Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Yeah Write #125: The Lufters of Hoth XLII (#amwriting #flashfiction )

The cavern yawned an infinite darkness and my sonance-pressure suit emitted an almost imperceptible vibration. The edge approached. I stopped the delvee, a small delving vehicle, at the point called the Vast. We hadn’t the resources, equipment, or incentive to explore it properly. The navigation map was from the first landing generations ago before the time of even the Elders. I pressed my palm over our division insignia on my breast pocket, a half red hot air balloon with the solar symbol. The Hoth XLII Milkyway colonizing group on the first caravan ships were ribbed about the image emblazoned on the back of their coveralls. I shut off my suit’s feedback system and closed my eyes. Input zero.

“Did you know why the first Hoth XLII group on the caravan ship named their camp Luft 99?” Great-grandmother Primm, had said one day when I was fifteen and prone to turning off my sound assists to escape to muffled ambiguity. “Because they called the firstlanders lufters — party balloons. They turned insult into a fu–”

“Nana!” Mom had put a hand over nana’s mouth but the old lady shot up her middle finger instead. My younger siblings opened their mouths in laughter and held their stomachs. Nana had my attention.

She’d continued after a quippy verbal exchange with my mother I didn’t quite catch. “Back on Sol III, long generations before the unification, a bricklayer and an electrician sewed with their wives to make a fifteen by twenty meter hot air balloon of taffeta and bed linens.” Nana Primm’s arthritis restricted her hand movements, but her posture straightened and excitement crinkled her eyes. “They smuggled materials bit by bit, repurposed hoses and nozzles, and crafted a gondola from scrap metal and cotton clothesline rope. They were pursued, their vehicles were slow, and their balloon caught fire. Yet, they and their families escaped.”

My sleepy head bobbed and startled me. Adrenaline hurt and shook my hands and legs. I reactivated my suit, frightened that I’d done such a thing. What if the stories were true about the beasts lurking in the Vast? We were not the only creatures living deep in the warmer caverns far below the frigid surface. A tale to scare each other didn’t necessarily make it untrue.

Perhaps another colony had dug a tunnel and stopped, too. Maybe they had stories about what lay beyond.

The small delvee was roomy enough for me to stoop in the back. It didn’t hurt to reinoculate my skin with the protective bacteria growing on the delvee’s inner organic surfaces. They protected against rapid temperature changes, though I didn’t know for how much longer they’d survive if the organics died off. They weren’t meant to live in this particular vehicle, but I had to make do with what I had. Even if I could operate the bigger machines, they used more energy and were stuck under ice and rubble from the quake.

I shouldn’t have been in the outer caverns during festiva.

Thick-headedness can be useful sometimes, Nana would say. Of all the sounds I missed, her voice was the top. Incriminating fart blasts were second.

Two weeks I waited for a signal or communication. A total collapse? I didn’t want to think about it. Ours ancestors were not the only pioneers, but we’d lost touch with others. Hoth LVII wasn’t kind to signals or surface travel. We produced all that we needed to survive. Tunnels were made in safe zones to gather raw materials and find geothermal oases.

I didn’t know how much time I had or needed. I shot out a tow line for a breadcrumb trail. Three spools wasn’t enough but better than nothing. My mind ran the checklist: environmental controls at threshold levels, temperature to the range the bacteria could counter, organic air filtration, water recovery and recycling, and ration control.

My suit vibrated with a crushing force and warmed as it converted sound waves to heat. My heart pounded. It must’ve been loud; I felt it in my bones. A monster from the Vast? A bit planet crushing my family? I cried and shook even as I urged the delvee toward darkness.

The computer blinked the cabin alert lights and relayed text showing calculations for energy consumption and rations based upon round trip figures. I input new parameters. A hot air balloon escape meant one thing: returning was never part of the plan. If I was to die at twenty, then I’d die with both fingers up.

 

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8 comments on “Yeah Write #125: The Lufters of Hoth XLII (#amwriting #flashfiction )

  1. Jen Mierisch
    May 16, 2019

    Interesting world! You did a nice job building a sense of tension and danger. I enjoyed the flashbacks and the grandma character. By way of concrit, a few of the paragraphs (including the first) were a bit long, which made the piece slower to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      May 16, 2019

      Thanks. The first paragraph was A tad long, though splitting it displeased me at the time. :p

      Like

  2. Kim Witbeck
    May 16, 2019

    Hello! I liked way you wove the technology (the suit, sound dampening) and history into the story as it unfolded. Even though I realize the MC doesn’t know what’s happening, I would have liked more a sense of what happened. Maybe begin with the collapse/festival line?

    I got a little turned around geographically– I thought the MC would be still wondering about her family and going to return to them; but then going into the Vast, which they never explored before, made me think she’s going in the opposite direction (so she’s not going to see if her family is OK). If she was at the outer caverns and the Vast is between the MC and her family, I don’t understand how she got there in the first place. Maybe just me!

    I’m really hoping the MC makes it and find her family (even if it’s unlikely). Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      May 16, 2019

      Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚ To answer your question, it is the opposite direction. The MC was in one of the outer tunnels…a border of sorts…when the earthquake hit. She can’t get back, the way is blocked. She has lost communications. No one knows where she is. She thinks everyone must be dead or in need of help since she can’t contact anyone. There are still aftershocks. Her only options are to wait longer and risk running out of food or take a chance and go for help. She was there in the first place because she sometimes … does things… like pig-headed people sometimes do. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kim Witbeck
        May 17, 2019

        Thanks! Sorry I was so obtuse! I did get that impression but wasn’t totally certain.

        Like

  3. innatejames
    May 16, 2019

    I loved all the details. You always have so much backstory to make these shorts feel like there’s life before they start and after they finish. I was a little confused about what the vehicle was that the narrator was in – I thought they were underwater, but maybe they are living in caverns under the surface on Hoth that doesn’t have oxygen? The last image is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      May 16, 2019

      Happy you enjoyed it. The confusion with the vehicle is partly because I could NOT remember the word subterranian for the life of me. The vehicle is meant for small digging excavations and navigating small caverns that may or may not be flooded, so it can go aquatic. It is scifi so it can hover too ๐Ÿ™‚ There is oxygen though it is not always abundant or (in some cases) it has to be underwater and keep the occupants from getting too cold. The Vast is just…vast…she might as well be launching into space in a…well…hot air balloon. LOL
      Anyway, glad that the last image stuck with you. The thought of cave diving gives me the heebie jeebies because I’d die, hands down. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      Like

    • Laissez Faire
      May 16, 2019

      Wanted to and that I’m gong to take your second sentence and snuggle it.

      Like

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2019 by in fiction, writing, Yeah Write and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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