Choices

I decided to do a flash fiction contest over at Chuck Windig’s site TERRIBLEMINDS. Thing is, I have to host it to my blog and link it over there. I can’t take advantage of the prize, but this was a good way for me to force myself into a deadline for some practice. So I figured anyone who wanted to read this can do so. If you follow the link, it will make sense that I rolled splatterpunk, space station, and weapon of mass destruction. So here is my story, “Choices.” Does it need work? I think so. I’m not even crazy about the title. I do like the idea of the story. But the deadline is today, so here it is in all it’s glorious underwear.

Choices

The spaceship blinked suddenly into existence outside the International Space Station, as though it had always been there and no one had noticed it. The black metal of its hull reflected light from the sun into Emerson’s eyes, but he still leaned into the window, trying to make out its shape. It was too big and too close. The other three scientists crowded behind him to see as well, but rank hath its privileges.

This, after all, was why he joined NASA in the first place. First contact with an alien race.

They waited patiently for some sign. Yoshi kept broadcasting his “Welcome to Earth” speech in every language he could. But no radio contact came. No docking procedures initiated. Each second of quiet multiplied their anxiety, and divided their excitement. Emerson began glancing down at the control panel, practicing various button combinations to keep his composure.

The silence broke with the sound of small feet on metal. They turned to look behind them as hundreds of what looked like tarantulas filled the hallway leading to the command center, somehow ignoring the lack of gravity. Emerson could only stare, as they scurried toward them.

Yana, the new cosmonaut, was the first one they reached. They swarmed around her and began to climb over each other to reach her. She screamed a primal, arachnophobic scream and began to kick her legs, but one managed to crawl onto her calf. Emerson watched, horrified yet mesmerized, as the creature used its front legs to tear her pants like it was pie dough. Then, it ripped the skin and muscle sideways like Superman unveiling his S and snuggled itself in. The leg went limp from the knee down.

She screamed louder. The creatures tore into her other calf, then her thigh, and her arms. David rushed over and tried to fight the things off her, but they started climbing onto him next. He grunted loudly as they burrowed into him as well. Blood splattered across the walls with every rip.

Yoshi floated nearby, his eyes empty, his mind shut down. The creatures climbed and tore into the Russian scientists, each muscle surrendering to them until one crawled onto the back of their necks. Emerson watched Yana’s slender neck widen and her eyes rolled back.

Her feet came down and touched the floor.

Unbidden, the old joke about outrunning a tiger came to mind. I don’t have to outrun the creatures; I just have to outrun Yoshi. She rushed over and grabbed Yoshi and dragged him to the floor. She held him down as the mass of spiders crawled over him. What his brain hadn’t accepted in silence now confronted with screams.

Emerson turned to the control panel, concentrating on remembering the right combination of buttons. Yoshi and Davis’s screams made concentrating almost impossible. Breathe, he told himself, passing out won’t help anyone.

Earth’s governments didn’t share this information with the public, but they had thought out this scenario. If whoever they were wanted to invade, the thought was to try to scare them off. The space station contained a bomb, one with enough power to destroy the moon if necessary. It was thought that by nailing them with our best shot it would be like going to a strip club with a stack of ones wrapped in a hundred dollar bill. Hopefully, they’d think we had more underneath.

Emerson’s finger hesitated over the final button. Despite his terror, he was in no hurry to die. He thought about how if this worked, odds are good his family would never know he died a hero. He hated himself for thinking that.

There is no way they would announce to the general public that the International Space Station was destroyed by invading aliens.

If it didn’t work, his family would only know his life was wasted, as humanity is subjugated by these creatures.

He tried to think in terms of humanity, but grand concepts, even in an astronaut’s mind, grow slick in the face of real danger.

He remembered the disappointment he never acknowledged when he learned that the astronauts he called heroes were no different than he was.

No matter what he did, he lost. And he would never know, one way or the other, whether he was successful.

The two men’s screams ended. Emerson felt the warm pressure of three people standing too close behind him. He felt Yana’s breath on the back of his neck, something he had fantasized about, before this. His hands moved away from the panel. He closed his eyes, and turned to face the people who used to be his friends.

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A Satirical Marriage Orientation

I wrote this for a creative writing class in the style of Daniel Orozco’s short story “Orientation.” His is about a corporate orientation, and it slips in some of the things you don’t usually get on your first day beautifully. It is available to read online, just Google “Orientation short story.” It’s way better than this.

Also: for the record, THIS IS SATIRE. I want to stress this. Satire. And I would absolutely love to discuss any of the aspects of the story, as long as everyone remembers that I am making fun of things.

Marriage Orientation

This is your kitchen. It is here that you will make dinner every night. You agreed to this when you said “I do.” I know it wasn’t specifically in the vows, but trust me, it was implied.

The refrigerator and freezer do not have anything in it now. It will be your responsibility to stock and replenish the contents of this device. Once a month, you will need to defrost the freezer. Don’t let any meat go bad. I’ll be sitting on the couch after work if you need any help, but I wouldn’t call unless it is an extreme emergency. I need my rest after a long day at work.

Please clean up the kitchen after you are done cooking. I promise, I will save some of dinner for you if you want to do it before you come sit down. Or, if you want to wait, feel free to take care of everything after dinner. Just be sure not to eat too much. One, you don’t want to gain weight. Secondly, it is so much easier to clean when you aren’t wallowing in a full stomach.

The room next to the kitchen is the living room. Someday, this place will be filled with children. They will be so beautiful. The girls will look like you. The boys will be strong like me. Please keep them away from me. I need my rest after a long day at work.

We’ll put the baby’s room right next to ours. That way, in the middle of the night, you won’t have to walk too far. I mean, it’ll have to be you feeding them. Bottle feeding is no way to raise your children. The experts say that breast milk is so much better for the kids. You don’t want people thinking we’re bad parents, do you?

Honey? Did I say something wrong?