Grounded

Aw shucks! The bad news is that I didn’t win the queerscifi.com 2017 Flash Fiction Contest. The good news is that I can now share my entry with you here! The theme of this year’s contest was “renewal” and entries needed to be 300 words or less. My entry is exactly 300 words. I trimmed and trimmed and trimmed! I hope you like it. Shoot me an email and let me know!

Grounded

It was cold. Robert had to conserve energy. The solar cells at ground level above were failing. The gray bunker walls became damp when the temperature dropped too low. He kept the LED lights on high in every room. They didn’t take much power, and the stark, white light kept the ghosts at bay. He’d often catch fleeting glimpses of David in the shadows. Half awake. Half asleep. The images were more like stains on his memory than real hallucinations.

All he had left were memories now. David’s laugh, the noisy way he ate, his warm touch. Robert often woke with a start from the emptiness in his bed. David had left the bunker several months ago. They’d argued for weeks about it. David was convinced. The danger must have passed. Two years had gone by. The bunker had no windows. They had to explore, find others. Robert contemplated locking him in, denying him food, threatening him. In the end, he bowed his head and wept. David packed gear and safety equipment and left through the airlock. Robert remained behind. Safe. Quiet. Alone.

He sank into a depression. He didn’t shave, bathe, or change his clothes for a week or more. He couldn’t eat. Slowly hunger and his eventual disgust with himself sparked his will to live. He again found a daily routine.

Robert spent much of his time doing chores, exercising, and finding creative ways to prepare dull rations. He escaped to faraway places through his books. He liked to drink tea while he read. Hot tea in a large clear glass mug. He was browsing the books when the clanking knock came from the airlock tunnel. He was so startled that he dropped the mug. It shattered sending a spray of glass and tea across his feet.

“David?”