What A View

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

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Science Fiction

Commander Lance Gilmore and Lieutenant Drew Adams touched down near the Sea of Serenity. Boosters kicked up clouds of lunar dust as they signaled Huston. It had been a very long trip and the astronauts were eager to set foot on Earth’s closest neighbor. 

Commander Gilmore signaled Earth, “Huston, this is Lunar Five. We have touch down.”  

“Copy Lunar Five. That’s great news. You’re clear to have a look around.” Houston signaled back.  

After a decade of budget finagling and technical leaps, man was once again traveling to the moon. The plan was to use a series of new missions to the moon to prepare astronauts for the 

first manned mission to Mars. It was a solid long term strategy put in place as governments finally came together to begin more far-reaching manned exploration.

“It’s still hard to believe we’re really here.” Lieutenant Adams said while he wrapped up the landing routine.

Commander Gilmore was fidgeting in the new generation space suit eager to explore the grey landscape. “It is something. And in a minute, we’ll set foot where only a few have before.

Having finished their last safety checks, the pair were pressurizing the air lock.  

The sun glared down upon the barren landscape as the exterior hatch of Lunar Five cycled open. Commander Gilmore stepped down onto the fine moon dust with Lieutenant Adams right behind.

“How’re you two doing down there?” Lieutenant Melissa Sloan called down from the orbiting shuttle. 

“Everything’s peachy down here. How are things up there? Any traffic?” Commander Gilmore asked with a grin while he looked around.

“Smooth sailing up here. You boys are having all the fun. I feel like the designated driver.” 

“So you’re saying you miss us?” Lieutenant Adams asked playfully.

“Don’t get your hopes up Adams.” They all laughed. Everything was going as predicted. Their experience on these new lunar missions would be used to finalize an international mission to the red planet.  

That’s when the shockwave hit. All at once Gilmore and Adams were slammed to the ground by some force from above. Without missing a beat Commander Gilmore called to Sloan, “Gilmore to Sloan, report!”

Static. Then a muffled voice, “…to Gilmore…unknown impact…boosters to compensate…”

More static. And silence. Getting back to their feet, Adams and Gilmore looked at each other then up to wherever Lieutenant Sloan was.  

“Sloan, come in. Are you all right? Status.”

After too many seconds to count, Sloan replied. “I’m alright sir. Something hit me like a ton of bricks. Took me a while to compensate. I’m glad these suits come with their own diapers.”

Commander Gilmore smiled, “Agreed. Run a diagnostic and see if you can get some info from Houston.” Gilmore paused as Adams started to tap him on the shoulder lightly, then much harder.

“Adams, what is it?” Gilmore could see Adams pointing up.

Before he could look up he heard Sloan screaming over the com, “Noooo!”

“Sloan! What is it? Are you alright?”

Adams forcefully turned his commander around and pointed up. Commander Lance Gilmore looked up to see the Earth shattered into pieces. At first it didn’t register. Sloan’s panicked cries faded away as the realization of what he was seeing started to sink in. He dropped to his knees dumbfounded. Adams still staring up at the nightmarish sight. Sloan continued to scream.  

“God.” was all he could utter.

Then he started to hear a countdown. Adams pulled him to his feet.

Sloan was still screaming, but it was instructions. “Debris inbound! Estimate impact in thirty seconds! You’re best bet is north! I’ll keep you updated as long as I can!”  

“Sloan?” Commander Gilmore started but Adams pulled him into a leaping jog. The best any astronaut could do on the moon.  

“Ten seconds until impact. Commander Gilmore, Lieutenant Adams, it was an honor.” Then she chuckled to herself. “I really wanted to walk on the m…” Her sentence was cut off.

Both Gilmore and Adams knew what that meant and they didn’t stop running. Around them little puffs of dust started to pop up from the surface. The impacts gave no noise, their own panicked breaths was all that filled their ears.

To their left was an explosion of dust as something big hit. Was it the shuttle? A satellite? A chunk of earth? More and more impacts came down all around. Some too close for comfort. They ran hard until one impact landed right behind them throwing them forward and away from one another. Commander Gilmore’s vision went hazy as he nearly lost consciousness.

He raised himself to all fours. The lunar dust that had nearly buried him pouring off his suit like filthy bathwater. Slowly he got to his feet. 

“Adams? You there?” He looked around. “Lieutenant?”

“Sir?” Not far away he could see Adams gingerly rising up from a nearby impact crater. His suit completely grey from dust.

Commander Gilmore made his way over to the lieutenant and helped him back to his feet. They looked each other over and paused.

“Sir…Earth?” The two astronauts looked up to see the shattered pieces of their home drifting slowly apart.  

“What the hell happened?” Commander Gilmore asked to the sky above them. As if in response, from the blackness a ship appeared. Then another. Then many, many more. Each ship was enormous. They were the size of countries - what used to be countries. Multiple ships flew about in practiced unison hauling away pieces of the astronaut’s former planet to who knows where. In no time at all there was nothing left. That’s when things started to get weirder. 

Both men stared up in silent disbelief as more ships showed up. These flew much closer to the moon and were hauling large glistening components. The spaceships danced together connecting this long antenna-like object to this blinking cube. They strung together countless miles of thick cable from one gigantic piece to another, then encasing the inner workings in even more components. On and on it went as the object started to come together. It took on a cylinder shape with a large flat screen down its center. In literally minutes the multitude of ships had assembled what could only be an enormous space station. And then, the enormous screen turned on. The astronauts were greeted with images of aliens. And the aliens were, playing games? And what seemed to be, betting?  

“Is that…” Adams started.

Gilmore finished lieutenant’s thought, “a fucking casino?” 

Bright pops of energy suddenly appeared overhead as ships of all sizes, shapes and alien configurations began to dock with the station. The two men took a few steps back as several other ships broke off from the group and started to approach the moon’s surface.  

“Commander?”

“I see them.” Commander Gilmore tensed as he saw the approaching ships, but also as he viewed his O2 display. It was redlining. There wasn’t much he could do if these ships decided to attack. They couldn’t fight. And they couldn’t run.

As the ships came closer, they spread out and flew over the surface. Actually, it was hard to call them ships. They were very blocky, almost like trailer homes or rv’s. They hissed gasses and blasted their landing jets. One set down just twenty feet away. Parts of it unfurled and 

slammed into the ground just in front of them. The structure continued to shift and assemble itself revealing a strange opening bordered with blinking lights. The entrance was glassy; not an airlock that either men were familiar with. The opening more resembled looking through a thin wall of liquid. Above the place, holographic alien lettering popped up.  

The two of them looked at one another.

“I’m almost out of air sir.” Said Adams.

“Me too.” Commander Gilmore agreed.  

They looked back at the building and moved forward. As they reached the entrance, Gilmore extended his arm and touched it. His hand went right through. He didn’t feel anything and when he pulled his hand back the entrance quivered like a soap bubble.

The two astronauts walked cautiously through the barrier and looked around. A chime could be heard as they emerged inside. The floor was patterned in black and white checkerboard. Booths lined the walls, though some seats were very strange. The place had a very alien, yet familiar feel to it.

From the back of the place wobbled over a somewhat humanoid alien. The best way to describe it would be to ask someone to imagine if a walrus and a chihuahua had a baby. This lumbering creature clad in colorful metallic overalls eyed them with its oversized twitchy pupils. It paused and placed the orange boxes it was carrying on the floor. The creature walked slowly over to them. It placed its meaty fists on its sides and bubbled out something which the two astronauts assumed was its way of asking what the hell they were doing there.  

Commander Gilmore held up his hand in greeting. But before he attempted to speak Adams started to wheeze.

“Commander…” Adams began before he fell to one knee.

“Adams!” Gilmore could also see the warning lights flashing on his heads up display.

Gilmore looked up to the creature not knowing if it would understand anything. Would they die there? The creature seemed to, roll its eyes? It moved back to where it came from. Gilmore held Adam’s hand as he felt himself getting lightheaded as well. Then something grabbed his helmet and yanked it off. Strange smells engulfed his nose and his lungs started to burn. This was definitely not air he could breathe. The creature hit the release on Adams helmet and yanked that off as well. Adams gagged and wheezed. There was something slapped onto the 

back of both of their heads. Hoses zipped around, up their noses and over their mouths. They were soon breathing easily again.  

The creature held out six small metal spheres. It pointed to their ears and their mouths. They took the twitchy metal marbles and gave the creature a puzzled look. It grunted almost irritatedly and pointed to the balls, then to the men’s ears and mouths. They slowly put the tiny metal things against their ears. The spheres grew legs and ran up their ear canals. The sensation was shocking and quickly their ears were ringing sharply causing them pain.  

The creature burbled again, but now they could understand it. “Can you little pink idiots understand me yet?”  

The two humans nodded weakly.  

“Good. Now swallow the other two so I don’t have to put up with your weird squeaking.” It said crossing its flipper arms.

Gilmore and Adams did what the creature demanded and again there was a lot of pain.  

“That hurts!” Adams blurted out.

“Of course it does. Translation bots have to burrow into your flesh to work correctly.” The creature said matter of factly. “Now, what are you two doing here? My place doesn’t open for another day.”

Commander Gilmore couldn’t take any more. “What the hell do you mean?” He bellowed advancing on the much larger being. “You blew up our planet! You killed everyone we know! The two of us are the last human beings in existence.” He was pointing accusingly between this creatures bulbous eyes.

“Easy there little guy. I didn’t kill anybody. If you’re talking about the little blue planet that was broken up. It was purchased by the Orion Gambling Federation giving them rights to set up an operation in this sector.” The creature’s flipper arms were flapping away as it explained.  

“What the hell are you talking about? How could they buy our planet? There were over seven billion people living there!” Gilmore’s finger was now shaking.

“Happens all the time. Listen, you’re from a younger planet with a very young race so I can understand how all of this is shocking. You just lost everyone you knew. Your home is gone. I get that.”  

The two astronauts stood dumbstruck. Earth was bought, destroyed and replaced with a casino. 

“Gone.” Adams whispered.

Gilmore put his hand on the lieutenant’s shoulder. Adams swept it away. 

“We’re nothing to them. To that!” Adams pointed at the large alien in front of them.

“Hey.” said the offended creature.

“Easy now lieutenant.” said Gilmore trying to calm his friend. 

Adams stood still and looked off into the distance. 

“What does it matter?”

Gilmore tried to grab his friend before he ran through the barrier to the cold vacuum outside, but could not. The commander fumbled for his helmet and jammed it on his suit, clicking it into place. He grabbed the other helmet and ran out the barrier. Gilmore reached the 

lieutenant and was about to place the helmet on his friend, but stopped. Adams was kneeling in the grey dust looking skyward with lifeless icy eyes. 

Gilmore slumped to the ground, his helmet’s O2 sensor blaring. Maybe Adams was right. What does it matter. The moon became blurry then black.

Commander Gilmore was awakened by enjoyable singing, and, an electrical shock. 

“Aaah!” he yelped. 

“Quiet down.” said the irritated alien as it poked at him. 

“You’ll be fine so long as you don’t go back out there without your suit refilled. The device I gave you only alters available air into what you need. Doesn’t work in a vacuum.” 

Gilmore sat up, “Good to know.” Then he remembered.

“Adams!”

“Yeah. Your friend didn’t fair so well. Too much damage.”

Commander Gilmore put his head in his hands. 

“Hey, don’t worry buddy. You can get him fixed up after you earn enough.” the large creature smiled. At least Gilmore thought it was a smile.

“Fix him? But he’s dead? He…” Gilmore stopped in mid sentence when he saw his friend’s head floating in front of him. Wires and tubes were connecting Adam’s head to a device that appeared to be a floating speaker. The lieutenant’s head was singing a song Gilmore had never heard before.

The Commander jumped to his feet in both horror and disgust.

“What did you do to him?” Gilmore shouted. 

The bulbous creature put up its hands, “Calm down. Your friend’ll be fine once you earn enough to fix the damage.” The being glanced at the head and shrugged.

“As for separating his head, I thought it would help.”

Gilmore, enraged, shoved the big alien. Its blubbery belly shook. 

“How the hell is that supposed to help?” 

The being looked confused and then said, “Oooh. I see. Yeah, I suppose that seeing your buddy’s head cut off would look odd to you.”

Commander Gilmore was about to blurt out something when the alien cut him off.

“Your friend’s in stasis. His body’s in a pod out back.” 

Gilmore still had a shocked look on his face so the alien continued. 

“Listen pal, to fix up your ‘Adams’ after going out into a vacuum is expensive. Believe it or not, removing his head isn’t a big deal. Orion medicine is way out there. They can fix pretty much anything.”

“But why is his head on that floating…thing?”

“Well,” it began, “While the two of you were out I got to thinking. I said to myself, ‘Hey Yorble’, that’s my name by the way thanks for asking. I said, ‘Hey Yorble.’ You need some help in your new place don’t you? Why not use these two?’”

Gilmore blinked a few times trying to process all this.

Yorble continued, “I figured you could take customer orders and bus the tables. Though your friend’s options were more, well, limited.”

Gilmore looked over at his friend’s floating, and singing, head while Yorble continued.

“I thought, what can I do to bring in customers at my new location?” The alien paused for dramatic effect. 

“Entertainment! Your buddy would make for a great jukebox.”

Commander Gilmore felt his legs get shaky so he sat at a booth.

#

Six months later, Commander Gilmore was bussing a table where a couple of Flamorians had just sat. He would need the hard scrubber to remove the slime. If he didn’t, it would start growing. 

“Order up!” yelled Yorble.

Gilmore walked around a spherical Robotobo and picked up the order of fried tuskart with a side of baked vinatoes. He figured the furry little Boofax at table three ordered it. 

After dropping off the order, Commander Gilmore looked over at the crowd gathered at the front of the cafe. The various aliens cheering as decapitated Adams sang a song that sounded a lot like Blue Suade Shoes. Adams was a hit and Yorble made sure Gilmore received all the tips left for the floating head. The funds were really mounting up. When he first started, Gilmore thought it would take ten years to save up the astronomical sum required to bring Adams back from near-death. But with Adam’s popularity, it may only take two. 

With all the extra funds, Gilmore had been able to treat himself. The orbiting casino turned out to be not that bad after all. It was a great stress reliever. When he first started going, he would spend a night there once a week, tops. Nowadays though 

it’s become two or three a week. The Commander really enjoyed the gambling. 

Feeling the weight of the tip money filling his pocket, Gilmore glanced over at his friend floating amongst the aliens. Adams seemed to look back at him. 

“Maybe we could wait a little longer before we get you fixed up Adams. After all, you’re not going anywhere.” 

September 20, 2019 21:05

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