What a Neefv Gotta Do to Eat This Crew?

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write a story where the power goes out on a spaceship or submarine.... view prompt

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Funny Science Fiction Adventure

“Hey Frank, you’ve got something in your teeth,” Celeste pointed at his reflection as she stared into the mirror, obsessing over her already perfect blonde hair.

“Oh, okay.”

“It’s not okay.” She handed her crewmate a container of floss. “Fix it. We can’t travel across the galaxy looking hideous, can we?” Celeste puffed up her curls.

“Who are you trying to impress? There’s only like four people total on this spaceship.”

“Exactly.”

Tired of fighting with a girl who could argue her way to a week of free meals by asking to see the manager, Frank took the floss and leaned over the sink’s counter to fish the weird black chunks out of his teeth.

“Ew. What is that?”

“Oh, you know. Just... lunch.”

As he finished flossing, Celeste said, “Now that your teeth are taken care of, we can work on your hair next—”

The power flashed out before she could continue. “Oh thank the galaxy,” Frank said.

Red emergency lights lit up around them, revealing Celeste’s disapproving snarl. “Our ship loses power in the middle of nowhere and you take that as a good thing?”

Before he could answer, the captain’s voice came booming from down the hallway, “What happened here?!”

With wide eyes, the two crewmaters darted over to her and her first mate. They saluted and lined up next to each other. “Madame!”

“Did you plug in too many curling irons at the same time again, Celeste?”

“No, Madame Captain,” Celeste said, “Unfortunately, we don’t know what happened to cause the black out this time.”

The captain cursed. “We need to get the ship up and running as soon as possible. The emergency power is not going to last forever and once they go down, the air purifiers do.” She glared at them. “Then we do.”

The first mate, Max, gulped at the thought of suffocation.

“Some of the doors have already auto-locked during the power outage. So we might as well go down there together,” he suggested.

The captain shrugged, and agreed.

***

Frank entered the engine room first, squinted underneath his sunglasses at the star engine—a small star used to power most spaceships. What else were they supposed to use? A gas engine? Ridiculous. Those things have terrible galaxy per gallon.

“The star engine is still working. That means the issue has to be with the energy converter.”

“Yup.” Celeste crouched down besides a large tank with a dim glass window taking up its front side. When the energy converter worked correctly, the window glowed with power.

Celeste pulled out some frayed black wires beside the tank. “Something chewed right there on the connection wires. Like a Rock Rat.”

Everyone groaned. Rock Rats were the absolute worst. More irritating that Celeste on a bad hair day. And all they did was multiple and steal leftovers labelled ‘Do Not Touch’ even thought it was scientifically proven they could read—they just like being assholes. That was also scientifically proven.

“They better not get my apple pie. It was a gift from Nana,” Max muttered.

“Oh don’t worry, they won’t,” Celeste said confidently because she had eaten it this morning since she’s also an asshole (not scientifically proven, but everyone knew it).

“Enough with the casual conversation,” Madame Captain said. “We need to get the power back on. Frank and Max, you two go find a new connection wire. Celeste and I will hunt the Rock Rat.”

“We will? Why me?” Celeste whined.

“Because your voice perfectly matches the shrill tones of a Rock Rat’s mating call. A true gift.”

Celeste flared red as Frank and Max snickered. The captain stared blankly at them, wondering what was so funny. It was a compliment?

“Whatever.” Celeste flipped her hair. “Let’s just go kill that dumb rat.

***

As Frank and Max walked towards the supply closet across the ship, Frank was about to lose his damn mind.

“Awe, no, I luv you more, my Celestie-Bear,” Max cooed as he Facetimed Celeste.

“Honey Cakes~” Celeste said. “It’s just so scary without you here.”

“You were fine when the power went out and he wasn’t there. You were fine five minutes ago and he wasn’t there.” Frank called out because covering his ears with his hands wasn’t enough to drone out their couple-talk.

They both glared at Frank, then went back to their talk and ignored him. “It’s just so dark.”

“It’s a powerage!”

They glared again.

Frank rolled his eyes. “For the love of Mars, would you stop it with the Facetiming?”

“You’re just jealous,” Celesta taunted.

“The only thing I’m jealous of is me five minutes ago before I had to deal with this. Turn off the phone.” This time, it came off as more of a growl.

“Frank, stop—ugh, Max, sweetheart, will you hold the phone up so I can see Frank and yell at him?”

“Sure babe.”

His eyes widened as Max tried to get him on camera. Instead, Frank bobbed and weaved out of the way. “Don’t you dare involve me in any of this. Turn off the camera.” He called out from the shadows he hid in, out of the couple’s sight.

“Why are you being so difficult Frank? It’s like you’ve gotten more irritated the longer the power’s been out.”

“You’re the one who’s being difficult. I’m the one trying not to die—”

Max held his hand up to silence Frank. “Did you hear that? Frank?”

“Oh my galaxy, what is that?!” Frank cried out, hidden in the shadows, followed by the sound of footsteps sprinting on metal. Multiple footsteps. As in more than two.

“Oh Orion’s Belt,” Max cursed. His eyes darted between the shadows. He held up Celeste’s face as some kind of extra flashlight. 

“Hey, don’t use my face as a shield. It’s too precious.”

The ship’s metal groaned around them. Harsh red emergency lights strained Max’s eyes. He crouched low to the ground, in a defensive position. “Frank?” He called out, voice quivering. “Galaxies Frank, where are—”

His voice cut out as his phone clattered to the ground, cracking the screen. Celeste’s voice fuzzed in and out as she called out for her boyfriend, before eventually, the screen turned dark.

***

Celeste’s hands shook violently as she stared at the static on her screen. Her breathing slowed. “I don’t think our problem is Rock Rats. Something attacked Frank and Max, Madame Captain.” She turned to find herself alone. “Madame Captain?”

“What? Oh sorry.” She walked out from a connecting room. “Frank was correct. You and Max do get annoying with your public displays of affection. What happened?”

“Something happened to Max.” Celeste held up her phone. “I think something attacked him and I don’t know where Frank is.”

Madame Captain frowned and lowered the soup pot and lid she was using to catch the Rock Rat “We need to go check for survivors.”

“Or… we take the only escape pod now and get the frick out of here while we can.”

“We do not leave people behind, Celeste. Is one of them not your lover? I thought you cared for his life?”

New, unearned energy flooded through Celeste. “You’re right. Hold my hoops.” She handed Madame Captain her earrings. “I’m coming for you baby.”

Celeste took off running down the red hallway.

“Wait, it is a bad idea to split up. The creature could pick us off one at a time and she is gone.” Captain Madame sighed. “This is the last time I put offers for a crew on Craigslist.”

***

“Frank?” Madame Captain said as she walked up to him. Scraps and cuts covered his body and his clothes were in tatters. “What happened?”

“I—it was…” Through labored breathing, he continued, “There was this thing. It attacked Max. He’s dead.”

“Oh, death is not healthy.”

“I got the connection wire, though. Once the power is back on, we can use the ship’s internal scanners to find the creature.”

“Internal scanners are not going to help us find a Neefv. They can not be picked up on by any kind of inanimate camera or scanner.”

Frank shifted nervously from foot to foot. “A Neefv?” He laughed awkwardly. “Those are just a stupid legend.”

Celeste popped out from the shadows in a new cute outfit. “What’s a Neefv?”

Startled, Frank shrieked and jumped into Madame Captain’s arms. She dropped him on the cold steel floor, unremorseful. He rubbed his rump. “Ow.”

“Get over it. Celeste, why are you wearing a new outfit?”

She smiled and flattened out the nonexistent creases since the outfit was brand new. “You like it? I went back and changed outfits—also took some ‘happy’ pills because I was starting to fear for my life or whatever; don’t know when those are gonna kick in haha. I decided if I was gonna die, it was not going to be while wearing my work overalls. Even got a matching purse.” She showed it off. “I wanna be a cute ghost.”

“This is not time for cute ghosts. We are dealing with a Neefv.”

“Seriously, what’s a Neefv?” Celeste whined.

“There is an old legend about a creature that can shapeshift called a Neefv. They are known for their cunning smarts, inability to be captured by inanimate sensors or cameras, and infamous taste for human flesh,” Madame Captain answered.

“Ha, that’s so crazy because I’m made of human fles—oh.”

“You understand the trouble we are in now, no?”

“So what do we do?”

“We will have to evacuate the ship before it can find its way to the escape pod or kill us. Fortunately we are all together so as long as we stay as a group, it probably will not attack us.”

Probably?” Frank repeated, concern raising in his voice.

“Yes, that is what I said. Did I not enunciate properly?”

“Okay, but first we need to get some ice,” Celeste said.

“For what?”

She pulled a bloody arm out of her bag. “For Max’s arm. I wanna preserve his arm so it doesn’t rot before I can give him a proper send off. Now just doesn’t feel like the right time, you know?”

Frank leapt back. “Oh my galaxies, you’ve been carrying around that arm this entire time?”

Celeste shrugged. “I’ve also been carrying around the burden of having to be hottest on the ship. This is nothing.”

Frank eyed Madame Captain’s terrible fake tan that looked even worse under the red light. She’s turned from an orange to a tomato. “Trust me, it’s not much of a competition.”

She laughed. “I know. I mean I can’t believe you willingly put on that outfit today, Frank. Yikes.”

“What… what’s wrong with my outfit?”

“If you don’t already know, nothing can save you.”

Madame Captain stepped in between the two. “That is enough. We need to get to the…” She trailed off as her face paled—er, went back to orange. “Celeste, are you sure that is Max’s arm?”

“Yeah, whose else could it be?”

She took the arm from Celeste and held it up to her own skin. The tones nearly matched. Everyone got the same pit in their stomach.

“Oh my galaxies,” Celeste whispered. “Madame Captain’s third arm was cut off by the Neefv.”

“No,” Madame Captain said. “We all have about the same skin tone.” She was right. From Celeste's natural tan skin color, to Frank’s acquired tan from working next to the star engine all day, to the captain being the captain of terrible spray tans. They were all tomatoes. “Max is the only one of us who was pale so his arm color would not match me. Thus, the Neefv has killed one of us—”She gestured to the trio. “In addition to Max and is posing as them now.”

A new silence covered them.

“Well, it couldn’t be me. I was Facetiming Max when he was attacked,” Celeste said.

“But we’ve all been alone since then,” Frank said. “It could be any of us.”

“Then… there’s only one way to figure this out: truth or dare.”

“What? How did you get to that?”

“Well, we can get the Neefv to confess with truth, then dare them to jump off the ship without a spacesuit. Easy.”

“I—I do not think that will work, Celeste,” Madame Captain said.

“What about twenty questions?” Frank suggested.

“Not you too with the party games…”

“No, I’m serious. We ask questions only the true person will know the answer to.”

The others paused for a second before agreeing. “Alright,” Frank said. “Madame Captain you’re first. You immediately suspected it was a Neefv without any proof. It could have been anything at that point, yet you pointed to a myth. Now that one of us is dead and an imposter we know, but back then you couldn’t. Why?”

“I—I have seen this before. My last crew… after what happened to them word got around and I had to resort to using Craigslist to recruit you three. Though—” Her eyes narrowed. “I see that was now a mistake.”

“Ouch, hurtful,” Celeste said.

“That’s very convenient to bring that up now,” Frank said.

“Or just poor writing.”

“Moving on! Madame Captain, it’s your turn to question someone else.”

“Do you know how twenty questions works?”

“Uh…”

“Alright, fine. Celeste, just happened to ‘find’ the arm?”

“Yup. Alright my turn… I chose Frank.”

“Wait, I was not done.”

“Okay, Frank. You were with Max. How did you survive?”

Frank gestured to his outfit. “Barely as you can see.”

“Okay, I have a new question for Madame Captain.”

“I do not think any of you know how to play twenty questions…” Madame Captain said.

Celeste ignored her. “You avoided my Facetiming with Max. Almost like you were avoiding the camera…”

“Frank avoided it too. And it put in a lot of extra work in doing it.”

“I didn’t want to be about your virtual baby talk, why is that so terrible?” Frank cried.

Agitated, he moved in close to Celeste’s face. “Besides, why are you questioning what happened before we split up? You could have been killed and replaced after you separated from the captain.”

“Ew, Frank. You still have that black stuff in your teeth. Gag me.” She took a set back away from him as Frank quickly covered his mouth. “You know, it doesn’t even look like food. It looks kinda like… plastic. Like from black connection wires coating… Oh Orion’s Belt.”

Frank lunged at Celeste and she screamed. On her toes, Madame Captain threw the soup pot over Frank’s head and yanked Celeste towards the escape pod. “Run girl! Run!”

Hissing, Frank took off the soup pot and morphed into something… into something that wasn’t Frank.

“Sweet Nebula, that’s not natural,” Celeste cried as Madame Captain rushed her down the hallway.

Their footsteps banged on the floor, echoing against the empty ship. Not-Frank followed closely behind. Easily gain speed with new limbs coming out of him every second. The metal hallway groaned and dented under his increasing weight. Madame Captain so lost the deposit on this ship. Hopefully, she won’t lose her life on it too.

“Do not look back. In there!” Madame Captain shoved Celeste into a tight escape pod, before jamming herself in there. She sealed the latch and double bolted it.

“Oh galaxies, that was a close one.” She turned to Celeste. “I can not believe you were the one to figure it out. I did not figure it out last time until it was only the two of us left.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Madame Captain plopped down in the pilot’s seat and started prepping the escape pod for launch. “Do not worry about it.”

September 08, 2020 01:05

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8 comments

Artemisia Pearl
01:02 Sep 17, 2020

I loved the title! It's very eye catching and different! Also I loved the name Celeste! And your story was amazing! Keep up the good work!😁 P.S. Can you check out my new story? It's called "The Lass We Found In London." If you could, that would be great!😄

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Lily Kingston
22:12 Sep 17, 2020

thanks you! I'll check out your story now :)

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Molly Leasure
17:10 Sep 13, 2020

First off, I wanted to say I love the title! Secondly, the ending. It had the perfect ambiguity. It was a great mix of humor, and fear. I was laughing and also wondering if any of them would get out alive. I'm still wondering if any of them got out alive...

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Lily Kingston
17:42 Sep 13, 2020

thanks!

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Gip Roberts
20:29 Sep 08, 2020

I was too intimidated by this prompt to even try, but you make it look easy. And the humor (especially the part where they blamed the power outage on Celeste's curling irons) kept me laughing all the way through.

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Lily Kingston
20:53 Sep 08, 2020

thank you so much!! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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Aweeeeesome story!

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Lily Kingston
14:01 Sep 08, 2020

Thanks :)

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