Best Served Cold

Author: Ben Coppin

The only thing protecting me from Titan’s vicious cold is my fourth generation spacesuit, the result of decades of experimentation, engineering and design work. Suit sales have been in decline lately, and my marketing people assure me that a forty-kilometre walk on the coldest inhabited rock in the Solar System is the best way to build consumer confidence.

I pull up my messages as I walk. Just one, from my Chief of Staff, Mary.

“Hello, Michael. I have something I need to say, and this seems like the perfect moment.”

Mary’s voice, usually friendly and warm, is strangely cool.

“I want you to understand how I see you, Michael. You’re so proud of your engineering prowess. But you’re sloppy. There’s always an army of flunkies behind you, picking up the pieces, keeping it all together.”

I’m briefly distracted by the pale clouds my breath is forming in my helmet.

“All these years, you never asked about my family, never wondered if I had one. If you had, I wonder if you’d have recognized my husband’s name? Oh, yes, I was married, once.”

My whole body is shivering now. What’s happening?

“Those first-generation suits. So much promise, but so flawed. Your over-confidence led you to put the lives of strangers on the line. And one of those strangers was my husband, Charlie.

“You’d be surprised how easy it was for me: getting that first job, slowly working my way up to Chief of Staff. And then I just had to wait for a chance like this. No-one looked twice at me, carrying that old suit, the one Charlie died in. And it took just a minute to switch it with your new, safe spacesuit.”

My breaths are icy shards. My head is swimming. I can’t remember why I’m here.

“Goodbye, Michael. I’d say it’s been a pleasure, but it hasn’t. Your hubris cost me my husband. And now it’ll take your life.”

I fall to my knees. Someone was talking, but I don’t remember who it was, what they were saying. Where am I? On another world, I think. I’m feeling sleepy. I should be afraid, but I have nothing to fear. My suit will keep me safe.

2 Comments

  1. tk421a

    Yes, revenge is a dish best served cold. Payback is always a bitch, as they say. Nicely done.

  2. rjerbacher

    Man, and I thought I had problems with the navy two-button suit I bought at Macy’s. Good story.

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Random Story :

The Past

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Flash Fiction

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries
Founding Member

Submissions

We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.

Voices of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.

If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact ssmith@365tomorrows.com