'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Monday, 9 September 2013

KBR Short Story: Planet Towing

by Rebecca Colless

Leanne answered the telephone. ‘Planet Towing. We tow anything, anywhere, anytime.’ Inspecting her fingernails, she listened for a moment and said ‘I’ll put you through to a driver.’

She pressed a button. ‘Nico? Got a job for you.’ Leanne transferred the call and returned to her manicure.

Sitting in his truck, Nico spoke through the last mouthful of his burger: ‘Hello?’

A robotic voice came through his ’phone. ‘You… will… provide… towing?’ Static crackled between the words.

‘No worries,’ said Nico. ‘Where are you?’

‘Translating…’ After a pause, the voice continued: ‘We… are… located… in… the… system… known… to… you… as… Gliese… 581...’

‘Is that north of the Ring Road?’ asked Nico. ‘I’m in Glenroy.’

Another pause. ‘Our… coordinates… are...’

Nico interrupted. ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got GPS. Was it a bingle? What shape’s your ride in?’

A longer pause. ‘Approximately… spherical…’

‘Whoa! Are you alright?’

‘All… will… be… well… when… you… provide… towing… Commencing… portal… connection…’

‘Sorry?’

The view through Nico’s windscreen—of a fast food restaurant—shimmered and disappeared.

‘Huh?’ In the sudden, total darkness, Nico felt his heart thumping. ‘What’s going on?’

‘Transfer… via… wormhole… Countdown… to… arrival… 3… 2… 1…’

Nico screamed and threw up. His tow truck was floating in outer space. A red sun illuminated a brown planet.  The surrounding blackness was sprinkled with stars. Only his seatbelt held Nico in place—he was weightless. Balls of vomit hovered over his dashboard.

‘Welcome… Nico….’ The gaps were free of static now.

Nico clutched his phone like a lifeline. ‘W-where am I?’

‘Our… planet… is… called…’ The next word sounded like a burp.

‘Why have you brought me here?’

‘Our… sun… grows… hotter... We… must… move… You… will… provide… planet… towing...’

Nico snorted. ‘Mate, that’s just a business name! I can’t—’

‘Stand… by… for… enlargement...’

Nico shut his eyes as a blinding flash of green light from the planet’s surface hit his truck. When he opened his eyes, the planet seemed much smaller.

‘What just happ—’

‘Engaging… tractor… beam…’ interrupted the voice and an invisible force yanked Nico’s truck towards the planet. ‘Please… apply… reverse… thrust...’

In a trance, Nico turned on his truck, shifted into reverse and stepped on the accelerator.

The planet moved.

‘Adjust… trajectory… away… from… the… sun…’ the voice commanded.

Nico obediently turned his steering wheel. The planet followed his truck.

Minutes later, the voice said ‘Desired… orbit… achieved… Deactivating… tractor… beam… Thank… you… Nico… Your… name… will… live… forever… in… the… histories… of… [BURP]…’

‘Great,’ said Nico. ‘Can I please go home now?’

Moments later, he was back in the restaurant carpark.

‘Thank goodness that’s over!’ he said, grinning with relief.

His phone rang.

‘Leanne?’ he answered. ‘You won’t believe—’

‘Nico, I’ve got an urgent job for you,’ interrupted the receptionist.

A new, robotic voice said ‘Greetings… Nico… I… am… the… leader… of… planet… [FART]… The… leader… of… [BURP]… recommended… you… We… require… immediate… planet… towing… to… avoid… a… catastrophic… asteroid… collision… Please… stand… by…’

Rebecca Colless has received several awards for unpublished manuscripts since completing an RMIT course in children's fiction writing in 2011. She has run her own travelling science show and also worked in education and marketing for museums, a university, the CSIRO, a water supplier and a bakery. Rebecca has complete manuscripts ranging from picture books to a middle grade novel and is working on more short stories and a YA novel. For more info visit Rebecca's website.

KBR Short Stories are a way to get your work ‘out there’—and to delight our KBR readers. Stories are set to a monthly theme and entries are due in the 25th of each month. Find out more here.

3 comments:

  1. What a well conceived idea and so much fun to read!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was brilliant. Beautifully put together, the dialogue was so believable and the ending made me smile. Well done!

    ReplyDelete

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