Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HEP - Short Echoes 6 - Suspension by Caleb Newell and Hannah-Elizabeth Thompson

by Caleb Newell and Hannah-Elizabeth Thompson


Sometimes it looked like we were dancing.

There was nothing for us to hear, we could not verbally communicate anything. And so we watched each other. We watched each other dance. The slow motion twirls and spins. We found we couldn't speed up to reach anyone else, our only means of communication being found in glimpses when we managed to catch eye contact when our spinning matched up just right. 

The planet below became the center of my vision. I closed my eyes for this. I always do. It lasts for about an hour, until the blackness of space comes into view again. I sometimes imagine that the planet below is one I've never seen before. That it's inhabitants did not send me and my kind into the depths of space.

Suspended in the shadow of the planet. Freezing. But even the burning of the veins of ice creeping beneath my skin was relief compared to the hell that met us under the hateful glare of the sun.

Leo was nearest to me, perhaps twenty feet away. He was still in his suit from the job he had on the planet below. Possibly the least violent of any of us, Leo had created an extraordinarily stable life with the mortals. He had even convinced one of them that he had feelings for her. Finishing off the picture. 

Past him were the others. Veronica, Leland and Tobias. The mortals had sent out a larger group of us before, much larger. Perhaps ten thousand. We had managed, using pure luck, to avoid their advanced detection methods. The world had calmed until groups of citizens, conspiracy theorists, convinced that their neighbors and co-workers and mothers-in-law were our kind, started using homemade versions of the methods used by each government. 

It was the mist that did it.

The garlic mist.

Some of them flew little remote controlled planes around town, spewing the stuff into the air. This was effective enough to get one of us when it went out of range of the owner’s controller and began dropping low near a crosswalk. It was close enough for her skin and eyes to react - enough for the people around her to know.

As for the others, they caught us by leaving the stuff everywhere. The entrance of every grocery store and coffeehouse. Doorknobs of houses and clothing hangers in department stores. No one was happy about the stench that eventually built, but after they got Veronica, the complaints fell silent out of fear and curiosity.

The mortals couldn't kill us, they couldn't trust us, they couldn't throw us in a cage somewhere; we'd be meat taking up space many places couldn't afford. 

And so they sent us into space.

The first group was sent in a few pod-like things. Just stuffed in, really to the brim. One of them was kept on earth, to supposedly be sliced and diced. Good luck to them - they’ll never break his skin.

Later on, they decided that even the pods were too merciful, since they protected us from the harsh vacuum of space. They designed small ships that were designed to disintegrate in the later stages of its flight through the atmosphere, leaving us exposed as we are now. To the void outside that made the pressure of every pulse agonizing. That made it impossible to breathe. That left us with no insulation from the biting cold. And no protection from the sun.

That horrible burning star. And so our immortality becomes our greatest curse.

I would give anything to breathe again. To feel air in my lungs. Wind. Solid ground under my feet. Anything. Anything but this freezing void.

I feel a heat at my back as my dead eyes are still fixed on the planet. This isn’t normal; the sun won’t find us for another hour. An impact. Solid, excruciating, but not enough to break me. It sends me spinning out of control, but I catch a glimpse of the culprit: a small meteor. I watch it falling, a fiery tail growing behind it, the rock slowly grinding away as the atmosphere tears it apart. Eventually it disintegrates completely. Only then to I realize that I was not watching it descend below me.

I had been falling next to it. It had sent me on a path back to the planet’s surface.

I start to feel warm. The ice in my veins is thawing as the friction of the atmosphere tries to break me apart as it did the meteor. Tries, and fails. I will not die. I will survive the fall. There is so much to do on the surface. They will be made to regret what they did to us.

Finally, I will have my revenge. I will bleed them dry.


About the authors:

Hannah-Elizabeth Thompson is an escapee of Clovis, CA. She is the creative mind behind numerous internet radio shows and podcasts, most recently including A Poetry Show and the WIP Apples Over Oranges. She has a keen fascination with the human brain, and plans on pursuing a career in neurology. She can be found on twitter as @SherlockMadame.

Caleb Newell is a blogger living in West Virginia who loves peanut butter on his toast and his doctors Whovian. Talking to him is like talking to a dictionary, history book, newspaper and comic book all at once. He's a very tall fellow with an interest in...well, kind of everything. Currently he's pursuing a degree in computer science. He can be found on twitter as @PriorityDefault.