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by Ejay1806

Okra’s mind chose to give up on the task. Even the approximation of the exact value of the mathematical entity Pi up to a trillion decimal places seemed to be much easier. Perplexed to the core of her extraordinary intellect, she looked skywards. Her uplift gaze was met by the pitch black sky, while she badly wanted to be greeted by the soulful beams of the sun. Instead of passing by a lush , green landscape adorned by the mighty mango trees and shy , sweet and gentle petunias , her surroundings wore a miserable picture of desolation . Forget trees. Even the most versatile plants like the lindens were missing. Filling the void were heaps and heaps of loose, greenish yellow sand, with a strong burning smell. There were no stars to accompany the bedtime stories, and neither was the moon present to ignite the throttle of the wolves. The place had lost familiarity , and walking on ground had become a difficult task .All the while, shrill screams pierced through the eerie silence. A few meters from where Okra lay, stood proud a massive pole, twice the height of the Eiffel Tower , to which clung her fellow earthlings , desperate to continue their affair with the ground, despite having faced severe rejection. The greenish-yellow sand dunes were rapidly shifting , causing even the healthy respiratory tracts to gasp and struggle for breath. With every passing minute, the Oxygen concentration was declining. Sound Waves were being transmitted with the agility of an old man, and listening taxed everyone, including the best cochlear systems. Okra Mayere let her body lift gently, and imitating the ace swimmer Michael Phelps, she glided towards the massive pole. After a careful and highly controlled maneuver, her wrist clasped onto the vacant space on the pole , and let her feet embrace the ground. Just then, she received a jolt. A jolt that sent everyone spinning. She struggled and panted and revolted to stay in touch with the pole, but in vain. She went spinning past the others, and collided fiercely with another earthling. The impact blinded her momentarily, as her senses departed on a momentary hiatus. After minutes of senselessness ( literally) , her eyes focused on the fellow collider. The face was familiar. But the expression wasn’t. It was Annika Asher. The Annika Asher, heavily credited with numerous awards , owing to her brilliant run as the head of Flight Simulation and Rocket Propulsion wing of the BTD Future Mission Enclave . But today , the same flawless forehead housed numerous lines of worry. Feeling safe in the company of her friend, Okra’s voice returned from momentary retirement. “What on earth was that jolt? Where did it come from?.....” questioned Okra. “It would be amazing if I knew ,” answered Annika, with a voice spiked with fear and doubt. As the two sat pondering, there was an agitation. The members of her “Squad” crowded around the source of the jolt, and in no time, the already abused air was filled with a fresh round of screams . Their legs broke into a tumultuous rush , and facing the origin of the jolt , even the semblance of their usually cherub face gave way to an expression of horror and disgust…… Thrashed ruthlessly across different corners of the sandy ground were parts of what looked like a metal device , armored with an intangible mass of huge wires. Across the horror struck faces of the “ Squad” was clearly painted a message . The Q-001 teleportation device had been destroyed due to the immense impact of the jolt. They were stranded. Assessing the situation , Annika took control , and urged everyone to cling to the pole with the help of their harnessing ropes and rest awhile. Shutting her eyelids , Okra went back to the events responsible for the mess and turmoil being endured by her . Flashback……

The year was 2032. Okra was whizzing across the laboratory on her Flight Plate, testing the results of her experiment , when the announcement was made . The automated sliders of her cabin door slid open , thereby revealing a dark , slim body with a long ponytail . It was the Chief Physicist, in person. She strode briskly towards Okra’s experiment station with an expression mirroring excitement. Okra wanted to ask , but had to resist . After all, it was the Chief Physicist in person. “Dr. Mayere , I am here with the biggest deal the Enclave has ever received. Assuming that you will do your best towards its fulfillment, I have come to inform that you will be a part of the “Squad” headed by Dr. Asher , slated to visit planet Szhoy . Good Luck ..” after having said so , the Chief Physicist left . But Okra stood transfixed. Finally after two years of being a rookie , she had bagged a mission of her own . That too , a big one to planet Szhoy!!!

In the weeks following the announcement, Dr. Asher had them all on toes. From assessing the situation on Szhoy’s surface to channeling the status reports of the Q-001, they did it all , and it was time for Mission Briefing. Armed with presentations and trajectories, Dr. Asher began what was to be the most important briefing in the history of the Enclave…. “ I must say , that you all have shown excellent co-operation in the past two weeks . Our visit to planet Szhoy has a special purpose. Our aim is to establish a camping ground on the planet’s surface. The environment on Earth is degrading , and the rich and powerful have begun agitating for a fresh environment. Riding on the might of their wealth, they have managed to start a mission to a foreign planet , and planet Szhoy was chosen . The investment for the same has been massive , and has given a massive boost to the Space Technology . We will be launching tomorrow . Let’s live the moment and make the most of it. Cheers………” . Okra’s intestines churned. They were going to establish a foreign settlement. How cool was that !!!

The next day , she found herself seated in the Q-001 teleportation device, and even before she knew it , they had launched ……………….. Gazing through the circular window of her seat , Okra’s eyes witnessed the spectacle of the century. She saw the planet she had just left behind . She saw Planet Earth. Gazing at it affectionately , she let herself get lost in the mesmerizing beauty of the blue-green planet . The atmosphere was calm without any turbulence. Silence penetrated across space and time , and the stars beckoned them with their bright twinkle . Everything was just perfect. Then……. She heard the cosmonaut yell. A yell that was filled with fear. Minutes following it , she found herself thrown out of her seat , and the lights went out . The Q-001 teleportation device had been knocked out of the trajectory , and it took a nose dive . Due to the panic attack , she had blacked out …….

Now , she was stranded on an unknown planet , with a destroyed teleportation device . The supplies were dwindling at an alarming rate , and survival was becoming tough . Judging Annika’s fear , she knew that the planet was Ceone , which least mirrored the conditions on earth , unlike planet Szhoy. It was also known as the planet of doom. The technician tried his best to get the device going but no avail. Annika had given up . The other members of the “Squad” struggled to come in terms with reality .

After spending approximately two earth days, the “Squad” faced the ultimate test of survival. The supplies had run out. Okra struggled to breathe , and Annika began hallucinating due to lack of water . The technician began to lose consciousness , and the three other members had their share of hallucinations . The entire “Squad” felt that very soon , they wound embrace death like a friend who had been waiting for them eagerly……

Meanwhile on Earth……

The Japanese Centre for Rangers was abuzz. Mirka Coin’s telephone was ringing incessantly. It was the fifth call made by the BTD Future Enclave , who had sought their assistance in locating the whereabouts of their team , en route to some foreign planet . Apparently , The Enclave had lost all means of communication with them , and their Chief Physicist feared a device crash . Prof. Coin agreed. Her team of Space Rangers had conducted many such evacuations , and had always been successful . And the tradition was bound to continue. An evacuation team with her most able rangers were about to take off. “[D1] Coin speaking …. Ranger Shuttle –AS get ready for launch. Launch pad will be activated in fifteen minutes. Map the trajectory around planet Szhoy….”.With a brilliant flash of light , the shuttle embarked on what was to be their tenth evacuation.

The Ranger Shuttle approached the final layer of the atmosphere within twenty minutes post launch. Entering into space , they began their evacuation mission . Nearly an hour into the mission , they were hit by a huge piece of debris . Assuming that the debris was of the crashed teleportation device , they traced its path all the way to planet Ceone . The shuttle breached the interior of the planet , and spotted unconscious individuals floating in space , held back by harnessing rope . The cosmonaut gave the instructions , and a group of four rangers pulled the unconscious bodies into the shuttle . Annika Asher and her team had been rescued ……

Okra awoke to the smiling faces of her squad members. She was not floating any more , and was breathing with ease . She glanced around , and knew that she was not at Ceone any longer. She was back to the BTD Future Mission Enclave ! Her fellow members told her about the heroic rescue by the Japanese rangers , and how they had arrived on Earth safe and sound . They had been at the threshold of witnessing a horrific death due to asphyxiation, and instead here they were , surrounded by the walls of the Enclave , which was a huge blessing .

A lot of events followed their dramatic return. The bigwigs who had paid huge sums in order to set up camps on planet Szhoy were angry , and demanded an entire refund . Annika and her team reflected on the poor quality of the parts used in the teleportation device , while Okra organized a press conference , in order to address the crowd , intent upon knowing the details of their space sojourn . Dressed in the blue uniform of the Enclave , Okra began her speech : “ To those of you oblivious of my identity, I am Dr. Okra Mayere, Chief Researcher with the Higgs Boson Division . We were en route to planet Szhoy , until the meteorite hit . Reeling from the impact, we crashed into planet Ceone. A planet devoid of Oxygen , Atmosphere , Water and Gravitational Force . We thought it was the end of us. I would like to thank the Japanese Centre for Rangers for their excellent support . And those agitating for a new planet , to them I say , there are numerous Ceones and Szhoys out there . But there is only one Earth. Irrespective of the level of development , another Earth can never be possible. We must act to minimize the damage we have caused. And we must act now. The BTD Future Mission Enclave has decided to donate the surplus funds of our treasury to the organizations combating Climate Change and Environmental Degradation. It is the combined efforts of all that can save each and every one of us, and ensure the continuity of the human race………”. Her speech might have ended, but its effect lingered on for a long, long, time.

The following week , the Environmental organizations across the country reported an overflow of funds . Businesses , Hospitals , Factories and Research Centers had united for a noble cause , for the first time in many years . Many Environmental activists and Companies reconciled , and began the movement for a better Earth . Change was in the air ……

Okra smiled as she read the newspaper. She had started a revolution . A revolution that was to sweep the entire world in a matter of few years.

“ What is the reason behind that huge smile ??” questioned Annika .

“Funny…… How at times a wrong path filled with thorns and obstacles is the easiest way around to reach your destination……” replied Okra .


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45 Reviews

Points: 24
Reviews: 45

Thu Jul 28, 2016 4:10 pm
Costa wrote a review...

Erm... I'm going to have to agree with what Tigeraye said. There's just too much going on here for something of a short story: you introduce the planet, shift back to Earth, they depart, crash-land, Earth gets a warning and immediately launches a rescue, they find the crash site, rescue everyone, Okra does her speech and everything gets better.
The pacing is so breakneck, it doesn't give any event time to sink roots. Hell, the voyage to another whole planet is summarized to the tune of a taxi ride. They leave Earth and, boom, they're already crashing down on a planet that's, by necessity, oh-so-many light years away.

Trying to fit all that in a short story format simply leads to you being forced to glance over events, giving us a meal that's spread so thin, it lacks any actual meat in its bones. To quote Tiger, this has the feel of a report that someone filed with the BTD giving a quick overview of everything that happened. Problem is, you didn't write it as such, so it ends up crashing and burning (no pun intended).

I'm sure I'm being overly harsh with this but I only say it because there IS potential here for a good story. You're gonna have to tone the pacing way back and spend a lot more time slowly progressing through events, introducing characters, describing scenes and whatnot.
Have you read/seen The Martian? I think this story is capable of being similarly engrossing: a back-and-forth between a stranded squad on a hostile planet struggling to survive and Earth's desperate attempts to bring them back. And with the higher technological level you obviously have going on here.

Furthermore, if you're interested in writing stories, then I'd ask you to pay more attention to the technical aspects of it all. The weird formatting with commas, your overuse of ellipses (don't use six, nine or more of them in a row. If there's a big silent gap, say it.) and punctuation marks (You can justify a "!!" if it's someone yelling at the top of their lungs but not in narration), plus the improper dialogue tags (take a look here) will irk potential readers away.
All these mistakes add up and every time someone notices them, it takes them out of the story. If that happens a lot, there goes whatever chance you had at hooking someone in.

I'll say it again: there's potential here; I was curious about the planet, I wanted to know how Okra and her folks would survive in it, how the rescue would take place. Give this story a rewrite, clean it up, expand on it and you'll have a good thing going. Don't rush through things - take your time to describe, to show the characters reacting to the situation, interacting with each other and more.

Without that, you have either a short story that's simply spread too thin or a novel that's too tightly condensed.

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325 Reviews

Points: 689
Reviews: 325

Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:33 pm
tigeraye wrote a review...

I'm going to tell you right away that if you want more people to read your stuff, you're going to have to split up that opening paragraph. Most anyone who sees a paragraph that long is going to back right out. You also don't need spaces between commas and periods -- it's a minor thing you do for some reason that makes a huge difference.

The stylistic errors are a shame, because when you put them aside I find your writing to be pretty charming. I love your word choice and strong, vivid approach to description. I also really wanted to like the plot. I feel like having to explore a new planet when Earth becomes uninhabitable might be something a future generation might have to look towards. But it feels like the crash should be a huge event, and then it just happens. Then she's back on Earth a few minutes later. It all happens so fast, there's no time to digest it since you're just summarizing what happened. This might work better in a non-short-story environment, perhaps a novella.

The bigwigs who had paid huge sums in order to set up camps on planet Szhoy were angry

To be blunt, I don't give a damn about the bigwigs. I wanted to explore that planet, and I feel annoyed that I was robbed of that chance.

My story-related grievances aside, you still have a certain poise to your writing that I like. I think this reads more like a first draft than anything else, so I'd keep polishing it until it's ready. It definitely has potential

We're all stories in the end.
— 11th Doctor