Thursday, December 16, 2021

Microstory 1779: Telescope

I forgot my telescope on the bridge. It’s this hopelessly useless little thing that can’t see the sun on a clear day, but I still wanted the Captain to autograph it for me, and I’m so proud of myself for having been brave enough to ask. She signed it with a smile, and didn’t even blink out how difficult it was to write on a cylinder. It was an honor just to be there, but the fact that she spoke to me personally was more than I could ask for. I can die happy now. I was so relieved that it all worked out, and excited to be up where the action was, that I left the telescope on top of an auxiliary console. By the time I realized my mistake, something had gone terribly wrong in the ship. I don’t have access through the doors myself, but an engineer was running out just at the right time, so I slipped back in and hoped not to bother anyone. I just wanted to grab it, and get out of everyone’s way. Things escalated quickly. We had apparently come out of plex too close to the planet, and were unable to compensate. The ship was being torn apart by the tidal forces, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Our vessels are at their weakest when they collimate back to realspace. The strain from faster-than-light travel is not enough to vaporize us, or anything, but couple it with the sudden gravitational pull of a celestial object, and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. I’ve always hoped to be a pilot one day, so I’ve been studying all of this stuff. I really shouldn’t be here right now, though. I try to leave, but the doors are blocked by the hustle and bustle. I think it’s best if I just try to stay out of the way. I grab my telescope, and stick myself in the corner, where nobody notices me. It’s not long before they all begin to evacuate. They’re heading for the escape pods, as are the rest of the passengers like me. Meanwhile, I’m frozen.

I can feel the ship cracking from the gravity, and I know that I have to get out of here too. Hopefully I can squeeze in one of the pods before they all leave. I don’t make it. This ship’s bridge was designed as an actual bridge, which overlooks the crew observation deck below. As I’m running along the railing, an explosion from the side pushes me over the edge, and I begin to fall towards the floor below. I watch it crumble, and escape into the vacuum of space before anything hits me. I’m sent into the black as well, where I expect to die quickly...except I don’t. I’m still alive, for some reason. I’m not breathing, but my blood isn’t boiling either. I’m just there, conscious and watching the debris flying chaotically around me. I don’t hang around for long before I fall towards the atmosphere of the planet. I was supposed to live here for the next year while I finished school. Now I’ll die here. It doesn’t happen yet, though, as I continue to fall. I can see the fire around me, but I don’t burn up. This doesn’t make any sense. This is not what’s meant to happen when an object falls from space. I’m not built to survive. What the hell is going on? I feel like I’m suspended in place while the ground flies upwards to greet me. As it becomes larger, I see more detail. The indistinct terrain, the road that cuts through it, the vehicles, the people walking to the beach, their eyes. As fast as I was moving, and as quickly as I stop, I don’t even die on impact. I land, awkwardly but safely, as if I simply hopped out of bed a little too hard. I still don’t understand this. Then I look up and see a flat piece of debris falling down right over my head. It’s too large for me to get out of the way. And then I crash onto the floor of the observation deck, and die as the rest of the ship is ripped apart around my body, telescope still in hand.

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