Whispering Winds of August

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A lone freighter pilot is beginning another routine day, when his trip suddenly goes wrong.

Submitted: August 10, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 10, 2018



Whispering Winds of August


Out on the fringe, it starts to freeze over in August. In these next few coming months, everything will be ice. Sure, there's tons of that stuff right now, but you can still step outside without the wind turning you into an ice cube instantly. Every day, I’m Jack Harkens, pilot for the North Point Mining Company. Every day, I wonder why I took this job so far off from home. Then, I remember, having a job gives me money, which keeps me alive. Begrudgingly, I get up at 04:00 Standard Sol Time, and begin my day of carrying payloads around with my barely--still--flying, TRA-5 freighter, or as I like to call it, the Trash Can. Sure it ain’t pretty, and kinda-sorta flying, but hey, it’ll get me off this barren, frozen planet, and to the warmth of the trading station, KR-15, that’s orbiting this frozen ball of ice. As I get dressed, I look around my small living quarters down here. The walls are cold and metal, and starting to rust out. The small space heater in the corner gives off some warmth, but is kind of dulled out by the loud clanging that it continues to produce day after day. As I head down to the hangar to begin my trip for the day, I run into my friend Bill. We both graduated from fly school, at the bottom of our classes. “How was the long haul out to the shivering isles yesterday?” I ask.

“Not bad” he says. “Just engine problems and freezing fuel lines” he says as he grins.

“What trip are you making today?” he asks.

“The trash can and I are heading up to KR-15.”

“Hope you enjoy the warmth up there!” he replies.

We split off, and head to our respective hangars to start our flights for the day. When I approach the door, I input my PIN into the door. The metal doors slide apart, with the nice screech of doors that haven’t been oiled in a while. When you step through these doors, the chill of the hangar sweeps over you. The cold starts at your ankles, and travels upwards, until you are completely bathed in the chill. Walking towards my ship, I look around the hangar, and take in the sounds of engines roaring, the intercoms calling off names and shipments for the day. To my left, I see an engineer struggling to get the engine of his ship to fire up. Parts are skewed all around him, and I wonder if he will ever be able to put all the pieces back together. Finally, I reach the trash can, at the back of the hangar. The scratches and rust are starting to build up on the outside. Once a sleek white with red trim, now all that shows are splotches of color, and some red lines. I pull down the cargo bay door on the back, and step inside. I walk through a few of the storage rooms, engineering section, and crew quarters, before finally reaching the cockpit. Really it's a glorified folding chair. The control panel is aging, and looking worse for wear. Looks aren’t everything though! This ship is still a solid flyer, besides the cosmetics. I fire up the engines, and begin to taxi out to the runway. With the heaters cranked up, I begin to turn the throttle up. When I reach about 60% engines, the engines begin to whine, and I begin to lift off. As I reach my escape velocity, I lean back in my chair, and just wait. This is the easy part of the day. Waiting to escape the atmosphere. As I lean back, I hear a loud BANG PSHHHHhhhhhhhhh. Uh Oh, not good. I turn around, and see a ton of white smoke pouring through the ship. Out of fear and confusion, I slam the doors shut to the cockpit. I sit back down, and try to diagnose the problem. It seems the fuel line busted, and caught fire, lighting the whole engine on fire. Looking at my ascent, the fire should set itself out in a few minutes. However, that doesn’t really help the fact I am now sitting in a dead weight ship, falling upwards, then down back to the ice ball beneath me. I try to establish contact with anyone over my radio, but it appears to have been damaged in the explosion. However, I try my best to communicate with anyone. There's a small transport ship headed the same direction as me. I turn on my emergency transponder. It sends out an emergency signal to all ships in the area, and tells them of my distress signal. I hope, pray, that someone hears my call for help in this desolate, empty void.

As the minutes pass, I begin to wonder about the universe, the stars, and how small we are. I’m wondering about what aliens way in the future will think about us. In other words, I’m bored. That quickly passes, though, when I notice that I am heading straight back to the ice cube, and picking up speed. Great. The fun part: waiting to be rescued. Gliding in a spaceship is not the most fun thing to do, especially when you realize that where you land determines if you survive, or you join all the other icicles down there. The descent is bumpy and difficult to stick. As the icy tundra grows closer, I begin to slow myself down, while searching for just long enough of a patch to land on, without impaling the ground. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot the rusty, ancient outpost that I am stationed at. Thank God. I might just be able to survive this after all. My aspirations for survival are instantly jolted away, though, as I begin to skim the surface of the planet. With a BANG, BINK, BAM, and I’m coasting along the surface, losing speed, and calming my nerves. Time to survey the damage, and see if I can get this thing flying, or if I have to have a long and chilling hike back home.

I figure I should open the hatch, and crawl out. Afterall, I don’t want to inhale the smoke that has most likely filled the rest of the ship by now. As I open the cargo bay, I sense a nice smell of burning fuel, and smoke. The smoke rolls out through the door as it opens, and dances as I watch it float off into the distance. I step into the cargo bay, and survey my surroundings. The cargo appears to be intact, surprisingly. Not much seems out of order. As I head up to the engineering room, I begin to notice some problems. First, the hallway is burnt, and smells of melted plastic. Yummy. The doors are smashed shut, and I have to pry them open. Once inside, I notice the problem. My engine cooling system failed, and my engines burned out. Great. So I have to walk back. My current options are: A, wait and hope someone saw my distress signal. B, begin a hike back with what supplies I have, and hope I make it before I freeze solid. Or C, try and limp the ship back to the hangar, and hope it can stay together for that long. My ship’s power won’t last more than a day, so I have a day to decide what to do. I keep telling myself I can do this, but I’m not sure yet. This is my worst challenge that I have had to face so far. Right now, my best option is to hike back to base. I pack up all the food, heat sources, and anything useful I can think of. As I open my cargo bay door, I think to myself, I can do this, I can do this. With a small hop, I begin my long journey back, and hope this horrendous planet doesn’t claim yet another life today.

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