An Invisible Enemy
By: Breanna Leslie.
Point Pleasant, WV
“Another fell today. It just crumbled into dust and chunks of steel before it fell through to that planet’s atmosphere. Of course, whatever was left was a fireball by the time it made it down there,” says Andromeda as she runs her fingers over the thick glass observation window.
“And what do you propose we do?” Asks Captain with biting cynicism. There aren’t many choices with so many bounties circulating. Half the crew is wanted here and Captain is wanted there. It’s a pragmatic conundrum.
Andromeda heard talk of a planet where the disease, space rot as they’re calling it, hasn’t been as devastating to the fleets. Something about the high concentration of oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere slows the spread, slow enough to save the ship hopefully.
“I’ve looked into Amaron. We have no reputation there and I heard talk on the last planet that the virus isn’t as widespread there. It could buy us time to fortify the ship. We need it.” Andromeda motions to the rust colored film beginning to seep through the seams of metal.
Captain looks them over as well and his jaw clenches. He touches his index finger to a thick patch of the orange film and holds it up to the light. It looks harmless enough to flesh, but it eats away at other elements like acid.
“Do you have the coordinates?”
“I wrote them down.” Andromeda hands him a thick sheet of papyrus she lifted from the last bazaar they picked. He looks over the numbers and hesitates before punching them into the control panel. His head hangs low on top of sunken shoulders. She’s never seen defeat in him.
A bright flash of white light soars past the window as another ship breaks apart in space. Time is ticking and no one can afford to fully weigh the options, not with the virus circulating freely. It moves too quickly without the atmospheric compounds to slow the spread.
“Gather the crew. Tell them where I intend to go, and I mean I. Just because you suggested it does not mean you’re in charge. You understand?” A vein surfaces on his forehead among a flush of shame. Andromeda nods and turns to the doorway leading to the other cabins. “Oh, and Andromeda?”
“Pick Zeke to do the check in with the galaxy scum. He has the fewest hits to his records and he’s about as useful as moon rock. If something does go downhill when we get there, it won’t hurt to lose him.” Andromeda nods but a bubble of sickness fills her belly.
Captain is right about Zeke having little to no reputation with the Galaxy Force, but she doesn’t see him as disposable. He’s kind and educated in sciences that Captain could never begin to understand.
When she reaches the common room, the crew lounges on what seating is left. Most have busted springs and tears in the cloth. They stir from their postures when she steps in. Her face burns at the realization she’s become synonymous with him and less of a fellow crew member.
“We’re landing at Amaron to take shelter from the virus, plague, disease, whatever you want to call it.” The crew nods and looks around, taking mental tallies of how much money their heads are worth. “Zeke, you have a clean record on Amaron. So, you’ll be posing as the Captain and checking the ship into port.”
Zeke beams at the opportunity but a weight pushes down on Andromeda. She knows Amaron can mean safety for the crew but at the end of the day, Captain would do anything to save his own skin.
Written By: Breanna Leslie
Breanna Leslie is a former therapist turned aspiring writer. She earned a master’s in psychology in 2015 but ultimately decided she would like to be more present for her family. Currently flexing her writing skills as a stay-at-home mother of two toddlers, she has been published in the literary magazine Write Bitch Write and Lulu Publishing’s Share Your Scare anthology. In her spare time, Breanna enjoys blogging, painting, running, and drinking an absurd amount of coffee. Her goals for 2020 include gaining experience in the freelance world, more short-story publications, and finally submitting her YA novel for consideration.
Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.