Odd Prompts

Odd Prompts: Magnetic Repulsion

A little snippet of a SF romance. Written my way. 

***

The first time they met could best be described as a case of magnetic repulsion. Their eyes met across the void between them, and the force of their attraction flipped them violently around. 

“It sounds better when you put it that way.” 

She was drifting, one hand on his shoulder, and reading over the top of his head while he typed. 

“I could write it straight.” He craned his neck and she met his lips. “Write what really happened.” He finished when she backed off for air and a sip from her bulb of coffee.

She snorted. “Fiction has to make sense.” 

“Life can be completely unexpected.” He put his fingers on the keyboard. “I’ll finish this chapter?” 

“I’ll start supper.” She pushed off him, and flipped from the ceiling toward the door. Her missing leg didn’t slow her at all in this environment. He watched her go, then turned back to the screen. His eyes weren’t focused on it any longer. 

He was remembering that day. He still had no idea what hit them. Space battles, unlike what the sensies showed, were mostly long and boring and no one told the crew what was going on. He had been standing his watch, which mostly involved sitting and chatting with his friend Jake about the sensie they had borrowed from Jake’s bunkmate. 

The ship had shuddered, groaned like an animal, and the gravity had gone away. He’d found himself half in his suit before his brain had caught up with his body. He’d met Jake’s wide eyes, and finished donning the protection. It wasn’t much, against… The ship had jerked around them and then torn in half like a meal wrapper. 

It was a bit weird, really, he’d thought at the time in a detached corner of his mind. There wasn’t a sense of falling or motion. No breach in the compartment they were in. He’d been floating innocently, and then the bulkhead came over and smacked him hard. That was all he remembered for a while. How long a while he was never sure. 

He’d come around in a haze, hanging in the middle of the room. Jake’s limp suit was drifting nearby, and when he’d grabbed his friend’s arm and spun him to see… the face shield was sloshing in blood. He’d let go. There was nothing he could do there. He’d reached for his chest, and pressed the ELT button carefully, feeling the double interlock that kept it from being triggered accidentally, and he pushed, hard, and his chest hurt but that wasn’t why. 

Time trickled by. Silence hammered in his ears. Jake stirred, but it was currents of microgravity. What had made his friend, his friend, was gone. The room was still, and hot, and getting hotter. He couldn’t wipe away the sweat, but at least it wasn’t all running in his eyes like it would with gravity. Nor would it cool him, and anhidrosis was fatal. Would be fatal before he ran out of air, food, or water. 

His shipsuit air was running low, as he hung there staring at the ceiling, when he jerked into action. First he awkwardly made his way to the panel, and pulled himself into the seat. The display was blank, dead, no power. But the emergency air hookup was lit in a friendly green ring. He fumbled out the umbilical and jacked it in. The hiss of fresh air cycling was all in his head, he told himself. Still, he felt more alert than he had since before whatever happened to the ship had… 

The radio crackled to life. 

“ELT 15463, report.” 

They wouldn’t know who was in this suit, he knew. They were sized to fit anyone, and you put on the one nearest you. He keyed the button and recited his name and rank in a robotic monotone, then released it and got off the air. They knew where he was. He wasn’t going to occupy the radio if they needed to give him further instructions. 

“Stay put, spacer.” The voice on the other side was warm and female. “We’re coming for you.” 

He’d strapped himself into the chair, then. He was oriented strangely, angled to every flat space in the room, swinging on the gimbaled chair. Still, if they blew the door, he had no intention of going out with whatever atmosphere was left in the room. He stared at Jake, drifting between him, and the door, and he unbuckled himself again. He owed this to Jake’s family. 

He’d tugged the body into the other chair, and was just clipping the straps together, when they blew the door. 

He’d just had time to meet her eyes as the rush of gasses blew him backwards and past her, and down what was left of the corridor into open space. 

She’d reached for him, and he for her, but like two magnets, they’d been pushed apart with a violence that made the blood rush to his head. 

He put his fingers back on the keyboard again. He wrote. 

years later, they could tell their children that on their first meeting, Ma tried to kill Da, but it was all an accident… 

***

I was prompted this week by AC Young with “Their first meeting was described as a case of magnetic repulsion.” 

I prompted Ray Krawczyk with “On the first night of the apocalypse…” 

You can read their prompt responses, and more, over at More Odds Than Ends. And you can join in the prompt challenge! 

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