Flight From Earth

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Chapter 29

“Don’t do anything stupid.”

I sat up from looking at the schematics of my skiff on my tablet and looked out at the landscape. The morning sun warmed the frozen ground as the brilliant blue sky painted the backdrop. There, in the distance, something sped towards me.

It appeared that I wasn’t left to die in the desert, but hearing that voice still caused a welling up of anger. I leaned towards the communication panel and stared at it, deciding it was best not to say anything that was on my mind as the craft approached. The skiff came to a stop about a hundred yards away and set down, stirring up dust.

“Don’t get your hopes up just to have them squashed,” the voice hissed. “I’m not here to roll out the welcome mat.”

Out in the sands, a figure stepped out of a skiff after it parked carrying an armload of supplies. Dropping them from her arm, she let the box crash to the ground. She then went back into the skiff and an oxygen tank was tossed out into the sand.

“Oops, I hope that it wasn’t damaged.”

The door shut and the craft rose back into the air leaving the gifts out in the afternoon sun.

“I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t have to, but your costly crash forced me to get help. And Maria… well, her heart has been a… challenge at times. On the good side, you created the perfect prison for yourself. Much cleaner than having to bring you back. And Roy can decide on whether or not he wants to pick you up while you sit out here and wait. But on the other hand, I have more important things to do that run out here each day to feed and water a pest.”

“Thanks,” I offered sincerely knowing that every day was an unexpected gift at this point. I gulped as I pictured Roy’s bared teeth behind his mask knowing that he wouldn’t expend the energy needed to come get me.

“Don’t thank me. Again, it’s much cleaner if you were to disappear completely. But Maria insists on keeping your prisoner instead. The Darkness Protocol has left us fending for ourselves right now. But what she doesn’t realize is just how dangerous it is out here now that we have to follow the protocol…”

“What’s the Darkness Protocol?” The words once again came up among the leaders of the colonies and piqued my interest. Something bigger was indeed going on.

“Something you’ll likely never have to worry about. The storms coming over the next few nights should clean everything up for me. Tonight will be bumpy, but tomorrow… well, let’s just say that Roy is banking on it to finish the job.”

I looked down to see that I was gripping my tablet with enough force to crack. Relaxing my hold, I set it on the passenger’s seat and gritted my teeth.

“Thanks a lot…”

The enemy skiff skittered off into the distance until completing fading away and leaving the airways silent.

Alone, I sat in my cell knowing that I had less than forty-eight now to figure out a plan before facing the full wrath of the Martian elements.

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