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Woop Woop
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 1

(Yes, this is a silly funny story. Nothing serious about it.)

"Woop, woop," the alarm said. "Woop, woop."

The Faster than Imagination freighter Calamity Jane was three months out of Cape Calamari, en route to New Jihadistan, hauling forty million tons of Trollite ore. This was a routine run – Calamity Jane did it once every five years on average – and nothing had ever triggered the alarm before.

Oddly enough, that was the thought that first came to Captain Burhanuddin Talibani, in his cabin on the mid-upper deck of the Calamity Jane. "Nothing has ever triggered the alarm before," he said.

This, of course, was a problem. Captain Talibani scratched his turban as he tried to recall the correct procedure to follow. The gulfs of space between New Jihadistan and Cape Calamari were known to be perfectly safe. Why, even the Somalistani pirates left this part of the galaxy strictly alone.

"Woop, woop," went the alarm.

"To hell with it," Captain Talibani said at last, and hit the red emergency button on his turban.

"Wah wah," went the warbling emergency call. Throughout the passages and cabins, the engine rooms and the FTI Drive core, the galleys and the bathrooms, the call warbled. "Wah wah," it said. "Wah wah." And the alarm said "Woop woop," so the two blended together in a crescendo of noise, each trying to outshout the other: "Woop wah, woop wah, woop woop wah wah."

From all over the ship, the crew stumbled to their emergency sessions, cursing. Some of them had been sleeping. Some of them had been in bed but not sleeping. One of these, Deputy Captain Anna Lovitskaya, rushed out of her cabin, pausing just long enough to pull on pants and shoes.

"What’s going on?" she demanded, grabbing the first crewman she saw by the arm. "What’s the emergency?"

The crewman goggled at her, his jaw dropping. "Gwah?" he inquired.

"Oh, sorry," said Deputy Captain Anna, and rushed back to her cabin to pull on a bra and a shirt.

Deep in the heart of the Calamity Jane, the armoured control centre had already filled up with officers by the time the Captain and the Deputy Captain arrived simultaneously, from opposite directions. Captain Talibani was still adjusting his turban and Deputy Captain Anna was still buttoning her shirt, so they dispensed with salutes, keeping in mind the gravity of the situation.

"What is the emergency, sir?" Anna asked, while they waited for the door to open. It was an old and temperamental door, and usually reacted with all the alacrity of a lift descending from the 35th floor. "Do you have any information?"

"All I know is that the alarm went off," Captain Talibani replied, his beard waggling in agitation. "It is not supposed to go off."

"No," his deputy agreed. "Shouldn’t you shut that alarm off now?"

"Yes, maybe it would be a good idea," the captain assented. He fiddled with a button set into his turban. The Woop Wah faded. Also, the door opened at last and they entered the control room.

"What’s going on?" Captain Talibani demanded to the officers bent over keyboards and scopes. "What’s the problem?"

"It’s this, Captain," First Mate Jagathrakshakan said, and pressed a button. A viewscreen lit up. "This thing here is blocking our way."

Everyone stared at the screen. "It appears to be an insect," Deputy Captain Anna said at last.

"A very large insect," Jagathrakshakan added.

"A very large, reddish insect with no wings," Captain Talibani, who had a keen eye for these details, said. "What’s more, it’s coming closer."

There was no doubt about that. The distance readout at the bottom of the screen showed that the huge reddish creature was closing the distance with great rapidity.

"Change course fast!" Talibani ordered.

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:Science Fiction
Type:Short story
Rating:5.37 / 10
Rated By:10 users
Comments: 0 users
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