Struggling With Punctuality

Written in response to: Set your story at the boundary between two realms.... view prompt


Science Fiction

1635 words

Rated PG; violence, threats

Prompt: Set your story at boundary between two realms

Author's note: Yes, I've been busy, but I've returned at last before probably not posting for a month again

The creature screams. Their eyes are lit with rage. They seek out the only other living organism on this deserted moon. I pull my cloak more tightly around my body and adjust the settings on my helmet. I’m going to need more oxygen due to being out of breath. I draw my sword of Felixum. I pat my pocket, where the package rests in a waterproof bag. The creature opens its mouth and a tentacle shoots out to try and bring me into the depths of the creature’s body. I take a deep breath. Let’s do this.

I impale the edge of the tentacle with my sword, bringing on a fountain of yellow, mucus-like blood. The creature screams and lashes it back and forth. The sword is attached to the tentacle, and I to it, so I go flying with the deformed tongue gritting my teeth and trying not to let go as I’m whipped back and forth like a piece of plastic in the wind. 

The sounds of agony the creature is making make it past my helmet, assaulting my ears and killing my brain cells. I bite my lip so I don’t scream too. After a minute of this, I’ve had enough. The blood is getting all over my cloak, and splattering the window of my helmet. What a crybaby. I wait until the tongue is close to the ground and rip the sword out, being sure to rip as much of the tentacle’s flesh as possible. I fall to the ground. I toss the sword to the side as the crater floor bruises my back--wouldn’t want to accidentally stab myself.

I sit up, my hand automatically going for the package. I smile, relieved that it’s still there, undamaged. The creature is still thrashing about, not having noticed that I let go yet. Only that there’s more pain. Enough to engulf your whole world, and let everything else slide. If I don’t get the package there. . .

I shake my head. Go while they’re distracted

While the creature cries in horror and agony, I run off to my ship, which they were blocking my path to. It waits impatiently and would tap its foot if it had one.

“Sorry,” I mumble, imagining the ship rolling its eyes and sighing.

If it had a mouth or brain, it might ask what took me so long. I dropped the package, and it awakened a giant slime creature. I was trying to get back to you, but they were angry with me. Uh, sorry, I guess.

But it can’t talk and isn’t alive, so it stays silent while I climb into the open hatch and scramble with the controls. I throw the key on the sensor. The screens light up. The ship finally makes a sound, beeping and complaining about low fuel. I take off, finally leaving the creature behind.

Once I’m far enough away from the remote moon, I switch to autopilot and check the GPS. It shows the route ahead in a red line, and how far I’ve travelled in blue. I am a blinking green square, slowly moving forward. I check the words along the bottom of the screen.

41,325 km per hour / will reach destination in 19 minutes / low fuel warning

navigation courtesy of Jules Galactic Positioning Systems

I won’t be late after all; I need to be there in 33 minutes. If not, the consequences are sure to get me banned from the family. 

A laser whizzes past my windshield, barely missing the front of my ship. I groan. Of course. I flick on the minor attacks shield, glad once again that I splurged for it. In this family, you always need it. I also turn on the connector, which scans for ships in my area. One of my contacts pops up as being nearby. Of course. My cousin, Maddox. 

I call him. His mischievous face appears on the screen immediately. 

“Hello, cousin.” He grins. “Your cloak has blood on it.”

The creature’s dried mucus stuff doesn’t exactly add to my elegance.

“Maddox, you can’t still be hung up that they chose me. It’s been months.”

Another laser. Hitting the shield pushes a tremor through the ship.

“Oh, screw you,” I whine. “I’m going to be late.”

“I’ll stop right now if you give me the job. Oh, and whatever it is you brought.” He looks to my pocket, where a bulge is noticeable.

“First off, it’s not my decision to make. Shaelie and Harroy picked me. Second off, you are not getting this, I paid with my own money for it, instead of borrowing a couple of bills from my sister.” 

He looks displeased for the first time in the interaction. 

“I’ll knock your ship out of the sky, and then I’ll have the job.”

“Gramps would ban you from the family,” I respond.

There are a few other issues with that, but not having Gramps’ approval is the only thing that really bothers Maddox. He bites his lip, knowing his last attempt to secure the position has failed.

“Okay, bye, see you there!” I hang up as quickly as I can.

I speed past him in case he still wants to kill me for a job. 

It takes about ten minutes of going too fast for a blinking message to pop up on my screen.

This Is a Low Fuel Warning. At Your Current speed, You Will Need to Replenish Your Fuel In Two Minutes. To Reach Your Destination Without Death, Please Adjust Your Speed.

I turn down the speed. I’ll be there in five minutes, which should be fine, as long as there’s a replenisher on the premises. If not, I’ll ride with Shaelie and Harroy.

I’m joking, obviously. 

Then, there it is. In the distance, a big rock, which looks like a moon, except it’s not orbiting around a planet. It’s being held up by a forcefield. I’m not sure how it’s maintained. I’m not an architect, engineer, or spacey person.

I slowly approach the gate, where a guard is sitting in a booth. I remove the package from my filthy cloak and throw the garment behind me, into the trunk. This reveals a spaghetti strap silver dress. It stops just below my knees because I figured I would need to be running to get here. Taking off my hood also brings my chin-length hair into view. The front hair is held back by a tin hair clip I found on a bargain planet. 

The guard smiles as I come up to the booth. They turn on their radio, which connects to my ship. 

“Hi, there. How can I help you?”

“I’m here for Shaelie and-”

“You are now within an air pocket. Fuel low, ejection beginning. “

The guard’s mouth opens to say something. I don’t hear it, I’m blasted onto the small rock.

I grip the package as--for the second time today--I’m tossed onto the ground. The organisms smoking at the edge of the planet gasp, scream and jump back.

I try to stand up. My legs--tired from fighting and stiff from driving-- wobble. I look out and see my ship start wailing. It uses the last of its strength to magnet itself to the guard booth. The guard purses their lips in annoyance. They then say something into their wristwatch. I’m too far away to hear, but it can’t be anything good.

One of the smokers pokes the ribbon-wrapped package with their wing. I grab it by the bow and pull it close to me.

“Don’t touch my stuff,” I growl.

The smokers step back as I begin running into the city, trying to wipe the dust off my dress. I run through the city streets, past cars and lampposts, and conveyor belts until I reach a help bot. The square metal box is atop a bar sunk into the edge of the sidewalk. I stop in front of it, making it there before a tourist family, who are probably looking for the arch wings in the centre of town.

I frantically press the screen, checking the time on my watch. I only have five minutes now. It gives me directions to the building. I press my watch against the sensor; the data is saved to it. 

Turn right up ahead. You’re almost late for an appointment in four minutes.”

I run past the family down the sidewalk until I make it to a conveyor belt, transporting citizens faster than they can walk. I hop on. The magnets glue my heels to the floor as I zip down the street along with a dozen others. My watch disconnects the magnets when I reach a cul-de-sac, and I hurry off.

And then I’m there, package in hand, pin in hair, sash around waist, and smile across my face. I take a deep breath and open the doors.

Shaelie and Harroy, Their Love Will Live on Forever is written on a banner in the front hall. Everyone chatting in formal clothing around tables with glasses of Glistener in their hands looks at me.

“A. . .am I on time?” I pant. 

I toss the package down the present shute. A voice chimes that I got them a change counter, and crosses it off the register somewhere in its CPU.

“Five minutes early, in fact.” 

 Shaelie comes up to me, in her dress, looking stunning. She hugs me, getting some dusting gel on my shoulder.

“Thanks again for officiating, Maddox was just too-”

“Absolutely crazy?”

Shaelie chuckles.

“You could put it like that.”

A bell rings, signalling for the guests to take their seats in the matrimony room. They all rush out, dabbing at food and wine stains on their lips with paper napkins. 

“We should probably get going.” Shaelie comments.

“Alright,” I grin. “Let’s go get you married.”

October 29, 2021 16:15

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