Dry ice

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An extremely short story made in 30 minutes. My friend gave me the concept of Sci-fi set in the ice age, and I gave myself 30 minutes to come up with a plot and short story (an exercise I thoroughly enjoy.)

Submitted: November 17, 2014

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Submitted: November 17, 2014

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Dry Ice

'Our scanners say it's only four kilometres this way, we should make it before dark'

 After two weeks in the unforgiving terrain, the cold was starting to infect them like a plague. Only four members remained of the original twelve sent on the mission; Jack, the unofficial head of the group; Seth, one of the scientists sent to analyse the local wildlife; Matt, a soldier, and Maria, an intern with the science team.

Three hours after touchdown, the first member had disappeared. Chloe was no more than thirteen year old, still a child, and there was no trace of her. After that, it was over a week before the next disappearance, and then two members had disappeared every night since for the past three nights. No sounds, no signs, just an empty sleeping bag and the name tag. It didn't matter if everyone stayed awake, they would just be gone, the second someone took their eyes off them.

Jack had arranged for everyone to sleep in shifts, so that they could be watched over by the others to ensure no one was taken. But it didn't help. Now there were four of them, which meant they had two nights left to find somewhere safe.

The land was barren, white on the floor as it was in the sky, feeling like a screen was placed in front of you and you were blind. Ropes tied around waists was the only way to travel and ensure everyone arrived at the same place. There were no readings of life anywhere in the area, and thermal reserves were dwindling. Bi-daily checks of the scanners revealed a metropolis beneath them, cities vast and intricate, connected via stretches of tar and gravel, but the snow had long since buried them. Beyond the frozen Atlantis below, there were no signs of any structure within a hundred kilometres, until 27 hours ago. Seth picked up his scanner again, making sure they were making progress. In this weather, it was hard to tell which way was up, let alone find co-ordinates.

'I'd rather have four walls around us when we sleep tonight, so pick up the pace' Jack led forth, all but pulling the others behind him. His determination was empowering, but it could only fuel him for so long. He knew they had all but no chance of making it another few days, but it didn't matter. All that mattered was that the others didn't figure that out. That would lead to panic. Panic would get them killed.

For seven hours, they fought the wind and snow, finally catching sight of the small, fragile structure ahead. It was barely three metres tall, and no larger than an office could be expected to be, but it had a roof. In a place like this, that was invaluable. It appeared to be made of wood, but had metal bars extruding, showing how haphazardly it had been constructed. Upon entering, Matt constructed a fire, small and barely able to light the room, offering next to no heat for them to absorb.

Sleep was always difficult at night. It used to be silent, not a sound. But then there were whispers. Whispers coming from in the dark, and breathing. Heavy at first, but growing softer every day. When it started, it seemed as though it would be ok, that it was simply a part of the ambience I would need to adapt to. But after a time, I realised that was not the case. I couldn't sleep, I could barely think with their noise. It was deafening to me, having spent so long alone in this wasteland.

After tonight, I wouldn't be surprised if Jack and Maria take their own lives. Losing the others has already been hard on them, and when it's just the two of them, I don't know if they'll be able to cope. Maybe they'll even try to survive and talk about repopulation, maybe try to get back to the ship, if they can remember the way. I doubt they can. But it doesn't matter to me.

I just want to sleep.

 


© Copyright 2020 Conrad Parks. All rights reserved.

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