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Finding Freedom

by S. Frazer 7 months ago in Short Story

Oops!... She Did It Again

"Earth to Mars Lander, report status please."

Eli glanced around. Phobos and Deimos hung low in the star-filled sky, suspended just above the peak of the enormous canyon. There was nothing but red earth in all directions as far as the eye could see.

"Mars Lander here. Gravity device status: effective. Oxygen status: 98%." He heard static, then the loud, unmistakable crunch of chips being chewed. He rolled his eyes.

Jeremiah's voice came back over the intercom. "Any sign of habitation?"

Eli shook his head and remembered that no one could see him. "Not so much as a..." His voice drifted off as he suddenly spotted a woman's face peering out at him through the rubble. "Whoa there, horsey! What the-?" He bent down and pulled the piece of broken slate from the dirt.

"Cute," Jeremiah quipped, watching Eli's movements on a large screen from Central Base. "What is it?"

"Oh, it's cute alright," Eli agreed. His brows furrowed in disbelief. "It couldn't be..."

Just then, the ground began to shake. Eli struggled to keep his balance.

Jeremiah's voice grew anxious in his ear. "Mars Lander, what's happening up there?"

The astronaut couldn't speak. An enormous spacecraft had descended from the sky and landed several yards away from where he stood.

Seconds later, a woman emerged from the ship. She wore a red latex suit and black boots. Her long, dirty blonde hair fell to her waist. She was beautiful.

"Britney." Ignoring Jeremiah's frantic calls, Eli removed his helmet and stepped forward to meet her.

Seeing his enthusiastic expression, Britney groaned and threw her head back in exasperation. "I think I did it again."

Eli's smile faltered. "Did what?" he asked uncertainly.

"I made you believe we're more than just friends."

His face fell. "Oh."

"Look, Eli, it was just a crush," she said impatiently. "It didn't mean that I was serious."

He was embarrassed. "Typical me," he mumbled, his face turning red. "I would lose all my senses."

Britney shook her head. "It's not your fault," she said, more sympathetically. "I played with your heart, got lost in the game." This is my problem, she thought to herself, frustration sweeping over her. I'm dreaming my life away, waiting for a hero who doesn't exist.

"I think I'm in love," Eli said weakly. He gestured to her ship. "It's like you were sent from above."

Britney grimaced. "I'm not that innocent." How many men had she sent to their deaths in her hunt for the Infinity Stones?

They stared at each other in awkward silence.

"I can't stay here," she said finally. "You should return to your people." She turned to leave.

"Britney, wait," he said quickly. "Before you go, there's something I want you to have." He handed her a smooth black box with a pointed tip.

Britney took the box gingerly and held it carefully between her fingers. She slid the lid open and peered inside. A large diamond pendant lay nestled within. "Oh, it's beautiful!" she exclaimed. "But wait a minute, isn't this...?"

He nodded, watching her face eagerly. "Yeah, yes, it is."

Britney's heart stopped. She fought to keep a straight face. "But I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end?"

Eli grinned. "Well, baby, I went down and got it for ya," he said proudly.

She swallowed hard. "Aw, you shouldn't have."

There was nothing more to say. Heart pounding in her chest, Britney turned away and walked quickly back to her spaceship.

Oops, I did it again, she thought guiltily. But this time it was worth it. He got it.

Back on board the ship, Britney settled into the Captain's seat and set the controls to autopilot. She felt the vehicle leave the ground and begin to pick up speed.

Placing the black box on the dashboard in front of her, Britney opened it back up and gazed at its contents in silence. After a moment, she delicately lifted the pendant from the black velvet cushion and draped it over her fingers, resting the large gem in her palm.

Finally. The Diamond Stone, what the humans had called the Heart of the Ocean. For millennia, she had scoured the galaxy for the six jewels, finding and destroying the Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, and Opal Stones. But the Diamond, discarded in the middle of the North Atlantic nearly two thousand years prior, had been lost to her when Earth fell to the Conservators.

She turned the stone in her hand, admiring the way the light hit each facet. It truly was exquisitely beautiful.

But the weight felt off. She frowned. This couldn't be a real diamond, it was far too light. Britney lifted the necklace to examine it more closely and realized that the blue, heart-shaped gem wasn't made of solid stone. It was a locket.

Her heart sank.

Fingers trembling, Britney slowly pried open the ocean-weathered latch and anxiously peeked inside.

A small scrap of worn paper lay folded within. She smoothed it out, took a deep breath, and read:

Thanks for reading! If you know the identity of T.J.B., click the ❤!

Short Story

S. Frazer

She/her • 27 • Aspiring writer • Author of Fire & Blood, Fire & Fury

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sallyfrazer4

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