Hello World – Flash Fiction - Words by Edward Gough Back

Hello World – Flash Fiction

The Prompt

A spaceship transporting thousands to a colony has to abandon ship in rescue pods.

The Story

The Erebus Twelve cruised through the star system at a casual pace. Casual enough for a starship carrying over one thousand two hundred and forty-two humans in stasis waiting for their new home. The magnificent levels of engineering that had been achieved to create this vessel and mission were beyond what they had first thought possible.

Yet here they were, cruising through a star system many, many lightyears away from their homeworld. 

You’d think a large and experienced crew would command this incredible hunk of metal powering through space. You are forgiven for thinking that a crew run like a military operation would be in place on such a space-faring vehicle. 

Meet Adam. The sole commander on the Erebus Twelve Spacefarer. In his home world, he was just a lowly janitor for a small government parish building. Now look at him. That is what the Spacefarer mission was all about. Offering people the chance to do something special in their lives was most definitely, for Adam at least, a do-or-die scenario.

When the letter congratulating him on his acceptance into the program arrived, he ran to his parent’s house and said his goodbyes. There was no time to waste- this was the future we were talking about, after all. Adam was likely unaware that the trip was essentially a one-way ticket. To him, this was the adventure of a lifetime; one day, he would be back to share it with his family and friends, and he couldn’t wait. 

Now, like most days—if you could really call them that. Adam liked it too, but really, it was just Erebus Twelve’s artificial day and night cycle—Adam sat at the wide console view window screen, looking into the vastness of space in front of him and all around him, even if he could not see if from this position. Morning coffee in his hand, feet resting on the console labelled “TWEL1241 CON.”

“Marvelous,” he said to himself. “I couldn’t wish for a better view than I get every morning.” Adam sipped and slurped at his hot coffee. “Ah, now this is what I signed up for. I can’t wait to tell Eric about this; he will freak.”

This is when the moment that Adam’s command had been waiting for, the pinnacle of his straightforward and quick decision-making, was required. Console 1241 began to repeat a long, strained beeping noise as if he had forgotten to turn his sleep alarm off. Instinctively, he smacked at all the buttons on the console. The bigger buttons are taking priority—obviously. 

“What the—” He smacked again at the largest of all the buttons; it was red if that makes any difference to you, because it sure does for Adam. 

The enormous Spacefarer, Erebus Tweleve’s thruster engines sputtered and almost coughed out weak fumes before stalling out and killing the power in sections around the vessel, some of which held the cryobeds of some of the smartest the Erebus had to offer. 

“Erm…right….” Adam pondered the situation. What should he do in this situation? They hadn’t mentioned anything about a coughing thruster or whatever that sound was. 

He did the only thing he knew what to do….

…he’d check the Spacefarer Command Pamphlet. 

“Let’s see,” he flicked through the pages, every so often licking his thumb. He didn’t really know why he did that; he had just seen his Uncle doing it one day while reading his book and started copying him. It just seemed to have stuck ever since.

“Ah, here we go. In case of emergency precede with the evacuation procedure stated in section 17b in the ESF Manual 4499,” he read. “Right, so I just have to start the evacuation procedure.

“That’s easy. I just have to press this button right here.” He pushed a lighted, flashing button on the overhead console he had never used. Not because he didn’t want to; he absolutely did. You could do some serious stuff on this console. 

Within seconds of the button being pressed, sirens all over the ship began to blare. “WARNING, WARNING. EVACUATION PROCEDURE HAS BEGUN.” It warned. “T MINUS TEN MINUTES UNTIL COMPLETED EVACUATION.”

Adam’s console screen lit up, alerting him to the evacuation he had started. “Head to the nearest evacpod immediately, ” it stated, and Adam followed the orders. 

The Evacpod was just around the corner outside the main room he had been in with all the many consoles. With a press of a fingerprinted sensor, the door of the Evacpod opened and let him inside. As Adam was strapped inside the pod, the doors automatically closed, and all lights in the shuttle dimmed. 

“Evac in 5…4…3…2…” The pod burst out of the evacuation pod shoot, which was more like a drainpipe and began its journey through the endlessness of the dark space. 

“Eric is going to pee himself when he hears about this.” Adam thought.

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