The Galileo: A Science Fiction Short Story.

Good evening fellow story lovers!  I know Sundays can be pretty bleak, but hopefully a short piece of science fiction will cheer you up! I am a huge Geek- I love Sci-fi and have been a Trekkie since I was a child (I have action figures and a uniform and everything).  This story draws inspiration from years of movies and books and comics.  I hope you like it!  Don’t forget to enter my competition giveaway if you haven’t yet, this is the last week it will be open, with the winner drawn at the end of the month!  Enjoy…

The Galileo

She awoke slowly, all blurred images and muffled sound. She felt like she was under water, fighting to get to the surface. Dazed and dizzy, she struggled to focus on her surroundings, blinking hard as everything slowly stopped spinning, and began to clear. She was in one of the ship’s corridors, cold from lying on the steel floor. A red warning light flashed on and off, casting the narrow space in an eery light. There was an alarm sounding, far off, intermittently drilling into her skull with it’s loud buzz.

She had no memory of what had happened. The last thing she could recall was them receiving a distress signal from a transport vessel, but after that it was blank. Her head thumped and pulsed with the rhythm of her heart beat. She touched her forehead and found her fingers wet with her blood. She checked her status on her electronic cuff. It indicated she had received a blow to the head four hours ago, and had immediately fallen into unconsciousness. She had a concussion and would require stitches, but apart from that her vitals were good. But where were the others?

She dragged herself off the floor, and wobbled over to a computer outlet on a nearby wall. Plugging in her cuff, the screen suddenly came to life, casting an eery blue light onto her face After a moment, it had booted fully and was ready for interfacing.

“Identify.”

“Crewman Holly Mathews, Delta five five three of the science vessel Galileo.”

“Voice identification confirmed. Please provide instructions or state your query.”

“Where are the others?”

“Please clarify ‘others’”

She yelled in frustration. She hated the interfacing tool. The ship was capable of travelling at the speed of light with the push of a button, but ask it something without spelling out exactly what you need, and it became like talking to a toddler. It was a machine, and it thought like one. It didn’t understand slang or metaphors or sarcasm. It was literal, it was frustrating at the best of times, but with her head pounding, it was even worse.

“Locate the other members of the crew.”

“My records indicate that the science vessel Galileo has thirty two crew members assigned. I can locate only one crew life sign at present, that of your own.”

“No…that can’t be.”

“I run over one hundred and twelve checks per second. My data is accurate to zero point zero zero zero…”

“Alright, stop. I get it.”

She suddenly found it difficult to breathe. Tears made there way up her throat and through her eyes, stinging the cut on her cheek and sending red water droplets onto her uniform. How could this be possible? How could they be gone? This had to be some kind of nightmare. She tried to steady her breathing, to hold the emotions back until she could figure out what was going on.

“What happened to the rest of the crew?”

“Unknown.”

“What do you mean unknown?”

“My systems were shut down three hours and thirty seven minutes ago. I have been offline until you initiated the interfacing programme, automatically rebooting my system.”

“Who shut you down?”

“Unknown.”

“How were you shut down?”

“Unknown.”

She yelled, banging her fist against the screen, a small hairline crack forming in the glass. The ship was the most sophisticated of it’s kind, and had an incalculable IQ, yet it could answer none of her questions. It sounded like a record stuck on repeat or a parrot which had only learned one word: Unknown, unknown, unknown. If she heard it one more time, she would smash the screen. If she was going to find out what happened to the crew, she would have to physically check herself.

“Show me on a map, where the crew’s bodies are located.”

“Unable to comply. There are no crew member’s bodies on board.”

“What do you mean? Where are their bodies?”

“Unknown.”

“God damn you.”

She punched the screen over and over again, until the cracked flickering surface was coated in a thin layer of her blood, now trickling from the open wound on her hand. She began to weep, sinking to the floor. She closed her eyes, begging herself to wake up, but when she opened them again, she was back there, in that corridor.

After a while, she pulled herself to her feet, and began to run to the bridge. The alarm grew louder the closer she got. When she entered, it was deserted, with no sign of any struggle or injury, no bodies, nothing. She plugged her cuff into the Captain’s control panel, and took a deep breathe.

“Identify.”

“Crewman Holly Mathews, Delta five five three of the science vessel Galileo.”

“Voice identification confirmed. Please provide instructions or state your query.”

“Turn off the alarm.”

“Confirmed.”

The red light vanished, and normal lighting levels returned, as the loud intermittent noise suddenly stopped.

“Who initiated the alarm?”

“No crew member initiated the alarm. The alarm was initiated automatically when my systems went offline.”

“Where is the other vessel? The one with the distress call.”

“The vessel which issued the distress call is in cargo bay three. I detect all systems are non functional, and there are no life signs on board.”

“Show me.”

The screen was divided into four images, from the cameras which covered the cargo bay. She chose the top left image, and zoomed in on the ship. It appeared to be a two man sub vessel, used for short journeys to the surface of planets and back or evacuation. The distress call had come from a transport vessel, or so she had thought.

“Confirm, did the distress call originate from this vessel.”

“Negative. The distress call originated from the transport vessel ‘Safe Haven.’”

“Where is the Safe Haven?”

“I detect debris and fuel, the signature of which confirms it belonged to the transport vessel Safe Haven. I detect no life signs. This sub vessel is all that remains.”

She felt her heart rate rise and her breathing quicken.

“How many souls were on board?”

“Records indicate the Safe Haven had three hundred and seventy two persons registered on board.”

Tears forced their way through her eyes and fell onto the screen.

“What happened to it?”

“Radiation levels and chemical signatures present indicate that the vessel’s core exploded.”

“How?”

“Unknown.”

“Play the distress call.”

The screen flickered and blurred with static. A face could be seen occasionally amongst the moving waves and shapes. It was a man, perhaps in his thirties, with short dark hair. He looked terrified, eyes wide with panic, and he was dirty, black covering one side of his face. Or, perhaps that was a burn? The sound quality wasn’t great, and she had to strain to hear what he was saying.

“This is Captain Ray Thorn of the transport vessel Safe Haven. We are under attack from something. We answered a distress signal from one of the small moons orbiting planet Alpha one one. We found a ship, appeared to be a salvage ship or perhaps a pirate vessel. It was heavily damaged, it clearly hit the surface pretty hard, half of it was missing. The crew, they were gone, no bodies, no blood, just vanished into thin air. But there was something there, we didn’t realise, we brought it back with us. I don’t know what it is, but it’s on board now. They’re all gone too, my crew, the passengers, all of them. There’s no one left, just my life sign and it’s, whatever it is. I’m going to blow her, the Safe Haven, try and kill it. I have…”

It suddenly cut off, leaving only static before the screen went black. Her stomach twisted, and her throat went dry.

“Confirm, was the sub vessel scanned for life signs before we docked it?”

“Confirmed. One life sign was located on board.”

“Was the life sign Captain Ray Thorn?”

“Negative.”

“Was the life sign human?”

“Negative.”

“What was it?”

“Unknown.”

She swallowed hard, dread rising within her. She suddenly recalled her question to the system and it’s exact response when she had it scan for the crew’s life signs: “My records indicate that the science vessel Galileo has thirty two crew members assigned. I can locate only locate one crew life sign at present, that of your own.” She repeated it inside her head, I can only locate one crew life sign, one CREW life sign. She had asked the wrong question.

“Confirm, how many life signs are on board.”

“I detect two life signs on board, that of your own and that of an unknown entity.”

The dread had filled her up, her voice crackled with fear, and she could hear her heart beating inside her skull, it’s thumping increasing as her breathing quickened.

“Confirm…where is the unknown entity.”

“The unknown entity is located on the bridge.”

She went to scream, but it was too late, and then, nothing.

……………………………………………………

“Captain, we are picking up an automated distress call.”

Captain Robert Gregson, sat forward in his seat. After years of working his way through the ranks, this was his first command. The military vessel ‘Mars’ was as new as him, and he was eager to test out her capabilities.

“Which vessel does the call originate from?”

“A science vessel called the Galileo sir. She’s supposed to be out here researching black holes. No signs of damage but she appears to be adrift.”

“Open communications with them.”

“I’ve already tried Sir.  All attempts to communicate have gone unanswered.”

“How many life signs on board?”

“Just one sir.”

“Jesus, what the hell happened? You’d better take us in.”

2 thoughts on “The Galileo: A Science Fiction Short Story.

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