If you followed my other writer blog, you might know that every once in a while I’ll do a Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge. It’s a fun exercise he has every Friday, where you have a week to finish a 1000 word piece of fiction based on some random criteria he’s come up with. This one you had to roll a D10 on two charts to get a random title that you had to use to make the story. Oddly enough, I rolled two 10s and got Infinity Sailor. Wasn’t sure what to do with that until something hit me this morning while I was half asleep. Might be a little sketchy, but I like it. And so here’s:
The Infinity Sailor
Rayce watched through the viewer as the Infinity Drive spun up for what would most likely be the last time, creating the mass field that would pull on his destination coordinates and tear the fabric of space-time, hurtling the Infinity Sailor through the known universe. He adjusted in his seat, stifling a groan as he tried to take pressure off the still oozing wound in his side. He wasn’t even certain he’d make it much longer, but this had to end. He had to finish it.
Tabbing controls with bloodstained fingers, he set the phase shifter to activate; the device that kept the ship from squirting into billions of single molecules from the gravity forces the Infinity Drive unleashed. At least, he thought with a chuckle that sent a ripple of fiery agony through his abdomen, he wouldn’t feel pain for a few seconds. He wouldn’t even feel his body.
Reality stuttered as space-time was rent asunder. The most dangerous star drive to the universe would also be its savior this day. That was of course, if Rayce didn’t die first. The phase shift kicked in next.
Fractals of space-time flashed in his mind’s eye, playing in an out-of-order collage, like the shattered shards of a mirror falling away.
His battle with the Shakar warrior, which graced him with a ragged, charred hole in his guts that would soon end his life.
The fateful day he’d taken the Infinity Sailor when its first test voyage seemed to drop it into his lap as he and his crew hung in orbit around a mining planet in their old modified cargo hauler.
The killing of his crew at the hands of the Shakar on a desolate world as they tried to obtain the Sailor for their own ends.
Racing through the streets of Dagda 7, the young woman Ara close behind, as Sekton Corporate forces closed in.
Blood, glittering crimson in wan light.
The Gray Man, general of the Shakar forces.
Ara bleeding out in his arms.
Hot tears for what might have been in another life.
Micro-singularities formed, permanent rips from Infinity Drive jumps.
The Shakar taking the plans for the drive as he watched helpless.
The Shakar Matter Converter going online. Space-time torn asunder, the matter devouring rent ever expanding.
Fractals within fractals.
Shards within shards.
Shattered realities of what was.
What might have been.
What never would be.
And then nothing.
Searing pain returned, white hot, and he gritted his teeth against it. In his viewer, the black absence of all hung, expanding at an increasing rate, devouring matter, life, light, all of reality. He had one chance to make it all right, to undo the damage. It would work. It had to!
The Infinity Sailor streaked toward the black expanse, the drive system seeming to scream a battle cry as the hull rippled, the phase shifter going into overload. The drive would go next, but by that time he was certain he would no longer be able to feel anything. His vision blurred, his blood pooling under him in the pilot seat. The timing was critical. His shaking hand rested almost reverently, lovingly on the flashing controls that he prayed would serve one last function.
But would it work? Would this avert all that had been wrought? He had been so sure before, but with the end in sight, what if he was wrong?
A bang and shower of sparks, the smell of ozone, and the phase shifter was gone. Irrationally, he held his breath as all his nerves lit like a plasma inferno. A scream tore from his lungs. His finger twitched on a button. The Infinity Sailor entered the black expanse. His final thought was of Ara’s shimmering blue eyes and how he hoped he would see them again.
In another life.
Rayce Janek sat staring out of the viewer of the old hauler that he and his crew had called home for the past two years, waiting in boredom for any ships leaving the mining world of Parno that their remaining weapons could disable. They needed a big score this time. The lenders were becoming short tempered.
A bright flash nearby drew his attention and his eyes lit upon a gleaming white vessel, its sleek lines like nothing he’d seen be—
His head swam, fingers seeming to move of their own accord. A voice from behind, a question. Warning beeps echoed. Shards falling away within his mind, a shattered mirror of what could have been. Blue eyes.
The pack of proton missiles he’d been saving for this excursion streamed away toward the white craft. Its shields were not up, no weapon systems online. Only four crew. They could have taken it. It would have been a catch.
The ship went up in a white corona glow, pieces spinning away as the light died to a nebulous memory of the white heat that ate the released gasses and disintegrated steel.
“What the hell, Rayce!” Rennel shouted. “We had a shot at that!”
Rayce stared at where the white ship had been, tears stinging his eyes, a phantom ache in his side, another in his heart, fractures glittering away like twinkling stars. He pulled the hauler out of orbit and set a course. The lenders would just have to wait. This time, he would live.