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Week #3 (2023): Creative Writing Challenge – Space Station Surprise

January 25, 2023

Re-write any story and set it in space. Original Story: Earthquake Surprise – You thought he was dead, but there he is, right in front of you on the street, smiling at you.

It started while I was making pasta in the galley. A deep rumbling spread under my feet, like the station was purring in a baritone. The rumbling shifted to an undulating tango. The dance dipped pictures off walls and then dropped them instead of pulling them back into an embrace. The tango then shifted to a staccato tap dance, vibrating my plate of half-made veggie ravioli onto the floor. The noise was deafening. I lunged for the doorjamb, a holdover from my Earth days when that was the strongest part of your house during an earthquake.

I stumbled over debris and fell out of the galley into our common room. There were the faint popping sounds of electricity journeying through the walls. I could smell the acrid stench of burning metal coming from under the door.

Between the sweaty strands of my brown hair I caught a glimpse of the easel.


He’d popped his head in the galley and said, “Don’t touch my painting. I’ll be right back. We can’t have ravioli without a bag of wine!”, then promptly walked through the commons and out the door. I’d waved him off. We didn’t get shipments of wine all that often, so I was excited about the prospect.

An announcement over the coms brought me back to the present. “Attention residents. There’s been an explosion in engineering. We are assessing the situation. Please stay where you are and we will update you when we have more information.”

Calvin would have to pass by engineering to get to the mess hall for the wine.

I popped to my feet and started running. I made it through the commons without tripping over Marie’s scattered toys, but I cut myself on the edge of the doorway as I skidded into the hall. I clapped a hand to my upper arm to keep my blood to myself and headed straight for the mess hall.

There was a barrier with a full contingent of guards at the entrance when I arrived, but there was no mess hall behind them. It was just empty space scattered with debris. I could see a shimmering force field directly behind the guards, meant to keep our atmosphere here and not exposed to the nothingness of space. The neon sign that lived above the door was now a melting jumble of tubing, sparks spewing into the hallway like it was the Fourth of July and kids were lighting every last sparkler.

I sprinted toward the barrier, but a solid set of arms wrapped around my stomach, halting my progress.

“Can’t let you go over there ma’am,” a clear voice said. The arms loosened and I spun around, ready to make another break for it, but the voice had been from our Chief of Operations, a friend of ours. “It’s Calvin. He’s in there. Wine. He went to get wine to go with our ravioli. I have to get him,” I sputtered, but he grabbed my arm gently to keep me facing him.

“Hey Imani. I’m sure Calvin made it out before the explosion hit the mess hall. They did have some warning. But you know it’s probably going to take a while to sort through. Are your rooms still in one piece? No structural damage? Gravity controls still working?” he asked.

“I think so. I rushed out before checking anything.” I took a step back to regain my personal space and he let go of my arm.

“Okay, well, I suggest you go back to your rooms and wait. I’ll personally give your communicator a ring when we know more,” he said. I nodded in return.

The chief was right. I would just be in the way, but…

And then I was sprinting toward the barrier. “Calvin”, “Calvin”, “Calvin”. I yelled his name as loud as I could until I smacked my knees against the barrier instead of executing the graceful leap I had planned. That solid set of arms encircled my stomach again, but this time they lifted me away. I kicked and flailed my arms, trying to turn myself around so I could push off the Chief, and attack the barrier again. He didn’t let me go. He carried me down the hall out of site of the doors gaping into space. He sat me down in a chair in front of one of his officers.

“Trudy here is going to make sure that you stay right there until you can calm down. If you can’t do that, I’ll call Jimmy over at control to come and take you to the brig. Got it?” He enunciated each word.

“Yessir,” I said and hung my head. My face was wet. I hadn’t realized I’d been crying.

Trudy gifted me with a smile and then turned back towards her communicator. She stood directly in front of my chair. I’d have to go through her somehow if I wanted to get away.

Thirty minutes later my friend Lizzie showed up. I guess someone had gotten her to fetch me. I was still sitting in the chair, and after a short conversation with Trudy, I was liberated.

“You okay?” Lizzie asked after putting an arm around my shoulder.

“I don’t know where Calvin is. He said he was coming going to get wine to go with dinner. I cut up my shoulder and got put in time-out.” I hiccuped and then admitted, “I’ve been better.”

Lizzie squeezed my shoulder and guided me toward my rooms. Lizzie tried to reach Calvin on his communicator, but she couldn’t get through. All the lines were frozen for emergency communication only.

We turned onto my hallway and I squeaked. There was Calvin walking along the corridor toward me with a huge smile, a bag of wine in his hand. Lizzie released my shoulder and I ran to him. He swept me up in a big hug and twirled me.

“Where have you been? I heard the announcement.” He said into my neck.

He put me down and I looked up into his face, confused. Where had I been? “Well, I was at the mess. I thought you were dead,” I told him.

He quirked an eyebrow at me and then started laughing. I frowned and started crying. “I went over to Brandon’s to get the wine because they had an extra ration. What’s wrong, honey? I don’t understand. Talk to me.”

Lizzie had caught up to us by then. I guess she’d heard our conversation because she opened her communicator and showed Calvin a photo she’d taken of the mess hall doors.

“Is that the mess hall?” Calvin asked, squinting at the image.

“Yeah it is, asshole.” Lizzie pursed her lips.

“Oh shit.” He hugged me tighter after that and whispered “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” over and over again into my ear.

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