Lauren has a close encounter of the worst kind.
She never saw it coming. Lauren didn’t duck, never even looked up. By the time the sonic boom caught up with the out-of-control alien craft, it was all over.
“What happened?” demanded Captain Skarn as he picked himself up off the deck.
“It’s a miracle that we’re still alive,” gasped the shaken navigator. “It appears we passed through a gelatinous mass that slowed our velocity just enough so the inertial damper could compensate for the crash landing.”
“We still have hull integrity and life support is nominal,” replied their unflappable Chief Engineer. “Damage appears to be minimal, but the autopilot is completely gone, sir. That must be what caused us to go to full acceleration. I was able to cut the engines before impact, but there wasn’t time to regain control.”
“Can we maneuver manually?”
“Yes, sir. I can bring the engines back up, but I’m not sure what will happen when they engage. We’re completely submerged in some sort of gray goo.”
“Is that a technical term, Chief?” asked Skarn with a smile. “I need to know what we're dealing with and what our options are.”
“It’s definitely organic, Captain, and there’s quite a lot of it,” said the Science Officer. “We can fire weapons to clear a path forward, or use the engines at low thrust and try to drive through it. My assessment is that the engines pose a lower risk.”
“Very well,” said Skarn decisively. “We’ll use the engines. Do a systems check and let me know when you’re ready, Chief.”
“Oh no, not today,” Lauren winced as the pain stabbed through her head. An odd crackling roar slammed her eardrums a second later. She was used to dealing with these migraine headaches, but the job interview was in twenty minutes. There wasn’t time to lie down with an ice pack in a darkened room. She felt disoriented, but managed to sit on a nearby bench without falling.
"You have to try," she urged herself as the pain subsided a bit. She could actually see her destination, just two blocks down and across the street. She steeled herself and rose, using the arm of the bench for support. Her headache was just a dull throb now, and there was still time to make the appointment.
“Engines are ready Captain. Manual control is routed to the navigation console.”
“Straight ahead, minimum thrust, for one second,” Skarn commanded.
“Aye-aye, Captain,” the navigator replied and the ship quivered forward slightly.
“No problem, sir. We moved forward with no indication of damage to the ship.”
“Alright then, let’s get out of the Chief’s goo and head for base. One quarter thrust.”
Lauren had just enough time to shriek in pain before the boiling pressure behind her eyes reached its bursting point.
The odds of being hit by lightning are one in a million. The odds of winning the lottery are one in seven million. There’s really no way to calculate the astronomical odds of being hit by a pinhead sized UFO. Lauren certainly didn’t have a clue. She never saw it coming.
Author's note: ▼