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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2166701
"It could be radioactive or filled with worm thingies from space!" A Cliff Hanger Entry

Colonel “Rod” Jackson reached into the small pocket of his suit and pulled out the worn photo. The effort made him cough, misting the inside of his helmet with fine red droplets. He ignored it, focusing instead on the image of a young woman with a small child. I’m going to miss you. I pray you find happiness and that our son grows into a strong and courageous man.

A blinking yellow light, labeled “air supply”, caught his attention. Ten minutes.

The mission had gone wrong from the start. The solar storm had burned out their communications and navigation systems as they left the planetary system. Blind and lost, they had miraculously found a small planet and had opted to try a landing.

The engine controls had failed during the descent. Lying in the crumpled wreckage, he realized that all this had done was sped up their demise.

The light turned red. He stretched, trying to pull a knife from his leg pocket. “Not this way,” he gasped. “Whatever’s out there, it will be my last breath.” Not reaching the knife, he pulled at the air connections to his helmet but the stars before his eyes collapsed on themselves and all went black.

*BulletGr* *BulletGr* *BulletGr* *BulletGr*

Cody peered out the opening that passed for a window in the shack. “See, I told you I saw a UFO. Looks like the durned thing crashed.”

Buck opened one eye, leaning forward. The dilapidated wall behind him creaked in relief. “Maybe they don’t make them like they used to. Or, maybe it’s supposed to look like that? I’m not sure,” Buck said, spitting a line of tobacco juice, missing the coffee can and hitting the dirt floor.

“We should go down and see …”

“You crazy? It could be radioactive or filled with worm thingies from space,” said the old timer.

“Yer right. I guess we could call the Feds.”

“Naw, they’d never believe us. They’d just write it off as another old tale from the old west.

“Well then, how about we go get a cold beer? Maybe someplace where I don't have to sit on an old washtub," Cody said, rattling the empty 6-pack sitting between them. “No need to keep roughing it. My butt is numb and I’ve had my fill of this warm piss.”

Buck laughed. “You old coot! You never have your fill, warm or cold! But, that’s the first good idea you’ve had all month!”

Cody looked out once more. “Welcome to Earth,” he muttered pushing aside the half-hinged door and heading to the rusty Jeep.

*BulletGr* *BulletGr* *BulletGr* *BulletGr*

Rod came to, momentarily, in time to see a spear of light suddenly appear in the night sky, not recognizing it as headlights. Confused but grasping at any ray of hope, he fumbled for the emergency flare gun. His hands were numb and with the last of his strength, began squeezing the trigger…

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An entry for the August round of "Invalid Item
Prompt: Image – Use and bold the following words: Roughing it, out west. old timer, They don't make them like they used to
Word Limit: 1000
Word Count: 545

*Smile* Ufology – the study of unidentified flying objects.
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