The Prankster

Submitted into Contest #97 in response to: Start your story with an unexpected knock on a window.... view prompt

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Fiction Mystery Science Fiction

'Pappa, how many generations lived on Enceladus?'

'We are the fourth one, Tim,' said nine-year-old Tim's dad, who was also the captain of the spaceship en route to the Enceladus. People moved over Mars as the people moved over the red planet.

'So, why are we chosen to live there. Pappa?' asked Tim.

'Do you know our stay in Antarctica? We completed the five year stay over there. It was just like the environment on Enceladus.'

'What was the term for it? I think stimulation.'

'That's my boy. Intelligent and ready to inhabit the planet.' said Oliver, Tim's father.

'One last question to test your memory. How did we make the Enceladus habitable? Quick Tip: Ice melts due to Sun.'

'We placed humungous reflective satellites in the orbit of Enceladus in such a way that Sunlight directly reached the surface. The sunrays did their job to melt the ice. We waited for ten years for water to make the land habitable.' said Tim recalling every bit of information. Tim grasped all this information from Oliver's classes on deck of the spaceship.

'Did the life appeared on its own?' doubted Oliver.

'No, we helped facilitate the process. And after constant manual intrusions, some 20% of land became habitable. The air became breathable after 54 years due to lush greenery on the land. The genetically altered amoebas were released in the large water pools to generate oxygen to make the atmosphere around the Enceladus habitable.'

'And did we achieve that?'

'No, Pappa. The genetic modification failed after two years, but we were able to develop an atmospheric dome to help the human sustain on 20% land.'

'And who envisioned and designed that dome, Tim?' asked Tim's mother, Sophia.

'That would be Pappa. Right, mamma?' asked Tim.

'You are never wrong, my boy.' said Sophia and hugged Tim. Oliver also joined to complete the family hug.

'Go and play with other in the garden, Tim.'

'Yes, mamma. Love you both.' 

Tim went to the garden that the space agency specifically created to let everyone remember the feeling of walking on the earth with its rich soil. Children played there so that their hard-wired brain remember the feeling. In Antarctica, the agency used the same concept to let the children know that feeling. 

'I heard that there was again a issue with the power supply.'

'Yes, precisely at 4.00 am, just like yesterday, someone switched off the power supply. We checked the camera again, but there was no one there.'

'Did you checked it properly?'

'Yes, my love. But don't worry. I have placed a guard there. So, today we will catch that prankster,' said Oliver.

The ship was in the third year of its journey to Enceladus. There was still a year to go until they use the gravitational assist of Jupiter to enter the orbit of Saturn and then land on one of Saturn's moons: Enceladus. The journey was long and endearing, but the space agency trained these astronauts selected for this mission to endure longer to reach the destination.

'Michael, I am going to sleep. I will be a beep away from you. When you catch that prankster, just ping me. I will be here in a matter of second. We don't want to punish that prankster infront of everyone. So, we will give him a warning and let him or here go, unpunished. We don't want rebelious mind roaming around the spaceship looking for different ways to express the rebellious nature.'

'Okay, cap. I will ping you as soon as I caught hold of that prankster.'

'Lock that prankster in the cargo room. We will sort that issue in that,' said the captain.

It was 3.00 am. Michael was finding it hard to keep his eye open for even a second. He was unable to concentrate on the task ahead. But, somehow, three cups of coffees helped him for 40 minutes. Now it was high time for the prankster to arrive. 

Michael managed to stay awake for three more minutes. He lost the battle with sleep at about 3.51 am. The power was cut off at exactly 4.00 am. Oliver woke up and rushed to the power room. Michael was still sleeping, making up for the lost hours. 

'Wake up, Michael.'

'What...What happened...' Michael took ten seconds to realize where was he and what happened. 

'Now, switch it on. Will you?'

'Yes, Cap.'

'Sleep as much as you want today. Tomorrow, you have to catch him tomorrow.'

'Yes, Cap.'

They all went to sleep. The next day, Oliver accompanied Michael in the quest to catch the prankster.

They were surprised to see that no one entered the power room yet the switch automatically turned off. Both experienced the same event the next day.

Oliver decided to change the lever mechanism of the auto switch. That plan worked, and they slept peacefully for two days.

On the third day, someone knocked on the window of the captain's room.

Oliver woke up to check the sudden noise. Fear ran along with blood through his nerves when he realized that someone was knocking on the glass from the outside, 

'How is it possible?' asked Oliver to the security guy while checking the outer camera.

'Sir, there is no one near the spaceship. Not even the asteroids.' said the security guy.

'Let me check.' Oliver checked the night footage and found no one. 

The same happened the next night. 

Instead of panicking, he listened to the sound on the window.

It was a morse code, warning him about a warm-hole near Jupiter. It will destroy the spaceship, and only a handful of people will survive.

Oliver gathered his courage and asked in morse code,'Who are you?'

'I am you.' came the reply in morse code.

'How is this possible?'

'I am stuck in the fourth dimension. I only can communicate with a limited time at my disposal. The warm-hole threw us at a light-speed, and the spaceship could not bear the speed. It ripped, but some of us got entangled in this fourth dimension. I tried to warn you via power outage, but you could sense the light signal from fourth dimension. Luckily, I was able to access this window from here.'

'So, what shall we do.'

'Take the same route. But avoid the cordinates that I am sending you. Control the gravitational sling around the Jupiter. Use 50% engine, and you will easily avoid that warm-hole.'

Oliver could only tap Thanks as Sophia woke up due to continuous knocking for about an hour.

'What happend?'

'We caught the Prankster.'

June 09, 2021 06:02

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