Five Sentence Fiction: “Faust”

You have everything you ever wanted — the money, the women, the power — and all it cost you was your immortal soul. I’d imagine you even think it’s been worth it. I’d imagine they all have, over the years, right up until the end. But they all change their mind, when he comes.

And he always comes.

SF Drabble #431 “Pop-Pop’s FTL Drive Or Whatever”

“…As well as all real estate Earthwide, including offshore and subsurface, and all offworld holdings, including domed habitats on Luna and Mars, listed mining claims on several asteroids, and the moon Nereid in its entirety.”

“Wait, what? Nereid?”

“That’s correct.”

“That’s a moon of… Saturn?”

“Neptune, actually.”

“And my grandfather owned it?”

“And now you do. Nereid: its total mass, as well as a theoretical one million kilometer diameter torus of controlled space around its orbital path as defined by the UN Astronomical Service.”

“Oh. Cool, I guess.”

“On behalf of the partners, we’re all very sorry for your loss.”

They’re Coming

Speeding down a deserted highway, late at night, at the very limit of my control; look in the rear-view. Fumble with the phone, auto-dial, wait in vain for an answer. Come on!

Try to control my breathing. Look in rear-view, again…


Flowers For Aldebaran

The trickles of sweat left channels cut through the layer of fine dust on her skin and fell to spot the dry dirt between her hands. She stabbed at the hard surface with her trowel, trying to break the surface enough to plant a biopacket deep enough.

“Having much luck?”

“It’s even harder here.” She looked up, shielding her eyes against the sunlight. Doctor Neves stood over her, hands on hips. She added, “It’s spreading slower.”

It had been a dead world when they landed, not even bacteria. Nothing will grow in dead dirt: one needs soil. “We have to be patient, Morgan.” Neves sighed. “It was always going to be this way, no matter where we put down.”

She didn’t respond; he wasn’t telling her anything she didn’t know.  She pulled up another clod of dirt hoping to find living earth underneath, but found only more of the same, and kicked more dust up into the air in the process.

“Come on in. Take a break. Andy’s got the big-screen working again.”

She looked back at the few dozen rows of biopacket holes behind her, between her and the habitats; she turned and looked out across the desolate flats stretching towards a slightly too-close horizon. “Yeah, ok.”

--- --- --- ---

“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Grandma, Happy Birthday to you!” They made the children sing it, as was tradition, while the adults stood around the periphery and recorded video for the archive.

Morgan smiled, leaned her cane against the table to clap with both hands. “Thank you, thank you.”

There was a cake, but no candles. Morgan let the festivities bubble around her, watching children run around, watching one of her daughters-in-law cut the cake, watching her grandson Earl bring her a piece everyone knew she wouldn’t eat. “Thank you, dear.”

“How does ninety feel?”

“Not bad. Low gravity helps.”

He chuckled. They always did that, the second generation, the ones born here, whenever their parents made any comment about how this — the only home they knew — was different from Earth. “I think Angie’s got a present for you.”

“Oh? Angie?” There were so many of them, by now. “Angie…”

“Hiram’s youngest.”

“Oh, Angie. Why didn’t you say so. Where is she?”

“Let me see if I can find her.”

There was a video loop playing on the big screen, a montage of her life: digging, talking, digging some more, getting married, holding an infant Hiram, digging, talking. She lost herself in it for a bit, remembering, until she felt a little hand tap her on the leg.

“Grandma, happy birthday.” Angie, beaming, stood at her knees with her hands behind her back. She brought her arms around, and yelled, “Ta-da!”

It was a flower in bloom, capping a long cut stem; Morgan reached out with a shaky hand, took it gently between long, bony forefingers.

Earl whispered, “They finally bloomed three days ago. We were afraid they’d be late.”


“What is it?”

He rewound the tape, turned up the gain, adjusted the 31-band equalizer to filter out some of the white noise, played it again. “Not sure.”

“One of the target hulls crushing on its way down, maybe?”

He just shook his head, played it again, held the headphones tight against the sides of his head. “Sounds biological. Maybe geological. Maybe. Like a thermal vent at the bottom or something? But my bet is biological.”

The tone of the Admiral’s voice was dismissive. “It’d have to be huge to—”

“You brought me in because you’ve been lighting off atom bombs under water, and now suddenly your sub guys are hearing strange noises. You brought me in, me, because I’m the expert, and I cash the check whether you believe me or not.” He took the earphones off. “Just saying.”

“I apologize.” The Admiral held up his hands. “So what kind of… biological… are we talking?”

“Well, you’re right about one thing. It would have to be huge. Bigger than a blue whale, maybe twice as big. But that’s not what worries me.”

“What worries you?”

“Every time we hear it, it’s at a shallower depth. And it sounds angry.”