A Chapter by Frederick E. Conkling




    Jonah Riley looked upon the planet beneath him with a combined sense of sadness, fear, and wonderment. The blue and green mud ball had been the home of humanity for billions of years. To be leaving it now filled him with a sadness that should be saved for lost family or lost loves. It tore at him, ripping at his heart. But while the thought tore at his heart, it also spoke too some primal part of him. Somewhere at the back of his mind, a growing piece of Jonah was realizing how far the butterfly effect could extend.

    “Mr. Riley could you please explain sensitive dependency on initial conditions?” Mr. Johnson, Jonah’s old professor teacher asked.

    “You mean the butterfly effect?” Jonah scowled.

    “Yes, Mr. Riley,’ Johnson sighed, “The butterfly effect. Explain it now.” Jonah thought for a moment, trying to develop an appropriate response. “Never mind Mr. Riley. I’ll do it for you.” On the white board, Johnson’s hands were a flurry of movement.  “Now imagine a ball at the very crest of a hill.” He pointed to his drawing. “Now if the ball begins to move down hill it can be made to roll into any number of valleys due to variances in the initial conditions. Are you getting this Mr. Riley?” Jonah scowled, writing down the teacher’s description and drawn example.

     Jonah was broken out of his memory by the sound of rock grating along metal. Nearly jumping out of his seat, Jonah relaxed as he realized the ship was fine. With his heart beating fast, Jonah thoughts turned to what had made the debris field, using his teacher’s model as a basis.

     Just take out the ball and replace it with the Apophis, he thought, use the asteroids path as the downhill path, celestial bodies as contributors to initial conditions, and the moon as the valley the ball rolled into.

    Really the fact that the 99942-Apophis asteroid had hit the moon was a fluke. All reports had said that the asteroid would pass by the Earth; no harm, no foul. Instead Jonah had seen as the asteroid shot around the sun and impact the moon, shattering it in a single catastrophic blow. The result was almost half the moon’s mass being thrown into orbit with the Earth. The fact that the date was 12/21/2012 didn’t help in calming the public.

      The world he knew it had changed. Superstorms popped up the world over; Rome was devastated by a single light storm, California and Japan destroyed by tsunamis caused by chunks of fallen space rock. Thousands of lives were lost in countless other incidents. Jonah was again ripped from his thoughts by the sound of grating steel.

       “Are you guys sure the ship is safe,” Jonah heard the passenger facing him say to the pilot. The man was a wreck; sweat was pouring off his brow, eyes wide and bloodshot moving back and forth, body shaking.  “If the hulls punctures we’re screwed. Within seconds shlop. You, me, and everyone else is sucked into space. Game over.”

      Jonah rolled his eyes, but he knew the man had a point. It would depend on where they were hit and by how many objects, but he had a point. 

     The ship itself was egg shaped, having just enough room to fit the four people that inhabited it now, not including the pilot. With a wide front window and oval wing bound thrusters, the egg was a hard target to hit.

      If they were hit my something big it would be like being tackled by a coke machine with legs; a quick hit and then ouch game over.

      Assuming the object was smaller, it would be just a pinprick on the surface. Jonah could hear the hissing as the atmosphere was sucked out as the ship was depressurized. He heard as the pilot swore and flipped the switch allowing oxygen masks to fall from the ship ceiling. From there Jonah could only hope and pray that oxygen could hold out until they reached Cerberus-Base-1 on the moon or any other station in the immediate area. 

       That’s only if we get hit my one Jonah reminded himself. If they were hit my more than one the effect would be catastrophic. One by one, the micro asteroids would cut through the hull. Eventually the ship would resemble a phone book caught by a round of buckshot.

     Like the man said game over.

     Jonah felt the ship lurch to the right, circling around the moon into the sunlight. It was then that Jonah saw it.; there was Cerberus-Base-1.

     It gleamed in the sun, a massive silver starfish that stood against the grey stone. From its surface towers of glass and steel rose up into the sun, unconstrained by the chains of gravity. Jonah’s shipped swerved between the between the towers, whipping its passengers to and fro until they came a single monolithic tower in the center of Cerberus-Base-1. They entered the tower from the very top, a hatch door opening and allowing them entrance.

     “Alright everyone off,” Jonah heard the pilot bark.  Jonah moved quickly, flowing out of the ship and onto the launch pad.  Once everyone was off the ship took off, leaving back through the hatch.

      “All new occupants please enter the elevator to your right for processing. Thank you and have a nice day.” A woman’s voice blared as a doorway to Jonah’s left opened. He and the group entered quickly, door closing them inside. Once inside the sound of machinery and scratching metal echoed as the elevator began moving.

      Within moments Jonah and the others got a better look at the station then they did from the ship; cars shaped like
Deloreans without wheels flew through the low gravity. Dozens of lane mobbed each other. Lights flickered on and off throughout the towers. But it was the sky above that drew Jonah’s attention.

      From the outside it looked as if there was nothing preventing the debris from destroying its spires. From the inside it looked much the same, but every now and then a blue ripple would form in the sky.

      Should’ve known this place would have a shield of some kind, Jonah thought, grimacing at his stupidity, seems a bit much though. Must consume a ton of power. They should have gone with a better design, something focused around the buildings more.  

     Jonah was brought out of his thoughts by something impacting the barrier. The elevator lurched as the station was impacted.

     “Oh s**t,” Jonah cursed, as the barrier was punctured. His vision was filled with yellow light and his ears a dull hum. Then the yellow light vanished, and Jonah looked to the sky for it source.

    He was greeted by the same yellow light; were it at a distance he would have thought it a star. But the light grew closer, again stabbing through the shielding with little problem. It moved across the station like a fillet knife through a fish, humming growing louder as the beam came closer to Jonah’s elevator. It passed through the elevator, clipping Jonah’s arm, severing it at the elbow.

     Shouldn’t there be more pain? Jonah thought, while the other passenger screamed. Moments later the world went black and the screaming ended.

© 2010 Frederick E. Conkling

Author's Note

Frederick E. Conkling
This is a work in progress. I appretiate all comments on this piece.

My Review

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Featured Review

I was prepared to be bored when I started reading this. Prologues tend to do that to me. This was actually interesting, instead.

You could definitely fix places where words are repeated too close together and fix up grammatical issues. In the first part, Jonah scowls several times. There are plenty of alternatives to use rather than sound like a broken record.

The first part with the teacher didn't make sense to me. Is he on the ship with Jonah or is he part of a flashback? What's the point of the exchange? If you don't need it, then maybe you can cut it out.

The action seemed to go by too quickly. Maybe the characters need more time to panic. More drmatic language could be used in these places as well.

Aside from those minor issues, I like this :)

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


In honesty, this is not something I would normally read or be interested in. Most of the time it would bore me. But you did a wonderful job and kept my attention through and through.

You gave great vision to the piece, creating a new world and time in which the setting took place. Your description was very well done, as well as the emotions used.

I have a suggestion, and that would be to double space your paragraphs, that way they do not bunch together, putting more separation between them makes it easier to read. The only other advice I would give is to just read it over and do a little editing, there were not many mistakes, just a few grammar issues and some punctuation that needs to be worked on.

Other than that, you did a great job. You brought the reader into a different world very well. There were no spots where I got confused, or lost in what was going on.

Great job, keep up the good work.


Posted 7 Years Ago

very interesting story. draws you into the characters world very quickly. makes you feel invested somehow in the characters fate i love that

Posted 8 Years Ago

I will also read and review Chapter 1 sometime today. :)

Posted 8 Years Ago

I really loved the imagination and emotion of this. You have painted a very realistic feeling and scene. I think that would be a difficult thing to accomplish when writing sci-fi.. making it seem realistic.
I fell deep into the persona of Johna, I like how you defined his personality and his thoughts.
There were some problems with sentence fluency and grammar, minor really. If you would like, I can revise this and send it back to you- feel free to call it yours.

You asked me in a message a long time ago to read this, I'm sorry it has taken so long. I have turned of RR's- if you would like me to read anything else, please ask me in comment or message. I will gladly oblige.
Hope to hear back from you on this one Frederick- I liked it a lot. Keep writing, and good work.

Posted 8 Years Ago

I will second what Ann say's below. I saw the same issues that upset the flow of the piece. I would suggest reading what you have out load to yourself a few times. Most of the word issues and misspells would be caught by that.

I felt that area describing the astroid that hits the moon and subsequent resulting effects could have been focused on a bit more. Reason being. That event seems to be the trigger for the rest of the story. I'd like to see a little more description as to what Earth suffered, and how that effected people's going into space.

I think the idea that is shaping up has alot of potential and i'm eager to move onto the first chapter. I'm certainly curious what this yellow beam is or where it might be orginating from.

Posted 9 Years Ago

This is the eigth time trying to post my review on this prologue. Bear with me.

You have a rather unique opening. It's interesting because you mention the Butterfly Effect in a story that is seemingly about a space-faring future. Your Dialogue and descriptions are very good. My only thing would be to smooth out the story a bit more, so it's a little easier to read.

Posted 9 Years Ago

This is not a bad piece. I enjoyed and saw nothing major to contend with. If you haven't already, you should post it at Midnight Souls. Perfect story for the group.

Posted 9 Years Ago

The edits were sent to your email :)

Posted 9 Years Ago

Overall, this seems like it is going to be an interesting book. Most of the descriptions came across rather nicely, at least they were easily pictured. There are several typos, that (as others have said) can be easily fixed. Perhaps some of the backstory can be drawn out. Hey, if it gets longer than you want, you could always get rid of the prologue and call it chapter one! I'll try to get around to chapter one in a bit, but until then Happy Writing!

Posted 9 Years Ago

Oh very nice detailed imagery again.. my friend I see you as more of a screenwriter than bookwriter and I haven't said this before but I will now. There are a few minor errors in spelling and grammar which is very easy to correct .. the gift you possess is the one in high comprehension in english terminology (word usage). I liked the term mud ball and felt this was purposely used being you use so much other great descriptive terms.. this is probably forming a part of this character's profile.. that and/or you are gearing this write to a specific age group.. sci-fi is commonly aimed at teens and early twenties and I see a character forming that most can relate to.

Keep it up.. your writings play like a movie.. I briefly went forward to the next chapter.. the only thing I would really do is edit.. space and maybe change a couple of repetitive words.. also watch that your prologue is not longer than your chapters.. and give an overview and mesh some of the future characters if possible.. though it's not always necessary.. I will need to see future chapters to see your vision more completely to give a real review.. of the overall work! I love it so far.. you are very gifted!

Posted 9 Years Ago

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21 Reviews
Shelved in 3 Libraries
Added on February 9, 2010
Last Updated on April 16, 2010
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Frederick E. Conkling
Frederick E. Conkling

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