FlashFic: Windstorm

The approaching horizon was crimson from sand whipping in the windstorm. Petra hit the button to the hoodlocks for the ports. Mechanical gears engaged and the steel doors began to close. Caden watched the dust blot out the sun as the doors sealed.

The leading edge of the storm was nearly upon them. Winds buffeted the pod. Caden worried. The destruction of Galor’s pod in the last storm plagued him. Galor’s body was boneless as a ragdoll.

“Caden!” Petra called from the galley. “Strap in. Damned thing’s about to hit hard.” She was never wrong. He slid into the chair. Wrapped in the webbing, he clicked the buckles shut. Petra moved so quickly to web in, he stared.

The wall of wind and sand slammed into the pod. The structure shook and swiveled on gyrogears. “Don’t fight it. Breathe and relax. Don’t want you too sore to be useful when it’s done.” Her voice was tight. He tried to relax. A glance at her white knuckles didn’t help.

The lights went out. Petra cursed. The generators’ shields failed. A gust twisted the pod hard. A grinding whine shuddered through it. Snapped forward and slammed back, Caden’s muscles screamed. Galor wasn’t strapped in when they found his body. Caden stayed put.

“Almost past now, we’re through the worst of it.” He didn’t hear her unbuckling, though. She was probably just trying to make him feel better. Didn’t work. It made it worse. It wouldn’t be so bad except for the darkness. Couldn’t see his hand, much less Petra’s face.

“Lot of work to do, Caden,” she continued. “Grab lanterns, open the hoodlocks. Lots of sand against the hatch. Might have to wait for folks to dig it out.” He’d done it for others enough. Part of the deuteroxide farmer’s lot.

“Get help with the gennies. They’re covered with sand. If they don’t start, check the air intake and try again. They’ll hold up for years yet.” The pod was settling down. So was he. Why was she telling him about the gennies? She always took care of them.

“Then look to the gyrogears. They took a beating and one is off-track. Get Kennard’s help fixing it and it’ll be fine. Got all that?”

“Yeah, smooth. We’ll get out, get the gennies back up and fix the gyrogears.” The wind died down. The pod hardly moved.

“Good, Caden. Now get those lanterns.”

He felt his way, limping in the darkness. The lanterns flickered on. The hoodlocks opened the ports. Light filtered in. The hatch gears ground. Too much sand, like Petra said.

He carried a lantern to the galley. She’d have rations ready. His eyes narrowed. She was still webbed in. “Petra?” He dropped the lantern. Her head was at an awkward angle. Eyes open, unseeing. Dead as Galor.

“I’ll stay with you as long as I can, Caden. Kennard’s got a crew digging you out. Grab some kaff and get ready.”

© 2010 Jessica Rosen

The first paragraph of this story combines two #storystarters. I wrote the italicized one. The bold lines are by @Selorian (Clifford Fryman), whom I thank for the character of Caden.

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21 thoughts on “FlashFic: Windstorm

  1. techtigger May 7, 2010 at 7:23 am Reply

    ooh, wow – very chilling ending! Well done!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 7, 2010 at 5:10 pm Reply

      Thanks so much, I really appreciate the feedback. Chilling is good.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  2. Jen Brubacher May 7, 2010 at 7:25 am Reply

    Ohhh. Yikes. I had to read it twice to make sure, but… yup, I’m creeped out now.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm Reply

      I’m glad it creeped you out. Hopefully, so are you. Thanks, Jen.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

      • Jen Brubacher May 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm

        Definitely glad! I like a good scare, if it’s well done. This is. 🙂

        Like

  3. asthemoonclimbs May 7, 2010 at 11:41 am Reply

    Very creepy ending. Hope he makes it out. I hate it when people say this to me but I kind of want to know more about this world and its people. Just a thought for future work!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm Reply

      Thanks for your nice comment. I get a kick out of being told more is wanted. This one is ripe for further exploration, both prequel and sequel. I promise I’ll keep it in mind.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  4. Marisa Birns May 7, 2010 at 5:45 pm Reply

    Wow. That was certainly a ‘gotcha’ ending. You are so good at taking prompts and filling in the story around them in such a creative and page turning way.

    Really enjoyed.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 7, 2010 at 5:56 pm Reply

      Thanks, Marisa, that’s really nice of you. The prompts bloom into characters and a sketchy idea of a plot. Chances are good that if an ending is a gotcha twist, it got me as I was writing it, too. I’m so glad you enjoyed this.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  5. Gracie May 7, 2010 at 5:46 pm Reply

    Yikes. That’s some sandstorm. Very creepy and well done. The ending just made me blink. And shudder.

    Good piece.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 7, 2010 at 5:58 pm Reply

      Being the cause of a blink and shudder is a wonderful thing. Thanks for letting me know, Gracie.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  6. Aislinn O'Connor May 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm Reply

    Yeah,definitely plenty of scope for follow-up(s)! Very atmospheric and convincing – glad Caden’s still got Petra’s presence to guide him, and I suspect he’s going to need it. Would love to know what happens next – great story. 🙂

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm Reply

      Thanks a lot, Aislinn. It would be interesting to see what happens next.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  7. Cecilia Dominic May 7, 2010 at 6:29 pm Reply

    Your short sentences make the pacing of this piece work really well. Quite chilling, but sweet that she wanted to stay with him.

    CD

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 7, 2010 at 9:29 pm Reply

      Thanks, I appreciate that. I love that it came across that way for you.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  8. Katherine Nabity May 7, 2010 at 8:10 pm Reply

    Horror and sci-fi, definitely one of my favorite blends! Nice, very nice.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 7, 2010 at 9:35 pm Reply

      When I started writing, I didn’t know the end. I had a moment of clarity while I edited the meandering story. The chilling horror notes mixed into the sci fi. I love when those moments happen. Thanks, so glad you liked it.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  9. Vaughn McKenna May 7, 2010 at 8:29 pm Reply

    This was a really interesting story. The end was chilling, but a very great twist! Excellent work! Looking forward to reading more.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm Reply

      Thanks, Vaughn. Really appreciate your comments, very kind of you. This world may get a repeat visit.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  10. shadowsinstone May 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm Reply

    Interesting style of rabbit sentences.It’s an urgency I can certainly appreciate.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen May 11, 2010 at 11:57 pm Reply

      Thanks, I’m glad it worked for you. I appreciate the feedback.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

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