Original Works

Panda | Freckles | Space Pilot

“Is she the one?”

They spoke of me as if I wasn’t there. There was no friendly ‘hello’. They spared me not a single amiable smile. And there wasn’t any attempt at making me feel comfortable in the cold, white-walled office. They had no interest in being my friend. Thus, my only comfort came from the stuffed toy panda–stained red from a painting misadventure–I clutched at my chest.

“Yes. Should I get her ready?”

The lady in the iron-pressed lab coat nodded and gestured to the towering man in the faint-blue tunic. With the order to proceed, the man reached for my upper arm. His grip was strong. His guiding force tempted to free my stuffed panda from my grip as he led me out of the room.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said. What was supposed to sound comforting came with a tone that implied otherwise. “There are other kids like you here, so you’ll make lots of friends.”

I didn’t care much for friends. I just wanted to go home.

“And, if you do well in the tests, you’ll get double servings of dessert,” he added.

I would rather not eat cake for the rest of my life if I could be with my family. Why did my parents agree to this? None of the rewards were appealing in this pristine hallway of glistening-clean floors and spotless-white walls. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice. I could be the future of mankind.

“We’ll be running one test today. If you pass, you’ll stay,” the man continued.

“If I fail?” I asked, suddenly hopeful.

“You won’t fail.”

How was he so certain? Did he evaluate my performance at school?

“But what if-”

“You won’t,” he repeated.

His insistence sounded like a threat. What kind of a man would threaten a child? So, in my stubborness, I was determined to fail. I didn’t want to stay in this place any longer. I planned to do everything within my power to leave. And in this case, I would do nothing. If the test was like any of the other tests I did at school, doing nothing should result in a ‘fail’.

After making two right turns, we halted before a sliding door. There was a single beep before the door slid sideways, giving view to the white room inside. It was an almost barren space with but a polished, metal-encased, reclining armchair in its center. By the chair was a woman in the same blue tunic as the man. The only difference between her and the people I met before her was the gentle smile on her face.

“I know this looks scary,” she said, tapping on the chair. “But it does nothing you imagine it would do.”

I admit, I was imagining the worst. Were there needles in the seat ready to pierce through my skin? Was the metal casing going to heat up and burn me alive? Never was my imagination as wild nor as terrifying as when I stood before the daunting-looking device.

“What… does it do then?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said.

“Nothing?”

“Take a seat,” she prompted.

The man finally released his grip on my arm, allowing me to move freely. For a brief moment, I contemplated running for the door. If I escaped, I wouldn’t have to do the test. Alas, it was a silly notion–I was just a child. So, I did as I was told and climbed into the chair. Planting myself firmly on the seat, my legs hung above the footrest–yes, I was rather short for an eleven-year-old.

“I’m going to put these two buttons on your temples, all right?” the woman said. She didn’t wait for my reply as she stuck the flat pieces to the sides of my forehead. “Oh! And look here,” she exclaimed as she pulled away. “What lovely freckles you have,” she praised. “My daughter has them too. She’s one of the kids you’ll meet later.”

“She is?”

“Yes. Now, I want you to close your eyes.”

I followed instructions, eager to disappoint the adults. As darkness replaced the white room, I waited for the next prompt. However, there came none.

“What do I do?” I asked.

There was no reply. I wondered if I should open my eyes. But, a second before I did, I saw the strangest thing in the blackness of my eyelids. I was… in space.

A control panel with a series of switches and screens encircled the chair I was strapped into. And, in that moment, I questioned my reality. Was I still in the white-washed research facility? Was it all a dream? Why was I suddenly in space? Will I awake in my bedroom, ten feet away from where my parents slept? I wished the latter to be true. Unfortunately, I had an inkling that it wasn’t real. This was my escape–a place in my head where I was a space pilot, far away from my dreadful reality.

“Good job,” I heard the woman say. In a snap, the twinkling stars vanished. Darkness returned. When I pried my eyelids open, she added, “You passed.”

“But… I did nothing,” I said.

“Exactly.”

The woman retrieved the buttons from my temples, before the man reached to pull me off the chair. “Come now. You’ll get two brownies with dinner as promised,” the man said.

“I…”

I didn’t want brownies. I wanted to know what was going on. How did I pass? What did the chair do? What made me so special? Sadly, the only thing I did know was that I wasn’t going home. And until I figured out why, my imagination would serve as my only escape from this reality–a reality where, I’ve been told countless times, every adult hated to live in.

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Panda, freckles, and space pilot were words given by HKay. A question for you, dear reader: what do you think is this child’s gift? Feel free to share your ‘theory’ with me in the comment section.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Oh, and if you think you have 3 words that will surely challenge my creativity, leave them in the comment section too. It wouldn’t be fair to give myself the 3 words now would it?

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

Red Dragon

Red Dragon

The sun was shining brightly in the cloudless blue sky, and the trees were dancing in the gentle breeze. A sweet smell of flowers lingered in the air, as crystal clear water gracefully flowed down a shallow stream. This was the perfect dream, a dream of home and a dream of hope. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.

A loud siren and the flashing of red lights snapped me back into reality. It did so, so violently that I found myself sitting up right away. As the others in my team jumped off their bunk beds and got dressed, I slipped out from under my warm blanket and reached for my communicator. Once in my ear, I immediately knew what was going on.

“Kindly report to your stations immediately. We are under attack,” the robotic female voice repeated, too calm for a distress wake up call.

Following her orders, I quickly put on my suit and made my way to the door. As the other men in my team joined the stream of rushing fighters, cadets, and everyone else that were far more important than me, in the main hallway, I began to wonder if this was the last day of my life. Was I going to explode together with this massive vessel when it takes a deadly hit from the alien force outside? The chances are… I might.

Pushing those thoughts out of my head, I found myself standing at the entrance of the white walled dormitory. But just as I was about to join the stream of people, a sudden and forceful tremor sent me sprawling on all fours. I heard questions being raised all around me immediately, but I got the answer first.

“Dex, Red Dragon has jammed! Fix it now!” the chief engineer of the starship shouted in my ears.

Hearing those words, I responded with a quick ‘O.K’ and jumped to my feet. The Red Dragon was the mother of weapons on our ship. She was the wall breaker in battles, shooting a glaring ray that broke through force fields with ease. With the Red Dragon down, we were sure to lose.

Suddenly, I felt important. The minute engineer in this giant vessel now had a role to play, and I was determined to save the day. Picking up pace, I dashed through the panicky crowd and scrambled down flights of stairs to the base of the ship. Once I was in the engine room, I headed to a metal trapdoor on the floor, engraved with the warning, ‘Do not enter during battle’. Whoever decided the warning probably never envisioned a real battle.

Without wasting anymore time, I swept my identification wrist tag across the door and it slid open. Once I saw the ladder leading downwards, I jumped into it and hurried down. When I reached the bottom, I was standing in a triangular room with the Red Dragon positioned at the front. It was a huge, cylindrical weapon with tubes connected to it. It also occupied the entire room, giving me barely any space to move about. Hence, it was not hard to find the reason of the weapon being jammed.

“Dex, what’s the hold up?!” the chief engineer demanded through my communicator.

“There’s a dent in the wall pushing up against the Red Dragon,” I said.

“Fix it!” the chief engineer ordered.

I had no idea what he wanted me to do, as the dent was not something I could kick back in place. As I took a closer look at the Red Dragon, I noticed that a couple of its tubes were disconnected from the weapon, and the dent was making it impossible for me to reconnect them. Cracking my head for a solution, I attempted to kick the wall.

Leaning against the ladder, I gave the hardest kick I could give. There was a loud thump but the dent remained. Just as I was about to give it another go, another sudden tremor sent me stumbling forward. My chest landed heavily onto the back of the weapon, forcing the air in my lungs out. Quickly drawing in a deep breath, I returned to my position at the ladder and gave another kick.

“We need the Red Dragon now!” the chief engineer’s voice screamed in my ear.

I know! I thought to myself. When the chief engineer began demanding a miracle, I pulled my communicator off and threw it to the ground. Then, without having any other option, I kicked continuously at the dent in the wall.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve! I stopped to catch my breath. My brief resting period was accompanied by another tremor that propelled me towards the dent. It was then that I noticed the little difference I made through my kicks.

Picking up the tubes on the ground, I began locking them into their positions through the gap I had made. The moment the last tube was secured, the Red Dragon began glowing red. That was when a new wave of panic hit me. The Red Dragon was charging and the control center did not even care that I was with it. Dashing back to the ladder, I shuffled up the steps quickly and when I hit the metal door, I frantically waved my wrist tag across it.

At that very moment, seconds felt like hours. As the rumbling sound of the Red Dragon reached my ears, I pushed my palm violently on the metal door. If I did not leave now, I would be toast! Just as the rumbling hit an inaudible pitch the door finally slid open. Pushing my way out, I was safely outside of the Red Dragon’s lair a second before the floor beneath me heated up; a sign that the Red Dragon was just fired.

It did not take me long to feel insignificant again. I was nearly collateral damage and I did not feel any better about it even after we won the war. The Red Dragon successfully took down the enemy’s defences, making their mother ship vulnerable to our attacks. Once the mother ship was down, they fled. Hurray.

As I stood with the crowd outside the command center, I found myself lacking a cheer for the captain and his team. I was going to let them pass me by, but to my surprise, someone decided not to. The captain, a man I knew but never spoke to, stopped in his tracks when he was in front of me and said, “Thank you.”

At first, I thought I was imagining the whole scene. But after hearing him repeat the words and giving my shoulder a squeeze, I found myself nodding my head with a small smile. Suddenly, I felt valued. It may seem as though my feelings are prone to flipping sides, but I can assure you it would not any longer. The captain thanked me because he knew I was important to the win. And no matter how small or low I ranked in this giant vessel, I was needed.

For once in my life, I knew I was right where I belonged. Not home on earth, but in space as an engineer that made a difference.

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Do you feel small and insignificant? Like a spec of dust that makes no difference in this world? Let me just tell you that you’re quite the opposite. Not all of us were meant to make headlines and be a star, but all of us were meant to make a difference. Wherever we are in life, we are inspiring, changing, and influencing lives. We are right where we are supposed to be, and we should never ever doubt ourselves. I know a lot of us feel like we don’t matter, but I just want to tell you that you do. You matter to me too, as a reader of my story! So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise 🙂

Anyway, this is actually my first try on pure science fiction. I’m planning my third novel to be set in that genre, hence I decided to test it out through a short story. So let me know what you think of it in the comments below! Your comment is important to me 🙂

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)