Title: From Within The Shell
Intended Length (Approximate): Novella
Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy
Narrative Mode: Third-Person Limited Omniscient
Rating: Mature Teen and Adult Readers (16+)
The following writing may contain mature subject matter that some readers may find unsettling: illegality, violence, gore, drugs, vulgarity, nudity and other mature themes. Reader discretion is advised.
This writing is fiction. Names, characters, settings and events are either used fictitiously or are products of the writers' imaginations. Any resemblance to real events, settings or people, dead or alive, is coincidental unless stated otherwise.
A youth wished his parents goodnight, and walked down the hall of a ship's passenger dorms to his own single-bed room. His luggage was in disarray, and a hologame had been left on. He saved it for later with a tap of a tab projected before him. And, navigating the system's menus as he tucked himself into bed, he pulled up a blank journal entry. And as a keyboard beamed on in front of him, where there had been only air, he began to type, lying back against a gelpillow. The computer screen already read, 'Approximately Cycle 341 of 2819' as the date. It seemed that even the computer was rather confused about the exact day of the standard day. And nothing ventured a guess at the hour. He typed.
Today, we set down at La Porte Manteau in six hours. I've never been on the shell before. Ships that travel across water, and not through space. Intriguing. After reading all that ancient science fiction for educlass, I find it ironic. How we found it easier to settle on the watery edge of the universe below great blotches of dark matter than to scour the empty galaxies for those rare, habitable planets. And terraforming takes time and energy. Seems to be something we run low on, idly shunting through the void.
They say the universe is like a conch, Compy. And that one day, God will blow it. That makes me laugh. Religion is silly. To think we're just a grain of sand on the inside of a sea shell is pish-posh. Now I have some shut lid to get. Fine night, Compy.
The young man navigated more menu tabs. The entry was saved, and the room's lights dimmed. He slid into a lying position, adjusting the pillow, and yawning. And as his mind assumed a boyish fantasy, he did not notice the black-haired little girl in the corner of his room, watching him.
Voices in the night. Ship lights dim, the voices were darker. Crude thoughts, and untamed appetites.
"I be tellin' ye, those two 'ave somet'in' special on board. T'ey do, I know it. I seen it, mate!" Frantic, obsessed. A glint in his eye.
"I say we kill 't'e fat'er and rape t'e mot'er. And split t'e creds."
"I 'unno, mate. I might spend a bit o' time wit' t'e young lad."
"Suit yerself, but what be t'is cargo, man?"
"Y'ever 'ear o' t'e Grain o' Sand?"
"No, mate. Wut t'e forn is t'e Grain o' Sand?" He be daft?
"Y'don't read much, eh?" Dumbforn.
"I can't. 'Ate schoolin', it ain't lively."
"Fine. Y'e take her in t'e side o' y'ur choice an' take t'ree quarters o' t'eir wealth."
"No, mate, t'ree fifths," he said, trying to haggle.
"Deal. And take t'e brat to if ye really wants him."
"Oh, I do, man. T'at boy be tight. Just don't let t'e capt'n catch us. Gonna drug her wine, but dat won't last long. We land in four hours. T'at gives us an hour for drinks wit' t'e capt'n an' hour to forn t'at rich man's wife. Ain't been fornin' in weeks. We finish fast, ye can be fornin' her boy down t'e hall before capt'n wakes up."
"Aye. For forn's sake, let's be quick. Now shhh, here comes 'Appy Cappy wit' t'e drinks." Rape her too if she wasn't captain.
The teenage boy awoke to the screams of his mother, echoing down the hall of the old freighter. He knew those screams, as he heard them gag. His spacer instincts burned, and he pulled off the sheets. Leaping out of bed, naked apart from some baggy old pants. He grabbed his sword, and ran out of the room, down the corridor past other sleepless passengers.
And the little girl in the corner of his room still sat quietly on a wooden chair. She had gone unnoticed. And with a sheepish grin, she giggled. And with the room empty, she sang:
Freighters silly, willy-nilly,
Time be wasting, ever tasting,
I the Grain of Rounded Sand,
I the voice of Reason Sang,
Nevermore shall peace be known,
On the shell where I be thrown.
And as the spacing ship Ardor blinked across the black void, like an animation with a bad frame rate, it hit a dense pocket of dark matter. And the engines that shifted space began to work harder with every shunt across space, as they pulled the additional mass of dark matter along. Soon, they would have to pause the ride, and dislocate themselves manually, with actual engines, from the chunks of stray particles they had hit in the void.
Ardor was an aging ship. And its crew was mostly wise, except the two hired hands. They were why the halls were now filled with passengers rubbing their eyes, and the sounds of rape, sodomy, death and an innocent singing girl.
Be this shell or be this hell?
Here I am and here I be,
Now I know. Oh, that woe.
Here be me, here we be.
Woe is me, woe we be.
The Ardor stopped, engines whirring loudly. It was time for someone to get out, and tractor-beam away the junk. That was what the hired hands were for. Clearing off the ship.
However, they were slumped over the dead bodies of a drugged-out captain and a businessman. And between their naked, pulsing loins, they raped his wife. And soon she, too, would be dead. Dead like the empty space.
And a young man stood in the doorway, a look of paralyzed disgust, horror and grief on his face. Both hands trembled, as they clenched around the hilt of a large, three-foot metallic blade. It vibrated, waiting to carve the air in a vengeful whim.
And the ship's security sensors went hay-wire, trying to pick up the illegal use of fire-arms, lasers or toxins. The latter it detected, on the lips of the dead captain, and an alarm began to ring through the ship in a foreign tongue.
Alexander, I will die. Avenge me, my son, and avenge your father too. And keep the Grain of Sand safe, she's a special one, that girl. And finally, she gave in, and let the tears fall as bodies pushed against her from all sides.