Author : Olivia Black, Featured Writer
“Hey Ed? What’s this light mean?” Maureen said, tapping the bulb with her index finger. The panel she examined covered the entire wall with its indicators and switches. The whole thing was dead except for that one blinking red light.
“What light?” Ed’s scruffy head popped out of a hatch in the floor some feet away.
“This one,” she said, turning to scowl at him with one hand on her hip and her thumb jutting back at the panel.
“It’s just your eyes playing tricks on you,” Ed scoffed, returning down his hidey-hole.
“It is not.” Maureen stomped her foot and let out an exasperated growl. “Will you just come look?”
“Fine, but this whole area of the facility hasn’t had any juice for years,” he said smartly, coming over to stand next to Maureen and examine the little light.
“I don’t believe it.”
“Do you think this will be any help in proving my hypothesis?” She asked, biting her lip.
“You mean your theory that the place we’ve lived our whole lives, that our parents have lived their whole lives, is actually a spaceship? No, I don’t think one twinkling light will be much help,” he replied, tapping on the glass just to prove his point. As if in response, the pulsing quickened until the light shone solidly red.
“What did you do?” Maureen shoved Ed out of the way. She bent forward for a closer look, practically shoving her face up against the panel. Beside the light was a switch with something written on it that she couldn’t read. Without expecting much, she flipped it. In the distance they heard a loud squawk followed by what sounded like a woman’s voice, making both of them jump.
“What was that?” Ed said, swinging his lamp around nervously.
“Shh!” Maureen strained to hear, but couldn’t make out any words. “Come on.”
Grabbing Ed’s hand, she led him down a narrow corridor that dead-ended with an ancient hatch. The voice was much louder here, but still muffled by the thick metal.
“I guess that’s that,” Ed says, turning away.
“What do you mean? Let’s open it.”
“It’s sealed. Just like all the other hatches in the dark areas of the facility. You’ll need Phyllis’s boys to bring their gear and cut it open, and you know they won’t. Not after last time.” Ed continued walking back the way they came.
“Damn you, Ed!” Maureen balled her fists and then took a deep breath to get reign in her temper. That wasn’t fair. Ed still came on all her silly expeditions into the dark areas – even after the last time. She faced the hatch and put her hands on the release. Yanking on the stiff mechanism, there was a click and then a groan as the hatch swung open. Maureen gasped, her hands flying up to cover her mouth. Ed turned back to stare, eyes bulging.
Beyond the hatch was a window unlike any they’d ever seen before. And it was filled with an impossibly large expanse of stars, just like in footage from the archives.
“Exploration Vessel Franklin, do you read? Can anyone respond? Your ship has been lost for nearly a hundred years, but we’re still reading life signs. Is anyone receiving this? We’re here to bring you home.”
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Tidy piece. Nice characterisation.
I took the ending to suggest that the communication was missed and perhaps they would not get picked up.
Earlier in the story the muffled voice does suggest that there was a comm behind the hatch, so that foils my idea!
I like a story that ends in irony like that.
Very cool. Only thing I would change is adding something at the end about where the voice is coming from- intercom inside the hatch she opened, or something. The end is kind of jarring as-is.