Scattered: #writephoto

Thanks to Sue Vincent for a beautiful photo prompt. I went a little off-world on this one. Hope you enjoy.

*

“I’ll take the risk.” Captain Galles scratched the stubble graying his jaw. “If something happens to me, Corso’s in charge, not that you’ll have any decisions left.”

No one argued. What was the point? Forty chrons without food and water, we ran shy of options. We’d searched the black bowels of the alien freighter, a salvage operation by the looks of it, and found nothing but twisted and charred metal, every scrap incinerated clean. Our damaged shuttle lay on its side amidst the sea of relics.

The exception to the vast darkness was a panel of fractured light, a patterning of sublime beauty suspended over a polished dais. Our mechanical captors had wedged the unit against the compartment’s grated wall shortly after we found ourselves prisoners. Primitive cyborgs, the aliens lacked facial articulation and translation capabilities, the robotic language in all forms indecipherable. All our words and gestures proved futile, and our captain’s demands for basic sustenance went unheeded. They’d installed the contraption and left, its function a mystery.

The eight of us stood at the fringe of light as Galles stepped onto the dais. The array of lights above him hummed in a slow spin and increased in speed until they appeared to hurl backward. His mouth gaped in a silent wail, eyes pooled with terror. He struggled to escape the machine, hammered fists against an invisible barrier he couldn’t break. The lights blurred into a white star and he froze like a holograph set on pause.

His body began to disintegrate, clothing and skin breaking apart and floating like mist, then deeper, his whole shape loosening and scattering. He dissolved into swirling vapor, a haze of bright particles. A burst of blue current blinded me, and when I opened my eyes, he was gone.

I gasped and licked my parched lips, stifling an urge to vomit. Someone to my right heaved a dry sob. We sank to the floor where we’d stood, doomed. A day or two, we’d all be dead.

***

Amak studied the monitor. An unexpected reaction. It appears they are unfamiliar with teleportation. The fear response was extreme.

They are primitive. Rohla absorbed a wave of compassion emanating from the companion. They lack translation capabilities and do not understand the most basic of trinary languages. Their arithmetics are rudimentary. We have no means of communicating with them.

They choose death over the unknown. Amak shared the bafflement, their logic incomprehensible. Are we certain of the teleportation coordinates?

Without question. They were retrieved from their ship’s logs prior to processing.

Thoughts?

Rohla’s aura went silent, and Amak ceded to the desire for contemplation. Once completed, Rohla opened a channel and set the dilemma forth. Either we honor their choice as sentient beings and let them die, or we defy them, apply force, and save their lives.

133 thoughts on “Scattered: #writephoto

  1. Dawn D says:

    When I read the human version of this, my thoughts were “Because they can’t communicate with someone they assume that it’s because they’re too basic? How very human of us, thinking we’re better than everybody else!”
    The rest of the story proved me right! How sad that we can’t think outside the box for a minute, or hope for good rather than evil when met with someone/something different…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Teri Polen says:

    Love the way your mind works, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cloud Walker says:

    amazing how you let your words flow… 😻

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great piece, Diana! And ending with the question of what will happen next, and of course we won’t know. Very sneaky–or cruel 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just LOVE how your mind works. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this – what? – sci fi alien yet so realistic story. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it. I was right there. Beam me up, Diana….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fascinating decision toward the conclusion to deny another’s decision with a specific end goal to spare them. The two sides think the opposite side is primitive.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ellenbest24 says:

    A superb interpretation made mine seem tame, thought I had taken a risk but not as far reaching as yours. I love the flash that leaves you wanting and makes you wonder how it began.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Erik says:

    You really get at the heart of flash fiction in unique ways, Diana. I found myself pausing and admiring the vivid imagery you were able to create with your word choice in such a condensed space, where the workings and effect of the portal were concerned. It’s a complex image that not many could have described as clearly.

    And, as I’ve noticed with nearly all of your writing, you’ve always got a pulse on the human condition with elegant social commentary lurking in the subtext. Love it.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Diana, you do such a great job with these story prompts, and the photograph is always so neat and interesting. I enjoyed this rather gritty, alien quandary and I’ve always been interested in science fiction subjects such as teleportation. Very nice story!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Frank Hubeny says:

    Interesting choice at the end to deny another’s choice in order to save them. Both sides think the other side is primitive.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Almost Iowa says:

    Great story!

    I feel like Amak when I try to tell my outside cats about coyotes – but they won’t listen, preferring the allure of the night woods to the safety of the shed.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Didn’t mind at all–the off-world approach. Great story. It leads nicely into “Where did they end up?”

    Liked by 2 people

  13. It seems these first people are unfamiliar with “Beam me up, Scotty.” Good story, Diana. Great description as always. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

  14. What a terrific story from the photo prompt. Your imagination is out of this world!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Excellent story. I suspect Scotty is behind it all

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Annika Perry says:

    And…you can’t leave us hanging there!!😃 Terrific story and not at all expected from the first paragraphs. I really enjoy the twist and Amak’s thoughts about the primitive beings!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had to leave it there, Annika. Because I don’t know what anyone decides, human or alien. It was fun to think about what I would do if I were stuck there. I’m not sure I would get in that machine. I’m so glad you enjoyed it 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  17. I did enjoy this, Diana. Do you send these to competitions? You should. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 2 people

  18. dgkaye says:

    Wow! Was this a prompt or the beginning of a new book? Lol, fantastical! 🙂 x

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Jennie says:

    This is a great story, Diana. Gripping and exciting. So now, what’s going to happen?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. paulandruss says:

    I really liked this story Diana . There is a strong sense of completeness about it and as always written with nuance and great skill.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Paul. I’m not what decision the aliens make. I’m not sure what I would do if I was one of those Earthlings – probably die, unless the aliens shoved me in there, which would be terrifying. It’s interesting to think about. Happy Writing, my friend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • paulandruss says:

        That came across very strongly. The total lack of communication between beings that communicate in entirely different ways, each incomprehensible to the other. The reader sees where each group stands and why. You understood the futility arising from the inability to communicate. The aliens’ frustration and our fear. There was a sense of watching a trapped animal : flies, bees even birds that get into the greenhouse and keep going to the perfectly obvious, to us, exit and then back away becoming more and more agitated. It was clever to put us (man – the pinnacles of God’s creation) in that position -it brought home that through our common evolutionary biology we are no different. Finally, (as I’m analysing this to death might as well go for it!) I liked how you presented our human arrogance. we considered the alien ‘robots’ primitive and savage because they did not wear a simulacrum of a human face.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the analysis., Paul. I love how you picked up on things I didn’t even think about or notice. Ha ha. That old muse seems to be adding subtlety behind my back.

          Liked by 1 person

          • paulandruss says:

            Diana, for A-level I read about DH Lawrence and how subconscious imagery crept into Sons and Lovers and Women in Love, such as the mention of the type of flowers in a vase. (Not Lady Chatterley’s Lover I hasten to add- that was an entirely different vase of flowers). In those days I thought what tosh, he knew exactly what he was doing. Then I started writing and it is true so much subtlety creeps in… and that as you so rightly say is the muse!

            Liked by 2 people

    • Erik says:

      I agree, Paul: “a strong sense of completeness,” as if it were intended all along to open and close just where it did.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. Joanne Sisco says:

    I might have involuntarily let out a small snort when I read the line “I went a little off-world on this one”. Since when HAVEN’T you gone off-world? 🙂 🙂

    An interesting “2-sides of every coin” kind of story. Loved it.

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Very cool, D. You went there !! Nice take on that image.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Hi Diana! I have so missed your beautiful writings! This is a wonderful piece, and can certainly see this going in a few different directions.I hope all is well, wet and cold and windy today. I want summer back!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. cagedunn says:

    This was great, a reminder of how we look at ourselves and ‘other’ and how they have the right to be as conceited as we in our understanding of ‘civilised’ – or not …

    Liked by 3 people

  25. This is magnificent, Diana! I just love your stories. Thanks so much for sharing. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  26. inesephoto says:

    Brilliant story, Diana. Makes me think about how many times some superior aliens took pity on us already without us knowing.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. What a beautiful image, it inspired an intriguing story that makes one want to read more and learn about the alien characters, I really loved the compassion that they showed for the unwary humans that crossed their path!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Duke says:

    we all need to go off world sometimes!

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment, Duke. I found two of your comments in spam this morning and apologize for the delay getting back to you. Thanks for stopping by to read. 🙂 Happy Sunday!

      Like

      • Array says:

        No problem. If that’s worst thing that ever happens in life then we are good. I have been to the valley where I almost lost everything that matters. Everything else compared to that is no big deal.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. babbitman says:

    Love it! Kind of reminds me of your sci-fi short, The Ghost Ship (which was the first thing of yours I read and made me want to find everything else!) – in fact at the beginning I wondered whether it might have been a prequel – 2 damaged spaceships & a twinkling light (like shards of a chandelier?).
    I treasure your sci-fi.
    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I didn’t even notice the similarities, Nick. I enjoy writing and reading sci-fi, but I don’t know if I’m sciency enough to sustain a whole novel. I do like alien perspectives, though. Hmmm. Thanks for reading, and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  30. Bernadette says:

    Diana, I also liked the change in perspective that you brought about in this story. It is funny to think of humans as inferior. We are so accustomed to thinking we are superior. I like how you subtly brought that out. Quite a different take on Beam Me Up Scotty.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I was trying to avoid Star Trek lingo, Bernadette. 🙂 I tend to think that if there are other civilizations out there, we are probably somewhere lumped in the middle of the bell curve. We certainly aren’t very bright here on Earth. Lol. Have a lovely week my friend. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  31. davidprosser says:

    What a beautifully crafted story, what a difficult decision for the aliens, presumably having only only their own race’s actions under these conditions as their guide.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  32. I so like your writing Diana! I like the way you described the two different realities – the inability to understand thought processes and the way fear stops us from thinking or daring. It could be a modern fable! And of course as a reader I want you to carry on and take me to the end of the story 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Wow this is so powerful! I wonder what will happen!

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Great story, Diana. Will the aliens save the inferior humans? Nice hook at the end. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Goodness Diana I did not expect the ending. Beautifully written. 🌼🌼🌼

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Simply fascinating! Wonderfully creative… I enjoyed that, Diana. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  37. delphini510 says:

    Well written and your imagination is very vivid. I am glad it is still light out there as I have time to recover from this scene. :))
    miriam

    Liked by 2 people

  38. ghostmmnc says:

    You left them in the lurch! What is going to happen to them? Great story … so far 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Ah-ha! Well done Diana. I felt a twist was coming and I loved the “dance.” Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Andrew Joyce says:

    You have a good eye.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. A very interesting image!

    Liked by 1 person

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