The Messenger

The alarm continued to blare from the speaker above the door; a soft, soothing melody of tonal harmonics that would naturally put anyone to sleep. For Matthew Armstrong, that was exactly what he was doing.  Subconsciously, he heard the gentle roll of the siren, rising and lowering through pleasing notes and he responded accordingly by rolling over in bed, pulling the sheets closer and snorting slightly.

        However, Prime Command Zarin was not enjoying the grating sound of fingernails on a twisting piece of metal being cut with a bandsaw simultaneously.  He stared at the speaker in the ship’s bridge with a painful twitch in his eye and, instead, tried to direct the officers about their duties.

        “10 down on the Gravity Well manifold dampeners.”

        “10 down, aye sir.” The bridge engineer responded.

        “Magnetic Polarity crossover, ready”

        “Ready, sir”

        “OK, on my count, 3…”

        Those of the bridge sitting in chairs sat upright and bucketed their safety harnesses.


        Others who were standing planted their feet securely and grabbed the nearest handhold.

        “1, full Dampeners, crossover now!”

        Sleeping peacefully, Matthew had not engaged his safety harness or planted his feet securely and suddenly found himself thrown from the bed, tumbling across the floor tangled in his sheets and banging his head on the wall.

        “OW!, Damn it!, what the??” he said trying to open his eyes by blinking quickly and rubbing the spot on his head he was sure should be bleeding.

He kicked and squirmed to free himself of his sheets and started to stand up.  That, however, was not as easy as he had expected.  The micro-G gravity of the ship was quickly increasing from the ever approaching planet below and the tremendous de-acceleration of the ship as it left inter-galactic travel and switched the engines over to intra-planetary control.

Matthew winced and struggled to just get his first leg up. His body had spent a considerable amount of time at micro-G and it took time to re-adjust.  “How many times Zarin, how many times?” he said under his breath.

Standing, he walked carefully over to the intercom on the wall and pressed the button. “Zarin…. Zarin!”

“Prime Commander Zarin here.”

Matthew paused momentarily to shake the grogginess out of his head. “How many times have I said; Do not expect me to hear the alarm and call me instead to wake me up. Huh?”

“I am sorry sir,” Zarin continued in a monotone voice, “but the alarm was provided to all ship’s complement for the prescribe amount of time. In fact I let it run an additional 2 minutes to ensure you and the crew’s proper awareness to our transition.”

“Yes I’m sure you did but you keep forgetting that the human ear finds the sound of the alarm soothing and peaceful. It’s like the type of thing you would buy at a store when you have insomnia. So, as I said, please call me to wake me up.”

“I am sorry sir, but I have great trouble understanding how the noise of the klaxon can in anyway be considered peaceful.  My skin is still crawling from the offense…”

“Because, Zarin, you are not human! So it does not matter that you ran the alarm for the prescribed amount of time or even that it ran an additional 2 minutes to ensure we all heard it, I can’t if I am sleeping at the time, so, again, the next time you have to turn the alarm on to warn us of the engine transition, please, please just get on the intercom and call me!”

“Yes Sir, but you do realize that…”

Matthew closed his eyes when he understand the point Zarin was making, “Right, sorry. There won’t be a next time. Still, if we happen to be travelling together again you think you could cut me some slack?”

“Slack, sir? I have no intention of cutting you slacks sir.” Zarin said looking around confused.

Matthew laughed just a little. “You know, with all the time I have spent with you, you would think by now that you would understand the concept of human idioms.”

“And you would think that with all the time you have spent with us, you would have come to understand that idioms are beyond our conceptual linguistic capabilities.”

“Fair enough, Zarin, fair enough.”

“15 minutes sir, if you would like to prepare.”

“Right. Thanks.” Matthew finished as he turned around and sat at the seat next to him.  He closed his eyes, moved his neck around and twisted his back to stretch.  He had just put his head in his hands when a thought shocked him like running your finger over a shorted fuse. His eyes were wide now, blinking again to remove the last vestiges of fatigue from his body. He stood quickly and walked to the small portal in the wall of his room. As small as the window was, it was clear where they were.

“Home!” he said with a enlighten sense of relief and joy.

“Portal open.” The wall where he stood suddenly shimmered with faith lights and became transparent all the way to the floor.  Matthew was now standing looking out at the earth hurdling towards him at an immeasurable speed like an astronaut attached to an out of control jetpack preparing to enter the atmosphere alone. He couldn’t help but smile.

‘Its been so long’, he thought to himself, ‘what did they say?’ ‘Ten years?’

“Ten years.” He said aloud this time as the realization of his situation began to sink in. “I have a lot of explaining to do.”

osurama   osurama wrote
on 5/1/2016 1:31:53 PM
Great writing! Just a few comments - Aside from a few grammatical and spelling errors, I think this is a nice start to a good story. You have a nice flow, and you bring the reader into the story. I found a little exposition in the dialogue, but not enough to pull me out completely. Good job Mark. Look forward to reading more!

Novel / Novella
writing markrwells
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Rating: 8.0/10

Matthew was chosen, not necessarily by choice to be the Messenger: the one who would prepare earth for the coming first arrival of Aliens. For many people, governments and even his family, this new role is not as exciting as Matthew thought it would be and for others, they will stop at nothing to make sure his message never gets out.