Saturday, June 15, 2013

Prompt: What do I feel crawling up my pants leg?

Ethan couldn’t see below the security strap across his chest. His arms were free to reach all the controls on his station, of course, but his body and legs were strapped down tight. They were already cruising over the asteroid, headed to the mining station, when he felt the first scratch on his left thigh.

Shake it off, he told himself. It’s your imagination.

No there it was again. Movement. He felt a bead of sweat on his forehead, tracing a line down to his ear. Great.

There it is again.

“Cap’n, can you release me?”

Mike slid him a look, then turned back to the nav screen. He was one of the company’s best pilots, but the asteroid was tricky, and he didn’t take chances.

“Should’ve gone before we left, rookie. You know better.”

“No, there’s something. Um, I think there’s something in my suit.”

Mike gave him another look, and Ethan wanted to take it back. It was a mistake. Just an itch. What was wrong with him?

Mike looked down at his leg for a moment, then back to the navs. He didn’t say anything for a minute. Ethan could swear he felt something scratching right on top of his thigh. Then Mike said, “JT, can you come up here a minute?”

Ethan’s eyes widened. JT was their security detail. What was Mike up to? What was going on?

JT pulled into the cabin. “Hey, Mike, what’s up?”

Mike pushed his comm aside and returned his hand to the nav grips. “Turn off the comms.” JT raised an eyebrow, but flicked the switch over Mike’s head. Mike continued, “We won’t want to broadcast. I think the rookie here has a bug.”

Ethan jerked, and he swore something scratched harder on his leg. He wanted to jump up and get away, but he was locked down tight until Mike released him. JT knelt in front of him, and Ethan blushed again. Mike said, “Rookie, I’m going to release your chest strap, so you can see this. But you can’t move yet, okay?”

Ethan nodded nervously, and the band around his chest slid back into the seat. He looked down and saw the outline of…something…on his leg. And a red stain surrounding it. He looked up at JT, who put a firm hand on his shoulder. “Stay with us, kid. That’s a kierkid, probably a juvenile. It’s locked down against your suit. That’s why it hasn’t done much damage so far. You’ve got a tear in your leg, just over the boot. Didn’t affect the biosystems, so it didn’t alarm. That’s why you’ve got to check and triple check. Suits attract these guys like candy. It just ate up into the insulation there and got stuck when you sat down. Now, getting it out is the bitch. Well, without it killing you.”

Ethan paled. Kierkids were the only life form in this asteroid field. The juveniles were like scorpions on steroids. They attacked by raising their foreclaws and slicing down into their prey, which stimulated their six teethed mouths to open along their abdomen and start biting whatever flesh they could reach. Miner legend had it a single kierkid could strip a man’s body to the bone in less than five minutes. Oh, yeah, their outer shell was made of the same substance they were mining. Which made them tough little bastards to kill.

Ethan had zoned out for a minute while he fought his panic. He snapped his eyes to see JT and Mike conferring in whispers. “Guys, don’t hold out on me. What’s gonna happen?”

JT looked up with a feral grin. “Kierkid stew for supper, rookie. Let’s just hope it hasn’t eaten enough of your leg for us to taste!”

Ethan moaned and Mike gave a sharp laugh. “Rookie! Pull it together! JT’s got you on this one. Do what he says, and you’ll be okay. JT, just don’t swing that thing in my direction, okay? I got other things to deal with.”

JT waved him off and knelt back in front of Ethan. “Okay, rookie, here’s what we’re going to do…”


Dogs in house:
Time writing:
45 minutes
June word count:

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