Peeling Back

It’s been a while. My contribution to this week’s Inspiration Monday.

* * * * *

Peeling back the cover was the easy part. It was the thin sheet that concerned him. Cold air settling on bare flesh would be a wake-up call to the deepest sleeper on this ship, with everyone programmed to fear the cold like his kind were prone to fear the heat.

The ceiling ducts clicked, slowly at first, gaining tempo before the cabin heat blasted against his back. Now was his moment. He had to work fast or he’d melt before he got out of there.

Index finger and thumb of each hand pinched the top of the sheet. The sleeper shifted her legs. Her limp arm dropped from her side to the cot. She rolled onto her back, and he used the distraction of her motion to jerk the sheet down to her knees. And there it was. Not even strapped down. Waiting for him.

There was something else–a tension on his leg. His eyeballs burned in the sockets. That heat. It was shutting down his sight, his lungs. He’d discarded his suit outside the cabin to gain agility, but he’d underestimated how quickly their heat would affect him. He reached to free his leg but his fingers met the hot skin of an EF-19 human fist clutching his pant leg. One merciful moment of regained sight showed him her outstretched arm, her open eyes, her hardened glare. Just before he fell to his knees.

Mindstorm

Inspiration Monday XV!

* * * * *

“There’s an obstruction in the main exhaust!” Cyd’s voice echoed down the chamber to her, reminding her of the empty expanse on either side of her.

She checked the clips on her harness for the fiftieth time. The lack of gravity was now her friend. If the engine suddenly powered back on, it would be her worst enemy. Without the harness, she’d be sucked straight out of the ship. In pieces. The grates were designed to keep metal and rock out. To a soft human body, they were vacuum-powered meat grinders. She’d seen it happen.

“I can see it, but I can’t reach it. Send Banj up.”

“He’s not with me.” She switched on her radio. “Banj, do you copy?”

Fingers clutched her arm. She unholstered her weapon and spun. Her helmet light illuminated Banj’s face, and she kicked him backwards with both feet. “Nice one, kid. Sometimes I forget I gotta keep an eye on you.”

Banj’s helmet light flicked on. “Easy prey, sweetheart.” He’d just had his thirteenth birthday. Now he thought he was a man, thought he could get away with calling her sweetheart. Even though he’d been calling her that since he was nine.

“Climb up with me.” Banj tossed his line up a few sections. His light got smaller and smaller.

She slid the cover over the control panel. Nothing she could do here would fix an obstruction. It was all up to Banj. Pretty soon he’d be too big for this job, and they’d have to find another kid.

She followed Banj’s light up the chamber. Cyd hooked her line to the wall next to his and Banj’s, then helped Banj into the exhaust opening. When Banj was out of reach, Cyd caught her eye. She knew what he was thinking. This is no job for a kid. She was thinking the same thing. Especially after what happened to Banj’s predecessor.

Shock waves rippled down the chamber as Banj worked the obstruction free. The air shuddered with each strike, releasing pressure that would kill them all if the engine powered on. Mindstorm creaked and groaned around her. She looked at Cyd. The ship should be silent. All systems should be down.

Cyd went for his radio, and she scrambled up her line to Banj.

Why Is the Sky Black?

My first attempt at Inspiration Monday. I’ll be brave and post this unedited. (Eek.)

*****

I didn’t see you that day. You had gone off on a mission, and who was I to judge? I tried to take your advice and not think about it. But something about cleaning your cabin always put my mind on the runway, shooting out the side of the ship, searching the depth of space for you.

I remember the blood on your pillow. I remember the clean pillowcase I put on it. I remember collecting my sponge and pail. Closing and locking your door. Then I let myself in next door and walked in on Jax removing his combat suit. I didn’t expect the two of you back so soon.

He wasn’t mad. He just hugged me to him, sponge and pail and all.

“We won,” he said. He had blood all over him. I knew it couldn’t be his.

I stared past him, out the little porthole window, knowing you weren’t with him like you should be.

“Why is the sky black?”