Flash Fiction: Approaching Lightspeed

Chuck Wendig, terribleminds.com

Go to Your Favorite Music Player. Dig out your digital music collection.

Maybe this is iTunes or Spotify, or use Pandora if you’d rather go that way.

Hit SHUFFLE, then “Play.”

Translation: pull up a random song.

The title to this song is the title to your story.

Use the song for inspiration, too, if you feel so inclined.

The siren blared throughout the complex, drawing soldiers from every corner. Hand in hand, they ran as fast as they could, hoping to get to the shuttle hanger before they were caught. Arrest meant death, and they were determined to survive.

“There they are!” the shout echoed down the steel hallway, the pair sprinting down a side passage as gunfire rained on the space they’d been standing in less than a second before. It wouldn’t be very long before the soldiers rounded the corner, and there was nowhere to duck if they were shot at.

“We’re going to die,” she said, gasping. Her legs burned from exertion, but terror refused to let her stop.  

“No,” he replied, fingers tightening around her hand in a reassuring squeeze. “We’ll make it. I promised you, and I intend to keep this one.”

A bullet flew by her ear, barely missing her.  She choked back a sob, afraid to look back. If it wasn’t for him, driving her on, she didn’t think she would still be moving. For that, she was thankful. They were together, and whether they lived or died, it would be together.

“There it is,” he said, her eyes moving in the direction his finger pointed. A large door stood ahead of them, the letters painted above the door reading HANGAR, with UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY NOT PERMITTED underneath. With his only free hand, he dug through his pocket, pulling out a white keycard.  He shielded her as they slowed, swiping the card quickly through the reader next to the door. The red light on the card reader stayed red.

“What the hell?” he muttered, brow furrowing in worry as he turned to look at the soldiers rounding the bend, lining up to offer no chance of escape back the way they came. He pressed himself closer to her, glaring at the armed men ready to end both of their lives.

“Drop the card,” one of them said. He didn’t move, he remained still as a statue as he eyed them, his hand hovering just above the reader. “Drop it, now.”

Without a word, he looked from the soldiers to her, hand tightening around hers once again.

He was keeping this promise or was going to die trying.

The card went down, followed closely by gunshots. This time, the light turned green, and the doors opened. Running through, he grit his teeth in pain, crimson leaking from several places. The bullets burned like acid when they’d entered, and he knew then his fate was now sealed. Though, he found it didn’t seem to matter all that much. Her smile was worth everything.

Her eyes widened at the sight of him, fear rising in her mind. Please let him be okay, she thought, praying to whatever god was listening. Hopefully, one of the nice ones could hear her. Hopefully, they would answer.

The shuttle they ran to was small, with a sleek and elegant design. They narrowly avoided another round of gunfire as they scrambled inside, locking the door behind them. Once they were safe behind thick metal, she fell to her knees, exhausted. He, however, kept moving to the cockpit. A coughing fit halted him, and he used the wall for support until he recovered enough to continue. She didn’t need to see his bloodstained hand to know what it meant.

“Come on, you need to buckle up.”

She raised her head, looking towards the cockpit. He was leaning heavily against the pilot’s chair, staring at her. He looked just as tired as she felt, with a few touches of other things mixed in. Pain was first among them.

Rising to her feet, she walk forwards, taking the seat next to his and pulling the seatbelt together. He strapped in as well, punching in commands on a keyboard.

“Initiating start-up sequence,” the ship’s automated voice said. The engines came to life, making the metal hum with energy. “Commencing take off.”

The shuttle rose, joltingly at first, but soon evened out. They began moving forward, to the open doors through which they could see the midnight sky, and the unnumbered stars beyond.

“It’s really space,” she said, staring at the black in wonder. They were going to make it after all.

“I told you I’d keep my promise, didn’t I?” he replied, voice strained. He was trying to block the pain from his mind and focus on piloting the ship, but the iron bullets wreaked continual havoc on his body. Elves were never meant for such a technological world. There were no forests. Hell could have him, so long as she could see real trees.

“Let’s find our home,” he said, the shuttle picking up speed as it took to the air. Breaking through the atmosphere, they kept on, set on getting as far from that metal-covered rock as fast as they could.

She stared in wonder at the void around them, amazed at the sight. Relaxing in her seat, she smiled, joyful drops falling from her eyes.

“Thank you,” she said, turning to look over at him. He was slumped over in the seat, head leaning to the right. She called out to him.

He didn’t stir.  



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2 responses to “Flash Fiction: Approaching Lightspeed

  1. …Crap… You got me. I’ll do this, I think, I need to kick my brain into moving. Can’t get thinking. Pandora. I will go.

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