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Silver Coconut

by Scott Haller about a year ago in science fiction
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Adrift in nowhere

The escape pod bobbed among the waves, like a coconut. Albeit a hairless, gleaming silver coconut. Not that it mattered to Frida, she had never seen one. She had clambered atop the top hatch on the top of the pod. Long ago some logical, slightly sadistic engineers had realised that an escape pod being shot out of an exploding ship may not have had the most optimal launch. Stabilisers and retrorockets may be compromised or charred leaving an orbiting oven. Also, they were quite expensive, considering the number of survivors likely to make it to the pods. Hence, the sphere. More economical than gentle, what are the odds of a marble reaching a habitable surface from the surface? Able to enter an atmosphere at the same angle every time, the atmosphere’s friction applied evenly and minimally thanks to the sphere’s superior area to volume ratio.

Frida was one of those lucky marbles. She had skipped along the surface like a pebble until she finally slowed and stopped. Better than pinballing through a canyon she supposed. The hull could only take so much. Still, she threw open the hatch to immediately retch from the ride, hurling yellow into the turquoise water. The pod stayed upright thankfully, ballast in the out hull steadying it.

So, where the hell was she? The ship was in an uncharted region, taking a shortcut through some unknown planets. Turns out it was uncharted before as it was also a preferred highway for asteroids, being slingshot too fast for even the radar to detect. The first tore into the rear rudder the next into the control room and then even more until the ship was just a massive colander. Some others had made it to the pods, but the explosion scattered them like shotgun pellets.

Frida breathed slowly, trying to assess her options. Uncharted territory meant no one would know the ship’s last position. The emergency signal was beaming out, but any rescue attempt could likely end in another asteroid ambush, but the ships could divert all power to the shields and be fine. Her captain had diverted all their power to the engines, the moron. She cursed his impatience, guess they definitely wouldn’t make their delivery schedule now hey sir?

Bringing out her binoculars she scanned around her. Nothing but turquoise ocean in her scope, no islands or even rocks, just an aquatic tundra. Wait, did she see something? It seemed a speck of dust on her lens it was so distant. She enhanced the binoculars to their fullest range. She gasped, it was a ship. She could just make out a sail, so it was unpowered but a miracle nonetheless. She grabbed a flare from a compartment and lit it, red smoke billowing upwards. The peered back, could the ship see the plume? Between the green sea and blue sky, the trail of red would have to stand out. The speck was getting smaller, she couldn’t see the white sail anymore, just the hull. Then it was gone over the horizon, and with it, any chance of rescue. Frida slumped into the hull defeated. She let the red smoke continue its ascent, there could be a second miraculous appearance in this vastness. Finally the bobbing nausea, mixed with hopelessness, lulled her to sleep in the cabin.

A dull thud against the hull. Frida stirred awake, could it be a sea creature? Monsters wouldn’t be rare on a planet like this. Clambering out of the hatch she saw it, the ship. It’s large sail flapped in the breeze, it’s white hull gleaming in the moonlight. She had forgotten about the night-activated emergency lights, the pod shone red, an irresistible lure for any curious wanderers. A miracle.

There were several humanoids on the fabric deck of the catamaran-shaped ship. They were dark-skinned, unsurprisingly for the constant ultraviolet glare of the sea. They were looking at her ship in awe, equally unsurprising. As they saw Frida they pointed excitedly before bowing, Frida smiled, this should work out fine. As she clambered on she noticed, the sail was not white but pale pink, the white hull was disjointed and different width of planks. It was skin and bone. So no trees in this world then, she would manage. She had always wanted a seaside retirement.

science fiction

About the author

Scott Haller

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