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Off Orbit Chapter 3

Alistair

By Mohammed DarasiPublished 6 months ago Updated 6 months ago 5 min read
3
NightCafe - Mohammed

“On the trajectory you showed us, ‘Object X’ was orbiting around our star, right?” Johnson said.

“That is correct” answered the General.

“I’m no astrophysicist, but how in the hell did this thing just suddenly appear out of nowhere? I thought all objects orbiting Proxima Centauri were catalogued and tracked for over a hundred years now”.

Gasp! Alistair stood there dazed. It took him a few moments to reacclimate. “I’ll never get used to that”. Alistair pushed his glasses up and looked around at what he’d seen so many times before.

“...Astro-Con Observation messed up?” said Johnson in an accusatory tone.

“No, not quite correct” replied the General. “Here is a trajectory of asteroid PCX-088. First discovered 254 years ago and has since been orbiting Proxima Centauri in a normal elliptical orbit.”

“Well, that didn’t work. I need to adjust the frequency and the ang-” Alistair noticed something out of the corner of his eyes. “Well, that’s peculiar.”

As usual, everyone was standing in attention listening to the details about the unknown object, except, someone was sitting down on the floor with their head between their legs. He'd never seen this before.

Alistair moved forward to have a better view and discovered it was Jack. This is a change he hasn’t come across before, so he decided it was safest to sit back and observe.

“Those whose names were called, please report to Captain Johnson in 2 hours for your briefing. Those in engineering, start loading up gear into the Gallant. You can liaise with Oscar Clarence on what is needed”

Everyone started bustling and moving in different directions, but Jack was still sitting in the same position.

Alistair approached him. “Hey, Jack. What's going on?” He waited for a response that didn’t come.

“Come on, get up” Alistair grabbed Jack by the shoulders and lifted his head. Alistair always thought Jack was too energetic for him to be friendly with. He was the loudest around and caused trouble wherever he went, but Alistair was always envious of his confidence. That is the best way to describe Jack.

The person he was looking at here was nothing like the Jack he remembered; his eyes were hollow and unfocused. His body felt devoid of any strength, and he didn’t even acknowledge Alistair’s presence.

“What on earth happened to you?!”

Jack slowly turned his head and looked at Alistair with his dead eyes. “Nothing much-” he turned his head back around “just died a few times, that’s all” with a self-deprecating laugh, then he returned his head to its place between his knees.

Alistair felt shock through his stomach. Is Jack experiencing the same thing?

“Did you come back each time that object hit the ship?”

Alistair, whose hands were still on Jack’s shoulders felt them shudder. Jack lifted his head and looked at Alistair. This time his eyes were lively and full of desperation “What do you mean?”

“I mean that we’re having the same experience” Alistair replied sombrely.

Jack put his head down once more, which was unexpected for Alistair. While he didn’t show much outwardly, Alistair was ecstatic that there was someone else to talk to about this.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” Alistair knelt to have a better look at Jack's face. As he knelt, he noticed Jack’s shoulders were shaking.

A hysterical laugh exploded from Jack. He quickly got up from the floor, and Alistair followed suit, completely confused. Jack grabbed his shoulders firmly. “FINALLY!” Jack blurted out in tears. “I was going crazy here!”.

Alistair was uncomfortable with human contact in general, but he decided to let this bear hug Jack was giving him slide. He understood where it was coming from.

***

“...so, I tried to knock Yuri out and take steer of the ship, but Johnson quickly did the same to me and then locked me in the supply closet until the ship exploded again” Jack subconsciously reached for the back of his head and gave it a gentle massage.

“Hmm... we don’t know that the ship exploded,” Alistair started collating his attempts together with Jack’s and taking notes. “There is a bright white light, and I wake up in the main hall listening to the WFN general. The interesting thing is that I never return to the same point.”

“I return to when the commander is talking, but now that I think about it, you’re right. Over the ten returns, I did start a little later in the conversation each time.” Jack was contemplating his journey through this bizarre experience.

“You say ten times?” Alistair looked up at Jack and asked.

“Yeah?” Jack replies in confusion.

“Interesting...” Alistair looked back at his notebook and wrote something.

“What’s interesting?” Jack asked, but Alistair was too engrossed in his thinking. “Hey, Ali. What’s so interesting??” Jack shook Alistair impatiently.

“Well, you say you returned ten times, but this is my thirty-second attempt at this,” Alistair answered quickly and then returned to his notes.

“Thirty se...” Jack’s arms dropped by his side. “What do you mean thirty-second attempt?” Jack said absent-mindedly.

“Means I've done this thirty-two times” Alistair replied while still writing in his notebook.

“This guy!” that seemed to jolt Jack out of that state. “I know what you meant. I was just surprised you didn’t go crazy all this time”.

“That’s not important right now,” Alistair packed up his things and started walking. “There is something I need to check. Let's go.”

Jack started at Alistair who was speed walking away. “Although, I won’t rule out crazy just yet,” Jack said under his breath and started following Alistair, who seemed to be walking towards the bunks.

---

Check out previous chapters below:

MysteryThrillerScience FictionAdventure
3

About the Creator

Mohammed Darasi

I write fiction, poetry and occasional articles about interesting topics. I recently created a website (just because) which I will be posting my writing in (among other things). it would be great if you check it out. https://mindpit.co.uk/

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Comments (2)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran5 months ago

    Whoaaaaa so both Jack and Alistair have been coming back each time! But the number of times they've returned are not the same. Interesting! Can't wait fod the next partA

  • I am very much into thrillers and adventure. No so much Sci Fi... Your story kept me interested to the end. You did a great job with this. Describing the details with enough simplicity and touches of complexity so that the reader is able to understand what is going on without having to reread what was just read. You kept everything uncluttered enough leaving enough space for your characters to develop nicely.

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