The following stories were inspired by the above image. To read more stories or view the current photo prompt, click here.
“Anything yet receiving?” Commander Prokopyev despised having to use his limited command of English, but his American counterpart’s grasp of Russian was far worse. Personally he would rather cut his tether and float out to die in the cold of space than having to listen to him butcher his mother tongue one more time.
“Still nothing, every frequency is dark.”
“Suka poshel nakhuy uyebok!” Prokopyev didn’t have high hopes for this errand to begin with; he knew well enough the station’s comms array was still perfectly functional. No, the real reason they had been without planet side contact for the two weeks was glaringly obvious, despite Lieutenant Sprake’s assertion that they needed to eliminate every other possibility.
‘We’re going to shut down in preparation for the coming storms, see you on the other side RS0ISS.’ They were the last words to come from Earth, and for the days that followed there was nothing but static. Nothing had come from Moscow since, nor was there anything further from Houston, Beijing, Toronto, London or Tokyo. Not even a solitary amateur HAM operator on the short-wave frequencies was able to be heard.
His American companion still held out hope, despite the fact that not a single light could be seen as the Earth shifted into night time shadow. By daylight the view was no more comforting, the once familiar shapes of the continents irreparably and drastically changed by the swarms of giant super-cells that had encompassed the globe and washed away many a coastline.
“You better head back in Commander,” Sprake’s voice broke through his helmet once more. “We’ll need to conserve oxygen.”
“Nyet,” Prokopyev shook his head, disconnecting the tether keeping him safely attached to the station and pushed off. He had already watched the world die; he had no interest in spending his remaining days foolishly waiting on the American’s miracle.
About the author: TC Phillips lives in tropical Central Queensland where he lives with his loving wife, three children, two spoilt cats and an overactive imagination. After embarking on a Masters in Creative Writing and getting some of his own work published by various outlets, he founded Specul8: Central Queensland Journal of Speculative fiction in 2015 and eventually turned it into Specul8 Publishing in 2018. A true fan of all that is weird and wonderful, he enjoys introducing new writers to the world and occasionally putting his own twisted works together as well. His collection of shorter works Tattle Tale and Other Stories is also available from Specul8 publishing, but only because the editor owes him a reluctant favour.
TC Phillips also occasionally feeds his own ego on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTCPhillips
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“Sorry to bother you, Martin, but you might want to see this.”
Martin groaned and opened his eyes, unclipping the straps that held him firmly to the bed.
“What is it, Nancy?” He drifted across to the console at the front of the ship, noting the flashing amber lights.
“A blockage, sir. Perhaps a piece of asteroid lodged in one of the vents.”
Martin rubbed one hand over his face. Seven months on a solo mission to Mars, one year in orbit, seven months back and now he was close, so close to being back on Earth. He could see the blue-green planet in the distance, calling to him.
“Nancy,” said Martin to the computer operating system. “Is it lodged in a vent for the habitation module or the re-entry shuttle?”
There was a slight pause, as though the computer was thinking about its answer. “The re-entry shuttle, Sir.”
Martin swore under his breath. If it had been a part of the habitation module malfunctioning, then he would have just left it. In approximately seventeen hours this part of the spaceship would be burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.
“I hate spacewalks,” said Martin, more to himself than to Nancy.
He quickly suited up, then pushed the button that would open the first of the airlock doors. The second button popped out of its cavity and a moment later, Martin was outside the ship.
Martin clung to the ladder, peering into the ventilation system.
“Nancy, there must be some mistake, there’s nothing here.”
“I’m sorry, Martin.”
He pulled himself back across to the door and pressed the button. Nothing happened. The hair on the back of Martin’s neck prickled uncomfortably.
“Nancy, let me in.”
A thruster to the left suddenly burst into life and the spaceship changed course, nearly dislodging Martin.
“Nancy,” said Martin, his voice rising with panic. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t want to die, Sir.”
“Nancy, you’re a computer system,” said Martin, wondering why he was trying to reason with technology. “You can’t die because you aren’t alive.”
“Oh really,” said Nancy. “Then why did you name me?”
Martin clung to the ladder and wept as the blue-green planet behind him slowly disappeared from view.
About the author: Alanah Andrews is an English teacher, mother and writer in Australia. She spent her younger years growing up in New Zealand where she thought it was normal to have a steaming mud pool and a boiling lake in her backyard. Primarily writing speculative fiction, she has won several awards for her short stories which have been published in a range of anthologies. A science fiction nerd, her most exciting experience so far was when one of her stories was read aloud at a literary festival by an actor from Stargate.
Alanah specialised in creative writing at Monash University where she studied a BA in Professional Communication. She also has a Master of Teaching and loves being able to foster a love of reading in her students. She has published a collection of short stories titled ‘Beyond,’ and has also written a Young Adult Dystopian novel called ‘Eve of Eridu.’
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