A Wrench in the Works
“Ahhhh!” Abigail Trojan sat at the computer and grabbed her hair and pulled. “Damn, I can’t comprehend anymore.”
“Honey, dinner time,” Her mother called in the dining area. Abigail shoved her chair aside and dragged her feet to the table. Her mom put out a large bowl of Imitation seafood salad on the contained anti-gravity table, where around it Abigail’s bother Mick and her Dad were already seated on the floating chairs.
“What were you yelling about?” Her Dad asked as he dished out the vegetarian pizza.
“Oh I can’t study anymore for the up coming test. I’m about ready to pull my hair out.”
“Is little Morgana gonna kick your butt?” Her big brother asked. Then shoveled a whole pizza slice into his mouth and tried to laugh at Abigail but choked. Out came the pizza and Mick studied it, turning it this way and that on his plate.
“Oh you’ll do fine, even if you’re pitted against your former best friend. You know how to pilot an aerocraft better than any of those other teenagers,” Her mother said nibbling on her salad.
“It’s not the aerocraft I’m worried about. It’s the unpredictable creatures on the planet like the Atrunckon that scare the Betelgeuse out of me.”
“Oh come on, Abigail, you have that beat too. You are very good at thinking on your feet,” her Dad said munching on the pizza.
Abigail stared at the food on her plate and yawned. “Well if you’re not going to eat your food mind if I eat your pizza?” Her brother asked who already ate his second slice of pizza.
“Go ahead, Ahhh, my stomach doesn’t feel good. I think I’ll go lay down.”
While Abigail lay on her floating bed her mind raced in circles. She thought about taking the exam over and over and each time failing. She felt light-headed and realized she was hyperventilating. She thought some breathing exercises would help. She slowed down her breathing and inhaled and exhaled deeply. Soon she felt a little better. She stuck her finger in her mouth and began to chew her nail. She thought about her rival Morgana, who was determined and strong-headed. Abigail was pitted against someone who used to be her best friend a year ago. Abigail got up and left her family’s quarters.
She stood staring out at the planet Asimov 762 the astral station was orbiting. When she first showed interested in becoming a pilot, she learned about the Atrunkon on the planet below that was no predator to anything there until man landed and walked the surface. Then the damn thing turned into a vicious eating machine. It had an uncanny way of being attracted to reflexes and instincts. The two girls were being tested to find a special species of plant and bring it and themselves back to the station in one piece.
The exam was the easy part and so was the flying, landing and taking off. The hard part was getting the specimen and with Morgana vying for top place this was not going to be a moon walk.
She went into her parents bedroom and sat down on her parent’s bed. “What’s the matter, Abby?” her father said.
“I can’t sleep. All I do is think about tomorrow.”
“Here, use my Tossie tonight.” Her father tossed her an alien from planet Newton 786. He must have been using it to get some sleep too.
It was a glowing, humming calming blue fuzzy ball. The toss caused it to create a force field around itself and the person holding it. Abigail could feel the sleep coming on already. She went to her room and lay on her bed. Before she knew it morning was upon her and her mother was shaking her awake.
“Did you have a good sleep, dear?”
Abigail stretched and yawned, “Yeah, Oh I feel great. Thanks, to Dad.” The Tossie was depleted and needed some sustenance from its own planet. Abigail went to the small green house in the family’s quarters and plucked some red vine under the purple light and fed it to the Tossie. The alien slurped it up like spaghetti and burped loudly.
“Come on honey, time to get some breakfast before your test,” Abigail’s father said.
She left the Tossie there to fend for itself and dragged her feet to the table. She still felt a little tired. Abigail did not feel particularly hungry and when she tried to eat her stomach was only able to hold half a piece of toast. The stomach flutters were back.
At the testing area, Abigail noticed more people then she thought were going to take the test. She could see Morgana waiting in line for the exam. She got in behind her. Morgana turned and noticed her and made a face then faced forward again.
When Abigail sat down to do the test her mind became blank. Oh no, I can’t remember anything. Breathe Abby, breathe. Abigail’s hands became all sweaty. After the exam, it was graded and surprisingly Abigail passed. She also noticed Morgana did too. They got into their grey flight uniforms and gear and waited patiently near a training ship for their instructor. On their arrival, they put on their head gear and got inside the vehicle as the instructor sat in the seat next to them.
Abigail felt a tightening in her stomach and felt light headed. She couldn’t believe the day was truly here and she was going to go down to the planet’s surface and try to locate the plant and bring it back. Her hands began to sweat as she gripped the controls of the ship. She pulled back and the ship swayed as it got lift. She could feel her face turn red from embarrassment as she watched out of the corner of her eye the instructor jot something down on her clipboard.
Pulling out of the space hanger was easy. Now, she had to get to the planet’s surface. When they landed without incidence, Abigail breathed out a huge sigh of relief. She was going to ace this test.
Oops, I better not get a big head. It’s not over yet. She bit her lip and jumped out on to the squishy surface of the planet.
“Are you coming out too?” Abigail asked the instructor.
“No, I’ll time you, though you have to be back here in twenty Earth minutes.” She clicked her stop watch and stared at Abigail.
Abigail closed the door and sloshed as she hunted for the plant. She had her head down and didn’t notice Morgana’s head until it was too late. They crashed into each other.
“Oww! Why don’t you watch where you are going?” Morgana said. Abigail had been hit hard enough to end up on her butt. She could feel the coolness of the water seeping into her suit but she didn’t get wet. Not remembering they had helmets on they both reached for their heads and tried to rub.
Suddenly an Atrunckon rolled into the area. It looked like a tree trunk on it’s side. It had a gaping mouth that dripped siliva and it tried to eat Abigail. Morgana grabbed her hand and pulled helping her to her feet and they both took off running away from the beast.
“I don’t think we were supposed to run, Morgana.”
“Feel free to stop whenever you want.” They both continued to run.
Abigail noticed some of the plant species they needed and pointed them out to Morgana. They looked like sprouts with two leaves on the top. The two women reached for the swift of foot plant species but it was tough going. It could move it’s six legs in a blur. Meanwhile the Atrunckon was on their tails rolling after them leaving a wake of smashed vegetation behind it.
Damn, evolution happened so fast on this planet all because of a foreign body -- man.
Abigail looked at her watch. She had ten minutes left to get this specimen and get back to the ship. She was going to need to trap them and in order to do that she was going to need Morgana’s help.
“I’ll get in front and chase them to you, okay?” Abigail said.
“No, I’m a faster runner than you. I’ll do it.” Morgana appeared winded already.
“No, you look tired already. You don’t have the stamina.”
“Fine.” Morgana had a funny look on her face. Oh, oh, what’s she up to? Abigail took bigger running strides and got in front of them. She herded them back to Morgana who caught one and ran in a different direction with her prize. “Damn it!” Abigail yelled slipping in the mud. The Atruckon was almost upon her. She scrabbled in the mud and leaves to find purchase scattering vegetation everywhere. Finally, she got up and was able to catch a specimen because the plant seemed confused. Suddenly, the tops of the plant spun around and around. The specimens were getting lift off and flying over the Atrunckon. Abilgail skidded after Morgana through the turnstile bushes to get away from the Trunckon. They were ahead of the beast and they separated and ran to their ships as fast as they could. The beast stopped watching both women.
Meanwhile, Abigail opened the ship’s door, jumped in, and handed the instructor the wiggly specimen just as she clicked the stop watch and jotted something onto her clipboard. Oh the suspense… Suddenly the Trunkon hit her ship full force.
Abigail was knocked sideways into the instructor. She grabbed the controls and bit her lip as they took off swaying into the atmosphere. Finally they made their way toward the astral station and parked inside the hanger. The instructor gave Abigail a grim smile and exited the beat-up ship. Abigail got out and went to the exam area where she waited for the results. Morgana entered five minutes later and sat down on a chair. She didn’t look happy.
The results for Abigail took longer than she though it was going to take. Abigail began to pace back and forth and her hands became sweaty. Finally the instructor came back and told Abigail she passed. She over heard the results of Morgana’s test. “I’m sorry to say, that you were one minute twenty-two seconds late. If you didn’t fall into the donut plant trap hole and drop your specimen then pick up a whole different plant species there was a good chance you would have passed.” Abigail strutted home and told her parents. That was the last time Abigail saw Morgana in the scientific realm. Last she heard, Morgana had a job as a maid.
Let me tell you a little about myself.
Hard work and Dedication.
An Interview With Myself.
A Wrentch in the Works (short story)
Flight of Terror (short story)
Roast (short story)
The Date (short story)
Campaign (short story)
Some books on writing I have read and studied.
James's skeptical blog
Why I picked the Neanderthal people