Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prompt: Surprised by an avalanche

Jake loved the Gontun Pass, all 500 ice-encrusted miles of it. He flew it every chance he got. Didn’t matter how much his Commander yelled. Actually, that might have made him fly it more. Forbidden, yadda yadda yadda wake me up when you’re done. Among the perks of being the best pilot on this godforsaken rock was they couldn’t afford to ground him. And once in the air, they couldn’t control him.

So any trip to the Northeast Quadrant meant a guaranteed detour. Jake always packed extra fuel on the flyer. Today was an easy routine supply run out to the Kamayashi Station, returning with a full payload. Slowed the flyer down, like it had a full belly, but Jake wasn’t worried about it. He flicked off the comm unit right before he veered off his return course, heading for Gontun.

The binary stars meant they had to wear specialized optics gear at all times. Jake hated flying with them—the polarized filters in the optics messed with his depth perception. That and the biofilters chafed Jake to the point of distraction—an easy argument to set them aside. They could rebuild his eyes back on Earth, after all. And he didn’t need the filter in the flyer.

Jake flew into Gontun about 100 miles in from the North Pole. Two miles straight down, then he leveled the flyer in the middle of the canyon. He could fly straight for about 200 miles before the canyon squeezed in enough that he had to flip on his side—the move that really got his Commander’s goat.

Midday, the stars’ light reached all the way to the bottom of the canyon, and Jake relaxed, enjoying the view. There was an algal bloom on the river, he’d noticed in the latest sci-tech report, and it was a brilliant red. The algae was highly toxic to humans, but a primary food source for the indigenous species. The bright yellow cliff-dwelling widgets were streaming between the river and their nests—Jake carefully stayed above their usual height. Combined with the surreal blue and green earth tones of the canyon walls, it was a visual feast. Jake almost wished the Commander would come out and take a look. Maybe he wouldn’t yell so much.

Jake flew more by unerring instinct than any other pilot on Kep 4. He never made careless errors. He never made mistakes. He looked up just in time to see the canyon wall collapse above him. Slabs and rocks and dirt flooded down the sides of the canyon. Jake slapped the biofilter on his chest to activate it as the first slab tore off the flyer’s right wing and sent him into a wild spin. Rocks pounded the body, pushing it lower. Fighting to control the flyer, Jake felt the biofilter spreading over his skin. He hated letting it in his mouth and eyes. With that thought, he looked up to see another slab block his view overhead.

Continued in Part 2...

Dogs in house:


Time writing:

~30 minutes

June word count:


  1. Prompt: Surprised by an avalanche

    Jenn pushed open the door. "Professor?" she called. Inside it was dark, dim light from the windows blocked by tall, irregular shadows. The door jammed at about sixty degrees open. She slid inside and felt towards the right, hoping a light switch would be found. "Are you here?"

    "I...umph!" A slippery swoosh started, growing louder until it sounded like a thunderstorm had invaded the office. The sound slowed and faded, ending with a few papery crackles.

    Jenn's questing hand found the lightswitch. "Professor!" The light shone down a swath of white, knee high against the walls, and rising to above where Jenn guessed Professor Miles must be leaning on his desk. Only his shoulders and head were visible: a mop of dark hair streaked with grey at the temples, above a face screwed in consternation and tweed-clad shoulders hunched in embarrassment.

    "I probably should have filed those," he said.

    Time writing: ~15 minutes

  2. Love the first paragraph -- great characterisation! And good scene setting in the rest, with an exciting hook at the end.

  3. feeling guilty about some unfiled paperwork, are we? *wry grin*