Sometimes I do writing exercises when the plot of a book or story just isn’t moving along. Often, those things end up being new short stories in their own right. This is one I ended up sharing with subscribers to my newsletter, so I thought I’d post it here as well. Just because. In this case, I decided to try to write a story that was nothing but dialogue and see if I could actually convey plot, setting, characterisation and so on without anything but spoken parts. This little bit of flash fiction is the result. I hope you enjoy it
Harry To The Blue
by Alan Baxter
Control, something powerful is pulling me in. We didn’t read a gravity well, did we? Instruments are going haywire.
Stand by. Checking.
I don’t think I have the power to get out.
Full astern. Give it all you’ve got.
I’m already on full burn. What are you reading on my trajectory?
You’re… you’re moving away from us at about fourteen hundred clicks a second.
This is an energy field. Why does it have gravity? Or is it something else?
Sensors can’t read a cause. We’re working on it. All we see right now is the original swirling blue anomaly, still a long way from you. We see you’re getting no new intel.
Nothing. Instruments are hectic, useless. Maybe I’m too small. Can you come get me? The cruiser surely has the power to burn against whatever this is.
Control? Kelly? Control! I’m running out of time here. I don’t want to be swallowed by whatever the hell that thing is. Kelly?
Harry, this is Captain Reynolds. I’m sorry, son. There’s… there’s nothing we can do.
We recalibrated sensors based on the garbled feedback from your on-boards. Turns out there’s a kind of event horizon to whatever that thing is. Extends about three hundred thousand clicks, acts like gravity. We don’t know quite what it is, but it would swallow us too, our size and power seem irrelevant. We can’t get close.
You’re already beyond our reach.
So that’s it? I’m dead? That’s what you’re telling me? You’ve sent me to my death?
We don’t know. I’m sorry, son.
So you freaking said!
Who knows what’ll happen when you reach the anomaly, Harry.
I’ll be dragged inside that incandescent blue mass and almost certainly killed, that’s what I think. You have any better ideas? You think there might be a gods damned hydrobar in there or something?
We just don’t know, Harry.
I came out for samples and readings. This isn’t supposed to be how it ends. It can’t be. How did we not know this before you sent me in? How… How can this be it? I had so much more to do. So much to see…
You’ve been an exemplary crewman, Harry. A credit to the Corps. I can’t tell you how sorry I am.
Me either. Gods damn it, Captain, I’m not even thirty. I had so much to do!
Shut up. Put Kelly back on.
Don’t cry, Kelly.
I’m sorry. I can’t help it.
Pretty crappy day this turned out to be, right?
Oh, Harry. This isn’t fair.
I was just saying the same thing to Captain Reynolds. Life is never fair, I guess.
It should have been fairer than this to you. To us.
What will you call him?
Harry. I’ll call him Harry, of course.
No. Seems I’m unlucky. Call him Arnold, after my dad. He lived to be a hundred and forty two and died a hero. He was over a hundred and twenty when he had me! Remember he discovered the Callista Nebula? Made hyperspace safer for everyone.
Call him Arnold, yeah?
Okay, darling. I’ll call him Arnold Harry. How about that?
Stop crying, Kelly, please.
I can’t help it. You’re crying!
I’m the one dying here!
You might not die.
Well, I’m the one losing you. Let’s both cry.
Okay. I wish I could have seen him.
He’s going to be so handsome, just like his dad.
You think so?
Sure. And smart like his mom.
Hey, so I’m dumb?
But you’re so good looking, Harry, so it doesn’t matter.
Hahaha! Gods, Kelly, I love you so much.
I love you too, my sweet man. Wait, what? Oh…
What is it?
Communications are degrading. We’ve got about thirty seconds left.
Oh. That sucks. Holy gods, can you believe I can’t think of a thing to say?
Shall we just cry at each other for the last twenty seconds?
Oh, Harry, I can’t bear this. I love you so much. I’ll tell Arnold Harry everything about you, show him the vids. He’ll know all about his dad and what a wonderful man you are.
I’m glad, Kelly. Thank you. Who knows? This anomaly could be anything, right? It wasn’t supposed to act like a black hole. I might find wonders inside. I might find a way out.
Of course! And we’ll be waiting, Arnold Harry and I. We’ll wait forever. I love you, Harry.