I like challenging myself so I signed up for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge.
For this first round, I was assigned a Sci-Fi, paper shredder, and casino. It must be under 1,000 words and you have 48 hours to write it. It’s currently at 997 words.
My plan for this story is to add more character background and use this as a short story introduction to Skye. I actually have a novel written about her so it’s a matter of editing it (should come out in January)
This is the story I submitted. Please let me know any feedback in the comments!
Lagrangian Point Space Station
Skye shook her head as the station fire alarm sounded and people scrambled for the casino exits. She knew they weren’t getting out. The exits were covered by steel fire doors.
Skye also knew there was no blaze. Her job, hushed so no one would panic, was catching the thieves using fire systems to shut down space stations, and she had thought this might be their next target. If only the robbers had given her a little more time; she had been on a craps winning streak.
She removed her card from the table reader. No sense leaving behind her winnings.
A woman nearby asked a casino worker. “Does this casino have an engine? I mean is this one capable of separating from the rest of the station in case of fire?”
The worker shook her head. “Sorry, not this hunk of junk.” She added, “But we do have air processors just for the casino. We’re safe enough in here until help arrives.”
Skye knew that was wrong too and if she didn’t get out of here, everyone on this station would be dead.
She spotted the manager in the middle of the room so she walked to the back of the casino and slipped inside his office locking the door behind her. Being a Criminal Investigator she knew a lot of secrets. The office would have an exit, although it too would be secured with a steel door.
She glanced around the room to find something she could use and spotted the paper shredder.
She used her knife to take it apart. In seconds, she had the motor separated from the basket.
She looked carefully around the room. She had seen exit doors from offices in both the floors and the walls, usually hidden, used by the casino manager to take winnings to armored ships.
“Yes!” She spotted a rug with one corner still turned up. Being in the floor meant the exit would connect with other emergency corridors in the station, making it easier for her to get to the culprits.
She threw back the rug and opened the panel that controlled the door. She removed the panel, pulled one end of the wires out, and then connected them to the motor of the paper shredder.
The door inched slowly open with the motor’s power. While the door took its time, Skye paced and glanced at the manager’s photos of family.
The motor started smoking, but the door was almost wide enough. Skye tried to push it, but that didn’t help. She’d have to wait a few more seconds before she could fit through. She was glad she had kept up her fitness. This was going to be a tight fit.
The motor made a pinging sound then a puff of smoke escaped. The door stopped. Time to see how skinny she could get. She squeezed through, using her feet and the ladder under the door to pull her butt through.
She had already mapped out where the oxygen processors were located on the station. Hopefully, the station security had stopped the robbers, but she wasn’t going to count on that. So far the robbers had taken two stations. Oxygen processors were under the tightest security, yet somehow they had removed all of the processors and left thousands of people dead.
The robbers deserved to die, but she wasn’t going to turn her phaser to kill. She’d let the justice system figure that part out. But if it came down to it, she’d do what she had to.
She turned the corner and there were five security guards lying on the ground. She ran up to the open door of the oxygen station. In a millisecond she took in that all three hyper security doors to the three oxygen processors were open. The largest processor was being carried away in the hands of a tall man in a grey space suit, probably to a ship attached to the hull. Two other men in space suits were working on the next one.
She shot one and he went down with the blast but she wasn’t fast enough to shoot the other before he turned and shot back. The shot went past her ear. She jumped back to the safety of the doorframe. He came running toward the door, shooting the whole time. She shot at him as he came within view and it hit his phaser. He used his other hand to punch at her but she stepped back and took another shot. He fell to the ground.
She heard an engine. The bastard with the processor was leaving his men behind and he was about to take off, which would make this room a deadly conduit for what oxygen was left to be pushed into space and more than likely take her with it.
Skye pulled out her knife from her boot and quickly punched a hole in the tube leading to one of the processors, and then she grabbed the open tube from the missing processor, shoving it into the hole.
She cut a strip from her shirt and wrapped it as tightly as possible around the connection for the tubes, hoping that it would be enough to make sure no one on the station would be cut off from oxygen.
She took off running, back to the ladder. She grabbed the ladder as she heard the sucking sound. Her legs were pulled out from under her, but she held on hard, pulling herself up, pushing herself through the door. She grabbed the large square basket from the shredder and threw it at the door. It would only give her a few seconds, but that was all she needed to disconnect the wires from the paper shredder motor, then back to each other so the system would reconnect with the fire emergency. The door clamped shut. The space station would be paying her well for this job, but there was still one out there.
I definitely want to hear from you! What suggestions do you have for changes? Please let me know below. If you like my writing style, you might want to check out my other short stories. You’ll find links to them on my books page.
NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge
And, if you’re a writer, consider signing up for a contest or activity that tests your writing ability like the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge.
I received 4 points for this story from the judges! That means out of 30 submissions in my group, mine came in 12. I feel pretty good about that – that was the same score/ranking I received last year and that was my first time placing. Next round I’m hoping for 8 points or more (that’s what I received in the second round last year). Fingers crossed! I’ll post my story for the second round soon, as soon as I hear from the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge that we are free to share our stories.