Welcome back to the blog! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and this is Story Time With Tim! An ongoing series where I share my old writings and writings that don’t seem to be doing anything more than gathering dust! I have some new offerings that should cover much of this year and am working on new material as well. Maybe this will be the year I get an official publication beyond self-publishing! Or, not. You never know. Gotta keep trying though.
Anyhow, this story is a novella I wrote back in 2019-2020. It’s all about a ship being propelled through space to the nearest star system of Alpha Centauri… I think. I based the plot off of a plan scientists currently have utilizing lasers to push small swarm satellites to one fifth the speed of light in the hopes of reaching Alpha Centauri within twenty years. I thought the concept was fun and came up with a sort of deep space mutiny involving solar sails and stupid people. Just like all great stories do!
Since I have so much going on, I am just going to copy paste these intros and outros. Sure, it’s a little lazy, I suppose. But, I will add some extra thoughts here and there. So, stay tuned and thanks for dropping by, folks!
Check out Part One here –> The Day The Laser Died Part One
Check out Part Two here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Two
Check out Part Three here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Three
Check out Part Four here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Four
Check out Part Five here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Five
Check out Part Six here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Six
Check out Part Seven here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Seven
Check out Part Eight here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Eight
Check out Part Nine here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Nine
Check out Part Ten here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Ten
THE DAY THE LASER DIED PART ELEVEN (FINALE)
IT HAD WORKED out better than he’d thought. For the most part, anyhow. They went after each other as hard as he expected. Fear was always a powerful motivator in situations of intense stress. At least, that had always been his experience. Strangely, he’d stopped feeling fear some years before.
Brussels, Accra, Sapporo… I should have died in each of them. Yet, always surviving by some miracle, Dreki mused as he hurried along the corridors of the bottom level of the ship. There was much to do and not much time left in which to maneuver. By now, Captain Holland would be looking for him with whoever survived the little insurrection. He had to admit, Holland’s quick thinking had thrown a wrench in his plans. He’d just meant to pick everyone off one by one, instilling paranoia in the crew over why so many were committing suicide and what their chances of survival were as a result. He’d managed a similar operation once. The mission to Sapporo, in fact. All of those involved could have sworn they were being haunted by a ghost and one man took it upon himself to simply destroy the facilities. The building had gone up in a blaze of glory while Dreki himself had been blown back out of a rear docking bay and over a fence. Somehow surviving that whole debacle.
Yet, the mere fact that people were so quick to give in to their own suspicions and sacred beliefs, gave him just the opportunity he needed right there on the ship.
Fear… Fear of the unknown. And now they’ll come right to me and we can finish the job here, he nodded to himself reaching the cargo bay and searching for the lower access ports where all of the drop ramps and survey vehicles were stored. It’s all coming together. Soon, soon it will all be over with. I might even accept my own fate this time.
He smiled to himself. Deep in his mind, though, he suspected he’d be the final survivor once more.
DOUG FROWNED AS they searched. Dreki seemed to have disappeared altogether. What he really wanted to be doing, was cleaning up the horror show in the science bay, giving the final funeral rites, and working on finishing off those solar sails. There weren’t many of them left, and the whole notion of a breeding populace was now pretty much right out the window, but Doug was pretty sure they could make it to their new homeworld. Despite how depressingly dire their situation had now gotten compounded.
Guile, Sela, and Nuru walked up from the stairwell down towards Hydroponics and the cargo bay, Guile shaking his head even before Doug could ask.
“We even checked the emergency escape pods, airlocks, and dropship bay. Can’t find hide nor hair of him.”
Doug let his frown deepen. “That’s impossible. He has to be somewhere. He didn’t just jump ship.”
“That guy always did give me the creeps…” Meredith said looking around in suspicion.
“Did you know him before we came along on this venture to Gilligan’s Intergalactic Isle?” Doug mused with only a fraction of a wry smile.
“Sort of. He wasn’t around very much. However, he did hang around Ministry officials frequently as we were making final arrangements for transport to the Starmancer in Luna’s orbit. Always lurking somewhere in some corner when meetings about our mission parameters were being held. Just didn’t like how he looked. Of course, now he’s one of Emmett’s insurrectionists, so there’s that.”
Doug ‘hmmed’ and rubbed his chin with a hand. Then a loud echo rang out from the cargo bay down the stairs. It sounded like one of the storage pods being rammed into a wall. They all looked to one another. Then those with pistols or rifles checked their ammunition stocks (which amounted to only Doug, Guile, Sela, and Fredrick. Nuru and Amiko gripped some batons they’d scrounged up while Meredith only rubbed her shoulders, her eyes widening in terror).
“Alright. We know he’s likely rearmed himself. So, nobody take any unnecessary chances. We spread out in a delta spread,” Doug looked around at those still left. “We bring him in alive if at all possible. But don’t let him take any more liberties than he’s already assumed in this mess, alright?”
They all nodded. Doug led the way down the stairwell and through the narrow corridor leading towards the cargo bay. When they entered, they saw most of the storage pods where they’d been left. One pod seemed to have been rammed towards the rear wall of the bay but nothing else was out of order. In fact, they saw nobody else in the bay to speak of.
Guile, Nuru, and Fredrick took the right flanking positions spacing themselves out some eight feet apart with Guile closest to Doug. Meredith, Amiko, and Sela took Doug’s left flank also at eight feet intervals. They walked through the middle of the room their gazes taking in every possible nook and cranny and hiding space. Doug knew there was only the one way out of the bay to the rest of the ship. And that was the corridor to Hydroponics. However, there was an alcove leading to a workman’s breakroom at the northeast end. Even so, that was a dead end. If he wasn’t in the main bay proper, then that was the only other place he could be hiding.
They were over halfway across the bay and heading towards that breakroom when a massive blast and a shockwave knocked them all off their feet and sent them flying across the smooth floor of the bay. A singeing wave of fire blasted across Doug’s back. Screams of shock and pain rang out and he lifted his head off the ground to take in the scene. Those on his left were struggling to roll over on their backs yet also trying to put out flames along their clothing or hair. He looked to his right and saw Guile pulling himself to the motionless forms of Fredrick and Nuru, their bodies now pyres of flame. Beyond them, he saw a large pod completely blown to pieces and a charred section of wall rising all the way up to the ceiling.
His ears still rang so he didn’t hear the voice at first. But he noticed the feet stopping four feet away from his face. Doug forced himself to look up into the smiling visage of Dreki who was pointing a pistol towards his face.
“…honestly thought—at—ould have ended you all for good…” he was saying. Doug shook off the nausea working its way through his entire body. Dreki let a half frown break his smile as he looked over at the damage of the pod but not so much the wall. Guile had reached Freddy and Nuru and was desperately trying to put the flames out on them. “I’m surprised. The outer wall should have completely blown out. We don’t have emergency shutters on this vessel. Did you do something unofficial, captain?”
Dreki looked down to Doug who couldn’t help but offer up a sad chuckle as he twisted over onto his side. He couldn’t find his pistol. It had been blown out of his grasp. He was pretty sure that was the case with the others as well. Guile was too busy to notice what was going on with himself and Dreki. Fredrick was most likely dead. And Sela looked unconscious. Which meant nobody who had a firing weapon was able to react. Not that those with batons were in any better shape.
“What? You didn’t get the memo, Mr. Siggurdsson?”
Guile finally stopped when he heard Doug say this and worked to painfully turn himself around to look. But he wouldn’t be of any help anytime soon. Therefore, Doug decided to try and buy some time until he could figure out how to get the rest of them out of the mess they found themselves in.
Doug continued, “The Ministry and I had a conversation about reinforcing the hull of the ship. I might have brought up how twenty years in the depths of space was bound to present a certain risk or two from meteoroid fragments piercing the vessel making an arrival fairly uncertain. They agreed to retrofits. Including reinforcing the cargo bay interior. Didn’t hear any of that during your spying sessions?”
Dreki laughed. “Spying sessions? Captain, I was put here by the Ministry themselves. I’ll admit, I wasn’t aware of the reinforced hulls. But, no matter. The task is still the task. If the mission has failed, I’m to dispose of the crew and destroy the vessel. I think there are still a few escape capsules at my disposal, so I’m sure I’ll do just fine.”
Doug furrowed his brows, “Dispose of the crew? Dreki, we’re on a one-way mission! My god, why would they make such a decision? The mission hasn’t failed yet! It had only a minor hiccup until you came along!”
“The mission failed the moment the Ministry collapsed…”
“What the hell are you on about?”
“You still don’t get it, do you? All those briefs that suddenly ceased being sent some five years ago?” Dreki grimaced and lowered his weapon only a few inches. “The Ministry fell to the Hegemony.”
“How could you possibly know that?”
Dreki gave a sad smile. “I told you already. They sent me here as insurance. I received the intel after being fortunately awakened by your good fellows over there. The message was, ‘Terminate mission objectives. Federation overthrown.’ End transmission. Oh, there was some blurb about Earth being destroyed and yadda, yadda, yadda. But that was more than likely hyperbolic nonsense. After all, how would the planet be destroyed, eh? And still be able to get off a message? Not likely. But, the collapse of the Federation, oh yes, dear captain. We’re all that remains. And if we are the last of humanity, well, then we really don’t have much of a hope beyond prayer, now do we?”
Doug caught his breath in his chest and stared off into nothing for a long moment. It was impossible, of course. Just more manipulation by their intended executioner. However, there was a ring of truth behind his words as well.
“Why wouldn’t they just allow our mission to continue? If they think we’re the last of humanity, shouldn’t the priority be seeing that some of our species survives?”
“Not if it means the Ministry being seen as weak. Better we all fall together as one, than survive as cowardly traitors fleeing our fates.”
“That’s… sick…” Doug muttered, his mouth turning down from a grimace into rage. “But, then again, what would I expect from a government willing to murder a man’s family just to convince him to sacrifice himself to a fool’s errand.”
Dreki reaimed the pistol towards Doug’s head. “You shouldn’t speak so poorly of the Ministry. They gave you life and opportunity. To disparage their memory is to forfeit that life.”
“Doesn’t seem like I have much choice one way or another, does it now? So, here’s my final thoughts on the Ministry, they can go fuck themselves in hell for all of eternity for all I care.”
Dreki let his own grimace grow deeper as he lifted the weapon higher. All at once, the ship shuddered and a huge thrumming boom echoed all throughout the bay. Dreki was momentarily thrown off balance giving Doug all the opportunity he needed. He thrust himself off of the floor and barreled into Dreki’s midsection tossing him backwards. Somehow the man didn’t topple over, but that didn’t stop Doug from balling his fist and ramming his right elbow straight into Dreki’s nose. The man howled in rage as Doug did it twice more then grabbed the pistol in Dreki’s right hand, twisted it out of his grasp, and shot him five times in the chest sending him flying backwards several feet.
Their attacker lay motionless on the floor staring up at the ceiling with shocked eyes. Doug shot him three more times for posterity’s sake. Keeping the pistol tightly gripped in his hand, Doug rushed over to where Guile rested on his side having watched everything transpire. Doug knelt beside him.
“Screw that guy,” Guile managed. “They’re dead, captain. Dead. The blast got them right in the back. I think it was instantaneous. I hope it was, for their sakes, anyhow.”
“You don’t have to call me captain anymore, Guile. We’re on our own.”
“Yeah, I heard. Sucks, don’t it? Being the last of our kind? Jesus, Doug. What are we going to do now?”
“The best that we can. Come on, let me give you a hand. Your wife is going to need you at your best.”
Guile allowed Doug to help him to his feet and, together, they walked over to the other survivors. Sela woke when they arrived. Guile went to her and they held one another for a long moment as Doug checked on Meredith and Amiko.
IT WAS DESPAIR.
DOUG HOLLAND AND Guile Thandan ultimately ended up replacing the solar sails on the starboard side of the vessel. Afterwards, they helped the remaining survivors of the starship Starmancer back into stasis. Nobody was keen on the notion but they knew it was either die a grisly death, or sleep through whatever oblivion might await them. After a last dinner, all of them agreed, it was far better to die in one’s sleep than face the horrors of the reality around them.
“Sweet dreams, Doug,” Guile said as he leaned back into his own stasis pod with a smile.
“See you on the other side, Guile,” Doug replied with his own smile.
“Here’s to hoping there is one.”
The stasis pod closed and Doug locked it down. He went through the other pods, five of them in all. His and Guile’s included. It was a sad state of affairs. Of twenty colonists sent into the great unknown, only a quarter of them were potentially going to arrive. All because their government decided that if the Ministry couldn’t survive, neither should their colonials. He sighed as he put himself into his own pod and watched the lid close.
The lights in the bay dimmed and the electrical systems went into power saving mode. Before he knew it, he was asleep and dreaming of a little girl playing with her beloved dog out on a hilltop on some long ago day. The smile on his face broadened, and their journey into the great unknown continued.
Thanks for reading and I hope you read from the beginning! There was a lot that transpired in this work and only now do I realize some formatting issues occurred. Oi. I’ll try to correct them before this drops if I can. If not, well, I hope you enjoyed the story nonetheless! Read to you all again next week!
~Timothy S Purvis
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