Tag Archives: science fiction

Days Until Home – Chapter 02


Days Until Home: 44

A family of three smiled out from the static monitor of the frame that sat atop the desk inside of the captain’s quarters. There was a handsome brunette, strong in her looks as well as her frame, and a tall, tired-looking man, with his arm slung lazily around her waist. In front of them was a grinning boy, smiling at the camera as he clutched a model spaceship. Behind them stood a large house and white picket fence to complete the cliché.

Keeping it company was an assortment of sheets, plastic substrates that reflected photos and details, scattered about as if someone had thrown them out of a box. The man behind the desk made perfect company for the mess. His eyes were puffy and didn’t seem to open past the slats that served as windows into a dark and dangerous place.

Winchester Hayes picked up one of the sheets and flipped it around in order to read the information on the back. “Everything checks out,” he muttered to himself and then got up and walked across the room to where the circular porthole revealed the monochromatic horizon line of the asteroid. “If I die on this spud I’m slapping god,” he muttered and then shifted his eyes to watch the miners.

“Yeah, that’s it, work as slow as possible,” he muttered, “this is what they send me out here with. Laggards.” He shook his head and turned back to his desk, his hand smoothing back his thick brown hair.

A slight movement distracted him and he glanced at his bed where a smooth, shapely leg had managed to escape from beneath the covers. “I’ll see you up there,” he announced, as he grabbed his jacket and threw it on before exiting the door.

As he passed by his desk, the edge of his jacket knocked over the frame, and the family became as forgotten as they had been for the last few hours of his life. He walked the dark passageway and then rounded the corner, pushing his way past a deckhand who was going back to his room.

“Morning Captain!” The man said, and Winchester stopped, turned around and regarded him.

“Morning? How the hell can you tell?”

“By the time, sir, it’s 5—”

“Goddamn it, Richard, it’s a friggin joke. I know what time of day it is. We’ve been here, what, fourteen days? Anyway, as you were,” he said and pushed past him to resume his march. The tight passageway was beginning to see a lot of activity, so Winchester pushed past several other workers to climb the stairs that led up to the bridge.

“Captain on the bridge,” a man in a powder blue jumpsuit announced and Winchester stopped and stared at him. When he had looked at the man long enough for it to become uncomfortable, he slowly looked around the room, as if to see if anyone would respond.

“Lu, it’s only us. Who the hell are you announcing that to?”

“Sticking to protocol, Skip, the way you instructed me to. Would you prefer if I stopped announcing your taking the bridge?”

“I need coffee, where the hell is my coffee?”
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Days Until Home – Chapter 01


Days Until Home: 45

Viktor Sharapov took one careful step after another, holding the plastic composite crate at arm’s length as he made his way across the asteroid’s pock-marked surface. The contents of the crate–mostly yttrium and scandium, and a few other lanthanides–were worth more than Viktor could make in a thousand lifetimes, so he held it with a reverence somewhere between a newborn child and a bomb.

Viktor sighed, fogging the glass faceplate of his suit and obscuring the grey-against-black landscape. He had to watch where he walked, ensuring good purchase on each step–no easy feat while carrying the crate. Most of the asteroid was made of nickel-iron ore and carbon, but occasional pools of frozen hydrocarbons dotted the landscape, traps waiting to trip him up and send him falling. It would have been easier to disable his magnetic boots and leap into the air, traveling in a long arc toward the Kerwood. The microgravity of Egeria-13, the potato-shaped asteroid that they’d called home for the past two weeks, made such a feat possible.

But the microgravity also meant he was just as likely to reach escape velocity as land back on the asteroid. Drifting through the black for the rest of his life–which would be about four more hours, based on his suit oxygen level–was not an enticing prospect.

Still, Viktor daydreamed of leaping back to the ship in one momentous bound.

Another sigh covered his faceplate with moisture, forcing him to stop and wait for it to disperse. Micro-fractures in the seam along the glass, just enough to be annoying. Slagging credit-pinchers, he silently cursed. He’d been requesting new suits for himself and his miners for the past three contracts. Every time the supply manager patiently nodded, feigning concern on his face and assuring Viktor they would do what they could. And every time, the request was denied. Sooner or later one of the suits would malfunction and kill one of them. A negligence lawsuit would kill their profits more than the cost of a few new suits.

Cheap suits. Cheap drilling candles. Cheap orbital transfers. These days nothing mattered, so long as the costs were kept low and the profits high.

Viktor resumed his steady march across the grey, until the rim of an especially large crater appeared and the Kerwood came into view.

She was ugly, with the not-quite-sleek design only a space-faring vehicle could suffer. A short, fat fuselage with a pair of ion engines on the back that looked like used toilet paper rolls. Most of the bulk was the cargo bay that ran along the belly underneath.

Still, the Kerwood had been home for the past dozen contracts, and she hadn’t failed them yet.

A light inside Viktor’s helmet flicked on as a short-range radio broadcast connected. The voice of the ops manager, Connor, filled his helmet. “About fragging time, Viktor. You stop to take a piss out there?”

If Viktor squinted, he could see Connor’s silhouette in the square window above the cargo ramp. “You bet,” he replied in accented English, the common language among most of the crew. “Wanted to see how far it’d go in the microgravity, but it curved so far over the horizon I lost sight. Too strong for my own good.”
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Days Until Home – Introduction


Only a week to go before Days Until Home. That’s March 16th for those who’re currently sans calendar. This is going to be a fun collaboration between myself, David Kristoph, and Greg Dragon. Here’s the dealio on our 21-week web serial:

The serial will run each Wednesday, starting with David, followed by Greg, and finally I’ll wrap up the cycle. We’ll each write this space disaster web series, alternating chapters. David is doing the miners, Greg is doing the bridge crew, and I’m doing the engineers.

I was in a Burger King yesterday, and one of the managers was asking about the project. He insisted that “Scotty” was overdone, and I should maybe consider an Australian engineer named Jeremy (his name.) Well, I’m a good sport, and love you fans dearly, so, at least, one of my characters will be an Australian engineer named Jeremy.

So, the basic premise is that a spaceship is on a mining mission to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mining is all done, and the ship is preparing to head back to home to Earth. DISASTER! Something blows up, the ship is disabled, and a bunch of the crew is driftwood. Think Gravity but cooler. Because hey, if my girl Sandy B. were on our ship, we wouldn’t have a problem, right? (BBT reference!) Now, each of us is going to assume that our faction is responsible for the disaster. We’re not going to say precisely that we did it, but we’ll be dropping red herrings, and our POV will be that we’re the bad guys.

But we don’t know who done it. You guys will vote around week fifteen or so on who you think done it. Whatever faction gets the most votes is the faction that done it. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Of course, we invite you all to let us know how the serial is going in the comments. You’ll have fifteen weeks to gauge the story, and make suggestions, etc, but when the votes are tallied, we’ll have our villains.

This 21-week epic is going to be… well, epic. It’ll be fascinating to see how our styles mesh. David is crazy with the outlining. Even his bullet points have bullet points. His Tales of a Dying Star series is a taut and concise five-book adventure you should check out right away. You all know I’m a total pantser. Click on the projects page to see all the rough stuff I’ve started but have yet to complete. I scoff at outlines! (Except David’s, he insisted I not scoff at his outline for this project.) Greg is somewhere between David and me. Be sure to check out Greg’s Vestalia series. David and Greg are both long-form writers, and I’m a short fiction/flash fiction kind of guy. They’re both tasty humans, and I’m a sentient drinks machine… no, wait. Ignore that last one. (Yes, that was a nod to Sir Terry Pratchett, RIP.)

Anyway, we hope that fans of them will become fans of mine and all the permutations and combinations of that statement. (Nerd joke!) I could draw a Venn diagram, but that would be stupid. You all know about me, so here are the public bios of David and Greg (I managed to get ahold of their driver’s license photos):

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