Short Story: The Summons

This was originally written as a submission for a competition in a small press Sci-Fi magazine. Alas, it did not win. I still like the concept though, so I figured that I’d publish it here.

The Summons

          “Good,” says Bedge, his fingers flying across the keyboard in time with the rapidly growing readings on the screen. “Keep the energy circulating like that. We need it in the fifteenth centile or it won’t have the legs to reach the outpost.”

I set my jaw in an effort to ignore the bead of sweat rolling uncomfortably down my nose. “I still don’t get what I’m doing here.”

“Who can tell?” yawns Wiggs. He pushes his hands deep into the pockets of his lab coat and leans towards the black orb floating in front of me. “Didn’t you read the Summons Fact Sheets?”

“Does anyone?”

“Move your right hand towards me,” Wiggs replies. “And yes, generally everybody reads them.”

“It was this or jury duty,” I grunt, barely adjusting my left hand in time to compensate for the change in direction caused by moving my right. “I skimmed the bit about how to do whatever I’m doing. Didn’t bother with the rest.”

Wiggs stretches and his shoulder cracks loudly. “Three centiles to go, then we’ll set the angles.” He taps a few more keys and continues, “Those gloves you’re wearing are covered in sensors that react to the energies in the orb. The initial jolt you felt was a timed electrical charge designed to dislodge part of whatever’s inside it, and the smaller ones you’re feeling now are the gloves reacting to the sensors picking up on the inner energy getting close to breaching the outer shell.”

“The red lights,” adds Bedge, “are the predicted breach points based on the readings that the gloves are sending to the computer over there.”

“I get all that,” I sigh. “I mean, what am I actually doing? What does all this dislodged energy crap actually mean? And what outpost? Are we sending a message, or what?”

Bedge shoots me a crooked smile and says, “Soviet Three, and no, we’re not sending a message. Right now, you’re powering up what may be the most powerful weapon known to man. Or not known as the case may be, hence you signing the Official Secrets Act. But yeah, basically, you’re gonna unleash a shit storm on the station just past Mars.”

“Or it may do nothing,” interjects Wiggs.

“Bah,” Bedge shrugs. “It definitely does something, you’ll see that on release, we’re just not sure what the result will be. Past targets have suffered earthquakes, political uprisings, plagues, severe atmospheric changes, lotsa different things.”

“We don’t know for sure that the orb caused it all though. It could just be a long string of coincidences.”

I swallow hard. “How the Hell did the government build something like this?”

“They didn’t build it, they found it. Three more lights then pull the gloves away.”

I nod, catch the last light, and pull away as instructed. The moment the gloves leave the field around the orb, a sudden burst of pressure knocks me off my feet.

Bedge peers out from the other side of the orb, grinning happily. “Whatta rush, eh? Have that Soviet Three.”

Wiggs yawns and swivels his chair towards me. “You’re country thanks you citizen.”

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