Trigger Warning: death and blood
Stephanie sat cross-legged in the standing shower aboard the VIKENGRASS. The water
sprinkled over her body as she kept her eyes closed, trying to meditate and alleviate the pain that
came on this day every year. It was the anniversary of the accident that took the lives of both of
her parents, having her leg and finger amputated, along with permanently deafening her. All
because their self-driving car stopped working and drifted into oncoming traffic.
She opened her eyes to be met with darkness, alarming her. The lights came back on in a
moment, and the room shook. Stephanie quickly stood up and turned off the water, jumping out
of the shower and drying herself off. She grabbed her clothes and slipped them on, returning to
her living quarters as soon as she could.
The VIKENGRASS shuttered and groaned as explosions rocked the inner hull. The lights
in the hallway dimmed, flickering subsequently with the detonations. The crew scrambled from
their living quarters as sirens blared overhead, red lights flashing along the tops of the black
walls. It was against protocol to be woken this way, as a member aboard the bridge was
designated to wake them, preparing the entire crew to deal with the emergency.
Stephanie stumbled as a large explosion shook the ship, her prosthetic leg slipping
against the floor. The crew all wore skin-tight body suits, with holes for their feet, hands, and
head. Steph’s had to be custom made to allow further access to her fake leg, especially when she
refused to use the modern technology, as it had been the reason she lost her leg in the first place.
The door to her room whooshed open, a man standing in the doorway. He signed to
Stephanie to run, turning to his side in fear. The VIKENGRASS shook violently, knocking Steph
onto all fours. Her ring finger bent backwards as she hit the ground, luckily being a prosthetic as
well, lost in the same accident as her leg. She twisted the finger and pulled it off, the low-tech,
piece of crap now garbage.
Stephanie pushed herself off of the floor and grabbed her old-school bomber jacket,
throwing it over the bodysuit. She flung her long, curly hair out from beneath the bomber and
stepped out into the hallway, her other crewmate already gone. Once she looked in the direction
her friend had, she wished she hadn’t.
A large, humanoid thing levitated around the corner, inches off of the floor. It had legs
and feet, although not in use, and donned black armour from head to toe–if it even was a head.
The intruder looked to be wearing a helmet, with no place for a jaw or nose. The top of its helmet
was clear, tubes heading from the back of it, covering where eyes on a human would sit, and
converging where the nose should be.
Steph watched as the robot, alien, or both, turned to a nearby crewmember as it raised its
arm. The man lifted off of the floor parallel to the intruder, and blood erupted from the man’s
mouth, eyes, and ears. Steph stood paralyzed by fear as the blood from the man swirled around
him, slowly moving towards the outstretched armoured arm of the assailant.
A hand grasped Steph’s shoulder, turning her away from the beast. Hawkins’s eyes
shifted rapidly as he looked into Steph’s, mouthing the word “run” to her. She looked back at the
creature that had its other arm pointing to a closer inhabitant of the VIKENGRASS. The
woman’s blood flowed towards the floating creature’s second arm as the other man had been
completely drained, his body collapsing to the floor.
The transparent tubes that webbed around the robotic alien gushed full of the crew’s
blood as it slipped across the arms, contrasting against the stark, black armour. The liquid made
its way to the robot’s “face” tubes, converging and exiting at the front. The outline of a human
jaw formed, and an organic, fleshy version of the bones began to print on the creature’s face,
using the blood as material.
For the first time in years Stephanie was glad she was deaf, for she feared how the
hallway may sound. Screams flooded by sirens and explosions, bones breaking and metal
scraping as the intruder made its way down the hallway, draining the blood and life of a dozen
crew members as Steph ran with Hawkins in tow. Her hand slipped away from Hawkins as her
sweat made it impossible to keep a strong grip, turning back to see him floating in the air.
The man’s eyes filled with fear as he was rotated away from Stephanie and to the black-
armoured creature. A set of sharp, narrow teeth now formed below its helmet, fleshy spikes
along its outer forearms, pulsating as the alien activated the power it had. Hawkins’s eyes
popped out of his skull as blood poured out of him, moving in a beeline to robot.
Stephanie sprinted along the curved hall as fire spread behind the creature, a blast door
automatically closing nearby to try to suppress it. Steph looked over her shoulder as the heat
from the fire spread rapidly towards her, circling the intruder and pausing its crusade for a
moment. The flames danced in the reflection of its pitch-black metal exterior as it floated in
place, staring at Stephanie as another blast door slammed shut, separating them.
Steph watched through a small pane of glass as the robot dropped onto its feet, sinking to
one knee. It touched the ship’s floor with a finger, and the organic material it used to make teeth
and spikes now formed around it like a meaty, spiked shield. The fire bounced away from the
shield as it expanded outwards, clearing a path for the creature to move towards the door
Stephanie stood behind.
Steph turned and ran as the robot lifted itself into the air again, looking towards her. The
VIKENGRASS was large and full of places to hide, but it would take a while to make it to the
escape pods. Especially with the power subverting to the emergency systems, eliminating the
option of taking elevators.
They had been out deeper in space than normal, following a distress signal they had
picked up a few weeks ago from their sister ship, the VENOFIRE. Stephanie was an engineer
and pilot trainee, not being able to pass most of the tests without a hearing aid, something she
was strongly against having with how invasive the procedure was. After losing her leg and finger
due to a technological accident, she didn't want a device plugged into her head, potentially
creating more problems than it solved.
Stephanie made it to the elevator shafts and started prying the doors open. Her sweaty
hands slipped against the smooth surface, barely moving them. She frantically looked over her
shoulder, checking if the robot was close. She kicked her fake leg into the seam of the doors and
began pulling them apart, shoving her hands and arms between them and slipping through before
the robot found her.
Stephanie blew dust out of her mouth as she army-crawled through a vent she had entered
in the elevator shaft. Unless she had gotten turned around, she should be heading directly
towards the escape pods. The VIKENGRASS was outfitted with many groups of the pods, giving
all of the crew an equal chance to escape no matter the emergency; she only hoped that there was
some remaining in this batch.
She moved slowly, not knowing if her prosthetic leg was scraping against the metal vent,
although it felt like it wasn’t. Luckily the vent wasn't a flimsy, thin one like in the movies she
watched growing up; this one was solid and in the walls, rather than on the ceiling. Unfortunately
it was rather filthy and not new and pristine, and Steph’s bomber jacket looked more grey than
Steph made her way to an access door to the vent and inched it open, looking for any
signs of the robot. Not seeing anything too concerning or feeling further vibrations, she crawled
into the ship’s hallway and stood up, dusting herself off as she looked around. The door in front
of her was labelled ESCAPE PODS 6F. Finally.
She placed her hand—that had all five fingers—onto a scanner by the door, recognizing
her and granting access. Even as an engineer, Steph never understood why the security system
should route power like this during an emergency, all doors should be able to open and close,
just in case. At least this time it was in her favour.
The stench punched Stephanie in the face as the doors opened, her eyes immediately
watering and diluting her vision. She fought the urge to cough and covered her face with her
sleeve, slowly walking into the oddly dark room. She could feel something squish between her
toes as she made her way to the far wall, her eyes still adjusting to the lighting.
Steph pulled a small, old-fashioned flashlight shaped like a disc out of her bomber jacket
and pressed it together, activating it. Aiming it at the floor, she found she was standing in the
same organic material the robot had used to make the shield earlier. She put her other hand to her
mouth and aimed the flashlight higher, finding large sacs attached to the escape pods still in the
The light from the disc penetrated her thumb, making her normally brown thumb appear
to be red and yellow. Steph stared at her thumb, and then brought the flashlight closer to the
nearest sac. She held it behind the round, organic structure and let the light shine through,
revealing the silhouette of something squirming inside of it.
Steph inhaled, slowly moving the flashlight away from the egg and backing up, stepping
in more of the substance with her bare foot. She looked around with the light, finding dozens of
the things around her, all attached to the pods she had planned to escape in.
Come on, Stephanie thought to herself. Cut me a break.
The organic film below her feet started to move as one of the eggs pulled it closer like it
was rolling a sheet over itself. Steph carefully stepped away from the sacs, looking for an
uncovered portion of the control panel. If anything was going to work on the ship, this should be
Steph found the outlet for the access key, which would normally allow use of the escape
pods. Not having a key would be a problem. Steph closes her eyes and exhaled, thinking of an
alternative plan; she wouldn't be able to use them to escape anyways.
She opened her eyes and unzipped a front pocket in her jacket, rummaging around for her
backup finger. Or, realistically what should have been her primary finger, as it was newer and
up-to-date, but she just didn't like it. She pushed the finger into the socket on her hand, twisting it
and feeling a small whoosh of air before a little light on the side lit up yellow, blue, and then
turned off, indicating it was successfully attached.
Steph placed her new finger on top of the key outlet, and felt her prosthetic react to it. A
small latch protruded from her fingertip and entered the keyhole, fitting into the proper design
and allowing her to turn it, giving her access to the control panel. The screen beside her lit up
green, a few holographic buttons popping up in front of her.
Little did Stephanie know how loud the start up of the escape pod procedure was,
undoubtedly alerting the intruder of her whereabouts. Though, she could feel the organic
material reacting to what she had initiated. The eggs began to part open like a flower, revealing
the creatures inside of them.
Before a single one of the new creatures had time to realize they had been born,
Stephanie tapped the launch button and sent the hatchlings into the void of space. The material
across the floor was sucked out with them as it had all been attached, pulling Steph off of her feet
and onto her butt. She sat on the floor for a moment as the lights flickered back to life in the
room now that the power wasn’t prioritized to launching the pods, and the aliens weren’t
drawing from the same source, if that’s even what they were doing.
Steph looked at her robotic finger, mad that she had to use the technology to solve her
problems. She wished she had been born thousands of years ago, when prosthetics were barely
functional, and hearing aids were little pieces of plastic with batteries in them. She wouldn’t
have even been in the situation that made her lose her leg in the first place if that was the case
either, but she couldn't change her past. Plus, she wouldn't have met Rachel and been able to fall
in love for the first time if she hadn’t lost her leg, so maybe it was for the best.
If Stephanie was going to be able to get back home to Rachel and their cute little
apartment, she would have to come to terms with using technology. Something as simple as
having her robotic finger on hand had kept her from being eaten alive, or whatever the creatures
in the eggs would have done to her. Better and stronger technology should do bigger and greater
things in theory, right?
Stephanie slid through the half-open door of the medical bay, finding doctors and staff
she had gotten to know over the months of space travel together, all dead and crumpled up on the
floor, completely devoid of bodily fluids. She looked away at their eyeless masses, bones
protruding through their thinned skin and bent in all the wrong ways. She had thought of a plan
to escape the armoured creature, but it all hinged on one item that was hopefully still here.
Steph carefully slid the doors of a cabinet nearby, looking for a squared vial marked
NBV. She exhaled sharply when she found it, pulling it out of the container and turning to the
light. The rectangular container had a black siding that slid open, revealing a needle behind it.
Closing her eyes for a moment, Stephanie remember the accident that had taken her leg,
and jammed the needle into her neck, pressing the button and injecting the fluid into her
bloodstream. She threw the vial on the ground and walked out of the med bay, no longer worried
about making a sound. If she was going to die, she wasn't going to do it afraid.
Stephanie turned a corner coming face-to-face with the creature on her ship. It was
kneeling beside another crewmember of the VIKENGRASS, sucking out the last of her blood
through its arm. The creature turned, appearing to be wearing a reconstruction of the human
skeleton as armour, overtop of the black metal it already had. The skeleton had sharp teeth, arm
spikes, and had grown a long tail that still touched the floor as the creature levitated into the air.
Wanting to die with no fear was no longer an option, as the skeleton opened its mouth as
if it were laughing, and one arm shot outwards, palm in the air. The creature made a fist, and
Steph could feel her organs pulling the rest of her body into the air, like they were magnetized to
the ceiling. She felt blood start to trickle out of her nose and her mouth involuntarily opened as
blood shot out as if she was puking it up.
Stephanie could feel her eyes start to burn from behind, similar to when she would get
migraines, but tenfold. Her blood rushed around the creature’s arm, entering the skeleton it had
created and flowing through the tubes below it. The creature’s chest puffed outwards and his fist
opened, stopping the flow. Steph could feel her insides settle, and she collapsed onto the floor as
the alien lowered its arm.
Her vision dimmed, fading almost completely to black as she fought to stay awake,
watching the creature look itself over. It slowly rotated its arms, looking for whatever was
distracting it, and then down to its legs, lowering itself to the floor. The alien looked over to
Stephanie as the skeleton exploded off of it, spraying her and the floor in flesh and blood.
The invader doubled over, waves of electricity surging from its shoulders. Steph placed
her hand on the floor in front of her, struggling to get up. She had lost a lot of blood from the few
seconds the robot had drained her, making the room spin as she lifted herself up.
The creature collapsed to the floor, some limbs twitching afterwards. Steph looked over
the body from where she was standing, nervous about approaching it. She had been lucky she
was right, and that it had been a robot, or else her plan would have failed, and she would have
Steph took a few steps towards the robotic corpse, thankful the medical bay had kept the
remnants of the nanobot virus that had almost ruined the VIKENGRASS the day it launched into
space. I just hope you took them all out of me, you son of a bitch, Steph thought as she looked
over the body. I don’t want them to have to be sucked out of any other holes.
A red light rapidly blinked across the ceiling lights, indicating a siren all to familiar to
Stephanie. If she wasn't deaf, she knew she would hear the ship’s AI announce there were
unknown spacecraft approaching the VIKENGRASS. She looked down to the dead alien and
crouched beside it, looking at the back of its head.
Steph felt the creature with her bare hands, finding a small hole in the back of its skull.
She brought her robotic finger to it and hovered above the hole, feeling the same process start as
when she launched the escape pods. She turned her hand and the skull of the robot began to
open, similar to how the eggs had done so.
Steph stepped back as she looked at the alien on the ground, feeling the VIKENGRASS
violently shake as the blinking lights accelerated. She grabbed the collar of her bomber that sat
near her chest with both hands and looked at what was at her feet, a small smile creeping on to
her face. I will be seeing you soon, Rachel.
Brandon Korth is a 30-year-old, full-time single father living in Ontario with his son. He wrote articles for three years at Obilisk.co and has fiction published by Black Hare Press.