57 minus 05: Day 391

Posted: 12 August 2021 in 57 minus, 57 minus new fiction, fiction, new fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

Once upon a time, I partook in a project called Elephant Words, where a single image would inspire multiple stories from and by multiple authors.

When I decided to honour a promise to an old friend, and write new fiction once a week for this blog run, the first week’s was based on an image I’d come across serendipitously. So, since then I’ve kept an eye out for images that spark something, that provoke the story telling parts of my brain.

So that every week, I can write something new, a story written for this blog that no-one’s ever seen before, sparked by an image I come across by chance, usually while looking for something else entirely.

As often as not, I have no idea why the image appeared in a search for something else, and equally as often as not, I have no idea why that image sparked a story while another didn’t.

I came across the following image the other day, while searching for something else entirely, but this sparked the slightest gem of an idea.

And here’s what it inspired.

Day 391

There were eleven of us left. Eleven, from a crew of two hundred and thirty-five.

The captain was the lucky one, I suppose. He died from an accident, on the fourth day. A faulty connector on his oxygen supply. At least that’s the official story. And there’s not one of us who believes it; personally, I think it was suicide, but he could have been killed.

And if it was murder, it would only have been the first. Murder, accident, suicide. These words seem to belong to the past, to a way of thinking that long ago ceased to have any relevance to us.

For the past month, the death certificates have had one cause written upon them: The Hole.

It’s there right now, outside the ship; a neon arsehole hanging in space. It ripped us out of the metaspace highway,, and parked us here, at this precise position in space; a dozen died from the sudden deceleration. I remember their names. I remember all the names.

A little over 1.6 trillion metres away. Never changing. And no one has a clue why it hasn’t taken us. We’ve seen asteroids taken in by it. Two weeks ago, it swallowed a planet. A whole fucking planet. With the most powerful scanners we carried, we could see the ships trying to escape from the orange and green sphere. None of them made it.

And we’re here, not knowing why. In a little over a year, we’ve learned precisely three things about The Hole: it’s there, it never changes in size, and – we can thank the surgeon’s interest in ancient history for this, for no one else knew the archaic measurement – it’s exactly one million miles away.

We can thank the surgeon for something else as well: the small foam pad on top of which is a smaller green pill; one per cabin. They appeared three weeks after we were captured by The Hole. It’s painless. Apparently.

A poison that leaves no trace. That’s important. Obviously. The surgeon came up with it.

Oh, wait, I’m the surgeon, aren’t I? I forget that sometimes. I blame the gravity, but it could be the home made brew someone in engineering created in the eighth month.

I open the ship’s medical log and reread the last week’s entries; I have no idea why I’m keeping it. Training, I suppose. There’s nothing to write of importance; nothing but the date, a damage report to ship and crew, and the number of us who are left. I have no idea, given the gravity waves, whether the date is correct.

The damage report is just a lengthening list of problems that can never be solved; we ran out of supplies six months back. And now I record one more death. Death in the line of duty, of course. Cause of death: The Hole. I should have done it yesterday. I thought I had, but apparently not.

A soft tone rings. Lunchtime. The captain’s last order had been that we maintain Earth time. It matters less since we couldn’t maintain the lights. But food times are important, I think. At least I think I think.

I close the log, and look around my cabin, once again cursing the lack of supplies. I walk over to the back wall, and slide open the drawer.

Second petty officer Johnson. I remember his sense of humour. And his booming bass. I thank him for his sacrifice.

And start preparing lunch for those of us left.

© Lee Barnett, 2021



See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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