Thursday, 9 May 2013

Arachne


This week’s challenge from terribleminds and Chuck Wendig was five random sentences.
The five sentences are:
1.            The shape fights the motionless ink.
2.            The portrait cat sneakily gestured at everyone.
3.            It walked inside the spaceship and then it sat down.
4.            When does the family document the thunder?
5.            The rough sex arrives by adhesive smoke.
So — you have ~1000 words.
Post online at your space, link back here.
You have one week — due by noon EST on Friday, May 10th.


I chose sentence number three:            It walked inside the spaceship and then it sat down. Here is my effort.

Arachne
The Captain checked off another thing on her list. She didn’t mind being alone with her ship. They didn’t make it to market towns on habitable planets often and everyone had a shopping list when they did. The engineer was collecting her mail; that was all she needed.
It walked inside the spaceship and then it sat down. It looked unperturbed, as if it had just been out for the afternoon like the rest of the crew. The shipboard monitors recognised it as crew and had not sounded an alarm.
The Captain took her hand off her weapon, looked at it and said, “I threw you into the space lock just outside Celestes Nine.”
It didn’t say anything, just gave an odd body movement that may have been a shrug. It was difficult to tell with the hard exoskeleton that covered its insect body.
“Well?” she demanded.
“It won’t happen again, Captain.”
“It had better not.”
There was silence for a minute or so as she continued working through her checklist and the insect waited patiently.
“How?” she finally asked.
“I am still not female.”
That wasn’t actually an explanation, so the captain just waited for the rest.
“I spun a tether line that adhered to the ship.”
It must have been instinct. The captain had an image of baby spiders hatching and throwing out a web that caught the wind and blew them everywhere. Once dragged along with the ship, it had probably found somewhere to hide. “The primary buffer panel,” she said. It had come off again during the landing. Now she knew why. “You endangered us all during the landing.”
Another shrug-like movement. “It has happened before without incident.”
And it had survived in space for quite some time without breathing. She was weighing up the options in her head. Having the insect on crew had proved useful before, but now she knew it had some extra skills. Was it still worth it? Or was it just more dangerous?
She looked at it. It was truly difficult to gauge emotion but it seemed to look contrite to her. “You didn’t know you could survive,” she guessed.
“No. I was terrified.”
They had found the insect on one of their exploratory missions. The merc, and her occasional bed partner, had wanted to kill it on sight; his usual reaction to anything he didn’t understand. It was the size of his booted foot. She had argued that it could be useful. It had seemed intelligent to her, but alone. A planetary sweep confirmed no other species. In fact, there was no other life on that rock, and it had found them. Now, she suspected that the baby spider act had got it to that planet in the first place. It had probably been too young to remember it.
After some fierce debate, she had brought it on board. It had clung to her as if it knew that she was its only hope. It had been cleaned, tested and declared harmless by the medic. They found nothing else like it in the records. It had taken days for it to let her go.
It had grown several feet in length and then it had grown several extra arms and feet. It was now her height, had learnt to speak, and had regular dormant periods during which it shed its outer shell. Other than that, it didn’t sleep. The crew loved it for that, alone. No one needed to do ‘night’ shift any more. She was the nearest thing to a mother that it had and she had argued that it needed time and space to do its own things, just like the rest of the crew. It still offered to cover more shifts than it should have; but she let it go. It wasn’t stupid and it knew it was a way to earn favour with the crew.
She had finished with her checklist. She made to leave the bridge. “Arachne?”
“Yes, Captain?”
She wanted to say that she was glad it was okay, but she chose instead, “Welcome aboard.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
~~~~
© AM Gray 2013