Gillian Church posts Writing Prompts every week and I like to take part with a few snippets and pieces of flash fiction.
Nobody has ever come back before. What was it like?
“We’re in position, sir,” came the ensign’s statement.
His commander glanced up and beheld the world that had claimed so many of his people over the years. “Very good. Hold here,” it was a redundant command; no ship dared cross the five parsec barrier, not with this world.
The commander shifted in his seat; palms sweaty with anticipation. He had commanded missions, fought on the front lines, and even escaped from a prisoner of war camp but had never felt fear such as this before.
How many had been lost over the years? Scouts, explorers, rescue missions…none had ever returned. In all the years, they had learned to stay well back, masking their presence using solar flares or the celestial body orbiting the world, or the vast debris barrier that had brought down so many of their ships and probes.
The commander had never had any intention of visiting this world, even from this distance; his goal lay in the stars beyond at the forefront of the spice wars on Phobos, but he would never be able to face his mother again if he didn’t at least try and retrieve his brother on the way.
He had been a loudmouthed upstart; he didn’t believe in the war, or advancing their cause further into the cosmos, and wanted nothing more than to observe, catalogue, and investigate. And for his curiosity, he had fallen to that damned world below and become another statistic in a long list of lost souls.
“We have a lock, sir…but, from this distance…”
Again, it was a redundant statement; he was well aware that the transport technology was temperamental at the best of times but, from this distance, it was sure to result in his brother’s atoms dissipating into the aether or him being reduced to a squealing, wretched pile of flesh. The commander had seen both results before, but for the first time let his heart overrule his logic.
“Get us closer,” he ordered.
“But sir, we’ll be exposed!”
“I said closer!” he barked. “Prep the thrusters; boost the signal. The moment you have a lock, you get him onboard and get us away from here!”
The ensign swallowed and the ship edged closer; an alarm sounded as the ship automatically went to red alert, a failsafe of crossing the five parsec barrier.
“Sir! Sir, we have him!” came the medic’s voice through the com.
“Get us out of here!” the commander ordered, and swept from the bridge as the stars blasted past them and that hated world fell into the void.
His brother lay in the medical bay; he was hooked up to complex machines and wires that even the medic was stumped by. The commander swallowed, a heavy weight in his heart; his brother was little more than a mangled torso, devoid of many of his limbs and organs and apparently kept alive only by this alien machinery that they couldn’t hope to understand.
The medic shook his head sorrowfully, and the commander grasped his brother’s remaining mutilated hand. “You came back, brother,” he said, unable to stop his voice from cracking. The boy didn’t have long; there was no question about it. “What did you see? What did they do to you?”
The mauled body that had once been the commander’s brother sighed deeply, clearly in agonising pain. He rolled his one eye towards the hardened face of his decorating sibling and shook his head slightly, a small tear falling from his eye. “Hate,” he croaked. “Anger. Such…such fear.” His body trembled slightly as his struggled to cling to life and deliver a final message: “Keep…keep away from those…humans… “ His brother passed, the commander straightened his body and his uniform. Preparations would have to be made, announcements given, reports submitted. He wished that he could honour his brother’s last request but, for the commander, this was the last straw. It was time to strike back against these “humans”.
What did you think to this week’s writing prompt? Did you submit anything for it? Have you ever written any flash fiction before? I’d love to know what you think to my snippets and writing prompts, so feel free to sign up and let me know what you think below or leave a comment on my Instagram page. You can also follow Gillian Church to take part in her Weekly Writing Prompt challenge.