aboard the tiny spaceship, a one-man sleepship, headed to Alpha Centauri, to set up an ecolab on an uninhabited planet the big brains had found.  His job was to make sure the atmosphere was brought into line with Earth's, or a reasonable facsimile, so that when the colony ships that were a year behind him landed, they had a perfect atmosphere to develop the planet into a new paradise.  Or at least one better than the Earth they had left behind.
     Jack went to the front of the spaceship and sat in the control chair to check on his co-ordinates and get a bearing on the planet that should be just a few days out from his current position.  All of the ships windows had been blacked out automatically upon his entering cryosleep and Jack typed in a command on the computer console to cancel that order.  The panels slowly drew back and Jack was greeted with an amazing view of a brilliant yellow sun that seemed to be the size of Earth's moon. 
     So, he thought, still a few days away from the planet.  Not bad timing.  Our scientists really know their stuff. 
     Jack typed in a request for a visual display on the main terminal to get a readout of the travel time to the destined planet.  A second later the response was given.  2 days, 6 hours, and 42 minutes.  Plenty of time to make things ready.  Plus, time to get a bite to eat.  Jack's stomach had been growling since he woke up.  Not actually having eaten anything solid for the last hundred years, he was ravenous.  He went to the storage locker and found a ready-made-meal and broke into it, knowing they weren't the tastiest things in the universe, but they were all he had for at least the next year.  He was hoping that the new planet had edible fruit and vegetables, but until he arrived and his tests were complete, these would suffice.
     Jack hit a few buttons on the console and music suddenly filled the spaceship.  Rush, 2112.  Jack smiled at the selection.  That corresponded to the year he was actually in.  How appropriate.  It didn't hurt that he enjoyed the classics.  Jack had had the foresight to download an immense amount of music, mostly his own favorites
     Finishing up his meal, Jack turned back to the main viewscreen.  On course and on time.  Life was good.  He tapped a few buttons to turn on the communications system.  Time to check in.
     "Spaceship X-1 to Mothership, do you copy?"  Jack's voice sounded odd.  He cleared his throat and repeated the request.  "Spacehsip X-1 to Mothership, do you copy?"  No response.  Hmm.  Jack decided to give it a few minutes and try again, not overly worried.  The colony ships were supposed to be a year behind, and communications might take awhile, although the sublight radio should be instantaneous.
     The yellow sun continued to glow in the main window, growing ever so slowly.  He could make out one of the outer planets of the solar system he was headed to.  Looked like a large round rock, nothing exciting at all.  At his speed, he should be in the inner planets by this time tomorrow. 
     A sudden loud thump caught his attention and he turned his head toward the sound.  Nothing in the cabin, he thought, suddenly feeling a bit apprehensive.  He turned on the external monitors to get a view of the outer surface of the ship.  What he saw turned his blood to ice.  Moving along the surface of the ship was what looked like a six foot long eel, but with steely looking skin, and a sucker shaped mouth with sharp looking teeth around it.  It was moving slowly along the ship, moving towards the windows of the ship.
     Jack looked around the confines of the small ship, hoping to find some kind of weapon.  If that thing got in, Jack was done for.  A sudden scraping noise above his head caught his attention.  Looking at the monitor, Jack saw that the creature had attached itself to the main window and its' teeth were rotating, slowly sawing a hole through it.  Jack found a small pickax in the tool chest near the sleep unit.  Hefting it, he raised it over his head.
     Jack realized that if the creature did manage to gain entrance, the air would escape through the creature's entrance hole.  This was getting worse by the minute.  It was coming through quickly, the sawing noise of the creatures sucker mouth grating on Jack's nerves.  Only seconds left.  Jack sat back in the chair, knowing the end was near.  And the colony ships would never know what happened...
     Thanks for reading everyone.  Have a better one.

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