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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
631 Reads

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Shadows and Fire
A - A - A
Number of Doom
Oct 8, 2016
4 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!4rIMQMVlWgTMNkDEPqjLposted 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 protection108PENANAU9ZaWcp1oQ

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 protection108PENANAzthif84bt0

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 protection108PENANArnNfIqUyRe

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 protection108PENANAkLojWkvllU

Nothing to stress about, he told himself, sitting on his gray bedroll.  Ten's just a number.  There's nothing special about it. copyright protection108PENANAcVntdDBhO5

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 protection108PENANAigt5wcwqKn

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 protection108PENANAF593o5oUrK

As Aris walked to the mess hall for late breakfast, Kelvin quickly squeezed in beside him in the narrow hallway. copyright protection108PENANAPDFd7SQJaF

"Hey man," Kelvin greeted.  The twenty-two-year-old electrical engineering major was chill about everything – unless you happened to steal his socks. copyright protection108PENANAOsViysu5Tf

"Kelvin.  It's the day," Aris said, hoping to dampen his convivial friend's mood. copyright protection108PENANAtylCCKI0Ea

"The day?  No, the day's ten days away…"  Kelvin trailed off.  "No way, man!"  That's awesome!" copyright protection108PENANAKuNqHVjxEt

"Ten," Aris said, shivering again.  "That's not awesome." copyright protection108PENANActW8LuAgAt

"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 protection108PENANAw32RFEBoFg

"But Larça–"copyright protection108PENANAyqKmQrh9ZV

"Your sister died when you were ten, right?"  Kelvin said, remembering.  "But that ain't an excuse–" copyright protection108PENANADcpzlb4VrE

"And your uncle," Aris hesitantly pointed out. copyright protection108PENANApYHsPn7rLM

Kelvin stopped, contemplating.  "You were eight." copyright protection108PENANAHkcrG3TXcS

"And you were ten," Aris said.  "You see?" copyright protection108PENANATP5ipqttmV

Kelvin sighed.  "Suck it up," he said.  "You're twenty years old now.  Too old for a phobia." copyright protection108PENANA7LTPeJclaY

Aris shrugged.  "Whatever you say." copyright protection108PENANA7SikkZndXz

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 protection108PENANA6Qpb9OBDhX

"Mug ug nuh bruh," Kelvin said, his mouth full of the mystery pink slop Urgians had for breakfast. copyright protection108PENANAypJseXcrin

"What?"  Aris asked, looking up from his green Prepense breakfast. copyright protection108PENANAqqfIKzI7NF

"Nophin'" Kelvin dismissed, clearing his throat.  "But what was your mission, again?  Don't think ya ever told me." copyright protection108PENANAHUw65FVHjd

"Just a routine checkup on Terra," Aris said. copyright protection108PENANAFSDokRmxjF

"Routine?"  Kelvin asked.  "That charred wasteland?  It's been a hundred years.  We know there ain't no survivors on that planet." copyright protection108PENANAUJ59sPJaXx

"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 protection108PENANAQErmLw2Hel

"You're soft," Kelvin teased.  "My first mission was to scout the neutral zone right after the Paytion Treaty." copyright protection108PENANAUTdxiypF6J

The breakfast hall went from about twenty people to thirteen.  Aris stiffened.  Too few people. copyright protection108PENANAk0spaVfT5d

"I hate war," Aris said.  A table of three Erpyhrrians got up and left the mess hall.  "I…"  Aris trailed off nervously. copyright protection108PENANArWRSiDpklD

"What's wrong?"  Kelvin asked, noticing Aris's sudden spike in anxiety. copyright protection108PENANAGgxUOPsduy

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 protection108PENANAXPzpeJkuDq

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 protection108PENANAH4mzWFdm0y

Ten people.  Ten days from October 10, 3010.  It wasn't a coincidence.  It never was. copyright protection108PENANAZGOwACm3QR

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 protection108PENANACNGbdVVypy

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 protection108PENANAZ7DmGA1TW1

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 protection108PENANAsWIhsiUPmL

And though ten still gives Aris the chills, things aren’t set in ten stones.  Sometimes, there are only eight. copyright protection108PENANAHYzn9Mi4lI

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