Fear from the Past
by Lance J. Mushung
We’d just hopped to a new star system containing a yellow sun very much like Sol. Although Magellan was a new cruiser with an improved drive, interstellar travel still left me feeling as if my head had been squeezed in a vise. As usual, I massaged my temples and told myself that someday I’d be done with ships and hopping. I’d be in a nice lab, and after that a retired guy in some pleasant spot. The sudden warbling wail of the alarm claxon made me forget my head and future plans. My next thought, and fear, was we’d stumbled across the Druxels.
The displays on my console told me we were receiving artificial radio signals, and I jumped onto studying them. In addition to the Druxels, I had to worry about the captain. I was the only member of the Science Corps onboard, and there was little doubt he’d call in short order. The voice of Captain Boris Malenkov boomed from a speaker within a minute.
“Mr. Steinmetz, in twenty-three minutes we’ll be too far into the gravity well to simply hop away. I want your report in fifteen minutes.”
He’d called me mister, which always meant he was serious. I acknowledged and continued working.
The captain’s face appeared on a display fifteen minutes later. He often struck me as a bit sinister with his cold eyes, heavy features, and bushy eyebrows. However, this time he looked like a lover of mysteries who’d just come across a strange new crime to investigate. Continue reading