Written for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: SPACE OPERA
Word Count: 1,080
A little short. I’m terrible at writing science fiction so the ending is what it is.
You wake up feeling cold. The kind of cold that runs deep, leaving you numb to your bones.
Your eyes open to darkness but you can see. Shapes are suspended above, their purpose is unknown.
You climb out of the box you are in with a sudden burst of strength as feeling returns to your your limbs. As you right yourself, your legs are still a little unsteady. (Long legs, thin and flexible. They don’t feel wholly familiar. Should they?)
The first thing you notice is that the room you are in is huge, larger than the cathedrals of old old.
(You both know, and do not know this word. Strange.)
Tall glass windows line this room, revealing blackness interspersed with bright points of light.
The second thing you notice is that the box (Stasis Chamber) you are climbing out of is just one of many that line the entire length of the room on both sides. Each box that you can see has a body inside. The boxes are suspended in a river of water, the water is cold around your bare feet.
Each box that you can see has a light blinking at the head of it. Each blinks red. You turn around and look at your own box. The indicator light flows a steady green. The meaning of this nudges at the edge of your awareness. Your turn away from the lights and climb awkwardly onto the raised walking that runs between the rows of boxes.
As you walk your limbs grow stronger. You examine the rest of (not?) your body.
Two long arms, a thin scar running the length of the left one, from elbow to wrist. It is long healed but invites no memories as to it’s meaning. You are not wearing any clothing but this doesn’t seem bother you. You are bald, this is what feels wrong. Your fingers itch at the memory of running them through hair that is long and brown. A deep chestnut brown. Now that you think about it, your arms and legs are free from hair as well. You probe your face with long fingers, no eyebrows or eyelashes either.
A side effect of the stasis? That wasn’t among their warnings.
(Who is they? Flashes of blue skin and violet eyes.)
Your walk takes you to a door that is several times your height. The door opens as you walk near, revealing a bright, small room. The room is round and lined with drawers. Your body steps towards a particular spot along the wall. (A memory?)
Like with the door, one of the drawer’s pops open with a hiss as you approach. You pull out a length of pale blue fabric and hold it up to yourself. It’s a body suit. You pull it on when you decide nakedness is not a good thing.
The suit fits you perfectly, hugging every bulge and every rib. It feels nice against your skin.
Thus clothed you turn towards another door in the room, this one much smaller than the one you just entered. But on the other side….
It is a shock to enter a room so small after leaving one so huge. It is filled with screens that glow brightly, their colors flashing in sequence. You think the colors should mean something to you but their meaning is not yet found.
“Claudia! Finally, someone else has woken up!”
You give a start as your eyes find a person seated in front of one of the screens, you hadn’t noticed him before.
You stare at him blankly, the fog starting to disperse in your mind. He called you Claudia, yes, that is your name. With your name comes more knowledge, more memories rushing through you like a river.
You are Dr. Claudia Stanton, Astrobiologist and one of the founding members of this mission. You were supposed to be going to Planet XIe-72, Corandum. The blue skinned aliens visited your planet a long time ago, leaving behind much of their knowledge and technology. This ship was theirs. You were among those who finished the rebuilding of the ship and are among the many attempting the trip back to Corandum, to see if the aliens still lived. You and a couple hundred other people all hoping to meet the people who gave you so much.
Your mind flicks back to the blinking red lights.
(No, you’re not ready for that yet.)
“What is the situation…?” Your mind gropes for his name. (Lieutenant Melvin Docker of the UE Air Force. You are lovers, you think.) “Melvin, why were we woken up early?”
“I’m sorry Claudia. Still piercing things together, shaking off the stasis sickness.”
(Stasis sickness, that must mean your memory loss)
“From what the sensors are telling me, we’re so close to Corandum but we’ve entered an asteroid field that isn’t supposed to be here. The ship was damaged by some of the asteroids hitting us.
“There shouldn’t be an asteroid field here.” You look across the flashing screens, meaning slowly coming to you. That screen there, the readouts tell you that that communication systems were damaged. No luck there trying to contact the planet that should be nearby.
You step closer to the screens, Melvin sliding his chair down to give you room to decipher the colors. Life support, stable. Navigation, stable. Power reserves, critical.
Your fingers, acting like they know what they’re doing fly across the screens, opening menus and changing settings, information passing quickly across your eyes, it makes sense to some part of you.
“This can’t be right.” your voice mutters, your eyes locked on one of the screens. You hear Melvin move his chair closer to you, taking a peek at the screen that holds your gaze.
“What is it?”
Your eyes move in and out of focus, the words on the screen blurring. Your lift your gaze the the clear window at the head of the room. Outside you can see space and the lumps of rock that make up the field you’re in.
“The asteroids are Corandum.” Your voice is soft, so soft. Your heat beats in time with a red blinking light.
Melvin’s voice is just as soft. “So we’re too late.”
A new alarm wails and the screens flash again, faster now. A cold voice speaks over their heads.
Power levels beyond critical. Life support systems failing. Stasis pods have failed. Any living crew please make your way to the escape pods.