Well, if you read this post in recent days, you most likely would have been curious about the new short story I’ve been alluding to. Well, if you were, that curiosity is about to be satisfied. I proudly (and loudly) announce my new short story, 30013.
So, as you might be able to tell by the basic cover I made, the story is set in the future(30013, to be precise 🙂 ). I’m intending for it to be a series of short stories, each following the adventures of Lance Wakefield, a new civilian trying to find his way in the world of the future after waking up from twenty-eight thousand years of suspended animation.
What follows this explanatory paragraph is the entire first draft of the first story. It’s obviously quite patchy, something I wrote over the course of a few weeks in a break from writing my novel (somewhat ironically). I’d really appreciate your feedback, though. That, and any possible ideas you might have for future stories, or any other aspect for them. Anyhow, read on for the complete first draft of 30013 …
The television set in the mess probably should have been turned off. It was at full volume, its message of despair blaring out. But no one had had time to turn it off. No one was still in the room. In fact, no one had been in the room for the last hour, since the broadcasts began.
Lance Wakefield had been the first to leave the room. He had just had time to see the opening credits of the news show; but it did not matter. He knew what the issue was.
Because, now, he was fighting it, and losing badly.
“They’ve broken in!” a panicked voice announced over Lance’s earpiece.
A chilling scream broke through the sound of gunfire and explosions. Lance heard the sound of bone snapping, more screams, and feet thundering towards his position.
He dived to his left. A tall, gangly creature made purely of chalk-grey bone tripped over his feet in mid-air. Lance, too close to use his rifle, elbowed the creature in the back of its head. Its skull broke with a satisfying crunch.
I need to get to a secure position, he thought, firing down the corridor into the rushing bodies of two more creatures.
They fell to the ground and skidded along the floor, shrieking even in death.
Keeping his site, and gun, down the corridor, Lance felt behind him with his other hand. His fingers closed around a clammy metal handle. He pushed it down, and carefully backed into the room. He shut the door a second after, hearing something slam into it and leave a dent.
This isn’t going to work! He though desperately, quickly turning around to scan the room. That door’s not going to hold for much longer.
He was alone in the room apart from a bank of deactivated screens. At the far side was an open metal door. It looked thick, strong, and, from what Lance could remember of the base he had been in for two weeks, contained racks of weapons.
He bolted for the room. Behind him, the door burst open. Hideous creatures of bone burst through, determined to kill the last surviving member of the Special Forces outpost. Lance skidded to a halt inside the reinforced metal door, and pulled it towards him desperately. A creature stuck its arm inside, stopping the door from closing fully.
Lance shook his head.
He smashed the creature’s arm from the door with the butt of his gun. The door swung shut with a resounding boom. Lance slumped against the back of the door, hearing the pounding sounds of the creatures against the door gradually die down. He looked at his watch. Was it just him, or were the seconds ticking past with abnormal speed? He was sure minutes did not normally behave like that.
It was not only his watch that seemed irregular. There seemed to be frost, seeping into the room from hidden vents, curling around the floor with a life of its own. The watch on Lance’s wrist beat faster and faster, until he could not distinguish each second. It was like it had a frantic heartbeat of its own. It could not have been further removed from the slow pattern of Lance’s heart, which drummed in ever decreasing, slumbering snores.
Lance’s watch frosted over. The frenzied sounds of the creatures were no more. His hand slumped to the ground, his watch hitting the frosted ground with a sharp cling. His eyes, heavy as lead, closed.
The dull sound of a heavy metal object falling woke Lance up.
Uhh … Oh man! How could I have fallen asleep?
He stood up, feeling a slight coating of frost crack over his chest. He frowned. Lance looked at his watch. It too had a layer of ice, frozen onto its face. He brushed it off. It was blank. It did not have the time.
The battery is flat? It’s only a year old! Man, I knew I shouldn’t have brought it off Robert. Cheapskate.
Lance was so busy chastising himself that he did not hear the footsteps on the opposite side of the door until it was too late. There was a silent hissing sound, and then the door crumpled inwards.
It fell to one side, barely missing Lance. He was only knocked to one side, legs pinned underneath it. His vision was blurry. Three identically aggressive faces entered into his vision.
“What are you doing here?” the faces asked, an odd mixture of shock, like they had been caught out, spreading over his face.
What a dumb question.
“What are you doing here?” Lance asked. “This is a military base.”
The three faces pointed three compact guns down towards Lance’s nose.
“I’ll ask the questions here.” They yelled.
The three faces discharged their guns into the floor next to Lance. He winced. He could smell his singed hair burning.
“Again: what are you doing here?” the faces asked.
Lance shook his head.
“You think I’m going to give you military secrets? No chance.”
The three faces condensed into one as Lance’s vision cleared. The single face now had a look of genuine curiosity.
“What do you mean? There’s no military on this planet,” he said.
“Well, last time I checked, there’s at least four in this country,” Lance responded. “And why did you say ‘this planet’? Mars got soldiers now?”
The puzzled look on the other man’s face increased.
“Mars? That was destroyed in 4201.”
“4201?” A numbing felling spread over Lance. It was the foggy ice; but not it’s cold. Now Lance realised where he had fallen asleep. The entire purpose of the facility. The Cryogenics chamber.
“What’s the year?” he asked, desperately.
Lance shook his head.
“No! No! It can’t be. You’re lying!” Lance yelled, face contorted in fear.
Something dawned on the man’s face.
“What year do you think it is?” he asked slowly.
“2013,” Lance replied. “I’d show you the date on my watch, but the battery … is broken.”
The man let out a deep breath, and pushed the folded metal door off Lance with a grunt. He offered Lance a hand.
“I thought that was what this chamber is,” he said, lifting Lance up. “The cooling device looked to be around the two-thousand era. I’m … err … sort of on the run from a few people, and my ship crashed here. I needed a replacement for some parts of my ship, and this base was the closest thing that might have something I could patch it up with. Erik Carter is my name.”
He held out a hand. Lance shook it.
“Wow, I guess it really is 30013,” Lance said, astonished.
Erik’s ship stood proudly in front of them. It was a spaceship. Lance had not really believed him, until he actually saw it. Erik disappeared underneath the ship and started repairing the engine as Lance stood still, in complete wonder.
The ship was about fifteen meters in length, and eight in width. It was a roughly oval shape, smooth, strong and powerful. Its panels were dented and scraped, but obviously strong even in age. Three big jet cylinders sprouted out of its back, each of which was almost a meter in diameter.
Erik had briefly explained how it worked while they had trekked across a disturbingly barren wasteland. The ship was mainly powered by levilift engines, which basically gave it the ability to float and fly at ridiculous speeds. The three engines on the back provided post-light speed flight, nicknamed ‘hyperlight flight.’ He had explained that, even at the speed of light, it would take almost two hundred thousand years to travel from one end of the known universe to another. With hyperlight engines, that time was significantly less.
Apparently the universe was pretty big.
Numerous gun turrets added to the image of a roguish ship that had taken on the worst, and survived.
Erik clambered out from underneath the ship.
“Are you coming?” he asked. “We’re not going to be able to go too far, but we should reach a station where I can properly repair the ship.”
The ship’s ramp lowered, pausing twenty centimetres above the ground. Erik sighed.
“There’s another couple of dollars lost.”
They walked up the ramp. Lance paused at the top. It had just hit him then. He would never be seeing Earth again. He would never be seeing anyone he used to know again. Erik was the only person Lance knew, who was still alive.
Lance snuck a final look at Earth as the ship rose smoothly into space. It was utterly devastated. There was a huge chunk missing, torn out just above the equator. Lance winced. There was no green anywhere on the planet. Both poles were gone. The low countries of Europe simply didn’t exist. Lance turned around to face Erik, who was watching with a gruff look of sympathy.
“How did it happen?” Lance asked.
“It was about twenty-eight thousand years ago. There were these … creatures … made entirely of bone. They almost overran the Earth. They were held barely held back, but they were nothing compared to their masters. Verips are nasty creatures. They were too much for normal humans. It was only those with unique abilities who managed to survive, escape the Earth, and settle on Kaibura. It took hundreds of years to build up society again. We became stronger. We developed efficient space travel. We returned to Earth hundreds of years after we left, and destroyed the Verips. It was too later for our planet, though. Anyway, by now Kaibura had become completely colonised. Its size alone makes it capable of holding many more than Earth. We discovered hundreds, thousands of planets. Today, humans are the most powerful species in the known universe.”
“Some story,” Lance said.
Erik reached up, and flicked a switch above his head.
“I better get you up to speed. There’s quite a few things you’ve missed out on.”
The stars around them condensed into elongated lines. They shot off into space.
Lance was rather impressed by the station. It was a simple, flat rectangle of metal and some other strange, asphalt substance for ships to land. The landing platform was a four-hundred meter square, about twenty meters thick. That was half of the station. The other half was itself divided into two; one section a large hanger, the other a building which contained cheap rooms and a cantina. Half a dozen medium sized ships, all smaller than Erik’s,
The whole thing was suspended in space; an isolated station in the middle of nowhere.
“Well, it’s not ideal,” Erik said, “but they should have the parts the ship needs.”
The ship touched down automatically in an empty bay marked by fading yellow lines. Lance looked out of the cockpit nervously.
“Do we need something to help us breathe?” he asked.
Erik shook his head, and hit the button for the ramp.
“The station has artificial gravity for a radius of two or three kilometres. If you fall of it, though, you might be in trouble.”
They walked into the open hanger. It was filled with disorganised racks of spare parts, with peeling taped labels stuck on to the metal frame. A lone mechanic sat with his feet up on a table, cleaning a part with a rag that had turned black from grease.
“You want something?” he asked.
“I need a military-class cooling filter. You have any of those here?”
The mechanic looked towards the pouch on Erik’s belt, as if trying to see how much money he had.
“I might have a few,” he drawled. “For a price.”
“Let me see them,” Erik said.
The mechanic put down the rag and the spare part, then strolled off down one of the teetering alleys. He returned ten minutes later with a thick, circular chunk of metal that had glowing engravings etched around the side.
“It’ll be extra for the crior markings, thank you very much,” He told Erik. “Cash only.”
Erik sighed. Criorians were experts at crafting high quality engine parts, but had the annoying habit of adding arcane ‘magical’ markings on some of their pieces, which let them charge twice the price. The markings, of course, did nothing. Nevertheless, he had to pay the extortionate price. Half an hour, and three thousand dollars later, they were leaving the station, cooling device installed.
Erik hit the autopilot as they enter hyperlight flight and turned around to face Lance.
“I don’t want to make this sound like I’m dumping you, but I’m more of a lone wolf. I’m dropping you off on Kaibura. If you get into trouble or anything, call me on this.”
He handed Lance a credit card sized slice of metal.
“It’s an identity card, IDC for short. Everyone carries one. You can buy stuff with it, and call people. My numbers programmed into it. I’ll give you a second to program it. Just press you thumb into it, and it’ll tell you what to do from there.”
Lance pressed his thumb onto the IDC. It flashed green after a few seconds, and told Lance to hold it up to his eyes. The card flashed green again after another few seconds. A picture of Lance appeared in the top half of the card.
“That was quick,” he said, surprised.
“If you need it to do something, and it can do a heap, just talk to it. To call me, just ask it to. Same with adding new contacts, or buying stuff. You might want to switch it into private mode. That way, only you can hear what its saying.”
Lance raised his eyebrows.
“It can do that? How?”
“Don’t ask me. I just know it works.”
“Thanks for doing this. If you need a favour, I’ll be there.”
“No problem,” Erik said, grinning. “I had to do something for you after you almost got crushed by that door.”
Lance watched as Erik’s ship rose up, and off into the distance. It promptly joined a few thousand other ships, rising from Kaibura in the same instant. It was a busy planet, to say the least. Its cities, sometime in the past, had spread so far that they had eventually joined each other. Now, to all intents and purposes, Kaibura was a single city. Lance peered over the railed edge of the landing platform. Below, air taxis and private ships vied for positions in the air lanes. Above, air taxis and private ships vied for positions in the air lanes. Buildings extended down on either side, hemming them in. Lance couldn’t see the bottom. He could barely see the top. It wasn’t a matter of lighting, it was just the sheet distance was beyond his eyes.
An empty taxi pulled up alongside the landing platform, giving Lance such a shock that he almost fell. Its doors slid open, revealing an empty interior.
“Would you like a ride, sir?” Its synthesised voice asked.
“Um, yes please,” Lance replied, realising that he had no idea how to get to the apartment Erik had given him.
He stepped inside. The doors closed, cutting off the roaring sound of traffic whizzing by. The robotic taxi had room for four; six in a squeeze. A table divided two sets of comfortable looking lounge chairs, which faced each other. A tinted panoramic window wrapped around the whole thing, offering a view of the midday skyline as it moved by.
“Where to, sir?”
“I have the apartment number here. Hold on … sorry.”
Lance pulled the sheet of paper out of his pocket and held it up for one of the vehicle’s many sensors to see.
“Please note that any damaging of this public vehicle will result in a large fine,” the taxi announced, before rocketing off to become part of the three-dimensional gridlock.
To Lance’s pleasant surprise, the taxi moved into an exclusive lane. In the taxi-only lane, it took just under forty minutes to reach the apartment complex, which Lance spent getting familiar with his IDC.
The apartment block was about a kilometre beneath the tops of the buildings above it, but compensation for this with its location in a relatively low-lying, quite section of the sprawling city.
“Thanks!” Lance called out as the taxi rose of into the distance.
It had only cost around twenty dollars for the forty minute trip. He walked across a small ten meter landing platform outside of the apartment block. The doors automatically slid forward for him.
His room was four levels below the landing platform. It was a rather simple dwelling, one bedroom, one bathroom, small kitchen area and a small, two-seater lounge that faced a screen so flat that it was two-dimensional to Lance’s eye.
Not bad, not bad at all.
He called Erik to let him know he had got their safely.
“What do you think?” Erik asked.
“Well, it’s not much, but I guess its home. Thanks again!”
Well, what do you think? Are there any major grammar errors? Are there any continuity issues? Do you think the idea is good? Do you think its bad? Whatever your thoughts, I’d really appreciate some feedback. Just use the comment form below, or the private contact form directly underneath this text. Thanks for getting this far, hopefully it means you’re interested :).
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