Monday, July 27, 2015

Inside The Gap

I'm a huge nerd for the band Failure. They have a new album out, The Heart Is A Monster (which you can stream here and buy at your favorite music outlet), they're on tour and I'm in heaven. 
Anyway, this very short tale is inspired by some Failure songs. I won't tell you which ones but a fan should be able to pick them out. The references aren't all that obscure.
It's also an example of a Velocity Story*, the kind of thing I will be doing when I'm at the first ever Kansas City Comic Con August 7 - 8. I took the words "Inside The Gap", a lyric from a song on the album Magnified and started from there. 
So if you're going to be at the show, come see me in Artists Alley and I'll do a story for you. Especially if you're a fan of Failure.


The frog spoke. “Stuck in a decaying orbit is NOT where I wanted to be tonight.”
“Yeah, well, me neither.” All the instrument readouts floated in front of me in perfect marching order. None of it was good news. My training dictated I run through all the possibilities and I couldn’t stop myself. The satellite was going down with us in it.
A speaker above the comm satin crackled and hissed. That’s all it had done for the last couple of months. No one answered when I called even though I reached out every hour I was awake. If not for the frog, I wouldn’t have had any company at all here at the end. Houston was long gone.
“Seven orbits left,” I said, “until we burn up.” I let out a long sigh and wiped away the useless screens. My eyes unfocused and I stood mute. My fate was sealed.
This ancient satellite was more than twice my age. It far outlived its manufacturers and their expectations. For twenty years it was my home and more than twice my age. We’d gotten old together and I fully expected to be recalled two years back but that didn’t happen. Budget cuts, Houston said. No money for the program, no money for a rescue. Sorry.
With help from one of the friendly voices I reprogrammed the printer to make food that was technically edible and I kept the garden up. I learned through trial and error to maintain the life support systems. Sometimes the frog supervised me but he never assisted.
A week ago the last cleaner bot gave up the ghost. Dust began to settle everywhere. The frog didn’t notice.
“You want some of the red ones?” The frog perched in the command chair, darting his eyes to my right. The medical bag sat on a powered down console, zipped closed. “These last orbits are gonna be rough.”
“No,” I said. My gesture was emphatic. “I’m going to the garden.”
“Better take your helmet,” the frog said. I think he was trying to be helpful.
I wanted to see the roses. They’re a variety bred especially for the watcher program. They’re supposed to be soothing. They were dying. Lack of water killed them the same as what crops I had been able to salvage.
Still, they had a certain beauty. They, like me, were relics of a more romantic time.
“Four orbits,” the frog said over the intercom. Maybe I should have asked him his name. It didn’t matter now.
The satellite lurched. I fell into a bed where sad-looking cornstalks bent under my sudden weight. Then I was floating. The artificial gravity had gone out.
I looked up. The frog was with me, sitting on the edge of the garden. “This is it.”
My helmet floated out of my hand as I relaxed. The heat grew. 

I saw the sun.

*Velocity Stories are hand-written flash fictions. Each is unique and tailored to the person who suggested it. 'Velocity Stories' is the new brand for Velocity Readout. I'm in the process of changing all the references so forgive me if there's any confusion. They're the same thing. See you at the show.

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