My short “Mission Control” won the 150-word Flash! Friday competition last week (announced this week). The prompt was a picture taken of the astronauts of the Gemini V mission after their water landing…
… and an alien had to be included.
I submitted two flashes (as I’d just realized I could post two a couple hours before the deadline). The first was “Mission Control” which can be read here. I was inspired by the blurb about the picture: the capsule with a crew of two had been widely off course because of a programmer error and had to adjust from aboard. That program error snagged me.
And what excellent company I found myself in. There is a lot of talent and imagination over on Flash! Friday. What struck me most of all, though, was the enthusiastic community. There were 600 comments of feedback and praise for over 70 stories. Moreover, this week’s judge Phil Coltrane gave me some meaty feedback regarding what worked and why.
The second piece I wrote because, as I read through the incredible array of entries, I noticed a decided lack of women as MCs (including for “Mission Control”). I also wanted to do something completely different, something lyrical. “Safe Landing” came out of that.
So, here’s “Safe Landing” @159 words
The sea sucks at her limbs like an ogre sucking on a hero’s bones. The serpentine creature twines through the burgundy waters, dragging the astronaut through the alien sea, to the wire of land pricking the horizon.
I’m sorry, xe murmurs. She perceives it through xis rilled skin—xis true-skin, not the disembodied presence that whisked her from the capsule.
“There is no need for sorry,” she tells xim, means it.
She’s breathing, alive.
Her gratitude buoys up from the pit and breaks the tarry surface, sulfurous as the waves. Without xis intervention, her craft would have come down hot on the toothy shoals. On earth.
Its intentions noble—how could it notice the industrious neocortex working through a course correction? All xe understood was the reptilian cerebellum screeching through her brain: Danger! Help!
I’ve never eaten eggplant parmesan. The regret gnaws holes in her gut.
The pale amber sky lowers toward the swells like a soft palate.