My offering today is my latest attempt to master the skills of writing more quickly via the 5 Minute Fiction challenge. I must be making progress since I was chosen one of the finalists this week. You can decide how well you think I did by voting at the link above. As always, let your conscience be your guide in choosing. The story is presented below with no polishing or editing from what was entered in that scant block of time. I hope you enjoy it.
The ship piloted itself down the last three miles before settling onto a patch of dry, parched earth. Commander Eric Travers wasn’t sure that he dared look when the sensors had completed the required scans. In the final analysis, as both a scientifically-motivated explorer and a plain old human being, simple curiosity left him no choice. All readings were in the green with absolutely no indication of any contaminants. As pleased as Travers was, he was nevertheless quite surprised.
He had been launched into near-Earth orbit in June of 2217, mere weeks before the cataclysm had begun. Those in power knew that the prospects for the ultimate survival of the human race was very much at risk, To that end, they had begun the Daybreak Project. Dozens of small, fully-autonomous craft had been launched. The pilot/inhabitant of each was placed into a deep hibernative state. They would remain so, unless and until, the craft’s automated sensor suite detected that environmental conditions were such that return to the planet’s surface was viable.
So Travers felt no small trepidation in what the machines told him. A query beacon had launched and confirmed no other Daybreak craft detected. Was it possible that he had been the only one to not break protocol and attempt to land early? He decided, at length, that further contemplation was pointless. It was time for mankind to once again claim their home world.
As a cool wind blew around him, he shivered for the first time in three hundred and twenty-seven years. It was a shiver both of anticipation and of trepidation. Only time would say which was the more proper response.