Today's #fridayflash was actually a short story I wrote a long time ago. I've decided to break the story into three parts, so here is part three, the final part. Part I was up two Fridays ago (February 15), and Part II was up last Friday (February 22).
PART III, S.S. Argonaut
We saw very few people in Sector D. The ones we did come across were either dead or dying. I wanted to help them, but Bethany drifted in and out of consciousness, and I wouldn’t dillydally when her and our children’s lives were at stake.
Fear gripped me again when we entered Sector E.
Spacesuits lay scattered like torn-up tissues. Several escape pods burned. Laser blasts lit the air. The taste of metal coated my tongue from the scent of blood. People groaned. Died.
I turned toward the voice of Sergeant Merris. Her gun smoked in her hands. The laser fire had melted the plastic.
“What happened?” Tiny hands clutched my pants as my children clung to me.
“Utter disaster, sir. We had to fire. Five escape pods are damaged. They bolted toward them.”
Another crash shattered the hull. Several people screamed, and I leaned against the wall to keep upright.
If we weren’t quick, the metal wouldn’t hold and space would suck us into its dark void.
“Listen up, everyone.” I shouted above the noise. “Shut up!”
Shrieks turned into whispers. Then everyone quieted.
“Those uninjured help an injured neighbor into the escape pods. Be careful but quick. Do not panic. We will all vacate the S.S. Argonaut safely. Escape pod pilots, take your positions within.”
The entire ship shifted and popped, but the crew listened.
“Sergeant Merris, take my children and wife to pod fourteen. I will pilot that one.” I handed Bethany over to the steely-eyed woman.
I watched as my family went to pod fourteen.
“Quickly, but don’t push. There is plenty of time.” I walked the perimeter and spoke, keeping my voice calm, soothing. Don’t let them see you panic, Jackson. The S.S. Argonaut wouldn’t make it through the asteroid belt. I knew this as a fact. The captain manned the helm as a suicide mission, but the escape pods could still save our people.
I didn’t know if it would be enough, but I would take possible death over certain death any day.
A more orderly evacuation happened, and I completed my rounds until I was certain the last able-bodied person had boarded an escape vessel.
I jogged over to pod fourteen and entered it. The door closed with a vacuum-locked seal. I glanced over the panel and buckled myself into the seat.
“Everyone, buckle up,” I said over a loud speaker connected with the fifteen pods.
I pressed the ignition button, knowing the other pilots would do the same. My wrist ached, but it wasn’t broken, just bruised with a nasty knot on it. I would fight through the pain. Then I opened the escape hatch.
The large doors slid open to inky space. Far away, I spotted diamond-like stars winking at us. A few meteors drifted behind, but the escape pods were much more versatile than the huge spaceship.
“One by one, pilots. You know the drill.”
Escape Pod One lifted off and disappeared through the hole in the ship. Two, three, four, and five followed. Six and seven were hesitant, but they vanished.
The dead, people’s belongings, and ship parts floated before us. Eight through eleven dodged the debris and left the S.S. Argonaut.
Two more and I edged our pod forward. We struck the dead and I couldn’t help but wince at the dishonor.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered as we entered space.
The escape pod flew light and fast away from the meteors, but I glanced behind us at our hope for a good future.
The S.S. Argonaut poised like a toy before a gigantic asteroid. The fifteenth escape pod left the ship as a fireball erupted.
“Oh, Captain.” I lamented his loss.
I ignited our thrusters, but our tiny vessel felt the heat from the explosion. We tumbled forward in the blast. My muscles trembled trying to keep the pod steady. Everything shook and roared.
Tiny silver ships adrift like dandelion seeds in the wind. We were alive.