Challenge #02437-F247: Looking For the LightsteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  11 days ago 


The human had seen his entire ship destroyed. It had been a sneak attack, an ambush. He fought for hours, it felt like months to him, but in the end, the pirates had overwhelmed them by sheer numbers. The only reason he survived was because one of his crewmates had done a "hail mary" maneuver and jettisoned an engine that had gone critical. The pirates were so badly damaged from that explosion that they were no longer able to go after what they'd come for. He had managed to get into an escape pod which, after being picked up by a havenworlder's transport, got him to a spaceport. But now he was alone, everyone he cared for was gone, and every part of him wanted to join them. How do havenworlders help a man who has given up on life itself? How do they react, when they find him unconscious after a botched attempt at suicide? -- BrighidRaven

There was one survivor. A Human whose nameplate declared them as Jenkins. They didn't say a word when the Anisoptae found them. They hadn't said a word for weeks. The Anisoptae tried their best to provide intermediate therapy, but Human Jenkins remained unresponsive.

Human Jenkins didn't want to talk at all. They did not respond to physical contact. They did not wish to get involved in any kind of activity that the Anisoptae attempted. Human Jenkins just... sat there. Staring. Not at anything at all, it was more like they were staring across space and time at something they found disturbing. They went through life like an automated machine.

Though they hurried to reach a Human medical expert, they could not get there fast enough. Something was bound to break, and it was the Human Jenkins. Deathworlders only seem invulnerable by comparison to the more fragile Havenworlders. They do have their vulnerabilities, some of them were inside their own heads.

Weeks out from a station where they could find help, Zyrzzyk went to cue Human Jenkins into their actions for the day. They expected to find the Human in their sleep nook, staring at nothing, and waiting for life to happen. Life was not going to happen easily that day - as Human Jenkins was in the relative privacy of their ablution module, having attempted to cause a fatal injury.

The Anisoptae saved them, and Human Jenkins gave no sign of gratitude, disappointment, or acknowledgement. When finally prompted into speech, all they said was, "They died so I could live. Why?"

There was no answer. There never could be an answer to that question. There could be best guesses, there could be hopeful guesses, there could be wishful ones... but the people who could answer it truthfully were dead and gone. Lost in a core explosion that laid waste to all vessels in the area. Even the lifepod Human Jenkins was found in had suffered immense amounts of damage. They were lucky to be alive.

Human Jenkins didn't seem to want being that lucky.

It took months to figure out why. The Humans called it Survivor's Guilt. The simple want to be with their pack-bonded allies.

Even when those pack-bonded allies were dead and gone.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / hikrcn]

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Poor Human Jenkins :<

Ok, this one genuinely made me tear up. Reminds me of the shell-shock, or PTSD, soldiers suffer.

I was aiming for that PTSD feel and I'm so glad I nailed it. Onwards to the next attempt to make you feel things.

I shared this one with several friends of mine on facebook. You got more than just me in tears over this one.