I mentioned in a former post (Sixteen and 2001) my intention to put forth a short story that I wrote in college. It was inspired in a sense by Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. It is longer than I would want to post at a single time, so I will serialize it.
An additional plus to doing it this way, it will free up my time to focus my writing efforts on the OutR Dark. I’m about half way through the first scene of the last act. I hope to complete the entire play by June, and then launch into writing my next screenplay which I am currently plotting.
(This was back when Pluto was still considered a planet).
By Ralph Osgood II
The icy specks of blue fire blinked serenely at the new comer to the solar system, all along at the far end of the merry-go-round. This drifting stone, caught up by the gravity of a distant star and its planets, could be likened to an electron attracted into the energy levels of a deficient atom. Although it was needed, the time had not yet come. It would not have its turn for countless billions of years.
The stars were not the only spectators of this curious event, for following in the path of the ninth planet from the sun was a small observation platform, aboard was life – man. Theirs was the loneliest beat in the entire network of sensory stations, placed strategically throughout the solar system. They were the eyes and ears of the life on the double planet in the third orbit from the sun.
Mel stood over his partner and shook him roughly.
“Thompson, wake up, I’ve got something on the scanner. Come on now it’s urgent.”
Thompson sat up with a fist in each eye to brush the sleep away. Mel grabbed him by an elbow and hauled him out into the corridor. They padded down the short hallway into the observation room. They took their places in the chairs in front of the wall-length scanner. Thompson, no longer nodding, stared intently at the scene before him. There, against the deep black velvet of space interlaced with stars, was a dark solitary planet.
Thompson rose to his feet and walked toward the scanner for a closer look. “Are you sure you haven’t focused in on one of those erratic moons of Pluto again?” he asked.
“Positive. Just look at those mass readings and the direction it’s traveling in. It’s almost as big as Pluto itself,” Mel countered.
“Well, we better get this information reported fast,” Thompson replied. Most of the information was already on the way back to the collection point on the earth’s moon. This generally took the form of the pictures from the scanners, and readings from the instruments. The job of the two men was to send back their evaluations of the situation.
___ _____ ______ _____ ______ ______
The gentle whirr of the computer in the background lent a soothing, comfortable aspect to the room. The dark figures humped over their scanners, were silhouetted by the lights emanating from the viewing boards. These were the Watchers, eight of them, one for each of the observation platforms. Here, they recorded, processed, and stored all the information.
Operator number eight Brad Smedley eagarly watched his scanner for more information. He knew how Mel and Syd must have felt upon making their fantastic discovery. The observation crews worked in crews of four, alternating assignments, he and another were the third and fourth members of the crew.
Suddenly the scanner and the instruments glowed crimson. This meant only one thing the two men aboard the station were in danger. Brad’s eyes darted to the life indicators to verify his horrifying conclusion. They were the only instruments blacked out. Then the whole board went blank. There was not only no life, there was also no ship.
[To Be Continued]