Edelweiss Space Magic

Edelweiss Space Magic (1963)

Edelweiss

by Simon Simmons

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119 years ago, on Planet M, the unthinkable happened.

When young Edelweiss awoke on the first Tuesday of February, she had no idea that this day would change her deeply, forever.

Number 85, her mother-droid, had just finished making grey berry pancakes and had called her down for breakfast.

“Today. Is. Now.”, 85 announced.

Floating out of her silky pebble bed sheets, Edelweiss slowly made her way down the rocky stairs and into the gravel kitchen, her long, flowing white hair glistening softly in the low gravity like a sea nymph coming home for Christmas.

“85: give me syrup.”, she said.

85’s mouth opened, liquid flew out.

“85: stop syrup.”

85’s mouth closed, the syrup stopped.

Just as Edelweiss was about to take her first bite of 85’s pancakes, the Magenta Siren rang. It rang all over the house, all over the city, all over M.

They had returned.

They were the Magicians: strange beings from another world, from the skies, come to Planet M, no doubt, to enslave its people. That was the general belief, anyway. 6 years prior, a Magician ship crash-landed, its crew was lifeless, dead, but judging from the amount of artillery and technologically advanced death machines they had brought with them, their intentions seemed clear: destroy and colonize.

This time, the M-ians were ready.

On Planet M, different sirens meant different things: Cyan meant “GOOD”, Gold meant “HIDE” and Magenta meant “GATHER”. “Gather” called all the M-ians to rally together at a specific point on the planet surface and expunge a foreign, potentially harmful entity together.

The Magenta Siren had never rang.

The last time the Magicians had landed, they weren’t perceived to be a threat at first so Cyan rang. The M-ians hid on the other side of the globe and waited for further instructions. It was only later, when it was deemed safe to inspect the crashed ship that those instruments of death were found.

Edelweiss was almost there.

She was nervous but ready, whatever danger lay ahead, she would tackle it with all the might of a thousand Suns.

When she arrived at the meeting point, she saw nothing except her people and rows upon rows of  father-droids, all aligned around a single vacant point.

Could this have been a false alarm?

Just then, she saw it: the enemy ship.

It was small, shiny and it was landing.

“Activate. Cloaking. Device.”, said the largest and most silver of all the father-droids.

All droids suddenly opened their mouths as transparent beams of transparent light blasted out converging into one single point high up but still far below the Magician ship. The cloaking device was a precautionary measure. As long as there was still a chance that the imminent threat at hand could turn out to be benign, the attack would wait.

Any sign of a weapon of any kind, on the Magicians’ side, would, of course, suggest antagonism and prompt instantaneous retaliation.

“Charge. Eye. Beams.”. the droid leader commanded.

Edelweiss and her M-ian brothers and sisters therefore began charging their eyeballs with pure energy. A simple blow from all these eye beams at the same time would annihilate any foreign object. The cloaking device had made the M-ians and their droids invisible to the Magicians.

Now there was only waiting.

The ship was close, very close, even closer now.

Edelweiss’ eyes were starting to hurt.

It landed.

What felt like an eternity passed by before the doors of the ship shooed open. The first Magician to exit looked nothing like those before him: bulky, white, round.

It was like an oversized child.

Words were heard, in a strange language, but they were too faint for anyone to hear. No sign of a weapon as yet. They were floating but not like the M-ians, their steps were clumsy and pathetic.

Were these Magicians children?

Underdeveloped versions of their predecessors?

Or had their predecessors, in fact, travelled back through time from their own future?

After all, the original ship had looked much more advanced than this one which, come to think of it, certainly had a much more primitive, fragile structure to it.

Danger!

The Magicians were holding something, it looked sharp.

The head droid raised his arm, readying us to release our beams should his arm come down in a single clunk.

But something seemed out of place.

These Magicians could barely walk, how could they possibly harm us with a weapon this visibly flimsy and inferior?

The item in question was soon planted onto the surface: it was a small pole with some sort of fabric attached to it.

Was it a bomb, a peace offering or some sort of random decoration?

This kind of odd behaviour continued until they finally picked up some rocks, returned to their ship and eventually disappeared into the skies near-silently.

The M-ians were signalled to stop charging their eye beams. Edelweiss closed her eyes and the intense pain she was feeling began to subside. When she opened them again, everyone had gathered around and over the object left by the Magicians.

It appeared to display stars.

Stripes and stars.

Whatever this meant, one thing was sure: they came twice and they would come again.

And when they do: we’ll be ready for them.

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More from Simon Simmons soon.

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Dead Air

Dead Air (2003)

Dead Air

by Matt Kowalski

the incredible true story that inspired the motion picture “Gravity”

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Space.

I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

I mean, I “get” it: it’s far.

But it’s not like you can eat it or take it to the movies.

Before going up there, even I had that misguided “isn’t space grand?” attitude. I guess you never know what’s waiting for you behind the curtain unless you actually are the curtain, or something to that effect. I don’t know why I kept going back up there, maybe I just really like that diarrhoea-style space food, maybe Earth just doesn’t do it for me.

Now as to why she went up there… that’s a whole other mystery altogether.

Medical doctors with daughter issues have no business being in zero gravity settings. I learned that the hard way.

I always knew she was trouble, the minute I saw her. She had that look. You know that unconfident, sweaty, eyes-darting-left-and-right type of look? “How she passed the psychological evaluation I’ll never know…”, I thought. It seems silly now but how could I have known?

Sure, NASA isn’t exactly known for its overall incompetence but, every so often, mistakes slip through the cracks, even in the most professional and together of places. It happens. I should have known better but her making it up there, I suppose, wasn’t completely unfeasible.

I was assigned to supervising repairs on Explorer, she was working on the Hubble when mission control warned us about debris hitting us and that’s when I saw it. A look in her eyes I’d never seen before. Her edgy desperation had suddenly opened up the door to something much more knowing, much darker. Without hurry, there she remained, seemingly continuing repairs as debris started hitting us but really doing their bidding.

Before getting “accidentally” knocked off out of danger and into the dark chasm of space, I saw her neatly place a metallic item on the skin of the shuttle. It was like some kind of spinning cylinder with blue blinking lights shining all around it. Something not from our world. This is when I finally understood that what was happening to us was no accident.

Luckily, I had my thruster pack handy: stupid thing saved my life.

She killed Shariff.

He was one of our key engineers, the man had a family and a positive (read: naive) outlook on life. He was a good man and she killed his face, just like that. That device she planted on Explorer before floating away was clearly emitting some kind of magnetic field leading the debris to the shuttle. Shariff was almost at the airlock when part of that satellite hit him.

Can’t believe we were pinning this debacle on the Russians.

I’m Russian!

So there I was, at a somewhat safe distance from the disaster. Shuttle’s down, she’s floating far out. I had two options: find a way out and get back to Earth or get to her and find out why she did what she did. THEN get back to Earth.

I decided to get the bitch.

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Seeing as she was probably programmed or hypnotised to do these things, I would find her, find out the truth, her plan, and deal with her accordingly.

When I found her, she was hysterical: breathing loudly and wasting oxygen. Her real, cowardly self had resurfaced and I had to calm her down in order to reach deep and find what else was lurking inside her psyche. There wasn’t much time to get the both of us over to another structure.

She told me about her dead daughter.

Ruined the vibe.

Can’t listen to good music in space, these days.

Anyway, we just about made it when the debris came back, knocking me away unexpectedly. That bitch had once again called the debris towards us: she must have been onto me. She knew I suspected her.

That’s when I got the idea: fake my own death and bring her down another way.

She was holding my hand, pretending to save me. I let go.

What she didn’t know was that my thruster pack still had plenty of fuel. I would make my way to a nearby Chinese satellite, where she would no doubt be heading, and set a trap for her.

It took some time but I finally made it. The people there were good people. They were on their way back to Earth when I warned them of a possible impending attack on our world by an unknown force. I flipped the oxygen switch down without them noticing, waited for them to get dizzy and, eventually, they believed me. We devised a plan: they would take the first escape pod down and warn the authorities, warn NASA, and I would hide and come back down with her.

Soon after the Chinese astronauts had left, she finally made it and, luckily, didn’t notice me hiding under the pod. I saw her sneak in, try to communicate with an Earth base and that’s when it happened.

She started barking.

Like a dog.

Well, seemingly like a dog but it was much stranger than that. Much more disturbing and high-pitched. She turned off her oxygen completely and closed her eyes. Suddenly, she re-opened them and I saw like a mist pass over her blank gaze. Over the pod, something crazy happened.

Space dogs.

Yes, I saw three dogs with spinning blue collars, floating in bubbles and communicating with her from the outside. What they were transmitting sounded like co-ordinates. They were planning an attack! I knew it!

I wasn’t insane!

The space dogs barked, she barked back, I listened.

After a couple of minutes, they floated away. That’s when I realised that my thruster pack was running completely out of fuel. I had to make it inside the pod, somehow. Luckily, she was still unconscious so, if I acted fast, I could open the pod, sneak inside, hide and make sure she didn’t see me when she woke up. Which is what I did. I was afraid for a moment when she blindly opened her eyes but, thinking fast, I pretended to be a ghost, knocked her out and hid inside the pod, right at the back.

She woke up and turned the oxygen back on. Thank God for that.

As if overwhelmed by a new sense of lust for life, she followed the procedures to get back to Earth and so we did. We almost burned-up on re-entry and I almost drowned when we landed but I had taken off my space suit as soon as we did so sneaking out underwater after her was easy. I even pushed a frog towards her in order to send her in a different direction.

Dogs respond to frogs.

Popping up over the water to breathe every so often, I eventually saw her stand and walk away.

Just then, the authorities arrived: the Chinese astronauts had followed my instructions! She was instantly apprehended, given a strong sedative and taken back to NASA headquarters. I, of course, followed.

What they found was staggering.

Testing revealed a small but significant bone-shaped substance inside her brain. It was carefully removed and analysed. Apparently, the substance contained a highly concentrated dose of nuclear energy. The space dogs’ plan, then, would have been to turn us all into skeletons, invade the Earth and feast on our bones. They led her into space in order to psychically impregnate her head with this powerful weapon as, from their far distance, they could only hypnotise her.

This explained everything!

The barking, the sudden change of emotions, the hysterical mood swings, the incompetence, it all makes sense now!

Unfortunately for her, by removing the substance, which had reached deep parts of her brain, she was left with a limited amount of capabilities. Essentially all she could do from now on was get on all fours, bark and eat doggy treats. To this day, she still resides at our NASA kennel. She’s happier than ever and I go feed her biscuits once a week.

Poor Dr Stone.

It’s like something out of a bad movie or something…

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More sci-fi “true stories” soon.

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