I’m very pleased to announce that my science fiction short story, Salvage In The Void, has been published at Kasma SF Magazine and it’s free to read online. Not only that, but the story has been illustrated in fantastic style by Jose Boreas. I honestly couldn’t be happier with it. This story features those spacefaring friends, Peevy and LaVey, an engineer with a phobia about deep space and his synthetic hound. These guys first appeared in my story, Trawling The Void, which was published in Midnight Echo issue 6, the science fiction/horror special. Salvage In The Void follows on directly from the events in Trawling The Void. And I have in mind at least one more adventure for Peevy and LaVey, and possibly more after that. I’ll post an excerpt below to give you a taste and a thumbnail of the artwork. You can go to Kasma SF to read the rest and see the art in all its glory. And while you’re there, stick around and read some of the other stuff – it’s an excellent online magazine (and this is my second feature there.)
Salvage in the Void
by Alan Baxter
“I don’t know how long I can bear this,” Peevy said. Deepfear churned his stomach as he absently stroked the SimHound’s head. “I didn’t want to die back there on a doomed ship, but I don’t think I can take this.”
LaVey whined in sympathy, looking up to lick a kiss across his master’s cheek. Peevy hunched in the cramped pod, the demi-sphere of radiation-shielded plasglass at his back. He felt the black out there, a yawning void trying to suck him into icy depths. He tapped and flicked in the holographic cube before him, called up images and charts. “I know I can manage the ‘fear, LaVey,” he said as he worked.
LaVey huffed in agreement.
Peevy read speeds and vectors, tried to correlate the information with on-board charts. There was very little in the way of accurate cartography so far out on the edge.
As the mind-numbing enormity of space became ever more apparent Peevy trembled more deeply, ‘fear tightening his chest, constricting his throat. “It’s so much easier to manage on-board ship,” he said.
LaVey whined softly, sitting close to his master, resting his chin.
A sharp beep brought Peevy out of a fitful doze. LaVey, curled at his feet, looked up.
LaVey sat up, barked in excitement.
“It’s a small vessel,” Peevy said. “What’s it doing all the way out here? Looking for the Clara Halo? It ‘s…” He cast a haunted look at the SimHound. “Dead. They ‘re all dead.” LaVey gestured with his nose at the comm.
Peevy keyed up a comm-link, took a deep breath to calm himself. “Vessel callsign VSC7811, do you read me, over?”
Man and dog sat still in tense expectation. Nothing but a soft hiss came back over the comm.
“Vessel callsign VSC7811,” Peevy said again, “This is Chief Engineer Peevy, recently of the USV Clara Halo, sole survivor. My pod has limited range and supplies, please respond.”
More crackle and hiss. Peevy’s eyes were wide as he looked at LaVey. “Can’t they hear us?”
LaVey shook his head, lips forward in concern. He tipped his head, flicked one ear.
Peevy read the dog’s body language, their bond deeper than anyone ever understood. “You think they’re ignoring us?” He growled with annoyance. “Vessel callsign VSC7811, this is Chief Engineer Peevy, sole survivor of the USV Clara Halo…”
“We hear you, engineer.” The voice was gravelly.
“Oh, thank everything in the deep, wide black! Please, can you pick me up?”
A guttural laugh came across. “Hold your horses there, engineer. United Spaceways Vessel, huh? You’re a company man.”
“Yes. But the Clara Halo is gone.”
“Really? Well, I don’t want any contact with the company or the Democratic Alliance of Planets. I’m sorry.”
“What? Wait! I don’t want to drift in this pod forever.” His stomach lurched at the thought. “I’ll die of starvation or lack of oxygen before I find anyone.”
“Why is that my concern, engineer?”
“Simple human kindness?” Peevy ventured weakly.
I’ll also add a permanent link on the Dark Shorts page.