Today my creative writing is taken from a writing prompt. I wrote this in one day and have not done any revision other than grammatical corrections.
THE WRITING PROMPT: The Rocket-ship: Write about a rocket-ship on its way to the moon or a distant galaxy far, far, away. Launching somewhere? Write about the experience! (Taken from https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/)
Watching the stars fly by through the glass bubble of a window, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for what I was leaving behind. Never again would I soar over the azure blue craters near my home while chasing my friends. I would never swim in the caves of Neptune, safely nestled a hundred miles below the surface of our beautiful hostile planet.
Our beautiful planet, Ashtara, was magnificent to behold. Truly spectacular. But volatile. We had no idea the volcanos were active and waiting to burst. We just thought they were mountains reaching for the heavens. All the future sight in the galaxy couldn’t have prepared us for the devastation.
Our people had settled on the planet, not more than two generations ago. It was a young settlement. My grandfather told us stories about the creation of the settlement. It was a mystery of a planet, only barely charted and discovered.
The day the volcanos exploded began like any other. The morning routines always began with the sirens’ wailing, an indication that the surface was cooled enough for us to walk on it with minimal protection. We lived in massive structures under the surface. You had to trek through tubes into the surface pods to get above, where the first settlers lived. Grandfather says they created the underground structures within a year of being on the planet because the surface would get too hot, and people got sick.
During the day, we had many chores and jobs to perform. But each day gave us two hours of free time to explore. I often ventured too far out. I wanted to chart new things. I fancied myself an explorer, journeying out where the elders were afraid to go. It was there I found that I could almost fly over massive craters if I just got a little running start. I dragged my friends out there once, and it quickly became our favorite activity.
It was on one of these outings, not long ago, that we had found the volcano. It was across a massive crater, the biggest we had ever dared to cross. Of course, we crossed it with ease. We didn’t understand the way it worked, only that it always worked. We assumed the towering mountain was the same as the others that lined the perimeter of our settlement. Nobody had ever gone past them. They were miles and miles from our homes. Our elders said as long as we stayed within their protection, we would be safe. Of course, they didn’t know the danger of the mountains that were not just mountains held.
That day, we approached the crater with excitement. The others were scared, but I knew there was no reason. I was not afraid of anything then. Fearless, they called me. The elders said it was an excellent quality to have, but my parents said it was foolish. They insisted that I was going to meet an early death by exploring so recklessly.
Looking out at the vast blue land with its bumpy and barren surface, it was hard not to be amazed by the sight. There was nothing as far as the eye could see. The planet had many secrets that we had not yet discovered, but we did not believe any of them lay above the surface. There was nothing on the surface other than craters and mountains and oceans of water that didn’t move. The air was impossible to breathe for long without a respirator mask. You could survive for a little bit but not more than an hour. Our grandparents, the elders, chose to settle this planet because it wasn’t entirely toxic. They didn’t know about the volcanoes. They didn’t know it couldn’t last.
We reached the rim of the crater fifty minutes after free time had started. We had to check our communicators to be sure we would have enough time to get back. We were pushing our limits already. When we were about five feet away, everyone stopped. I always took the lead on these things, so I raced forward. When I felt my right shoe graze the edge of the crater, I pushed myself up with all my strength, propelling myself into the air at a forty-five-degree angle.
Flying through the air, all I could think about was how beautiful the crater floor was. I would love to explore it on foot, but nobody has ever dared. I added it to my list of things I wanted to do as I watched the opposite rim approaching quickly. Landing requires a certain amount of skill to avoid injury. When your feet hit the ground, you’ve got to be ready to move. If you try to stop the forward momentum, your legs will buckle, and you will break bones. I’ve seen it happen.
As I approached, I arranged my feet, so the right was forward and ready to go. I felt the hard earth give slightly with the force of my foot and projected myself forward again in a little jump then into a sprint. It took several feet to steady myself and stop. When I turned around, the others were mid-air, laughing and screaming. I cleared out of their landing path, watching from the side as their feet found the planet’s surface again. We hung out together, looking around, then turned to return to the other side. If we stayed on track, we would arrive back just in time.
That’s when the rumbling started. It started low, like an animal growling. We only had a few animals in our settlement, but they all growled the same when threatened. This noise caught our attention. We had never seen wild animals above the surface, so we searched for the source. A deep shaking under our feet soon accompanied the rumbling. I screamed for everyone to quickly cross the crater, fearing we would get stuck on the wrong side.
I’ve never run so fast back home after landing. We had to cross three more craters in the process, but we never stopped running. The shaking was getting worse. It felt like the planet was being ripped apart at its core. When we reached the entrance pod, I looked behind us for the first time. Once beautiful blue and dark, the mountains were now spitting a red and orange liquid from the tops, raining down upon them. We could see it pooling at the bottom. I was terrified of where it would go once too much had gathered. The only thing standing between our homes and the mountains was craters. Would the liquid fill them and stop, or would there be too much?
Inside the pod, there was uproar everywhere. I started screaming at anyone who would listen, but they already knew. The caverns under our homes had split open during the quaking, devouring some homes and families. I saw my father running toward me. He screamed that we had to leave, that we had to abandon the planet. I was so confused. I didn’t understand what he meant.
Yelling from across the room told us that we had lost more underground buildings. More families were gone. I started crying because I didn’t see any way out. I thought we were all going to die. My family, my friends, our homes, it was all going to be gone, and we would be forgotten. Just then, a loud siren went off, buzzing in small equal bursts every three seconds. It lasted a minute. Then an automated voice, louder than anything I had ever heard, announced that everyone was to assemble in the abandoned dining pod immediately. We had five minutes. A timer started counting then, ticking off the time. We were only two pods from the dining pod. I gathered my friends who had been huddled behind me, and we made our way to the pod, following my father carefully as everything was still shaking.
Once inside, it looked different. The last time I had been there, it was empty. No one had used it in decades. Once it had tables and benches, but they had been moved to the newer buildings below ground. My father pulled a lever on the wall by the door, and the walls slid down into the floor. I watched in amazement as the actual room’s purpose was revealed. The walls held windows and control panels. Several stools rose from the floor near the panels, and several of the adults took these, punching buttons expertly.
With two minutes to go, the center of the room began to change. Floor panels separated, allowing benches to rise from below. Once in place, the floor panels reconnected, and the next row emerged. We watched for a whole minute as the center of the room filled with benches.
Two minutes. Several groups had made their way into the pod. The adults who weren’t using the panels ushered everyone else into seats and showed us how to buckle in. I was given a seat close to my father. My sister and mother had not made it in yet. I was starting to panic. I tried to get my father’s attention, but he was concentrating very hard on the panel in front of him.
One minute. Another small group entered and told us there was one more group coming. I watched out the entrance as the timer counted down. As I looked around, I realized how few of us there were. Our people had over five hundred when the day started. In this room were maybe thirty or forty people.
Fifteen seconds. I hear screaming and footsteps.
Ten seconds. I see them running toward the entrance. The pod starts to shake. It feels like an explosion is about to go off underneath us.
Five seconds. A group of six people, including my sister, bursts through the doorway, falling into a pile as the door shuts and locks automatically. I scream for my mother. My sister tells me she isn’t coming. The ground beneath us erupts, and the whole room shakes. The group at the doorway crawls toward the nearest seats. People nearby help them into the belts. My sister is next to me. She leans into my shoulder and cries as a tremendous pressure pushes on us. Outside the windows, we can see the red liquid flowing toward us, and we can tell we are rising into the air.
As we leave our home behind, we leave behind so much more. Nearly all of our population was left behind, swallowed into the planet as it broke open. Flying away, we watched the liquid pool over our homes. Father says another planet is not too far from here, a place we can seek refuge until a new home can be found. But we have lost so much. No elders survived. We are now alone in the universe, and our fate does not look good.
I watch out the window as our planet disappears from view, and all we can see are the stars.