Sunday, February 6, 2011

From the Cellar

Here it is, the very first thing I had ever written that was available for reading by the rest of the world! It was a science fiction piece that garnished me a mediocre grade. Yes, you will see that I was not very imaginative with the names, but the theme of the story was very Heinlein-like or Jules Verne-like. I guess they had more influence on me than I ever thought before.

I'm posting this exactly as pulled from my files without changing grammar, spelling, or other mistakes. As I read this, it simply amazes me how much my writing has changed over the years-and how much it hasn't changed. This is part one. I will post part two in a couple days. Please be sure to leave comments after reading.

PRIME INHABITANTS

A rise in temperature activated the final landing sequence as the small craft skipped across the thick atmosphere – white-hot from deceleration. A rise in outside pressure deployed aero brakes with a violent jolt, slowing the descent, and increasing the angular trajectory of the capsule. Terrified occupants peered out small port windows at the quickly approaching planet below.


“This is it, prepare for landing,” Evek yelled over the humming and rattling craft interior. The crew knew the drill from the endless practice sessions throughout their journey. Nobody had ever really been on this planet before, but satellite observers and ground rovers gathered enough data to determine the planet was habitable. This journey was to be the first--and last--of its kind. The crew would have been heroes if anyone on their home planet were alive. No, they would not be heroes, only survivors, on a forbidding planet in a vast, empty universe.

The crew strapped into their seats, donned their helmets, and started counting off checklist items as the heat outside the craft covered the small windows with bright orange flames.

“Trajectory.”

“Check.”

“Velocity.”

“Check.”

“Structures.”

“Check.”

“Life support.”

“I got code four!”

“Code four”? Evek tried to hide her shock from the crew but her voice instinctively raised an octave as she replied.

“I’m showing a malfunction in the shock foam system, we’re not going to have G-force protection at landing!” Adam was in the seat next to Evek but screamed a reply through his microphone, assaulting her ears beyond the cacophony of warning beeps and audible buzzers already swimming around in her helmet.

“Can you try resetting the system?” Aruck yelled the question from the seat behind Evek.

“We don’t have enough time before impact. Besides, if we reset, our entire life support circuit will be off until the system test is complete,” Adam’s voice jumped repeatedly as the vibrations in the craft caused his jaw to chatter.

“Eda, what do you think, is there anything we can do?” Evek knew if anyone could find a solution, Eda could do it. Eda was a top systems specialist, and helped design the escape craft.

“On it.” Eda responded quickly as she quickly unstrapped, climbed out of her seat, and made her way to the electronics compartment at the rear of the craft.

Eda was the only crewmember who had any real technical knowledge. Sure, they all were well educated and smart in a general sense, but none were chosen for their special knowledge or abilities – they were chosen mostly by their ability to survive on this planet. Medical testing, not special skills, is what determined the few survivors of their dying planet. Evek thought about their chance of survival without shock foam. The planet’s thick atmosphere and heavy gravity was three times that of their home. There was little hope the crew could survive without protection beyond their safety straps – and the force of impact alone might rip their limbs right off without the additional protection of shock foam. It was a small relief to know that, even if they did not make it, at least some of the twenty other capsules would successfully land on this planet. Of course, surviving would be another task altogether. Exploration of the planet consisted only of a few satellite orbits and robot landings hastily thrown together in the last few seasons. The only thing anyone was sure of was that this planet was habitable – although the stifling atmosphere and crushing gravity would make living difficult – and it had not suffered as heavily from the devastating impacts that were killing their home planet.

“I found the problem,” Eda’s voice sounded in Evek’s helmet. Still lost in thought, Evek was slow to respond. Finally, Adam spoke up.

“What’s the problem Eda, and can we fix it?”

“Looks like a broken relay,” Eda was nearly yelling, her voice shaking in time with the capsule. “I can disconnect some wires and splice them together with a switch.” “I – I guess I’ll have to manually deploy the shock foam from here.”

“Eda, there’s no shock foam deployment beyond the cabin, can’t you run some wires up here?” Evek could not hide her concern, and no doubt, the others heard it in her voice. Evek could hear Eda clanging through her repair tools with her microphone open. Seconds stretched to hours waiting for a response.

“We don’t have enough repair wire, I – I’ll just have to set it off from here.” Eda knew – they all knew – what she was saying. It was a fateful decision. There was no way she would survive the impact from the electronics bay without shock foam, or even restraints.

Evek peered through the small window to the fast approaching mass below. There was no time for alternatives, no time for consoling speeches or sappy good-byes. The only known was the inevitable impact of their capsule, built without control surfaces or any means to guide it along its flight path. It was built as an escape capsule shot from one planet to another. In moments, they would hit the surface like the meteors destroying their home planet. They did not know where on this planet they would hit – on land or sea. Only their restraints, shock foam, and a few bursts of thrust, automatically shot from the bottom of the capsule would give them any hope of surviving. Eda was dead. The crew would be down to three, Aruck, Adam, and herself – two males, one female.

“Give me a count down so I know when to switch on the foam,” Eda broke the vocal silence, her voice shaking in tune with the craft, and the weight of her decision.

“Good luck -- to all of you,” Eda added, her voice now thickening with despair.

“You’ll make it, we’ll all be fine, just hold onto something,” Aruck lied, not even trying to sound convincing.

“Evek, were nearing impact, give us a count,” Adam said over the microphone. He knew the count was for Eda but refused to mention her by name – never mention the dead. Evek quickly cleared her throat for the count.

“I’m ready,” Eda called from the electronics bay, already sounding distant. Evek saw the planet quickly approaching through the round window. Masses of blue ocean, green and brown land, long strings of cloud cover growing faster until covering beyond the small round window.

“OK Eda, Impact in five, four, three, two, one.” The impact was so sudden; it hit Evek from the front and the back at the same time. Shock foam filled the cabin, the sound deafening. Evek Felt her restraints pelting her body from one direction, and then another. Evek heard short grunts from Adam, also assaulted by his restraints. Evek could hear her own grunts as well, but did not hear anything from Eda – no grunts or screams – just dead silence. Shock foam had covered the entire cabin. All vision obscured. Bodies pounded violently even through almost no movement. The sudden stop was too great, Evek’s fear was gone, her mind blank, darkness – nothingness.

Hey, don't laugh. I was in seventh grade when I wrote this! I challenge anybody who reads this to post work of their own from the early years. And let me know about it.