Five Minute Fiction (repost)
I’m a fan of the San Diego Chargers.
The wife is a fan of the Green Bay Packers.
Needless to say, our Sunday was completely booked.
Please enjoy a repost of an earlier Five Minute Fiction story.
…oh, and go Chargers!
The mining cruiser Europa and her crew of five had been adrift on the far side of the Promethius system for nearly one standard month, having lost engine control after colliding with an uncharted asteroid. With supplies running dangerously low none of the crew expected to survive to see rescue, but no one verbally expressed this shared opinion.
Standing by the airlock, Doctor Conrad was examining a complex series of mathematical equations on a holographic tablet when Corporal Kishore approached.
“Evening, Doctor,” Kishore said, feigning courtesy. “Still intent on survival, I see.”
“Corporal. I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you approach,” Doctor Conrad said, tapping a corner of his tablet, allowing the holographic imaging to fade away like the dying embers of a spent firework. “But since you’re here I was hoping we could discuss the matter of our current air supply.”
“Of course, Doctor, but we both know where that stands. We’ll be lucky to last another twenty cycles.”
“Yes, yes. But I’ve been running some numbers and I believe I’ve come up with a unique solution to our…problem,” Doctor Conrad calmly said, tapping the tablet once again. Graphs and equations bloomed and floated above the screen. “As you correctly stated, our current oxygen supply will sustain our compliment of five for roughly another twenty cycles, yes?” he said, handing the tablet to Kishore while reaching behind his back with his other hand. “But what if we didn’t have to sustain a crew of five?”
“What do you mean, Doctor?” Kishore said quizzically looking down at the hologram spinning lazily above the shiny black surface of the tablet, and in that moment that the good Doctor swung his fist into a high arc, bringing it and the neural shunt which it held down on to the exposed neck of Corporal Kishore, who instantly went limp and collapsed to the metal grating of the floor.
Unable to move but acutely conscious, Kishore felt the rough metal of the floor grate against the side of his face as the Doctor slowly dragged him into the airlock.
“As I said, Corporal,” Doctor Conrad deadpanned as Kishore’s eyes rolled crazily around in their sockets, “what if we didn’t have to sustain a crew of five?” Exiting the airlock, he knelt down and whispered, “Don’t worry. I’ll tell them you died a hero,” as he closed the airlock door and waited to hear the telltale echoey whoosh as the atmosphere inside was coldly lurched into space.
Doctor Conrad picked up the still active holographic tablet and began to make changes to the floating equations, making allowances for differences in supply demands, pursing his lips and furrowing his brow as he lost himself in the updated output. Madly engrossed in his work, he was startled to hear a low, authoritative voice above him calmly state, “You should be in your quarters, Doctor.”
Looking up, he was greeted with the creased, calculating face of Captain Kelly peering down at him with those eerie, unblinking blue eyes. “Of course, Captain,” he stuttered. Pausing to analyze his tablet, Doctor Conrad took in a slow, deep breath to steady himself and reached behind his back. “But since you’re here I was hoping we could discuss the matter of our current air supply…”