Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion

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Please help me in congratulating Tom Olbert, Champion of the Science Fiction Microstory Contest

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message 1: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1141 comments Mod
Edge of Darkness
By Tom Olbert

Gorman chuckled, his blood racing as he disconnected the oxygen valve in the other man’s space helmet.

His victim’s eyes swelled into glassy orbs, the dying man’s face bloating in a comically grotesque way, his anguished scream silenced as his pressurized air spewed away into vacuum. The pale rings of Saturn reflected in the helmet’s face plate as it fogged over. The fog turned to frost as escaping oxygen froze into ice crystals, flitting off into the void, diamond dust in a black sea of stars. Gorman gave the corpse a push, gleefully watching it slowly spin off, end over end in weightless vacuum. Scratch one labor organizer, Gorman thought as he squeezed the trigger of his jet nozzle, giving himself the gentle nudge he needed to reach the ore hauler now descending towards the surface of the moon Rhea. Gorman had blown the hatch, making the man’s death appear accidental. Not that anyone would bother to look too closely at the case, anyway. Murder was so common out here on the frontier… trafficker gangs killing each other over territory, migrant workers killing each other over drugs or scraps of food… hardly anyone noticed one more killing. Rhea’s horizon rose below, a dingy grey orb with thin swaths of icy silver mist.

The blood was pounding through his ears, sweat beading on his forehead, his heart slamming his chest like a sledge hammer. God, he needed a fix, bad. Well, he’d make a score soon enough, he thought as he pulled himself into the hauler. He was shaken to his bones as the retro thrusters engaged.

As the hauler descended through Rhea’s thin atmo, he patched into the surface station computer and hacked into the security cams in the tube stations. He grinned and nodded. There was Becker, his corporate contact, on Tube Platform 3, right on schedule.

Gorman was jarred as the landing struts engaged. There was a long, sharp hiss as the landing bay pressurized. He exhaled. Blowing the pressure seals on his helmet, he gratefully climbed out of the hot, stinking confines of his space suit. The plan was simple. When the morning commuter bullet tram slid in, he’d be waiting on the platform. Becker, stepping onto the tram from the opposite platform would slip him the credit strip in the crowd.

It was early. The tube station was dim and empty as Gorman stepped out onto the platform. He could just make out Becker in the shadows near the tunnel entrance on the opposite platform. And, he wasn’t alone. Gorman rolled his eyes. Just like that moron Becker to stop now to screw a local tunnel whore. From what he could make out in the dim light, the girl Becker was doing couldn’t be more that fifteen. Gorman froze as Becker’s limp body slumped to the platform. Was the jerk stoned? The girl crouching over him looked up at Gorman. His blood ran cold as he saw Becker’s throat had been torn wide open, the girl’s sharp teeth still dripping with his blood. She glared at Gorman across the tube, hissing like an animal. It was then he realized she hadn’t shown up on the security cams.

Shaking off the numbness, he drew his gun and fired, emptying the clip. No effect. The bullets sparked off the tunnel wall behind the girl as though she wasn’t there. Was he that strung out? He couldn’t have missed at this range. Was he hallucinating? His eyes widened, the blood draining from his cheeks as the girl morphed into a pitch black shape, contracting and sprouting leathery wings, taking flight and flapping straight at him across the tube.

No, his mind stubbornly protested as he ran, agonizingly slow, as through a nightmare, towards the nearest air shaft. It had to be a withdrawal hallucination. Such things weren’t real. They were just old stories. Or, were they? His mind raced madly as he clawed at the rusted hatch.

Out here, so far from civilization, surrounded by violence, might they hunt again, as they had in centuries past, in remote mountain villages on Earth?

As cold, strong, dead hands seized him and forced him to the floor, he clawed desperately under his shirt, looking for his grandmother’s silver crucifix. As the vampire’s fangs pierced his jugular vein, he remembered he’d sold it for the price of a score, months ago.


message 2: by Heather (new)

Heather MacGillivray | 581 comments Well deserved win, Tom. Congratulations. A nice scary read for a weekend afternoon of being taken back to the ruthlessly lawless and competitive, sell-your-soul inducing, Wild West where 'the native peoples' might be those who were 'needed' as the easy victims of abuse but also 'feared' as shape-shifting phantoms ... OR just as easily taken forward to a more modern tale telling of the same human condition ("the more things change the more they stay the same" saying confirmation) tale ... depending on what work the reader wants to do to make the story their own!

(I should have put that in the critiques thread I now realise if I was going to rattle on like that ... but oh well, just saying ... it was a well deserved win :) )


message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris Nance | 437 comments Nicely done, Tom! :)


message 4: by Jack (new)

Jack McDaniel | 237 comments Congrats, Tom!


message 5: by J.F. (new)

J.F. Williams | 184 comments Congratulations, Tom!


message 6: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 735 comments Whoops! Posted my congrats in the comments thread. Again, congrats, job well done!

-C


message 7: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 988 comments A very creepy story Tom!


message 8: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 352 comments Congrats!


message 9: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1029 comments Thank you, all. And, thank you, Heather, for the in-depth analysis. I am truly amazed. There were so many stories this month that I must admit were far more imaginative. I couldn't believe it. But, thank you. I'll try to come up with a good theme for next month.


message 10: by Ink (new)

Ink 2 Quill (ink2quill) Congrats Tom.


message 11: by Paula (new)

Paula | 859 comments Congratulations, Tom.


message 12: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1029 comments Thank you, John and Paula.


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