Instead of writing a novel over the month of the National Novel Writing Month, I’m writing the first draft of a short story a day. Using a random genre generator and a list of words for the month, I’ll get a bit to go on, otherwise I’ll write the story that wants to be told. Enjoy!
November 2, 2022
CAPTAIN COD and the COSMIC DRAIN
- Genre: Kid Lit
- Setting: Deep space
It might be fun to listen to this music from an outfit called “Space Cod” as you read:
“Turn off that blasted alarm!”
Captain Cod took a moment to breathe as Finn, his ship’s computer, doused the alarm that had been blaring, alerting them that the Barracuda was in danger of exploding. An exploding ship is never a good thing for a captain, especially when you’re the captain of a ship exploding in deep space.
But the silence helped, and it was good to feel the fresh water on his gills as the oxygen cleared his brain.
“Think, Cod, think!”
Captain Cod had been in tight spots before, but this might just be the tightest. The Barracuda was trapped in the gravitational pull of a cosmic drain, and was in danger of being reduced to atoms if he didn’t figure out how to escape.
“Finn, what is the status of the babies?”
“As far as I can tell, they haven’t gone anywhere!” the computer sputtered. “We’re doomed! Can I turn the alarm back on?
“No!” Captain Cod shouted, regretting for the millionth time that he’d opted for the computer with emotional output. Although it was helpful when working through his issues of being abandoned as an egg. Not many therapists in deep space, and Finn was actually a good listener.
“Can I at least activate the red flashing lights?”
“No! Finn! Please! Just zip it and let me think!”
Even if he were able to escape from the cosmic drain, the babies were waiting, and the last time he’d checked his torpedoes were offline. They’d be sitting flounder.
“You do know the torpedoes are still offline, right?” Finn whispered. Captain Cod glared at the bubble that housed Finn’s camera and glared at him in a way only a fish can glare. Finn got the point and zipped it.
Captain Cod unbuckled the straps that held him in place and quickly swam back to the navigational screen. He quickly keyed in a few different equations, but they all returned a big red X on the screen.
“Blast!” he exclaimed. “Nothing works. Finn, what is the status on the Whirlpool Drive?”
“The Whirlpool Drive? Why?” the computer asked, concerned.
“Just answer the blasted question!” Captain Cod shouted, slamming his fin on the console.
“The Whirlpool Drive is online but activating it in a cosmic drain would not be recommended,” Finn replied, emphasizing the not be recommended part. “You’ll likely end up as fish paste, spread all over the cosmic drain. And there won’t be enough left of me to play a game of cherubfish checkers.”
“Never tell me the odds,” Captain Cod snapped.
“Um… I didn’t,” Finn replied. “I’m just saying…”
“I know what you’re saying!” Captain Cod said, swimming over to the controls for the Whirlpool Drive. “And we are out of time and options. When I tell you, activate the swisher and set coordinates for H2O.3928.”
Captain Cod grasped the Whirlpool Drive control with his fin and started counting down, “Five, four, three…”, when the alarm started blaring again, this time with the flashing red lights.
“What the fish, Finn!” Captain Cod exclaimed. “I told you to turn it off!”
“It wasn’t me, Captain,” Finn whined. “It’s the proximity alarm! Another ship has entered the drain near us!”
“Is it the babies?” Captain Cod asked, alarmed, looking out the porthole but seeing nothing but the squeezing of reality down into the drain. Certainly, the babies wouldn’t risk being pulverized just to get their hands on the few clams he had in storage.
“I don’t think so,” Finn answered. “But it’s hard to tell with all the reality squeezing going on out there. My sensors are useless.”
The sound of metal scraping the outside of the ship shut up both captain and computer. Captain Cod followed the sound of the scraping as it went from port to bow and when it finally made a “chunk” sound just to his right, where the mast would be, he realized what he was hearing.
“A harpoon?” Captain Cod asked. His question was answered by his ship jostling and knocking even more than before, as if they were being yanked up on the end of a fishing line.
“It seems like someone is pulling us out of the drain,” Finn said, guarded excitement evident in its voice.
“Yeah, but are they friend or shark?” Captain Cod asked. “Either way, we need to be ready. Do we at least have the fishhook?”
“Aye, Captain,” Finn answered. “But I don’t know the last time it was used. Before my time.”
“Any shell in a storm,” Captain Cook answered. “Get it ready.”
Artificial gravity immersed in water was a challenge in the best of times, but when being pulled out of a singularity, it was an extremely stinky feeling. But Captain Cod held on to the straps floating close by and rode it out.
“We’re clearing the threshold of the drain,” Finn said. “I think we’re going to make it.”
“Yeah, but make it into whose clutches?” Captain Cod asked, more to himself than the artificial intelligence that he spent the majority of his time with.
But still, it was a relief to know that time had been bought. And so he steeled himself for what might come next.
Pulling out of a cosmic drain takes time, and so Captain Cod eventually got tired of steeling himself, and instead swam laps around the bridge, hoping to keep sharp when he learned who’d pulled them out of their deep problem.
Eventually, swimming laps grew boring, and so he focused on a game on the computer where a smaller fish ate bigger fish until the smaller fish became a bigger fish.
Then, he napped.
*** This is as far as I got. My 9 year old liked it, so I’ll come back to it later and try to wrap up the story. Warning, my 9 year old wants there to be a twist at the end. So…