Posted by: danzierlea | November 12, 2012

Back At It

It’s time once again for a sporadic flash fiction post! Yay!

*crickets*

Ok whatever. Here is another one of Chuck Wendig’s challenges. You can find it HERE: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/11/09/flash-fiction-challenge-sub-genre-mash-up-with-a-twist/

I’m leaving you all a note at the end.

Name The Sun

They say this ship is haunted. I don’t mind. In some ways, everything is haunted. The ghost only shows up when the least likely person is looking, they say. I’ll never see a ghost. When I was seventeen I saw the Goddess without my face mask, and the solar glare burned out my optic nerve. This doesn’t stop my brain from randomly filling in objects. Funny—I see things that aren’t there, blinded by a sun that now can barely illuminate what is there. Poor Sola. We thought she’d nova in a century. Three days after blinding me, she collapsed. The space fleet staves off the inevitable, while the rest of the world rushes the escape.

I’ve been pulling military space junk from this cruiser for six years. I have no team—nobody needs “Eyes Only” clearance here. If the Perugas catch me for interrogation it’ll be hilarious. “What did it look like?” they’ll ask, and I’ll say, “I don’t know. It was square, and the left corner sliced my hand open, and all I could see was walruses on a beach.”

Asking to take a year dying, that. Perugas have no humor, only strange honor and sharp swords.

Don’t get me wrong—I love my planet. I love the system. I’m very careful to salute whenever the anthem is played and bow to anything that could be the flag. I just don’t think that torturer’s victim is a convenient way to quit this job.

So the Bright Lady is cleared out. I’ve pulled anything of value from every room on board except the third sickbay and the bridge. I’ve left enough in place on the bridge to fly her to the solar furnace, where whatever’s left will be shoveled into the sun to keep her lit. I haven’t found a ghost yet. I’ve always hoped to come across Captain Grayson Herwick, career captain of the Space Shipping Fleet, trying to keep me from slagging his ship like he’s stopped so many others. There hasn’t been even a vague knocking or unexplained chills to feed my imagination. I’ll be done tomorrow, and then even Grayson’s ghost will be slagged. Poor Sola, now we’ve nothing to feed you but ghosts. The Bright Lady will become a piece of deck plating on the Biosphere, and then he’ll sail away to court a new sun.

Third sickbay is small. Four Zombie Coffins—er, reanimation chambers—sit on the floor, making a giant E. The first three—F—are empty, cold, and silent. The fourth beeps at my touch. I swear, I jumped a foot. “Vocal readout Chamber Four,” I order.

“Reanimation Complete; Press OK To Open Chamber,” the readout says.

Well, this is unexpected. I press the OK button.

The Zombie Coffin lid opens with a hiss and a rush of cold air. Hoses auto-retract, oxygen valves close, and an unexpectedly dry male voice croaks, “Help me.”

I put my hand out, and a hand closes on it. There is weight and pressure, and the guy sits up. “Who’re you?” he demands.

“You first.”

“What, you can’t tell from the bars? What’s my ship come to that my crew doesn’t recognize me?”

Oh. “Captain Grayson Herwick, I presume? I’m Zel, sir. I’m blind.”

“Zel? Huh. Why’d they let you on board, then?”

This is going to hurt him. “Salvage. You were reported dead ninety-two years ago by Ensign Cedric; Bright Lady’s been ordered to repurposing.”

“I see. Well, Ensign Zel, can you escort me to the bridge?”

The captain is quiet as we walk, only the whisper of his clothing and light shoe tapping let me know he’s still there. I fill him in on details as we walk, imagining him looking on his deserted, strip-mined ship in despair. I can’t bear to tell him about Sola.

When we reach the bridge, the captain jumps to action. Apparently a message beacon is flashing; I’d never have known. It began with today’s date, and a send time of seven this morning. “Sola’s collapsed again. She’ll nova by noon. Biosphere’s set to go, but the Perugas want you. We’ve got a shuttle; we’re coming to pick you up. Be ready at oh-seven-thirty.”

I run my fingers over my watch’s face. It’s twenty after now. “Oh shit.”

“Son, do you have anything you need to get?” The captain’s hand on my shoulder startles me.

“Uh, no, nothing important. I’m afraid there’s not much left in your cabin, either, sir.”

“Then let’s go.”

Eight minutes later we hear a banging on the hatch. I crank open the pressure seal.

“Come on, Zel, there’s one seat lef—who the hell are you?!”

I can feel eyes on me. “Captain Grayson Herwick. He was in ZC 4 in Sickbay three. Long story there, I suspect; Admiral Cedric’s going to have an aneurism.”

“Zel, there’s no room for him. We have air for one.”

Sola is calling me. I find the Captain’s arm and shove him through the portal. “Take him. Don’t let the Perugas get him. Dethrone the Admiral.”

“What are you—” The hatch slams off the end of the question. Five loud, metallic bangs signal the shuttle’s departure. Good. Now, maybe, Biosphere has a chance for new love—a love undying. I head back up to the bridge.

In the shuttle, Captain Grayson Herwick watched the screen as his ship flew himself into the sun. Sola, he thought. Ancient goddess of night, whose mortal lover Zel gave himself to her to keep her anger from destroying the planet. She consumed him in darkness, and his light shone through her to light the world. A rare tale, even when he was a boy. Ninety years later—likely nobody knew it now. But he was the only one not shocked when the glow of slagged space freighter spread across the sun’s surface, reigniting her fires. “Sola-Zel,” he murmured, and blew a kiss to the relit divine. Then, louder: “We’ve got some work ahead of us now, boys!”

THE END

My Note: I promised ghosts meets space opera, with ninjas. Well, 1000 words is not a lot of space for ghosts and ninjas and space opera. The Perugas are the ninjas. If you didn’t get that from “strange honor and bright swords” I apologize. If you did, well, have a gold star! 😀

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