Coming right in at the 500 word limit is this week’s entry into the lovely Thain in Vain’s Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 23! This was a tough one for me, for while I enjoy science fiction, I tend to write the kind set in a more fantastical universe. Writing something “closer to home” was a real challenge, but one I enjoyed thoroughly.
So here we are, with “Answered Prayers”
“Mission Control, are you seeing this?”
Major Aaron Fields and Colonel Sandra Walken listened as their transmitters broadcast back a hiss of static, but their attention was divided. ARES-1 was as they had left it, save for its visitor.
“Mission Control, do you copy?” Sandra repeated.
“I’m getting nothing,” Aaron said, “Jim, are you in there?”
The radio crackled. No response.
“It’s got to be our transmitters,” Sandra said, “It’s not like Jim has anywhere to go. Let’s just make sure we get this on camera.”
Aaron nodded, focusing back on the lander, the ladder leading to the entrance hatch, and on the strange creature perched upon it. It was alien, but beautiful. Ten spindly legs telescoped off a tiny thorax. Its head was almost comically too large, with small mandibles, and a double pair of antennae. A large, swollen abdomen hung behind it. Last, two large, mantis-like limbs twitched in the reddish haze of the Martian atmosphere. Most amazing, though, was its color, a shifting iridescence that like a rainbow made solid and formed into a living being.
“What are you?” Sandra whispered, approaching slowly.
“Protocol, Sandy,” Aaron warned.
“What protocol? We didn’t come here prepared for anything like this. Any equipment we have for studying this little guy is in the ship…and he’s between us and it. We have to do something. I’ve been praying for this all my life – I’m hoping I can gently shoo it away while you get a larger sample container from inside and raise Mission Control.”
Aaron grunted. He didn’t like half-assed plans, but he didn’t see an alternative. The insect twitched curiously.
“And you? What will you be doing?”
“Watching,” Sandy said almost breathlessly, “If you think I’m letting this fella out of my sight for even a heartbeat, you’re crazy.”
Sandra’s plan worked. Aaron had to give her that. She managed to get the glimmering beast to abandon the lander for a nearby rock formation, and followed it there. He climbed the ladder to ARES-1, and entered the code to open the air lock. A rush of air fled the craft, and Aaron frowned. That wasn’t a good sign.
He had barely stuck his head through the port when he was felt something stabbing deep into his neck. Darkness came shortly thereafter.
Sandra tottered over towards Aaron, and Jim descended from the landing craft to join them. How clumsy it was to walk on two legs instead of ten! She/it suppressed a chuckle as she saw her hive mates struggling as she had.
“How long has it been?” Jim asked, wobbling.
“Centuries? Eons?” Aaron replied, his voice comically melodious as he adjusted to the newness of vocal cords and the clumsy, crude language of his new host’s mind.
“It does not matter,” Sandra said, smiling. “The promised vessels have come. Soon, all of our young will have hosts. Millions await. Praise be to the Goddess. We are delivered.”
“Praise be,” the others echoed, as they began loading the craft with eggs.