We're Going to Get Out of This Alive

Submitted into Contest #137 in response to: Write about a character who gets called an Einstein ironically.... view prompt


Science Fiction

“You know, I’ve always wanted to die in a literal dump with some random people I just met. Lucky me,” Lovett drawls from where he’s sprawled over a tire twice his size. He’s lazily tossing an empty plastic bottle in his hands and looking up past the endless mounds of trash to the darkening sky above.

“I mean, what’re the odds? I’d play the lottery if I wasn’t going to get brutally devoured by a giant, mutant cockroach-rat-thing in a few hours.”

“Could you please stop complaining and maybe get back up?" Theia says exasperated, brows pinched. "We have to keep searching if we’re going to find the others.”

She looks to me, silently gauging my reaction to Lovett's griping before she speaks, concerned. "Are you alright, Derek? You've hardly said a word since we left the crash."

"Yeah, um. I'm alright." I say. I try to swallow around the dryness in my throat and give her an encouraging smile, but it ends up as an awkward show of teeth.

It's only been a couple hours since we ended up here in spectacularly awful and life-threatening fashion. Just like everyone else I'm still in a state of shock, but it's hard not to let his dour words get to me; his obvious fear. And not just his, all of their fear. After all, all of this is my fault.

“We’ve already rested enough." Theia continues. "We don’t have that much time left before nightfall.”

"Why are you asking him if he's alright? It's his fault we're in this mess." Lovett grouses. "Not like you guys are helping with all your yelling. The others are probably doing the smart thing and hiding right now. With all the commotion we're making, the Mashers will be on us for the free buffet before the sun even goes down.”

“I could just kill you myself and save them the trouble,” James suggests icily. He comes to a stop in front of us and glares down at Lovett. It was James' choice to case the vicinity while we settled in the small clearing to catch our breaths, and from the look on his face--exhausted and fringing on anger--I knew it didn't turn up anything. Between his words and his thunderous expression, the other teen shut up quickly.

“Get up, shut up, and keep looking.” he finishes.

James then turns that hard gaze on me and I try not to flinch. In my peripheral, Lovett is already standing ungracefully to his feet, grumbling and cursing as he does so.

I haven't known James for long, but I knew his type: standard Alpha male quick to aggression and slow to just about every higher brain function. Standing there in the middle of what is possibly a million tons of trash, he still looks intimidating; even with the popsicle stick clinging to his hair. I know better than to point it out because I’m not entirely sure he won’t try to kill me.

“I’m going to fucking kill you.” he threatens.

There it is.

Theia, bless her, immediately steps in and puts her hand on his arm to stop him from storming over to clock me like he’s sworn to do countless times already.

“James, leave it. We’ll find them. He got us out of there, so we should be grateful.”

Grateful?” Lovett interrupts, sounding a bit hysterical. He laughs, his green eyes comically wide. “We’re all going to die! No, actually, we’re all going to die horribly. And why is that, you might ask? Because we’re going to be eaten alive. Why the hell should I be grateful!”

“How could you say that when he got us all off of that ship!” Theia snaps back. Her own eyes are sharp like knives and they dig into Lovett with barely restrained irritation. “Or did you forget where they were going to send us?”

“Better slavery on an alien planet then monster-food. They need you alive to be a slave and I want to be alive this time tomorrow, thanks!”

Lovett then points an accusing finger at me. “You said you’d break us out and get us off that cargo ship to a safe colony and you managed maybe half of that. Actually, twenty-five percent because we crash-landed; I’m docking points. And now we’re stuck here on Earth’s surface. You’ve killed all of us with that insanely stupid plan of yours. Congratulations.”

“Not all of us.” James reminds him. “We’re still going to find the others, alive. And then we’ll hide somewhere and figure it out from there. We can find shelter then.”

“It’s Earth, there’s no shelter anywhere that’ll keep us safe,” Lovett says. He sounds annoyed; as if he’s explaining something very simple that doesn’t need explaining at all. “It’s pointless. We’re all going to die and that includes your little girlfriend. There’s no need to keep pushing us around to find her.”

James turns on him again, looking murderous. “What did you just--”

“He’s right,” I say, suddenly.

All three pairs of eyes turn to me at that.

“What?” Lovett says.

“Nowhere is safe, we know that. Finding shelter isn’t really going to help us. We’ll be killed in no time.”

“So, what? You’re not suggesting we’re all just doomed, right?” Theia asks.

I shake my head. “No, I’m not." I sigh. Something has been eating away at me and I finally gather the courage to push it past my lips. "Look, you guys, I’m...I'm sorry."

Not even Lovett cuts in with a sly remark so I push through, feelings of guilt coiling in the pit of my stomach like snakes.

"I made a promise to all of you and nearly got us all killed. I missed something, something stupid that I shouldn't have, and now we're here and we don't know where the others are. If I hadn't, we’d be on that transport unit on our way to a safe colony right now. Right now. Instead, we're here, on Earth, defenseless, and night's coming.”

I rake filthy fingers through my equally gross hair, feeling the grime and stickiness there and wishing, yet again, that I hadn't been in such a rush to prove James and Lovett wrong. Desperation quickly turned to rash thinking and poor judgement. Onboard that cargo ship, I was so positive that I had gathered all the necessary information on the guards; it had only been less than a week, but I had already memorized their schedules and felt the confidence that came from years of being the smartest guy in the room. Even something like escape from a storage cell should have been a breeze for Derek Hobbes.

And it was a breeze, getting us out hadn't been overly difficult at all; except one simple miscalculation saw to everything falling apart. A pair of guards on a floor they shouldn’t have been and then we were spotted. An error as silly as mixing up the days. We were lucky to escape security: overriding an exit leading to a trash transport unit was the first thing I thought to do, but that just led us to our predicament now; separated and completely vulnerable in a landfill on Earth's violent surface that would be crawling with Mashers as soon as the sky was dark.

I had already spent enough time guilt-tripping myself. We were really going to die if we didn't do something fast.

The beginnings of an idea had already been edging at my subconscious, but I had been so worried I didn't pay them any attention. Now, I let myself think about our options. It wasn't up to me to save us, but if I could help in any way and rectify my screw up, well.

I had to try.

"I have another plan." I say.

"Oh, wow, really?" Lovett rolls his eyes and crosses his arms to his chest. "I think I've had enough of your plans to last me until I get digested by a giant bug. Which I will be pretty soon, so yeah."

"I have to agree." James says firmly. "We're standing around here talking when we should be looking. We're on time here."

"We have no idea where they are," I argue. "We're not going to find them ambling along like we have been. There's too much ground to cover."

"And we might not be where we wanted to be, but we're not on that ship. We're not dead yet." Theia adds. She smiles at me, and she's bright, even underneath the layers of dirt.

It pains James, it's obvious from the twist of his frown, but he doesn't immediately shut me down again. I know he wants to find the other prisoners more than anyone. He looks like he's warring with himself but it doesn't last long.

"Okay, fine," he says finally. "Spit it out, Einstein. What do you suggest we do?"

Despite everything, I feel a little tendril of hope.

"Alright you guys, so this is what we have to do," I begin.

It's crazy plan, but I know one thing for certain.

We're going to get out of this alive.

March 19, 2022 03:59

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Shawn Rees
03:10 Mar 23, 2022

Cool story, makes you really want part 2. I can't wait to see more of your works.


S.M. Brown
03:15 Mar 23, 2022

Haha, if only :P Thank you for the comment and for the nice encouragement 😊


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Sharon Hancock
01:00 Mar 22, 2022

Awesome story! Welcome to Reedsy! I’m pretty new here myself, but it’s been a ton of fun. I really liked the ending and the dynamics between characters. Thanks for sharing!😻


S.M. Brown
03:14 Mar 23, 2022

Thank you for your comment 😆 Welcome right back! I was reading yours before I got distracted, I totally was digging it and relating it. I think it was an excellently unique story ♥️


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Jonathan Tam
20:28 Mar 24, 2022

I felt a han-leia vibe in the dialogue between your characters. It helped warm the story up for me. Made it more enjoyable. But also left me craving much more of the universe you have for your characters. Excited to see more of your writing,


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