Traveler One

  • Round: Books: 5 Page Challenge

  • Genre:
    Fiction: Sci Fi/Fantasy, Thriller/Suspense
  • Submitted: November 10, 2016

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5 Page Challenge

Pages 1-5 | Extended Sample


Summary

Pilot David Munich is on a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa.  Things change when he starts having visions and flashbacks, skewing his grasp on reality.  Munich must figure out what is happening before he loses his sanity and the mission is jeopardized!

Pages 1 - _

It happened again.

 

I woke up this morning and had DEETY give me the overnight update. It started like it always did; minor course corrections, current velocity, potential interstellar threats and so on.

 

Then it got weird.

 

“This is not real, Major Munich.”

 

I rubbed my eyes, not sure if I actually heard what was just said or if I imagined it. Was Geary fucking with me again? He loved playing practical jokes.

 

“DEETY, send a message to Captain Geary. Let him know I am going to kick his ass for fucking with me this early in my wake cycle.”

 

DEETY cycled for a moment, “There is no record of a 'Captain Geary' either onboard Traveler One, assigned to NASA or in your personal contacts folder. Please input recipients communications identifier to send a message.”

 

It was happening again.

 

I got out of bed, put on my jumper and headed to the common room. Just like last time, the minimal lighting program was running and the passageway looked unused. The smell of antiseptic lingered in the air.

 

When I got to the common room it was empty. There was one set of dishes drying in a rack next to the Dunkin Donuts Q-cup coffeemaker. I looked around past the stack of Heinlein novels on the corner table and my eyes settled on the one chair at the commons main table. Why weren’t there five chairs?

 

Suddenly, the ship lurched and I stumbled.

 

I must have fallen and hit my head because when I came to Carmencita was standing over me, shining a bright light into my eyes.

 

“How are you doing Munich, still with us?” She asked calmly as she switched the device off.

 

I blinked a few times and sat up. I was in my quarters, lying on my floor, naked.

 

Embarrassing.

 

“Yea, Doc, I’m good. I had the weirdest dream, it felt so real.” I was pretty sure it was a dream.

 

She raised an eyebrow at me and quickly typed something on her data pad. It beeped at her and she slipped it into her utility belt.

 

“Ok, let's get you up and dressed. ‘Mad Libs’ is making breakfast and Tom want's everybody together for the morning update.” She opened the compartment under my rack, pulled out my work jumper and tossed it to me.

 

“Thanks.”, I said as I slipped it on.

 

When I entered the common room I saw Robert ‘mad libs’ Libby finishing up the eggs, bacon, and hash browns. This always pissed off the skipper. Colonel Howard was born and raised in the Deep South and not eating grits with breakfast was sacrilegious.

 

Pete Geary was already sitting at the table sipping on his coffee and Carmencita had just finished with the Q-cup machine. She joined him, sat back and activated her implant. I still hadn’t gotten used to how the implant made our eyes cloud over when it was in use.

 

I pulled out a chair opposite Carmencita, sat down and activated my own implant. The overnight college football scores appeared in the upper left-hand portion of my vision and days newsfeed showed up in the opposite corner. My e-mail inbox popped up dead center and was filled with status reports from the previous night. I ran my keyword search scripts and nothing vital popped up.

 

The porthole to the bridge irised open and the Colonel walked through, grabbed his coffee and sat down at the table. He tapped the chair side vis-screen and Fats Domino wafted down from the ships speakers.

 

Colonel Tom Howard was a big man. Not big like he ate a few too many fried Twinkies, he was big like he worked out a few hours too long every day. He was also one of the friendliest people I had ever met unless you were a ChiCom. He wasn’t racist; he just lost a little more than others during the war.

 

“Hash browns again? Do you have a personal issue with southern cooking Mr. Libby?” The mousy scientist giggled nervously and shoveled a heaping pile of hash onto the skipper’s plate.

 

Colonel Howard sighed and resigned himself to the potatoes, smothering them in catsup. After the first forkful, he let loose a short, appreciative grunt in Libby’s direction. The rest of us ate in the normal silence of a family that was close enough that they didn’t need to talk and distant enough that they didn’t want to.

 

After he finished his second Q-cup Colonel Howard began, “Ok, let's get started with the morning brief. DEETY, give us the overnight data dump. No implants this go, let's use the holo.”

 

The display in the center of the table filled with an overhead display of the solar system. A red line emerged from the Earth and tracked in a semi-elliptical path past Mars coming to a stop halfway between the Red Planet and Jupiter.

 

Pete reached into the hologram and pulled a schematic of the ship from the end of the line.

 

“Ok boss, life-support systems are green, communications systems are yellow, looks like a couple of micro-relay dishes were knocked out of alignment.” Pete tapped on the dishes and downloaded the system logs.

 

Colonel Howard set his coffee down, pulled up the day’s duty roster and reviewed it.

 

“Munich, you’ve got repair duty today. Let’s get those relays fixed by twenty-two hundred so we can send our daily operations update back to Houston.”

 

I nodded and made a note with my implant. I looked back up and saw that Carmencita had re-keyed the display to Earth. She zoomed in on a set of islands in the South Pacific, just off the coast of the Philippines.

 

“According to the latest intelligence reports, the United States Navy found another vein of rare-Earth metals in the Spratleys. This has prompted a protest from the Vietnamese, Philippines and Chinese governments, all claiming territorial sovereignty over the resources.”

 

She recentered the map on China.

 

“Russian forces have been pushed completely out of Mongolia and long range Chinese bombers have successfully struck Moscow. The Chinese space program is making significant process on refitting the Tianshang Feixing Mars mission.”

 

She zoomed out of the Earth and into a high-Earth orbit view. A blinking red dot marked the location of the Chinese vessel.

 

“Final engine trials are expected to conclude next week and Europa intercept is assessed as six months from launch.” She zoomed away from the Earth and focused on Traveler One.

 

Fats Domino’s crooned Libby about blueberry hills as he stood up and pointed to his probes secured to the belly of the ship.

 

“We have begun the final preparations for our planetary probes. They should be ready for launch in about seven days and will likely arrive at Europa in sixty to ninety days.” He pushed both hands into the hologram of the ship and pulled it in half. He spun one side towards the Colonel and zoomed in.

 
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