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Short Story
On Break
Shadows and Fire
Writer ShadowBobcat10
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Shadows and Fire
A - A - A
Number of Doom
Oct 8, 2016
4 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!Rj0nVZcF8JBTVpRj6rdcposted on PENANA

Author's note: Sorry for the late update! Kind of busy this week, so I never had a chance to be on a working computer. Well, here's the second story. Hope you like it! copyright protection201PENANAzE7yc7EpXc

Darkness.  Ten.  These two things always went together in Aris's mind.  Ten o'clock sharp was when the lights went out on his space station.  Ten children went missing on the station when he was ten years old. copyright protection201PENANAyPvydrxq6G

Bad things came in tens.  Ten sleepless nights in a row.  Ten years adrift in the neutral zone.  Ten days in the station's brig for stealing ten cookies.  Aris knew it wasn't rational, just fact. copyright protection201PENANAaIz58rpeTC

So when Aris's station monitor assigned him to do his first mission on October 10, 3010, he had a shadowy feeling about it. copyright protection201PENANArshz1tGFSE

Nothing to stress about, he told himself, sitting on his gray bedroll.  Ten's just a number.  There's nothing special about it. copyright protection201PENANASruoZHPx8W

But just thinking about the number ten made Aris shiver.  And not because the thermostat in the room Aris shared with Kelvin was broken. copyright protection201PENANAdiFNnNfN28

Stretching, Aris got out of bed, careful not to disturb his roommate Kelvin, who was sitting at his com-screen and walked into the curved hall. copyright protection201PENANApuBG4CaKi3

As Aris walked to the mess hall for late breakfast, Kelvin quickly squeezed in beside him in the narrow hallway. copyright protection201PENANApauTytBo1J

"Hey man," Kelvin greeted.  The twenty-two-year-old electrical engineering major was chill about everything – unless you happened to steal his socks. copyright protection201PENANAke2Z1qNhdQ

"Kelvin.  It's the day," Aris said, hoping to dampen his convivial friend's mood. copyright protection201PENANApCl1jpDt9W

"The day?  No, the day's ten days away…"  Kelvin trailed off.  "No way, man!"  That's awesome!" copyright protection201PENANAwz60sFu43v

"Ten," Aris said, shivering again.  "That's not awesome." copyright protection201PENANANoKPoMfc3s

"I know it's your thing, but don’t ya think it's a bit childish to be afraid of a number?"  Kelvin teased. copyright protection201PENANA3t5ouoN8SX

"But Larça–"copyright protection201PENANA4pxbqZQU3U

"Your sister died when you were ten, right?"  Kelvin said, remembering.  "But that ain't an excuse–" copyright protection201PENANAqRjbHIXXU1

"And your uncle," Aris hesitantly pointed out. copyright protection201PENANAqYuwmZUa7N

Kelvin stopped, contemplating.  "You were eight." copyright protection201PENANA8bcFnCFexJ

"And you were ten," Aris said.  "You see?" copyright protection201PENANA9XAs8ia6f5

Kelvin sighed.  "Suck it up," he said.  "You're twenty years old now.  Too old for a phobia." copyright protection201PENANA7G3CcqC7BJ

Aris shrugged.  "Whatever you say." copyright protection201PENANAUJV6piI4xg

Breakfast started normally enough, but since Aris and Kelvin were arriving a bit late, there were more people exiting than entering.  They grabbed a bowl-full of the usual and sat down at a recently vacated table. copyright protection201PENANANGdo8mGjtW

"Mug ug nuh bruh," Kelvin said, his mouth full of the mystery pink slop Urgians had for breakfast. copyright protection201PENANApBCtdPUPWv

"What?"  Aris asked, looking up from his green Prepense breakfast. copyright protection201PENANAzQevXEOGIl

"Nophin'" Kelvin dismissed, clearing his throat.  "But what was your mission, again?  Don't think ya ever told me." copyright protection201PENANAWw1aUaxBu0

"Just a routine checkup on Terra," Aris said. copyright protection201PENANAxUBanPZhFV

"Routine?"  Kelvin asked.  "That charred wasteland?  It's been a hundred years.  We know there ain't no survivors on that planet." copyright protection201PENANANfM2KJGyqo

"It would be such a shame for Terrans to disappear as a race," Aris said.  "Four hundred Terrans is hardly to sustain a species." copyright protection201PENANAUmVVxQ64rA

"You're soft," Kelvin teased.  "My first mission was to scout the neutral zone right after the Paytion Treaty." copyright protection201PENANA4YuG8Sv8ab

The breakfast hall went from about twenty people to thirteen.  Aris stiffened.  Too few people. copyright protection201PENANA3XqPZazFJZ

"I hate war," Aris said.  A table of three Erpyhrrians got up and left the mess hall.  "I…"  Aris trailed off nervously. copyright protection201PENANA4DmZzTPGYh

"What's wrong?"  Kelvin asked, noticing Aris's sudden spike in anxiety. copyright protection201PENANAh2fMIoEexO

Aris counted every person in the hall.  Ten people.  He counted again.  Solid ten warm bodies in the mess hall, one of which was a Terran.  But the individuals' species didn't matter. copyright protection201PENANApAMQqL00rK

The only thing that mattered to Aris was ten.  There were ten people, and suddenly, a whirring sound came from the back of the hall. copyright protection201PENANA0vomvYglEe

Ten people.  Ten days from October 10, 3010.  It wasn't a coincidence.  It never was. copyright protection201PENANACWhSI0hmfO

Some members of the Prepense species could see select parts of the future.  Each of these individuals could only sense dangers that matched their number of doom.  And Aris's number was ten. copyright protection201PENANAbFpXvPJwQb

Aris leaped over the table and pushed Kelvin to the floor.  Together, they rolled under the heavy vibranium table just as a quantum torpedo exploded against the back wall in a sphere of blinding white. copyright protection201PENANAgQHFdcEtyi

Darkness.  Ten.  Those two usually went together in Aris's mind, but not today.  Ten days before October 10, 3010, when there were ten people in the mess hall, eight people died in a flash of light.  Not ten. copyright protection201PENANAIbe04W1mjg

And though ten still gives Aris the chills, things aren’t set in ten stones.  Sometimes, there are only eight. copyright protection201PENANAavVAtrqcXg

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