Passage #Writephoto

passage

Gabby tapped a finger on the holo-tab, scrolling through the checklist. She mumbled to herself to combat the interminable silence, “Done. Done. Done. Done.” Her shift was winding down, but she could squeeze in one more scan without a problem. Her team had been troubleshooting the anomalies for six shifts without a clue. Not one fritzed wire or crossed link, no cute little rodents sizzling in the circuits, or hideous viruses spewing garbled data.

“All systems operable,” the maintenance system announced. “Do you wish to proceed to level thirteen, mod seventy-four?”

“Not if I can help it,” she muttered, heading for the lift-port.

“Repeat,” the disembodied voice instructed.

“Yes. Mod seven four.”

“Proceed to the lift-port.”

“Obviously.” She pinched her fingers together in the air, minimizing the program. Trying to have a normal conversation with Opie, the ship’s original Operations AI, was like cooking with nutri-sims, the epitome of unsatisfying.

She hummed through the silence in the lift and exited on the thirteenth level – gray walls, gray floor, gray ceiling, same as every other level. Tracking the numbers on the doors, she strolled the corridor, the shipboard sounds muted, peaceful, sedate, boring. She’d just turned twenty-five, a fifth of her lifespan ticked off. Done. Done. Done. The thought of another hundred years of checklists punctuated by the same telebooks, revolving holofilms, and regurgitated musi-tunes tempted her to hack the entertainment database for some merciful sabotage.

At the panel to mod seventy-four, she punched the code into the slanted access plate, but the door didn’t budge.

“Greetings, Gabriela.” The pleasant voice of the modernized communications system chimed, breaking the ship’s silence.

“Hi, Darling.” The annoying name made her wince every time she said it.

“I’ve detected an anomaly. Do you still wish to enter?”

Gabby hesitated. She raised her hand and spread her fingers, opening Opie. “Safety analysis.”

“Perfectly safe,” Darling replied.

Opie ran through his data protocols. “Recommend initiating Safety Code SC-Six.”

“He’s a worrywart.” Darling sighed. “Of course, I understand if you’re anxious about missing the shift’s nutri-sim offering. Turkey and stuffing.”

“Open it.” The panel glided into the wall, and Gabby peeked in. At first glance, the mod’s interior appeared normal – a quietly blinking octagonal room, ten feet across, each gray wall dominated by a thin plasteel door that shielded the circuitry.

“Straight ahead,” Darling said.

“Don’t sound so giddy.” Gabby entered the mod and tapped the code from the plasteel door into Opie’s scanner.

The holo-tab blinked. “Anomaly detected.”

“How irritatingly repetitive.” Darling huffed. “Is he always like this?”

“Usually.”

“Well, are you going to open it?”

Gabby aimed her loc-key and hit the switch. The hidden pins clicked and the door released. She tugged it open and inhaled.

Beyond the gray portal the anomaly stretched forward in a rough passage constructed of actual stones and washed in gold and blue from the peculiar lights. At the end of the corridor, a cerulean brightness drew her eyes, a color seen only in images of a lost Terran sky. Yet neither sight could compete with the beauty of the sound. Beyond the elegant arches, voices and music soared, a sacred chant that welled in her chest, rose to her throat and caught in her lashes.

“Safety Code SC-Two Initiated,” Opie announced.

“Well, there you go,” Darling tsked. “He’s called security. You’re going to have to decide.”

“Decide?” Gabby stared down the length of the anomaly, the sapphire light and harmonies beckoning.

“To stay or go,” Darling whispered in her ear. “How much time do you have?”

“Seventy-three seconds,” Opie replied.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Opie,” Darling chided him. “One hundred years, Gabriela. You have a hundred years.”

Gabby stepped into the golden passage and closed the door behind her.

***

Many thanks to Sue Vincent of the Daily Echo for her #writephoto prompts that spark the imagination. She posts them on Thursdays. Join the fun!

88 thoughts on “Passage #Writephoto

  1. reocochran says:

    The “lost Terran sky” color sounds beautiful as seen through Gabby’s view. I would like to listen to the lovely, flowing music.
    Diana, it was so interesting to show how the future technology could transport us including its effects upon our heightened senses. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those A1’s get kind of bossy don’t they? Decisions, decisions. Good writing as usual, Diana. 😀 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joanne Sisco says:

    but, but, but, … I want more …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was a wonderful take on the prompt, Diana! Happy Thanksgiving for tomorrow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kev says:

    I’ll have to try this sometime. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ~M says:

    Always love these D… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Annika Perry says:

    Fun flash fiction piece, Diana – I was addicted to sci-fi books so loved this; also brought me back to another era. I’ve always been fascinated by AI and the ‘characters’ they could become.Have a great Thanksgiving! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful short fiction! I love the Sci – fi futuristic setting with a side of turkey and dressing and the promise of 100 years 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My goodness, I’d love to know what happens next, but I see from the comments that it’s not going to happen. Looks like you had great fun writing this, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Frank says:

    Ah, I loved this. Brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Steven Baird says:

    Wow, very nice work, Diana. And the ‘seventy-three seconds’ was particularly chilling. You really put your imagination to work with this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. dgkaye says:

    Wonderful flash fiction Diana. Again, I’m going to say it. . . possible makings of a new book? Lol. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great flash fiction! I always love your stories, Diane. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Susanne says:

    Darlings can be so tempting! What a good story. I love all the details that bring us into the future but keep it grounded in now-reality. Turkey and stuffing nutri-sim. Yum!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oceans2c7 says:

    If this is the result of going off the deep end… I sure hope it happens frequently for ya! I love it! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  16. C.E.Robinson says:

    Great story, Diana! The photo fits perfectly! 💛 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  17. inesephoto says:

    I hope she got those hundred years after all 🙂 Love your story, Diana, sci-fi and fantasy are my favorite genres.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. What a unique spin on the photo!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Heartafire says:

    I am no good with prompts, but you are the best! Great stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. What fun, Diana! Great scene to go with the picture. And you left the story open for more Gabby adventures 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  21. sargondorsai says:

    What a great way to take the visual prompt. Definitely not what I expected just from the picture. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Bernadette says:

    You set up the story perfectly. The coldness of present reality contrasting to the softness of the undiscovered. Brava!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. balroop2013 says:

    I loved the story Diana…creativity is indeed a rare gift! 🙂 This picture is so tempting to explore within… the treasury of words!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been reading some of the other stories people have written from this photo and they’re all so different!!! That’s one of the really fun things about these challenges. Thanks for reading, Balroop, and have a great week ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  24. It was a fun read. True, some can’t wait for turkey and stuffing, like my husband. I swear he is drooling just by thinking of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. noelleg44 says:

    A fabulous, creative story, Diana. Loved every bit of it and Gabby made the right choice!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Perfectly matched words for the picture. I love your creative mind, Diana. Enjoy our day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Ooh, very good. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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