A Story by James Alton

Lance Smith waits aboard the reasearch station Sol as it drifts towards destiny.


      “It started with a spark, a single glimmer of hope for the future in the bleak year of 2156.” Lance shifted in his seat. “The mission was to deploy the world’s first Solar orbital research station, manned by a multi-national crew. That’s what I was in right now.” He looked to the front view screen, filled with the bright glow of the sun. “Outside the thin walls and wires of the ship around me is nothing but the endless void of space.”  He closed his eyes. “It had been going so well, but as we neared the end of our mission, we neared the end of our rope.”

                “The mission had started with 5 souls aboard. The medical officer, Dr. Saur, and the psych-officer, Dr. Brann, had been killed in a pressure leak from a micro-asteroid.” Lance rubbed his temples. “The Captain, Lt. Col. Bannerman, had died of a heart attack. Can you believe that?” He chuckled to himself.  “They sent us out with some of the most expensive equipment in existence and we get the one astronaut with a bad heart.” A sigh escaped him. “That left me, the Engineer, and…” He shook his head. “…Brianna, the cook. I didn’t want her to face what I knew was coming.”

                “I had first noticed the malfunction a day after the Captain’s death. The engines had been damaged somehow. They would never be able to shift us into position properly; in fact, they wouldn’t even be able to get out of the alignment with the sun.” He opened his eyes to look once more at the view screen before him, with the ever closer glow. “So late in our journey to see that we would never succeed. It had been that night that I had made up my mind about Brianna.”

                “It had almost been too much more me to do. I stood for several minutes with the pillow in my hand as she slept. My arms trembled as they prepared to save her.” Tears slowed unchecked from Lance’s eyes as he shut them to try and block out the pain. “It hadn’t been quick. She struggled, kicking and screaming through the fabric. But she never had a chance; I was too resolved at that point. Minutes into the struggle she slowed and went limp.”

                My body shook as I stood in place, unable to release the pressure willingly. Only after some time did I manage to collect myself and went to the bridge where I still sit.” Lance’s words echoed with pain through the silent room around him, only the engines giving any semblance of sound beyond him. “Now, it’s almost time. We were never meant to get this close.” Almost as if on cue the view screen went dark as the frontal camera array burned out. “The solar shields won’t last must longer.” Lance glared at the view screen’s darkened image as if it still burned with the image it had for so long.

                Lance flipped off the data recorder. He knew it would never be recovered, nothing would. He sat in the silence, counting off the passing seconds within his mind. Soon he would be free of the silence. Whether hell, heaven, or nothing came after, he would be free of this ship.

                It happened in an instant. The solar shields burst and with it, the ship disintegrated. Every atom of Lance Smith was lost in the inferno, consumed by the pure energy of the most beautiful, and destructive furnace in all creation. Back at home, they would weep for the five heroes lost to human ambition, the five men who gave their lives to expand the bounds of human knowledge. There would be a moment in silence, an eternal moment.

© 2012 James Alton

Author's Note

James Alton
Just a short story I drafted up when I was thinking about another longer one I am writing. Tell me what you think and I might eventually expand on this as a full story.

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Added on May 24, 2012
Last Updated on May 24, 2012
Tags: Sci-fi, dark, psychology, space, travel, sun, murder, savior


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