by T. Gene Davis
His irregular blood pump sped up in reaction to the silence. Wind should have filled the sails. Instead, they hung limp—dead. With no wind in the sails, Allen sat perfectly parallel to the cutter’s mast. Green pre-dawn starlight glinted off the reflective surface of the glass flats surrounding him and the cutter. Pre-dawn calm on the Lacus Glass Flats meant death. The cutter’s long skates made no “skitting” sound, completing the terrifying silence.
He put his hand on his chest. He could make out the irregular pulse. He felt his flawed pump struggling under his ribs. Money he didn’t have could replace his blood pump with a nice squishy heart. He needed the money before this pump failed.
Stars fled the sky with the glow of the first sun reaching the horizon. Hills revealed themselves in the distance, but without air in the sails it didn’t matter. Allen could survive the heat of the day, but when both suns rose, their combined heat vaporized caustic chemicals from the flats. Acidic mists would rise shortly after second dawn. Even if he had air tanks, the ship’s skates would corrode becoming notched and jagged because of the acidic vapors. This cutter would not slip across the glass after second dawn.
Allen picked up the radio.
“Gil. It’s Allen.”
“Allen? You’d better hurry. The suns are almost up.”
“Have you stepped outside?”
“No wind? We were hoping it was just us.”
“A ship full of supplies, and going nowhere now.”
“How far out are you?”
“That’s practically to the hills. Just get out and push.”
“You’re probably stressed about the blades.”
“That and dying out here.” He shouldn’t complain. He was compensated very well for the risk.
“If you cut directly to the hills, you can tack up the coastline in their shadow.”
“Thought of that. No wind though.”
Gil was silent.
“Yeah. Still here.”
“Thought you’d deserted me.”
“No. I’ll stay on the line.”
That was good of him. Talking to a dead man was a lot to ask.
“You should see it.”
“It’s beautiful out here.”
“I’ve always been too chicken for a supply run.”
“Your loss. Are you near a keyboard?”
“Yeah. What can I enter for you?”
Allen struggled to remember the address of his next of kin. The first sun topped the distant horizon. The breeze returned.
Allen dropped the radio, grabbing the tiller. He might make the shadow of the hills before the second sun rose. The skitting of the blades calmed Allen’s troubled heart.
T. Gene Davis writes speculative fiction, poetry, articles, books, and computer software.
Currently, Gene spends his free time designing games and puzzles he wants to write for one of his other websites.
Follow his daily exploits on Twitter @TGeneDavis or visit Gene’s blog at http://freesciencefiction.com on the web.