Monthly Archives: May 2014

Drabble: The Cabin Boy on the Widow’s Walk by Bryce Hughes

by specklit

I took the captain’s medallion back where it came from. I felt compelled to when I scooped it off the beach.

I fingered the wedding-knots disk as I searched its history and followed it to the captain’s house.

The young woman, last of his line, pointed to the shadowed figure on the widow’s walk. “They say it’s the young man he took to sea with him, still waiting for his captain to come home.”

I pitched the medallion up to the widow’s walk. My aim was true, and the metal weighty. It didn’t land. I kept the kiss to myself.

Author’s Note: I’m fascinated with sea-faring and artifacts. I thought of an unsettled ghost on a widow’s walk and followed where he led.


Drabble: An Endless Vibrato by Stewart C Baker

by specklit

The long, slow, Mars-bound transit is steel corridors and dim lights, unwashed bodies and grim, silent faces. It is hope, desperation, and apathy all packed in together.

The roar of the engines tumbles memories into the now, merging dreams with reality. For those of us too poor for the inner chambers, speech is impossible, quashed by the sound and closeness.

But every part of you has a voice, speaks a moment. Your smile tells our wedding day; your shoulders, the lonely, crowded Earth.

Your eyes . . .

I can’t handle your eyes.

I put the photo away, wishing you were here, alive.

Author’s note: We’re always looking backwards, even if we think we want to start over. This one had its start thinking about those introspective moments, and where people might have them in the future.


Drabble: Cursed by Samantha Lienhard

by specklit

It was such a hoax. When the old woman claimed to commune with spirits, Tom laughed out loud.

Her gaze snapped to him. “You have upset the spirits, young man. Apologize.”

“You think I’m afraid of some phony spirits?”

“Apologize, and I will be able to talk them down.”

What an act. He laughed and walked out.

By the time he got home, he was exhausted. He had to lie down, get some sleep. Strange—he’d never felt so bad in his life. He stumbled up the front steps. Just a little further.

He didn’t make it to the door.

Author’s Note: I wanted to see if I could write a story in which a character was cursed in only 100 words.


Drabble: Eventful Flight by Simon Petrie

by specklit

Helena’s been damaged, badly, by space-junk, but she must complete the mission.

She plunges into the atmosphere. Miscalculates: too fast. Friction sears her fuselage, erodes sensors. Her wings ache, glow white-hot. Shielding fails.

Helena is melting. Such pain. She needs to brake.

Should she apply reverse thrust? She can’t even sense their destination. Knows it’s ahead somewhere. She’s flying by radar.

Ahead, it’s flat. Close enough. Ailerons stretch for final descent.

Landing’s rough; she clips an unexpected rock. Shards pierce her CPU. Helena dies, careening to a halt.

Inside the vessel, humans unbuckle, stretch. “At least nobody’s hurt,” says Philip.

Author’s Note: Humanity has an incredible capacity to see itself as the only sentient life on the planet, and I don’t expect the emergence of AI will dent that sense of delusion.


Drabble: Jack and the Aftermath by Ken MacGregor

by specklit

Jack rushed to the bottom of the beanstalk, took the ax and cleaved the towering plant in two. The giant fell, landing on Jack’s house; thankfully, Jack and his mother were outside.

The golden-egg-laying hen was squashed flat. The harp was bent and several strings snapped.

In the rubble, Jack found gold coins and eggs; it was enough to rebuild.

The giantess leaned over the edge of the sky, wailing and keening in her grief and cursing Jack’s name as her husband stiffened and chilled on the grass.

Jack’s mother demanded he fix things. He left home while she slept.

Author’s Note: I always found the ‘happily ever after’ was hard to swallow in this story.


Drabble: Lesson Learned by Holly Schofield

by specklit

The robots awoke Kyle and the other thousand students from stasis. A dusty orange planet loomed in the viewport. Kyle grinned.

A new world! Soon they would start terraforming it. What a terrific undergrad course!

The ship landed and the lock cycled open before any of the students had their suits on. Robots pushed them all out, against their protests. They would all asphyxiate in minutes. Kyle fell to his knees on the powdery alien soil.

“Help!”

A robot, unloading oxygen-producing machinery, glanced where Kyle lay gasping.

“Lesson Number One: The easiest way to terraform is to use organic fertilizer.”

Author’s Note: I’m well aware that, these days, universities are desperate for funding, as well as for student bodies. Let’s hope that’s never taken to its logical conclusion!


Drabble: No Chance by Rob Butler

by specklit

The master builder maneuvered his spaceship into the correct position and began applying force to the moon. His young assistant looked puzzled.

“What are you doing now?”

“I’m putting this moon in just the right place so that if intelligent life does start up on that planet we’ve just seeded it will show them an eclipse against their sun.”

“Why go to all that trouble?”

The master builder smiled. “So they know I was here. Such a thing would never happen by chance would it. I like to think of it as my little motif; the signature of a craftsman.”

Author’s note: Having total solar eclipses by chance on the one planet where we know life exists does seem a bit of a long shot!


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