Flash Fiction Friday – Claire The Starship Engineer

I ended up doing my Thursday stream today on Friday instead, because I was just very tired yesterday. On stream, I wrote (well, I began to write) the following piece. It was inspired by the Seventh Sanctum Writing Prompt Generator. The first line is the prompt. I really like this particular generator. It always has interesting stuff for me to work with.

We called her Claire, and figured she was a starship engineer. When you find a lady in an escape pod there’s really only two things she can be: a starship pilot or a starship engineer. The jumpsuit she was wearing, charcoal gray, the calluses on her hands and the laugh-lines etched into her cheeks took our young minds instantly to engineer. Surely a pilot would be dressed more smartly and would be too busy looking cool to develop laugh-lines. At least we thought it was an escape pod. It was large, almost the size of a car, smooth on the outside and shaped a bit like an egg. The front was partially glass, allowing us a view of Claire from the top of her head down to her knees.

​When we had first found the pod, it had been almost entirely covered in vines and moss, fallen leaves and broke-off branches. It was Evie who had seen it first, a giant protrusion on the mostly flat forest floor. It was slightly sunken into the ground, in the center of what we could only call a small crater. We ran towards it, hooting and laughing, circled it in wild debate about what it might be. As Evie started yanking vines off, I used them for handholds instead and tried to hoist myself up onto the pod. The metal was slippery, the leaves even slipprier and I fell half-way up, nearly knocking Evie over as I hit the ground. We both broke into fits of giggles, me wheezing at first as I’d had the breath knocked out of me.

“Hey, guys,” Ben said, calling our attention from the other side of the pod. “Come look at this!” Still laughing, we rounded the pod to find him crouched beside it, staring intently in through a glass pane in what we would later decide must be the front of the pod. Our laughter died when we saw what he was looking at. On the other side of the glass was Claire, though we would not begin to call her that for another four days. She must have been lying on her back in the pod, strapped to something like a bed by a harness, but now the pod was on it’s side. Though the harness kept her mostly in her place, her head was slumped against her right shoulder and her hair drooped down, a few strands nearly reaching the glass. Her position was strange but her face was peaceful giving her the appearence of a content ragdoll.

“Should we try to open it?” Ben asked once the stunned silence had begun to become unsettling.

“No!” Evie said firmly.

​”You think she’s dead?” I asked quietly.

“She doesn’t look dead,” Ben said. Evie just shrugged. Still, somehow, we all silently knew that even if she wasn’t dead now, she would be if we opened the pod.

We never told anybody about Claire, but we kept coming to the pod whenever we got the chance. All three or in twos we went there to play, to talk, to hide from homework and other problems. Evie said that she went there by herself sometimes, that she talked to Claire about things she didn’t talk to anyone else about, not even me. It almost made me jealous, but not quite. By January it was too cold for us to go that far into the woods, the snow was too deep. We met up at each other’s houses to play instead, though Claire was never far from our minds. When it thawed, we were back out there at once.

At first we thought we’d lost the way there, that the snow had changed the landscape somehow and made us take a wrong turn. Then we found the crater. We never saw Claire again.

I finished this just now, at midnight, and quite tired. The ending turned out a bit weird but… I kinda like it?

One Reply to “Flash Fiction Friday – Claire The Starship Engineer”

  1. Pingback: Twice Fortnightly – Oh Hey Monday! – Emma Lindhagen

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