Black Petals Issue #97, Autumn, 2021

Counting Time
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A World of Sensations-Fiction by Michael Dority
Goddess Deva-Fiction by David Starobin
Hunting Ground-Fiction by N. G. Leonetti
Love Letters-Fiction by S. J. Townend
No Content Available-Fiction by Richard Brown
Phantom Smell-Fiction by Daniel G. Snethen
Predatory Peepers-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Visit-Fiction by B. E. Nugent
The Working Man-Fiction by Christopher Hivner
The Extermination-Fiction By Dominique K. Pierce
Win-A-Burger-Fiction by Glenn Dungan
Counting Time-Flash Fiction by Ramon F. Irizarri
Terry and the Techo-Frog-Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Epistolean-Flash Fiction by Harris Coverly
Labelled Rocks-Flash Fiction by Holden Zuras
Along Side of the Road-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Beneath the Weeping Willow-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Half-Life-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Liquid Darkness-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Lost-Poem by Carl E. Reed
Succubus Seductress-Poem by Carl E. Reed
The Crime of Frankenstein-Poem by Carl E. Reed
Brother's Keeper-Poem by Cassandra O'Sullivan Sachar
Razor Beak-Poem by Jessica Heron
The Fall of Vampire Hunters-Poem by Matthew Wilson

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Art by Cindy Rosmus 2021

COUNTING TIME

Ramon F. Irizarri

 

          “We have fourteen minutes to live,” Major Henning bleated, his voice ringing hollow in his ears.  His gaze fell on the console situated in front of his chest, and all color drained from his countenance.  Fourteen minutes – what was he to do with his last fourteen minutes?  Should he write a poem, wax poetic with brave last words that would be engulfed by the void surrounding their ship?  Major Henning silently wished he had more time.  He thought that it was too soon to die.

          “Thirteen minutes and five seconds,” his first officer, ensign Smith said. “And no splash detected.” Splash; the informal term for a hit by one of their ship’s microwave bolts, as the enemy craft was filled with water to support the aquatic life of the enemy and the destruction of their ship would involve the flowing of water into the void of space. 

          Ensign Smith flipped some switches and spoke with enforced calm. “Confirmed fusion scatterpack rockets closing in our position at point seven the speed of light...We can’t outrun the rockets. Thirteen minutes to impact.”

          Space warfare was a matter of waiting. No ship or missile could exceed the speed of light as the speed of light was the universal limit of velocity according to Einstein’s theory of special relativity. It took ships decades to travel between solar systems, making a war transpire decades after hostilities had been declared. Ships surged towards the inhabited plants of the adversary, hoping to strike a decisive blow with fusion, fission and biochemical platforms. Ship-to-ship combat was also a waiting game, with missiles and masers taking nerve-racking time to close with their targets.

          “Oh my God,” Smith quavered. “I’m scared, I don’t want to die.”

          The Major closed his eyes and inhaled. “It’s okay… maybe there is an afterlife.”

          Ensign Smith spoke. “With all of our science I don’t think so.”

          Major Smith felt better when he spoke, a wave of calm surging over him as he articulated his thoughts. “Is there anything you want to say or do with your last thirteen minutes?”

          Ensign Smith cringed, and buried her face in her hands. 

          ‘Maybe,” the Major said. “Nothing in life matters. The Universe is vast and our lives are a remote speck of time given the enormity of distance and time in the Universe. We are born from nothing and to nothing we return.

              Ensign Smith began to sob.

          “The time before our birth never troubled us, so the time after our death also need not preoccupy us.”

               Ensign Smith was too upset to speak.

               Major Henning glanced at the clock on the wall of the bridge. Suddenly his senses were more acute that normal, suddenly he could hear the hum of the electronics on the bridge. He could taste the staleness of the air from the reclamation machines of the life support. The Major felt he was the most alive that he had ever been.

          The Major was lost in his reverie as the clock counted down the time. 

          “From ashes we come, to ashes we go.” Major Henning said. He barely felt the heat of the fusion rockets as they detonated, engulfing the ship in the heat generated by the hydrogen warhead.

          In a few seconds, there was no remaining presence indicating that their vessel once existed. The void engulfed them all.


Ramon Irizarri hails from Miami, FL., and has a BA in philosophy from Yale and has been published a total of six times, including this issue (twice at Bewildering Stories, once at Aphelion, and three times at Black Petals.

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