ThreeMinuteFiction: Short Story – The Day Shift

I wrote a <600 word short story for NPR’s ThreeMinuteFiction, and since it didn’t win, I get to publish it for FREE. Download it or read it below and let me know what you think! The cover is a photo I took a year ago in Australia.

Download the ePub from Lulu:

The Day Shift

Jaryn squeezed his eyelids tightly; everything was still washed in a bright white glow, but it was slowly improving. He couldn’t say the same about his stomach, which was churning at an uncomfortable pace. Jaryn had managed to keep from evacuating the contents of his stomach on the last test run by sheer force of will, but his eyesight and disorientation made it much harder to focus his mind.

A piercing tone echoed around the chamber, causing Jaryn to rear his head into the thick glass side. He winced and groaned, “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.” The tone rang out again, and Jaryn let his weight lean against the glass as he slid his body down to the ground, groping along the floor with his unpinned hand in search of the screeching source. His hand grazed the smooth surface of the device and clamped down around the small disc, his trained instincts flipping it over in his palm and depressing the small button on the bottom, interrupting the third tone mid-chime.

He squeezed and opened his eyes again, peering around at the dark shapes scattered along the landscape: the structures of the colony. There was an eerie quiet to the place and no movement that he could make out. Between the pained expressions, Jaryn looked confused. He had expected a welcoming party, a team of scientists, somebody to receive him when he arrived. These were the rules of beam transportation for living creatures: both sides needed a person in the chamber for the transposition to be successful. He had left the station with a team around him, and if he was here, then the man he replaced must be back at the station.

He tried to focus his eyesight, flipping the device back over in his hand as he peered at the small green readout: 71h,58m. On schedule, as expected. His focus widened for a moment and noticed a smudge of color on the fingertips of his middle and ring fingers. His brow furrowed as he concentrated his gaze.

Jaryn quickly released the device to the floor, landing with a metallic tin and a dull splat. His body slid up the glass quickly, as his hands began checking every inch of his body from toe to neck, trying to find the source of the blood. His breathing quickened as a mild panic took over his mind. He exhaled forcefully in relief, as he found all of his parts were intact and he lacked even a mild scratch. His eyes were mostly clear now, and as he looked at the chamber around him, he wasn’t sure if he would be standing here, alive, three days from now.

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