Posts Tagged society of bastards

Fortnightcap: Don’t Walk

Don’t Walk

A Fortnightcap by DL Thurston

Creative Commons License

The little white walking man gave way to a blinking red palm.  Beside it, a red countdown began at 28.

“Come on, guys, we can still make it!”  Brad picked up his pace, leaving Antoine and Jon looking at each other, and speeding up to catch him.

“You’ll never make it.  We’ll never make it!”  Jon hastened his pace to catch up with Brad.  Brad had, in the meantime, reached the edge of the sidewalk.  Reached the curb.  Stepped off and into the street.  The countdown was at 24 seconds.

Antoine ran to catch up with the other two.  “It’s an eight lane road.  Just stop, we’ll wait for the next walk sign!”

“We can make it,” said Brad, “don’t just stand there.”

“Hell,” Antoine said, and followed the two out into the street as the countdown hit 20 seconds.  These things were always mistimed, gave people too long to cross, were designed for even the slowest walkers.  Eight lanes.  Nineteen seconds.  It wasn’t that far.

“This!” Brad shouted, doing a turn.  “This is living!  Look at that.  Eighteen, seventeen.  We’ve still got several lanes to go.  We might not even make it before the hand turns red.  Wouldn’t that be something?  Out here during Don’t Walk.”

“You’re sick,” said Antoine.

“Sick and crazy,” amended Jon, as the sign hit fifteen.

“And alive.  Not like you two.  If I listened to you, where would we be.  Back there!” he said, turning to point at the curb behind them.  “Just a bunch of clucking hens talking about how long it takes to cross a road.”

Brad turned back, took a step towards the far curb.  His foot landed awkwardly, his ankle twisted, and he went down hard on the asphalt.  Twelve seconds.

“Damn!” Antoine shouted.  “Damn damn damn.  I knew this would happen, I mean, I knew this would happen.  I follow you two bastards out into the road, and now look at this, Brad’s twisted his ankle, and we’ve got ten seconds left to make it across the street!”

Nine.

“Leave him!” Jon shouted, starting to run.

Eight.

“We can’t leave him out here!”

Seven.

“We can, and we will.  He knew what he was doing!”

Six.

“He’s our friend!”

Five.

“Leave me, damn it!”

Four.

Antoine looked back at Brad, and started running.  Four lanes of traffic to go, and not nearly enough time.  He looked ahead and Jon was on the far curb.  He was shouting, but Antoine couldn’t hear the words.  All he could hear was the blood rushing past his ears.  His feet as they pounded on the pavement.  His heart as it throbbed and tried to erupt from his chest.

One.

The curb was still two feet off.  He launched himself forward.  He hit the ground hard and rolled.  His eyes were screwed shut, instinct protecting them as he hit.  As he opened them, he prayed that he saw the white of the sidewalk instead of the black of the road.  Prayed that he’d made it across before the sign went from flashing to solid red.

White.

He exhaled, then looked back.  Jon was staring at the road, shaking.  Antoine looked to where Brad had fallen, and saw smoke being dissipated by the speeding traffic.

The sign was clear.

Don’t walk.

Fortnightcaps are biweekly experimentation into short form fiction. All Fortnightcaps are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. So if you like the story, please feel free to link people back here. And if you didn’t, maybe the one in two weeks will be better.

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Fortnightcap: Field Trip

Field Trip

A Fortnightcap by DL Thurston

Creative Commons License

The sunshields went from opaque to clear, and the kids went silent for the first time in the trip.  The vessel beyond was huge.  It had to be.  Larger than the star jumper they were in.  Larger than any vessel these kids had seen.  Likely larger than all the star ships they’d seen combined.

“Class, this is the Generation Ship Eden.  The very first generational ship that was sent out from earth.  This is how humans first left Earth to settle new solar systems.  It was designed to hold thousands of people for centuries.  Can anyone tell me why?”

A hand went up.  “They didn’t have star drives?”

“Very good, Billy!  Yes, these ships were sent out in the years before star drives existed.  Back then it was believed that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light.  Can anyone tell me the speed of light?”

No hands.  They were still just third graders.  They wouldn’t get into astrophysics for two more years.

“Well, let’s put it this way, the speed of light is such that light traveling from Sol to the earth takes only eight minutes.  We call that eight light minutes, the distance light travels in eight non relativistic minutes.  A light year is the distance light travels in one year, and from one solar system to the next is dozens if not hundreds of light years.  And thus without star drives, those old ships could take centuries to reach their destination.  So these generational ships were sent out, designed such that the crew that arrived at the destination would be the great great great grand children of the crew that left.”

A hand went up.

“Yes, Michelle?”

“How many years was the trip of the Eden?”

“It was launched in 2105 towards what we now call New Caldonia, the first planet outside of the solar system confirmed to be habitable by humans.  The Eden was rediscovered in 2340, and ever since it has been maintained as a museum.”

She waited.  This was the time where the smarter kids got to show off their math skills.  A hand went up.

“Yes, Billy?”

“Has anyone told them about the invention of the star drive yet?”

“That would disturb the historic nature of the ship.”

Fortnightcaps are biweekly experimentation into short form fiction. All Fortnightcaps are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. So if you like the story, please feel free to link people back here. And if you didn’t, maybe the one in two weeks will be better.

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