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Lost Ship

by on September 17, 2014

I’ve come to love the Silence.  

The words echoed scratchily on the bridge of the Rackham. No, really, I do, continued the dim ghost of the officer on the viewscreen. Yes, it’s an old rust-bucket that Earth Fleet should’ve scrapped eons ago. Yes, it barely makes warp factor two, it’s got one working bathroom, and our weapons systems are shot all to hell, but hey. It’s got character. Why, years from now, I’m going to look back and…. Ah, forget it. I hate this ship. It’s a lousy assignment, and I’m counting the days till I get enough service points to- 

The man vanished in static. “That,” pronounced the executive officer, “was the last entry in the personal log of Captain Roland Caine, E.F.S. Silence. It’s the only log recovered. The Silence had a crew of 109, with an additional passenger complement of 37. There were no survivors.”  His voice wavered just a bit. He had been on several recovery missions before. Someone had always made it.

The captain looked shaken. “Who was on that ship? Colonists?”

“Some,” the exec reported. “One in particular, though, that Earth Fleet wanted to know about. Lieutenant Woodman, formerly science officer on the Dove.  Apparently he’d made some big discovery and wanted to report it in, but he didn’t want to risk long-range transmission.”

“So he picked a safe little transport that no one would care enough to blow up,” finished the captain. “Except someone did.”

“Looks that way, sir.”

“Why?”

The exec hesitated. The bridge by now was crowded with senior and junior grade officers, and a scattering of ensigns, staring as the shattered bits of the Silence drifted by on the viewscreen. The captain got his point. “Mr. Merrick,” he snapped to his gawping tactical officer, “do a full scan, make absolutely sure there’s no life signs. Then start tractor beams and see what else you can recover. The rest of you, go on about your duties. Mr. Painter, my ready room.”

When the captain and his exec were alone, Mr. Painter took a breath. “Apologies, sir, but Earth Fleet said this was strictly classified stuff. Didn’t want the ensigns to hear. What Woodman said he found…”

“Don’t tell me. The Holy Grail.”

“No, sir,” Mr. Painter said. “Not quite that big. What he found was the Orb of the Whangdoodle. Or at least a clue as to its location.”

“You’re kidding,” said the captain. “The Orb of the what?”

“Whangdoodle, sir.”

“Who would name something…. Oh, never mind. I assume this is something very valuable that should under no circumstances fall into the wrong hands?”

“No, sir.”

The captain sighed. “Fine. We’d better report-”

The ship jolted violently beneath him. The lights dimmed, and alarms blared everywhere. The captain charged back onto the bridge. Mr. Merrick yelled something panicky at him, gesticulating wildly at the viewscreen. The captain didn’t have a chance to see what the trouble was. The Rackham disintegrated in a single bloom of light.

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26 Comments
  1. Love the humor that pops in unexpectedly amid an otherwise bleak space story. You write well in a small space and move the story quite well, and I love the music of the “bloom of light” at the end (again, a diamond among the coal-ness with respect to the story’s outcome).

    • I think bleak stories need some humor in them; Joss Whedon of Buffy and the Avengers has said as much. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

    Wonderful, sly humor as always. I love how you take the prompts and bend them painlessly to your will. 🙂

    • First person present was tricky, but happily with the device of a flashback recording I managed it. 🙂

  3. Another great sequel. So, the moment they mention the secret Whangdoodle, they’re doomed? Interesting. Your stories always seem to flow so effortlessly and, as you know, I do love the humour 🙂

    • I hadn’t originally intended “Whangdoodle” to be this story’s equivalent of saying the name Voldemort, but now that you mention it… I like that idea.

  4. J. Raven permalink

    I loved the different take on the prompt! I’m always so literal – I liked it from that point and it just kept delivering.

    • I like going literal too. It can make for very interesting stories. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  5. As much fun as the bunnies were, I think this is probably my favorite thing you’ve written. It’s clever, well-structured, and your sense of humor still shines through.

    • This is definitely darker than the bunnies, that’s for sure. Thanks so much for the comment and your kind words. 🙂

  6. I love that you went sideways with the prompt – very clever! And, of course, I love the Orb of the Whangdoodle, though I will never say its name out loud. 😉

  7. This is my first encounter with the Orb of Wangdoodle. Mention of it nearly made me spit tea all over my keyboard, I think it should be referred to with care. Love the way this story developed 🙂

    • A spit-take is only one of the terrible consequences that could ensue from naming the Orb That Must Not Be Named.

  8. Gotta go along with everyone else admiring how you so effortlessly craft the prompts into your stories and manage to work humor in as well. Always fun to read!

  9. Light hearted and epic at the same time, true to your style! Looks like space is pretty popular this week. Congrats on the great piece!
    (PS- If this is the start of yet another series, you’ll have to slow down for me to keep up!)

    • The good news is, in November I will probably take a short bloggy break as I focus on NaNoWriMo. The bad news is that after November, I plan the biggest team-up of them all: Rain, Hadley, Constance, Oswald Stamper the space otter, Prince Evinrude, the Third Little Pig, and Jason Waterfalls. 😀

      • 😄 And I thought Homework was gonna keep me busy! This is probs one of the only times in History the writes writes faster than the reader reads!

  10. I should have known Joss Whedon is an influence of yours. Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore too, I suspect.

    • Douglas Adams definitely. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the works of Christopher Moore.

  11. Oh, I think you’d like him very much! Try Lamb, if you’re interested.

  12. Meg permalink

    Haaahaaa! The Orb of the Whangdoodle. Is that what causes the ship to disintegrate in a “single bloom of light” (I love that description)? Do I have to wait to find out? A great read, as always, Michael.

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