Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

The control harness turned blue a second before I knew we were going to be hit. I pressed up against the back of the transport in a futile simian effort to get as far away from the pain as possible. The light outside the windows went nuclear. God’s donkey kicked us in the side of the head. In a lighting-flash world of white, I blacked out.

I woke up a few seconds later. We were a submarine in an ocean of fire. Our craft was in a flatspin in the top third of a mushroom cloud. We were a black dot in a great orange lake of fiery death. We were a tadpole in the heart of a manmade sun. The pilots were screaming. I looked across to my fellow dropouts. Their smiles echoed my own.

Everything was going according to plan.

I stood up and kept my balance. My men did as well. Our suits were too bulky for salutes but they stood still, waiting to follow my lead. The plane kept spinning. The eight of us stood there swaying a little like we were on the deck of a boat. The pilots had stopped screaming. They were probably dead.

I nodded and walked forward. My giant boots clunked on the grates like one-ton magnetic dragon feet. I put my gloved hand on the hot peeling paint of the door release handle. I counted to three loudly in my helmet. The men tensed.

I pulled the handle.

Hell was let into the cigar-tube body of the plane. It was too much stress for the vehicle. It flew apart. In pieces, its molecular integrity couldn’t take the heat and it turned to dust. The pilots were incinerated.

We dropped like rocks. We dropped like spiders. We freefell through thick plasmic radiated atomic hellfire. The displays on our face shields showed us where we were in relation to the others and the ground. The ground was coming up quick.

One of my men starting twitching. His face shield had a flaw in the monocrystal. It cracked. One second later, it was like he never existed.

We hit the ground feet first with no chutes like God’s hammers. Five thunderous beats. Five men in the middle of the worst that science had to offer. We were standing at the center of the crater. We were standing in the bottom of a bowl of red heat. We were standing at the eye of the hurricane. It was a vacuum here surrounded by billowing upward swinging curtains of smoke and flame like a Bedouin’s bedchamber. We stood in silence. We stood equidistant like the points of a pentagram in position around it.

The arrival. There was a fifteen-dimensional diamond floating in the center of our formation. It was aware of us.

We primed our weapons. We were going to nip this in the bud.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows