Posted by: Hummingbird James | February 19, 2011

Chatterbox

Writing is one of the few things I can do somewhat well. I have a lot of ideas circulating inside my brain, too. So I thought, hey, how about I put a bunch of them down into actual stories? Even better, why not put a bunch of them together in a collection?

So, I’ve decided to make a book. It’s tentatively titled “Tales from the Birdhouse”, and it will feature four or five stories, straight from my brain, ranging from spy thrillers to giant mecha noir. I’m quite excited about this, actually; it’s my first attempt to try and publish something of mine. I hope to finish the stories by the end of April, and get it published during the summer. But for now, have a quick preview of one of the pieces I’m working on. It’s currently called Problems.

Darkness engulfed me. I pushed off from the cold metal. My heavy suit suddenly felt like it was nothing as I moved away from the airlock. I grabbed one of the rails nearby and swung myself to it so that I didn’t float off into space. I looked above me. I dipped down, pulled myself up on the rail and shot myself to the top of the ship, catching hold of another rail on the way.

I could have just taken the ladder, but that gets boring after the fifth spacewalk.

I lifted myself over the rail and planted my boots firmly on the hull plating, then raised my arm in front of me to flip a switch on the wrist panel. The electromagnets on my feet hummed to life. I walked across the hull plating, step by magnetised step. Sweat formed on my brow. Losing heat is a bitch in space. I detached the automatic screwdriver from my belt as I reached my destination.

Simple maintenance. The chief engineer wouldn’t normally have a job this menial. But I do it every month.

I surveyed the grey box in front of me. Sometimes, ship builders had no sense of aesthetics. They go and make the hull svelte and curved, then stick a square lump on the top. It wasn’t very large, but it was noticeable. I loosened the top of it. Despite it being routine, this was a very important task. If the main sensor array’s mechanism was out of alignment by even one femtometre, or if the primary X-ray antenna was pointing in a third of a minute in the wrong direction, the ship could collide with an asteroid and no one would notice until we were all space dust. The screwdriver buzzed as I took out the last screw.

I pulled off the cover, and placed it on the hull next to me. I put the screws back in their holes, so that I couldn’t lose them. I peered inside. It appeared to be in working order. I took out the alignment caliper, and tapped the side of my helmet to activate the communicator.

“Engineering, this is Lieutenant Dell. I’m about to begin sensor maintenance, please shut down the array. Send a system-wide alert about the temporary downtime.” My voice was a little scratchy. I hadn’t drunk my morning coffee yet.
“Roger, Lieutenant. Array going down in five.” was the reply. Sure enough, in five seconds the faint glow from the power conduits faded into nothingness. “Array is down, you can proceed with maintenance.”

So, what do you think? Please leave comments with well-thought out criticisms.

Also: I’m going to be livewriting a short story that I will hopefully include in this collection tonight! Come watch! Oh sorry, I finished.

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