May 2018 – Furious Fiction Submission

This is another entry for Furious Fiction run by the Australian Writers’ Centre, and I am happy with this one more because of the fact it has inspired me for my novel, which I’ll admit is only plodding along very slowly.

I am finding “very short” fiction is good for writing during the school term, as it usually only takes me a couple of hours to knock out, but I feel like I can work my creative muscles a little bit. In this story, I spent some time practising my development of character voice throughout the piece.

Not much else to say apart from that there were a few specific prerequisites that I needed to meet like in the previous one:

  • The story had to begin with the words “A long time ago”
  • The story had to include the words “star”, “war” and “force” (or a plural of those words).
  • The story had to feature something that flies.

Obviously it needed to be written in the 55-hour time-frame and could only be 500 words at the most.




The Kessler Effect

“A long time ago,” said Zahraa, “in an orbit not so far away, people just like us lived on another world. A dead world.” She paused dramatically, a habit she’d picked up from years of storytelling. But this story was different.

Zahraa glanced up instinctively before continuing, peering through the transparent dome overhead and scanning the sky for the blue-brown pinprick of light amongst the stars. She couldn’t find it, and when she looked back down at her children their eyes reflected the red of the landscape just beyond the glass.

“But we can never go back to that dead world now, and even if we did, we could never leave it. Around that world is barrier, or a dome,” she patted the thick glass beside her, “but that dome around the world was made by accident, and unlike ours it is not there to keep the world safe. The dome around the dead world is made of junk that moves so fast that it tears apart anything that tries to enter and, more importantly, that tries to leave.”

Zahraa noticed her son’s sharp intake of breath and continued before he interrupted.

“Before the Collapse it was a beautiful place, of blues and greens and yellows and purples. On good days or in the right places you could breathe the air and walk outside barefoot to feel the soft grass. But the planet was slowly dying, and everyone was leaving to the Colonies-“

“Like Mars?” Zahraa’s daughter managed to interject.

“Like Mars,” she answered, taking a breath. “Every day the Colony ships rocketed towards a future only a few could afford to have and we would watch exhaust streams cross-hatch the sky, reminding us that we could not leave. Not yet. But then we thought we had years, not days.

“Then it happened: a ship that was launched from a place called Woomera was torn up when it hit an old, defunct satellite in lower orbit, and that debris hit another satellite, and the chain reaction that had begun continued until Earth’s orbit began to completely fill with junk,” Zahraa did her best to force back the quiver in her voice. “Once they realised there wasn’t much time, important people from powerful countries started wars, using bombs that wiped out entire cities as they scrambled to get their own ships into the sky.

“I was too young to realise how bad it was. Even when my mothers sat with me as the car drove us to the launch pad. Even when the shuttle door closed behind me with them on the other side. Even as our only home faded into the distance as we scraped through the debris field and shot towards Mars.

“Like all that are left now, I was alone without a home, and in the end all the Colonies could do once the orbit was full was listen to the desperate cries for help as Earth killed itself, cut off from anything that could save it.”

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