From: 101 Writing Prompts for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers

Page 16 prompt 14

“Red. Alert. Red. Alert.” The words ring out over and over again as people run back and forth in varying states of panic and fear. The computers oddly calm voice does nothing to settle panic as people fight for escape pods. She manages to snag one while two other fight over it, as she straps herself in the pod launches heading for the planet surface, soundlessly her pod falls toward the atmosphere while the star liner breaks apart sending debris scattering across the area for miles. The pod jolts when it hits the atmosphere jostling the woman inside, once it begins to fall the computer comes to life. “Hello, crew member or guest. I am Jane. This is the planet Alpha 3-BX, life forms on this planet have been documented as hostile. Please remain with the pod upon landing so that a rescue and retrieval team may find you or your body.”

“What!” The woman screams in disbelief.

“Do not worry, crew member or guest the head quarters has been notified of the incident, help is on the-” The pleasant voice is cut short as a parachute releases, slowing the pod significantly. “The atmosphere of Alpha 3-BX is breathable, the terrain is suitable for human life. Upon landing you should set up the communication tower. The parts of which are located under your seat. This concludes my programming, do not panic crew member or guest, help is on the way.” The computer shuts down leaving the woman to her own devices.

“You’ve got to be joking!” She turns in her seat attempting to see how far from the ground the pod was, she no more then turned and the metal canister slammed into the ground shaking her violently. For several seconds she sits in her pod, unwilling to open the door but when the parachute finally flutters down cover her small windows. With a sigh she unfastens her harness and forces open the door, she peers out before stepping into the open. The blue sky arches high above her, thick green grass moves in the breeze like wave on the ocean. There’s no sign of life beside her, for a moment she stares in awe taking in the green grass, blue sky, and breathing in the scent of freshly fallen rain though no clouds are in sight.

She is snapped back to reality when a loud roar echoes over the land, she looks around but cannot see what made the noise. With adrenaline coursing through her she dashes back into her pod, pulling the door shut behind her. She waits a beat, then two before venturing out again, still she can see nothing; wasting no more time she pulls her seat free to find the communication tower.

It snaps together easily but now the problem arises, eyes are on her, though still as she looks out she can see nothing. Hesitantly she sets the tower aside and returns to the pod’s interior, she watches as a beast comes from seemingly nowhere, rising up from the thick grass and slowly prowling toward the pod, her breath catches as it sniff at the window, clawed paw coming up and pressing against the metal. Its claws catch on the metal lip of the door and it protests as it pulls against the door, attempting to open it, she shakes as she waits from the door to give out. The beast pulls away slowly, prowls around it before vanishing into the grass once again.

Against her better judgment she pushes the door open and and props up the tower, leaning it against the pod, the light atop begins to blink slowly, transmitting her position. Shaking she returns to the pod and slams the door, the computer comes on “Hello crew member of guest, you have activated the communication tower. Your position is being broadcasted, rescue is on the way. Please remain with the pod. Thank you for your cooperation.” The waiting game. Great. She sits and waits, the computer doesn’t come back on and the beast from the grass doesn’t rise up again till the star sinks and the moon rises.

For days she remains in there, storms come and go the beast comes for a few days but soon looses interest, finally the computer comes to life. “Hello crew member or guest, the rescue ship is within orbit. Please be patient as they search for you.” She lets out a breath and lets herself relax for the first time in days. She can see the copters rising up from the depths of the planet and hurriedly throws open the door and waves them down, they do not see her in time to save her. Her flailing and yelling has drawn the beast to her, as the copter draws near so does her end. She lets out a sigh only to be pounced upon, craw sinking into her flesh, jaws breaking her bones as she lets out a pitiful gargled death rattle.

Shots ring out the beast falls dead, the copter lands and a small team rush to her, but she is gone. One gets on the radio “One body found, not a survivor. Cause of death, mauling.” A stretcher is brought out and she is rolled on it before they return to the copter and the rescue ship. Once on board the captain sighs greeting the team and their cargo.

“How many does that make?”

“Nineteen, sir.” The rescue team sighs.

“Hopefully the secondary team has more luck.”

“Yes sir.”