The Chance

Submitted into Contest #8 in response to: Write a story about an adventure in space. ... view prompt

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Science Fiction

Jexx felt his hand being gripped as if his hand was the last lifeline left. He glanced at Avill, his wife and his eyes told her more than words from his mouth could.

“Is this really it?” she asked him. “We’re really going to Earth?”

He nodded. “We have no other choice. Our home… it’s gone. We can live in peace amongst the humans… stay hidden even. It’s for the best.”

Avill bit her lip, which trembled slightly. Whether from fear or anxiety, Jexx could only guess. The Great War had finally taken its toll on their planet, just as he suspected it would. He and his wife were part of a group of only ten survivors—out of millions. Fortunately, they all looked just like humans which would make it easier for them to blend in with the humans on earth.

Loud alarms sounded so much and for so long, Jexx’s ears popped. Red flashes drained his world of color, and he closed his eyes to shield them. He could still feel his wife’s grip, and he returned it.

Voices shouted over the loud-speaker and his heart sank when he realized the ship was malfunctioning.

“What’s going on?!” Avill yelled. Her voice was just one among others worriedly shouting over all the noise.

“The blockade… one of the ships hit ours! The engine has been damaged!” one man shouted. The rebels in the Great War had finally taken over the planet’s government, which sent the whole planet into chaos. They put up a blockade of ships to trap anyone from getting out. Jexx and his group had risked it and came out unscathed.

Or so he had believed.

The ship itself violently rocked and trembled; it was as if Jexx’s whole word had turned upside down. He stood, with difficulty, and started to follow the man into the engine room.

“Jexx!” Avill shouted. Her eyes pleaded what her voice couldn’t say. They were the color of sapphires—intriguing and as deep as an ocean.

“I have to do what I can to help.” He stared back at her, his gaze steady, attempting to reassure her. He would do what he had to if it meant what little of his people were left could survive.

She nodded, seeming to understand the deeper meaning behind his gaze and no more words were needed between them. He turned and followed the man down an endless maze of hallways. Mentally, he calculated how many people were left and where they were; there were two at the cockpit—the pilot and copilot. There were two or three men at the gunners. Then there was this man along with two others in the engine room, and he remembered that Avill was with another woman and her child.

“Where is the most damage?” Jexx asked him.

The man showed him. The engine was a sublight drive, which enabled the ship to travel into deep space. The warp core, which allowed the ship to go into hyperspace, appeared to be undamaged. The engine’s IR suppressor, which kept the sensors from getting overheated, was completely shattered.

Jexx cursed. “We won’t be able to pick up readings about the world as we travel through Earth’s atmosphere,” he said.

“And with the sensors overheating there could be damage to the landing jets.”

Jexx ran down the endless hallway. If the landing jets were damaged they wouldn’t be able to land. It seemed to take too long, but finally he arrived at the back of the engine room. The sensors had already overheated.

The landing jets were useless.

He ran back toward the front part of the room and inside, the man knelt on the floor, assessing other damage.

“How close are we to Earth?”

“We’re coming out of hyperspace now,” the man replied.

Sure enough, Jexx felt the jolt that meant they had come out of hyperspace.

“Go tell the pilot we can’t land!” As the man ran off, one of the metal pipes started to fall. If it fell, the whole engine would collapse. Jexx ran over and grabbed it, using all the strength he had to hold it up.

The man returned, looking pale faced. “We’re coming in to the planet’s atmosphere now. It appears we’re going to land in some kind of body of water and we don’t have enough speed to reach land,” the man was explaining. When he looked up and noticed Jexx, he tried to help, but Jexx pushed him away.

“Get everyone out of here! Make sure they’re gathered at the hanger bay doors, ready to jump out and swim to the surface!”

“Jexx…”

“I have to stay here to hold this up to keep it from exploding or all the lives here could be lost.”

“You’ll die,” the man said, stating the obvious.

“Just tell my wife I love her. Get out of here!”

When the man left, Jexx grunted under the weight of the metal pipe, but he forced himself to hold its weight.

In those final moments, it was as if time had stopped completely. Jexx could see the parts of the engines around him, some even as tall as the buildings back home. He could smell oil and something bitter and he could taste metal in his mouth. The ship rocked and hit something hard. When the walls burst open, his ears felt as if they were splitting open as the water came crashing through. The taste of metal in his mouth turned to water and he could fill it spilling over his ankles.

His legs.

Waist.

Chest.

Mouth.

The taste consumed him and his lungs fought for hair, but he held on. He couldn’t let the pipe fall and cause the engine to explode; he had to give the others time to get out.

He could only hope he gave them enough time.

He thought of his home, of his wife and their unborn child before water consumed him and he finally gave in, finally opened his mouth and let the water swim down his throat, blocking his airway.

His last thoughts were of his wife and child, and the chance they had to live.

September 21, 2019 02:08

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