On the day before New Year’s Eve we’re visiting outer space in J. C. Michael’s Space Opera short short story. This is a far cry from his usual genre, horror, but he pulls it off admirably.
Contact Made, Contact Lost
by J. C. Michael
No MegaHD. No three dimensional holography. No TrueSound. It was an old fashioned image, barely four days old. A flickering picture distorted by static, hypnotic and beguiling. As the man watched the child in the picture he felt a longing which crushed his heart. He wished with every fibre of his body and soul to be able to touch the young boy, to hold him close, to smell his soft golden hair, to fall asleep in each others arms. The wait for the recording to arrive had been torturous, but it was here now. Nothing else mattered, he would watch it, and watch it again. The silent child opening his presents. The smiles. The hugs from his mother. It was a scene of domestic, Earthside, bliss, marred by the absence of one thing. A character who should have been central to the scene. A father. Him.
“Captain, are you ready?”
The voice barely registered. The Captain couldn’t even have said who had spoken despite knowing every member of his 55 man crew better than members of his own family. Better than the child who held his attention captive, and refused to let go.
An explosion shook the whole ship and the image almost vanished, yet it held, as did the spell it had cast over its viewer.
“We need to go Captain, now.”
It was a pointless comment. The Captain would go down with his ship. Yet not out of duty, but out of an acceptance of the futility of leaving. An acceptance which had caused him to shut down and be left with a single point of focus. The son he had never seen. The now eight year old boy he’d left behind whilst still cocooned in the comfort of his mother’s womb.
The escape shuttle was half out of the launch bay when another explosion hit the I.S.S Trafford, the pride of the deep space exploratory fleet, and it crashed into the exit doors killing everyone on board. The Captain continued to stare at the screen as his bridge broke up around him, his transition from life to death passing him by and leaving him as the ghostly master of a spectral ship doomed to forever drift through space as Intergalactic War raged about it. History would remember Captain Ronald Christian as the man who woke the enemy. The man who led the fleet into what had been viewed as empty space, but which had housed a warlike race previously unaware of mankind, and for which the first response was attack. One day his son would enter that war, and exit it a hero.