30 March 2012


By Curtis C. Chen

I sensed the vibration—what would have been sound if I'd still had ears—but couldn't tell what was happening. Ten years since I died, and I still couldn't see through walls. Freaking annoying.

"Frank!" I called down the corridor. "What's happening in there?"

There was no way to tell if he had received my proj. The vibration was gone now; it had been a sudden, short shockwave rippling through the air of the alien ship. I wished I'd studied more about acoustics. Had that been a door? Something falling to the deck?

"Frank!" I called again, more energetically this time. Maybe the alien ship material was dampening our projes?

I considered leaving my post at the opening to the ventilation shaft. Whether or not I was guarding this square hole wasn't going to make or break the operation. We knew the aliens couldn't see us. If they could, they would have landed right next to one of our camps, or done something besides just sit around in their ship for days.

There were, like, ten different vent shafts that led into the main corridor of the ship. Other ghosts had done the recon and mapped this whole place out already. Even if we got jammed up here, we could fly out one of the other openings. Me waiting around when Frank might need help was stupid.

I nudged myself sideways, drifting over to the intersection so I could see down the adjoining corridor. As soon as I cleared the corner, I saw Frank barreling toward me, his normally soft glow spiked with pinpoints of fear.

"Run!" he shouted at me. "Get out of the—"

Behind him, two aliens charged into the corridor. They didn't look like I expected. I knew from others' descriptions that they were lizard-like humanoids, but their heads looked really bulbous and shiny. Then I realized they were wearing helmets. And body armor.

One of the aliens held up a device, a flat disk with a short handle. The disk was translucent, and it glowed with moving lines and symbols, like a radar lollipop.

He—she?—said something to the other alien, who hefted a long tube with bumps all along the side, buttons on top, two handles on the bottom, and a long flat extension in the back which rested on the alien's shoulder. It couldn't have been anything but a weapon.

The first alien shouted something, and the second alien fired. I saw a small projectile emerge from the front of the rifle, moving much slower than I had expected. Was that a wire trailing behind it?

Then the projectile exploded, creating an energy bloom nearly five feet across and causing a thunderclap like the one I'd heard before. It actually hurt for me to sense it. It radiated all across the EM spectrum, and as I watched, it set the air—the atmosphere itself—on fire and burned through Frank's sphere, tearing his energy apart. He proj'd out something I couldn't understand. Then he was gone.

I ran.


Image: Ghost by Elizabeth Thomsen, October, 2006