Life Arts

Short Story: "Lightning Strikes"

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She pushed her chair back from the station. "No sir. It's not safe to do that. Those procedures were put in place for a--."

"You weren't hired to be a safety engineer, Roue. I don't care how long you've been here. Do your job, or I'll find someone who can!"

She rose and backed away, eying Fletcher warily.

Victor looked around. Everyone else -- all the people who hadn't already been escorted off the site -- had stopped what they were doing, and were slowly drawing near, like a mob about to coalesce into violence. He glanced at Roue, and then back at Fletcher, wondering what she was afraid of. And then two Port Security guards broke through the circle and flanked her.

"I'm sure you will," she said fiercely, "but it sure as hell won't be me."

Fletcher nodded to the guards. They made sudden sweeping gestures to break up the crowd, and then turned and escorted Roue towards the elevators. When they had gone, Fletcher wheeled around to face Victor. "Do it. Now!"

He obediently logged in to his station and terminated the testing sequence. Then he sat back to watch the monitors as the lifter started moving back towards the loading bridge. Just as it reached the junction where it switches tracks, the lifter bucked, and in what seemed like a slow-motion dive, the entire assembly tipped over and fell backwards into the maintenance bay, ripping out a section of track as it went.

Emergency messages flooded the screens as a cascade of failures rippled across the system. And then the phone by Roue's station sounded. It was the maintenance foreman, probably to upbraid her for prematurely canceling the test. Feeling testy about what had just happened, he reached over, touched accept, and prepared to pass the buck.

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"Is Victor Schandrul there?"

He moved into camera view. "Speaking"

"Your father's been hurt."

Victor went cold. It felt like a spike had just been driven into his back. What had he done? "What happened?" he asked, wide-eyed. "How bad?"

"Um, look. I think you really ought to see this for yourself. We've called Port Emergency, but what with all the chaos out there right now, there's not much chance they'll get here in time to do anything."

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Victor squirmed, and stared into the eyes of the man in the vid: Rolff's foreman. This was crazy. But he couldn't just leave his post after what had just happened. "Just tell me, Buck. I'll call my mom."

"When that track ripped loose, the bulkhead he was standing near fractured, and a cable ripped his right arm open. The MedKit's useless. Here, look""

The image shifted as Buck turned his phone towards the deck. Rolff lay on his back. The arm of his patched-together hazard suit was shredded, and his whole right side was spattered with blood. Victor looked away in disgust, and then steeled himself, moving closer to the screen as the image focused on the injury. The lacerated flesh didn't look right. It was like it was riddled with holes. "What"?"

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)
 

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