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Clinquant A short science fiction

#1 User is offline   Lostthyme 

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 08:20 PM

An older story of mine. Slightly reminiscent of Ray Bradbury since his stories were what I was reading at the time.

Clinquant
“What time is it?” Canton stretched and yawned in a seat at the controls.

Jameson checked the clock set deep on the wall of their space vessel. “Seven o’ nine in the evening.” He chuckled a bit, but the laugher rang hollow in the steel shell that was all that was keeping them alive. “Earth time, of course.”

“Supper time…” Lloyd said wistfully. “I wonder what they’re eating.”

“I don’t know, but best not think about it,” Jameson replied. His gaze purposefully avoided the small port windows along the far wall.

They were in space. Every second that was spent encased in their unnatural vessel was a second spent careening farther and farther away from the small glassy globe that was their home. Fresh air, crisp grass, blue skies were becoming nothing but faded memories in their minds. The space pod was now the home of three men; their earth, their source of life.

The crew had been traveling in their iron world for six months now. Six long months spent in close quarters with nothing to do. Six months seemed like an impossibly short time to get to another planet, but the time stretched out as anticipation wore off.

But the six months were nearly up, just in time. Jameson could see the beginnings of depression set into the faces of his crewmates.

“Say, what do you think the planet’s going to look like?” he said, trying to drag his comrades out of their stupor.

“Not a clue,” Lloyd replied dully. “Never found out.”

Jameson frowned, stumped. “Canton?”

Canton raised his head and grimaced. “I saw the satellite images. It’s a beige colored nightmare. No water as far as the eye can see. Probably desert all around.”

Lloyd stood up with a cry. “Then we’re idiots for going there! Why would they send us? We’re just going to die!”

“Calm down!” Jameson stood and towered over the other men. “Now is not the time for this. You had better squash out this cowardice or you are going to die out there.”

“You knew! You knew, didn’t you?” Lloyd said, hurt and accusation in his voice.

“I did n--”

A low ding came from the front controls. Canton looked down with a look of dread at a light. Something below them jolted.

“What’s going on?”

“We’re landing,” Canton said shortly. “Jameson’s right. It’s too late for cowardice now.”

Jameson sent one last glare at Lloyd before sitting down and fastening himself into his seat. The buckle slid into its holder with a click.

A chorus of clicks echoed around the chamber.

A rumble, a shake, and Jameson dared a look outside the windows. They were in the atmosphere of the planet now. A white steam clouded up the outside of the windows as they plummeted through the alien sky.

The crew could feel themselves being forced back into their seats as they fell down, down, down. Miles zoomed by in the course of seconds. Impact was just moments away. Jameson’s fingers clenched over the arms of his chair and he squeezed his eyes shut.

The vessel landed with a deep noise that shook the men’s teeth in their head. A loud screeching noise filled the air and the men threw their trembling hands against their ears in panic.

Then, silence. The vessel was still.

At last, they were on the planet.

The truth had not yet sunk into Jameson’s mind as he numbly unbuckled himself and stood on wobbly legs.

“We’re there,” Canton said in hushed tones. He reached under his seat and began strapping on a protective suit.

“No, wait.” Lloyd was standing at the controls. Jameson looked up from his own suit and Canton paused in mid-buckle. “This dial here, it says that the climate outside is… temperate.” He continued to stare at it with a dumbfounded expression on his face. “And that the air is breathable. It has oxygen and everything.”

Canton threw down the remaining pieces of his suit and strode over to his side. “Let me see.” He paused. “H-he’s right. It might as well be early spring back home out there.” He looked up at Jameson and met his gaze. “It can’t be a desert out there, Jameson.”

Jameson leaned over to one of the windows and raised himself onto his toes, the breath from his nose fogging the glass up. Nothing could be seen outside. It was dark. He turned away from the window and began putting on his suit.

“It wouldn’t hurt to wear the suits, just in case,” he explained as he slid a helmet over his head. “Equipment has been known to fail before.” His voice now came from a speaker under his helmet.

Just a few minutes, they stood, all suited, in front of the door. Jameson’s hand rested on the latch that would unseal them, drain the life from their iron abode and fill it with the life outside. All Jameson could do was hope that nothing was waiting for them outside, mouth open in anticipation of the small snack in the metal can to walk out into its gargantuan maw.

All three men held their breath as the door slid open.

It was dark outside. All switched the lights built into their suits on. Three narrow shafts of light cut through the oppressive darkness. The light fought its way for a few feet before getting swallowed.

“What a forsaken place,” Lloyd murmured, but his voice was amplified in the dark a million times, and took on the sound of a roar.

Jameson made a shushing gesture and turned his lamp off.

Canton grabbed his arm and shook it. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Jameson waved his arm gently. “No, no.” His eyes were locked on something in the distance. “Look.”

Canton and Lloyd followed his gaze and turned off their own lamps.

The sun was rising. And as it rose, its warm, penetrating light pierced through the darkness.

The men shielded their eyes as the light was refracted a hundred, a thousand, a million times across frail, delicate trees before them.

Lloyd walked like someone sleeping to a nearby tree. Gently, he lifted one of the leaves to his eyes.

The leaf was thin, and it shone in the light like lady’s necklace of gold, beaten down into a fine, quivering wisp.

Even the ground was covered in a fallen layer of leafy remains, molten down and pressed down with time.

Jameson could only stare in awe.

Clinquant,” Caton said. He reached down and brushed the ground with his fingertips. “That’s what the name of this planet is.”

Jameson couldn’t answer. All he could do was stare out over the trees.

“Glittering,” he finally whispered. “That’s a very fitting name.”


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#2 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 05:37 AM

Nice! I like it!
Clinquant means glittering in English? In French, it's kind of the same, but it's a pejorative term.
Nice story :D
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#3 User is offline   Capella 

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:12 AM

You know my thoughts from last night, but I'll reiterate it in thread: I love it. I'm still burning for more, though, as I'd love to know who these men are, why they were chosen, how the planet was discovered, and more. It stands alone well, especially as an assigned writing, but I can't help but burn to learn more.
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#4 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 09:54 AM

I agree with Capella! :D
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