T-Minus – Theodore Kanbe

The warship appeared on the viewscreen, two red points of light blossomed across its hull, and the captain slowed time with a button.

“It was set to millisecond-second ration,” Captain Murt said. He looked at Engineer Rock.

“Whew. That gives us, at least from our perspective, about 17 minutes to breathe. Good on you, Captain.”

“How’s that?” asked a pilot.

“They’ve got one second to charge up weapons, but we slowed time to 1000 seconds per second. 16.666, keep saying 6 until you’re red in the face, minutes. Or so.”

“Ah.”

“What should we do now, Captain?” asked Rock.

“Uhh, charge the shields? Yeah, do that. And, umm, boot up battle and medical AI. You!” He pointed at me. “Get coffee for the crew, eh?”

Murt continued to hesitate orders as I left the bridge. As the elevator doors slid shut, I saw a big red counter on the viewscreen, plastered across the image of the enemy warship. It read: 968.

###

The coffee maker was an hour glass shape. Coffee beans went in top, passed through a singularity, came out liquid brown. One of the shipment guys told me the same tech slowed time down in the ship. Time went in the top, came out real slow and drinkableTodd in Arms came up, took his fourth cup.

“Can’t that piece of shit add cream?” he asked. I passed him the bottle. “Oh yeah, then you’d be out of a job, eh?” Todd chuckled, added cream, and overflowed onto the floor. “Shit, clean that up, will ya?”

I grabbed a towel and threw it on the spill, then turned back to making coffee. Todd spoke again.

“Ya know, I don’t get this whole time slowy thing.” Above us, an LED read 754, 753. “How come it’s all slow for us and not for everybody else? How come those Krugs out there aren’t moving like us?”

“I think,” I said. “That it’s a contained singularity that slows our perception but not theirs, cause it only expands to the space around the ship.”

“Huh?” Todd said. “Oh, hell, what am I asking you for? Fill that up, will ya?” I took his half empty cup, filled it, and gave it back. He walked off. The LED read 686.

###

Five cups remained for me to take to the bridge. I came out of the elevator and set the tray down. It attracted the four men on the bridge. The two pilots got a cup each. The Engineer took one, and the Captain took two.

“Thanks, sport,” said Murt, returning to his console. I stared at the empty tray, left it there, and returned to the serving post to await further instruction.

“Now,” said Murt. He blew on his coffee. “Keep explaining?”

“Okay,” said Rock. “Those numbers are the seconds we have left until slow down stops. Exactly as that counter reaches zero we will be fully charged with guns blazing. Their guns will still be charging, we’ll already be firing, we’ll win the day .Yay, right?”

“Yay is right,” said Murt. He sipped his drink and mmm’ed. “Not the best coffee, but hey, caffeine.” He looked at the LED. “We got bouts 100 seconds till those Krugs are sucking vacuum. Battle stations.”

“Battle stations!” called the pilots over PA. I didn’t move. I was at my station.

“Here we go…” said Rock, walking up to Murt’s console. 5- 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – 0 and they re-entered the time stream.

“Let’s–” The two red blossoms of the enemy warship weapons grew ten times in size, brightened, engulfed the viewscreen. “Oh fuck.”

And then time slowed again as Rock slammed the button. He looked down. “I hit the microsecond-second ratio.”

“What’s going on here?” Murt said, pointing at the completely red viewscreen. His front was brown with coffee.

“Umm, so, I may have miscalculated their weapon speed,” said Rock. “That looks like it’ll hit us in… I mean, we have about a descisecond to respond to this attack.”

“How’s that?” asked Murt and both pilots.

“We got a tenth of a second, which is 100,000 seconds at this ratio.” The LED, green now, red 99,912. “That’s about 27 hours. 27.77 etc hours.”

“Huh,” said Captain Murt. “Well, that’s plenty of time to beat these Krugs.” He looked around, looked at me. “Anyone want coffee? You! Get us coffee. And a towel.”

I walked to the elevator. As the doors slid shut, the LED read 99,809.

______________________________________________________________________________

Theodore Kanbe is a native of Wyoming. He strives to write out his mind. His mindless ramblings can be seen at theoishere.tumblr.com. Right now, he is struggling to write a novel, which if successful, will no doubt appear in a bookstore near you.

Previous                                     Issue Six                                     Next