Today's story takes us back to the AI Universe, a couple centuries farther into the future than we've gone before. You don't have to know anything about the universe to understand and enjoy this story.
As always you can find the audio version here.
“So what happens if I press this button?” I asked.
Adelaide shrugged, back turned to me as she concentrated on keeping track of how many crates she’d counted. “Nothing,” she replied.
I pushed the button, grinning.
“It’s when you let go that things get nasty.”
“What?” My finger lifted off the button as I asked the question, and I didn’t even realize it.
In my defense, Adelaide should have led with that bit of information. She knows I’m the kind of person who can’t resist a big, threatening, red button. Who eggs someone like me on when it comes to stuff like this?
Warning klaxons sounded, and the ringing thump of latches releasing sent my heartbeat skittering. Adelaide turned then. Her hair slung outward, and her eyes were so wide you could see as much white as hazel. I heard the grind of gears and a painful hiss as the hatch’s seal broke, but it was the look on my big sister’s face that scared me.
“Madeline!” Adelaide yelped as she dashed toward the control station I was at. “You reckless twerp!”
“What do I do?”
Her hair whipped across her face, making her sputter so much I couldn’t understand what she yelled in response. Thankfully, the generational ships were built with kids like me in mind. When something went sideways, it was a pretty safe bet the emergency or backup controls would be lit up like a beacon, but you’ve got to be quick with it. That goes double when you’re about to be sucked out into space.
There was a button flashing yellow at the upper right of the control board, so I hit it. The grinding stopped, but the hissing was as bad as ever. I could still feel a vacuum tugging at me, and a glance over my shoulder revealed that while the hatch wasn’t opening now, it wasn’t closing either.
Adelaide skidded around the corner of the control panel and started hitting a sequence of controls faster than I’d ever seen her do anything. The hatch system ground back to life, and the pitch of our air hissing out into space rose until it hurt. The tugging was getting weaker instead of stronger though, so I wasn’t about to complain. I just covered my ears and waited for everything to go back to normal. Even then, the latch locking into place was loud, and it was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.
I jumped when another soft hiss started, but this one was coming from the life support vents overhead not the hatch behind us. Beside me, Adelaide clutched the control panel. I could see her arms shaking as bad as mine, and she was breathing hard.
“New rule,” she said between pants.
“Don’t touch anything?” I ventured.
Adelaide nodded. “Don’t touch anything.” She let go of the panel, stood up straight, and scraped her hair back out of her face. “And you’re job shadowing Josh from now on.”
Each story in this series is 700 words or less and is prompted by a first line taken either from a random first prompt like this one or reader suggestions like "Don't Forget Me" and "Culture Shock." I much prefer working from reader suggestions over generators, but to do that, I need to hear from you.
If you have a prompt you'd like to see done, comment below, send it to my Tumblr asks, Tweet it at me, or leave a comment on any of the audio stories from this series. I'll screen shot it, write it, and post it for you.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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