Docking Bay Y-9 [short story]

Above Earth
From the library public archives, 1887

By Corissa Haury

I can see the rectangular ship descending from just above the platform outside the entrance to the port. Its gleaming silver coat reflects some of the Sun’s luminescent, uncontrolled rays beaming through our solar system. The tainted glass on the ship’s bow indicates the cockpit. Its thrusters are on low. This is a class D civilian and cargo transport ship. Coming from Earth, probably more immigrants, tourists, and travelers come to inhabit the ORB.

“Astropilot Clark of the Orchid to Docking Bay Y-9. Safety code 975-389-238. Orchid is prepared for landing. Requesting clearance to initiate anchor magnetics.” A static voice comes over the radio. I turn to the left where it sits in the console, beneath the lighting switches and above the air pressure and chemical controls.

I adjust the pressure in the docking bay with the control on the console. It’s always strange when the nothingness of space is just beyond the bay, half a mile beyond my thick glass window from the control room to the opening of the bay. One hundred seventy-three lights and buttons blink at me in varying codes in all different colors.

I flick on the switch beside the speaker on the left. “Docking Bay Y-9 to Astropilot Clark.” I reply into the mic on the console. “Ship Orchid is cleared for landing. Initiate magnetics. Responding magnetics will be ready.” I turn off the mic.

Orchid is dropping anchor now.” I hear Clark’s voice on the radio. I don’t reply. I believe in brevity.

I know what every single light, every single switch means. I switch on the gravity magnetics, and the ship’s thick anchors drop down the last few feet to lock against the platform with a thud. I can see the platform groan underneath the weight of the class D ship. Cargo ships are always heavier. I flip the switch for the intake platform, and it begins its automated slide into the port slowly.

“Prepare to close docking bay doors.” I say aloud.

“Docking bay doors on standby.” Replies Zeres behind me. I hear her charge the engines. There is no wasting energy in space. We only use what we need. The platform has drawn the whole freighter inside.

“Shut the doors.” I can see that the ship is powering down. No residual heat from the thrusters. As the bay doors begin to shut out the intruding sunlight, I hear the pilot’s voice again.

“Astropilot Clark to Control Room Y-9. The Orchid has landed. Permission to open the doors.”

I briskly turn to the mic, angry with him for bothering me while I am still stabilizing the environment. I flick the on switch. “This is Control Room Y-9, Clark, negative, that is a negative. Environment has not been pressurized. The doors are still-“

“Controller Rhys, the doors won’t close.” I hear Zeres’ voice behind me. I turn around and see her fiddling with the controls. My hands still in place on the air pressure, I look out through the glass at the docking bay. I can see the sunlight still streaming through the last several dozen feet from space.

“Why not?” I snap back.

“I don’t know.” She replies, “It feels like something is pushing against the handle.” I see her struggling with the final arm of the mechanism on the wall, the arm that guides the powerful, heavy mechanical doors shut.

“Control Room Y-9, are you there?” I hear the voice on the radio. I notice the microphone is still on. He heard everything that just happened in the room. I turn it off.

“Controller Rhys!” Zeres is calling. “Help!”

I grit my teeth. This is the third time this has happened this week. When are they going to fix the damn doors? I rise from my chair. I look out the window to the doors. I stare them down. Maybe it’s a power problem. They don’t have enough juice to close? I grab the handle from Zeres. “Give it to me.” I say. She lets go her grip. Her young, inexperienced eyes are panicking behind her decent facade.

I grip the handle. It does feel as if something is pushing back, as if something is pushing against the doors.

They won’t close.

I pull and pull, for what seems like a long time.

I sweat and I pull harder than I have all week. I can feel them giving. I can feel them closing.

“You’re doing it!” Zeres squeals. I can hear her smiling. “I can see them closing!”

“Yes, thank you.” I grunt through my teeth.

“Now go to the console.” I say.

Her face looks petrified. “Just do it.” I command in a loud voice.

She walks to it.

“Look for the Greek letter Gamma.” I shout at her. “I need you to activate the magnetic door locks.”

I watch her search for it. “It looks like a strange small Y!” I say impatiently, just as I feel myself about to give up, just as the doors get close enough for the locks to work.

I see her reach for the switch.

I feel the release of the handle as the locks click into place in my peripheral vision. I don’t need to look for sure. I am about to go out there. I can still hear the static of the channel to the Orchid. I walk over to the radio and flick on the mic.

“Control Room Y-9 to Astropilot Clark aboard the Orchid.” I say. I look out at the ship. Several workers are waiting around it to clean and fuel the Class D freighter. “Astropilot Clark, are you there? Come in please.” I hear no answer.

“What happened out there?” Zeres asks. I look over at her with a frown.

“Stop looking so scared, for Sun’s sakes.” I snap at her. “I don’t know.” I turn back to the radio. There is just static. “Clark? Come in, Astropilot Clark.” I repeat this a few times before I hear a crackling sound against the radio, and then what sounds like a strange whoosh. Almost as if air had left the ship in a giant breath. Out in the bay, the lights flicker for a moment. Then they go out. I can hear the shouts of the workers faintly as they scatter.

I walk across the room to the door where my spacesuit is kept. I open the closet. Above the suit there is a huge flashlight.

“All right.” I say to Zeres. “You’re gonna help me put this on, and I’m gonna go check out the docking bay. There is something broken out there and I am going to fix it.”

She crosses the room. Just as she reaches me, the whole place goes dark.

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

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Dark Shadows and Storms [short story]

By Corissa Haury

By H. E. Remus 2015
By Corissa Haury 2015

“Mom?” I call throughout the house. She doesn’t answer the usual, “I’m home!” I call out when I return from my best friend’s house in the evening. Over the water, the sun is setting, and I knew she would be cooking up dinner. That is, she usually is cooking up dinner around this time. I look at my watch. 5:57. Where is she? I take off my sneakers and leave them on a mat near the front door. The white male cat meows at me, a high Persian meow, from his place in the living room window. No one is in the living room. The kitchen is just beyond, a breakfast bar the only barrier between the cooking space and entertaining space. This cottage isn’t big, but it’s just enough for the three of us. Mom isn’t in the kitchen either. All the lights are shut off.

“Mom?” I call again, looking around for her. Something clatters in the bathroom. Probably the cat. Where is my mother? I look in the study room underneath the stairs, a tiny room with some brooms and the computer on a table with a chair. She’s not there. She isn’t in the rooms on the other side of the central stairwell either, not in the parlor nor the sun room. I wander upstairs to the few bedrooms and the bathroom, but she isn’t to be found. What the fuck? I think to myself. I get my cell phone out of my pocket and text her. The cat is weaving between my legs while I stand at the top of the stairs. It is fall, and cool even inside the house. I am glad I have a sweater on. Mom would scold me about my boots… If she were here. I dial her number and hold the phone to my ear.

Ring, ring. I hear that obnoxious digital sound, making me wait to speak to my mom.

Ring, ring. Every second she does not pick up makes me worry. I think of the dog outside. Maybe he could find Mom if she is nearby. She likes to swim, what if she went for an afternoon swim and got sucked out to sea? What if she is somewhere with a man I don’t know about? I always wondered if she had a secret boyfriend, why it seemed for years that she wasn’t interested in anyone. She doesn’t pick up her phone. I curse and hang up. Her voicemail is useless to me. I text her again, though she has not even ‘read’ my last text message. I swear again. The cat weaves between my legs.

Minutes later I am out on the ocean with the dog beside me, in the breeze. We have crossed the small street between our cottage-on-stilts and the sea. I look back at our little shack, swaying slightly in the wind. You can see it when you look at the stairs up to the front door, swinging back and forth. Its white wooden shell has been darkened and worn by salt winds and sea spray. Its roof is covered in bird shit, but it’s still sturdy. My galoshes are perfect for plodding through puddles to look out at the beach. I see none of my mother’s usual evidence of her swimming habits. She likes to leave a towel atop a stump or log of some kind, somewhere, to dry off when the sea has had enough of her, and she cannot resist its strength any more. I see no towels, anywhere. None of the various pieces of wood on the shore have anything but dried kelp or damp seaweed on them.

As the sun sets, a small drizzle comes in from the ocean to the island shore. It is a cold drizzle, and I have no jacket. I am forced to go back to the house and shelter there temporarily. I cry a little on the way home, as I cross the street. It seems like a dead town to me. In the autumn, most of the tourists and temporary summer vacation home owners have gone. Not many people are outdoors in this cold drizzle. I look away from the shores beyond the little shanty vacation town I live in, to the edges of the mountain tops beyond. The shore runs all the way around a northern cape on our island, and the mountains reign over the terrain just beyond our town. I can see the tops of the mountains just now overtaken by clouds as I look out the windows. I hold the white cat and try not to think of my mother, whose whereabouts are unknown to me.

The mountaintops are soon obscured by darkness and clouds. The drizzle becomes a rain, and I go to bed unable to sleep. I cannot watch TV, even that cannot distract me. I pet the white cat, but he wants to play. I am not in the mood. Out of my room he goes, and I shut the door and lock it. He can jump and catch the handle in the right moment. (There are downsides to owning smart animals.) I sit back on my bed, my head against the wall and my knee against the headboard. I look out my bedroom windows on the other side of my room, away from the nook my bed is tucked in.

Lightning flashes above the mountains and the sea. Dark shadows walk down the beach. At first I think nothing of it, as I watch the rain pound against the windows and look at the tiny lights of our neighbors’ homes flicker on and off in the night. I see soon, however, that the lurking hulks coming down the shore are taller than most men. They seem… Beast-like, almost as if… I shake off the thought, for it was a lightning flash, an illusion. There is nothing there.

How I long for my mother in that moment, in a way I have not longed for her in a long while. It is strange, to want your mother as a teenager the same way you want her as a very young child. Your mother is a protective force. Your mother shields you from harm and from the world. Your mother tells you that the hulking beasts walking on the beach in a rainstorm are not real. But my mother is not here. My heart pounds absurdly, unexpectedly, fearfully. I hate myself for being so afraid. My bedroom door is locked… I go to the window, careful to stay in the shadows. Thunder cracks overhead. Lightning strikes on the beach again. There are half a dozen of the tall figures. I am looking outside, watching them. They are hard to see when there is not light, but their advancing shadow are visible as they come nearer to the streetlights on the edge of the town. They look to be a quarter of a mile away.

I watch for a few moments more, attempting to determine where they are going. Their path seems very direct as I watch, almost as if they are heading for our house. My foolish, fearful heart will not stop pounding. What weapons do I have in this room? I begin to think. Thunder cracks again, scaring me a little but I welcome something as natural as thunder with these hulking beasts in the dark. How much time do I have? Is my next thought. Does this have something to do with my mother’s disappearance? I check my cell phone, on my bedside table. Nothing. No calls at all. Should I call the police? I think. Will they believe me? What would I say? Please come save me from the hulking shadows in the dark, my mommy didn’t come home? No… I can’t think, I can’t think.

I am back at the window. Lightning and the storm have receded. Damn you, damn you! I curse the weather. I was using your natural light! I scream in my head. But the hulking shadows pass by a street lamp. Something green, something reflective, shines in the streetlight for a moment, and then the creatures hustle into the dark.

I still cannot see where they are headed. I turn to search my windows for a way of escape. If they come in the cottage, perhaps I can run away to a public place, to a police station. I will need pictures, I will need evidence of the break-in… I grab my cell phone. I begin to pack a backpack quickly with various clothes, snacks, a soda, my cell phone charger, anything I will need overnight at a police station. What about the white cat? I think to myself. I feel a sense of dread, but I cannot unlock my door. Something fearful in me tells me not to, as I watch the six figures in the dark edge closer to my home.

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

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Venom [short story]


By Corissa Haury


I close my eyes and I let the venom burn through my veins. The viper’s juice is soaking into my skin. The little yellow drop of rejuvenation filters through the open wound and rips through my bloodstream. Pain dips into my psyche and into my blood, burning on the surface of the skin, renewing the sharpness of my senses. The tiny cut on my arm opens my body to this desirable poison, a tally mark of scratches that allows me to stay young and beautiful. That, and bathing in the blood of innocent virgins. I can feel the quickening of my heartbeat as the venom sweeps into my bloodstream, beat after beat after beat. I close my eyes, feeling it take hold of me.

“Ree?” I call through to the other room. “Ree, will my bath be ready soon?”

“Yes, Venerable One, the sacrifice of the maidens has been performed.” My maidservant Ree appears in the doorway. I nod.

“Very well,” I say, “How did the young ladies end it? I can’t have any dark energies floating around in my bath.”

“They were elated to sacrifice themselves for you, Venerable One. One wept for joy as the priest cut her throat, and praised your name. We emptied their spirits into the Well of Divine Beauty.” I nod again. “She only wished that she had been able to meet you. They all wish to meet you, Venerable One.”

“Yes, if they should all meet me, they would no longer worship me.”

“Do not say such things!” Ree gasps. She rushes to my side. By this time the venom has fully taken hold, and I sense her to be close. My instincts kick in and I grab Ree’s sweet arm, yank her towards me. I may not mean to be this cruel, but I cannot help myself.

“Do not tell me what I should say!” I hiss, watching her fearful eyes, her body tense inches away like prey.

“Of course, Venerable One.” I let go of her arm as she begins to beg for an apology. “Oh, Venerable One, would that I had not offended you!” She cries, looking down at her arm. A great spidery poison has spread underneath her skin through her blood, faster than Death comes on my sacrificial virgins.

“Would that you did not cry and whine so much.” I stand from my chair naked and ready for a bath. I am a full head taller than she. My arms and legs are home to hundreds of tiny venomous scars, like little elevens all over me. I have cut my skin with deliberation over the years. The signs and symbols of my friends scarred into my skin remind me of their absence. Sometimes I wonder if the venom is not simply an old habit from the old days, the days when there were seventy-seven of the gods and goddesses, and not just seven.

I approach the girl and kiss her on the forehead first. I grab her face and turn it up to me, locking our eyes together. I say a few words in the Tongue of the Kaagar, words of healing and strength, words of renewal. It is an old Tongue, one I am out of practice with. I’ve said something wrong now. I sigh.

“Damn it,” I try again, locking eyes with her and pronouncing my little healing speech again. A dark aura surrounds us both. Her body stiffens, like a small shock has just gone through her, and I let go of her face. The aura dissipiates. Ree pauses for a moment, frozen. When she can move a few seconds later, we examine her arm. The spidery infestation has completely disappeared. “Good as new.” I say. “Thank the high gods.” I step away for a moment, and look out the window onto the lawn, where goats and cattle graze. “Now, where is that bath? I have got to renew my skin. I am feeling positively mortal.”

“Yes, Venerable One.” Ree nods to me, her usual self again. She tries to hide a smile, as always, when she knows I joke about mortality. Sometimes I have to remind myself that she was once a Mortal. Strange! I shudder to think of such things. To lose Ree to that stodgy old skeleton Death would be unbearable. He has no reason to steal her for his house. She will be in mine for eternity. “The bath is ready, oh Venerable One.”

“Good.” I follow her eagerly into my dressing and cleaning room. I cannot wait to feel the innocence soaking into my skin, the sweetness, the sacrificial kindness and the good spirit and heart of the young girls that gave themselves for me. I slip into the bath. I can sense all the youth and gentleness in the blood around me. Perhaps fifty or more maidens have given of their spirits and lives for my bath. I shall send a few of them some comfort, but perhaps not all. I can feel myself sink into the bath in happiness and restoration. I soak in wholesome spirits.

“Ree, do remind me to bless a few of these maidens in their afterlife journey. Their spirits are most satisfying.” I say quietly… I am so relaxed.

I can hear the girl sitting just beyond, ready with my towels. “Yes, Venerable One.”

I close my eyes to think in silence and peace. I rest in the willing bloodbath of youth.

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

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