Flash Fiction: “Search & Retrieve”

Entry into the February flash fiction round at Dude Write.

As always, 500 words max, using the following prompt:

Face On Mars

“Face on Mars”. Source: Wikipedia

The ship came out of hyperdrive about ten million kilometres from Mars. Doozor flipped on the stasis brakes, sending Fraz flying helplessly through the main cabin – all two thousand metres of it. Fortunately, Fraz managed to stop himself successfully. Less fortunately, he did so by colliding with two separate cargo containers and finally slamming into Navigator’s Chair occupied by Doozor.

“Ouch! A little warning next time?” Fraz was rubbing his head in several places at once.

“Of course. Next time I’ll make sure to give you a…heads up!” said Doozor’s left head, the snarky one.

“Very funny, you two-headed freak!”

“Well, on Earth they say that two heads are better than one,” Doozor quipped.

“On Earth,” Fraz parried, “they make furniture and useless decorations out of their only source of oxygen, so there’s that, too.”

“Touché,” said Doozor, which was Karoonian for “shut up already, you insufferable smart-ass.”

The way from Karoon to Mars had only taken a few thousand years, yet Fraz and Doozor still managed to thoroughly get on each other’s nerves. The ship was drifting through the remaining ten million kilometres to Mars’ surface. Doozor kept reading the Solar System & Surrounds article for more interesting tit-bits to share. After a while he turned to Fraz and said:

“Ha! Apparently, the Earthlings call it ‘A Face On Mars’ – you’re practically a celebrity out there!”

Fraz let out an apathetic snort. He was feeling tired, hungry, irritable and a very specific Karoonian word for “jet-lagged after travelling over a billion light years in one go”. All he wanted was to pick up what they came for and make it back to Karoon for dinner.

After a few short minutes Doozor parallel parked the ship next to Mars, inasmuch as one could parallel park something next to a spherical object and in the absence of other parked vehicles. Fraz made his way through the cabin and out onto the planet’s surface. It felt colder than the last time they stopped by, but sometimes all it took were a few millennia for temperatures to change noticeably. Without wasting time he strode over to what was now inexplicably dubbed by Earth residents “A Face On Mars”. He picked up the coin, tucked it in his pocket and sprinted back to the ship.

“Let’s go,” he said as he settled next to Doozor.

“Yeah, you’re welcome!” Doozor said “Next time you fetch your own damn coins. That thing’s not even worth anything!”

“It’s my grandma’s. It’s got sentimental value and all that.” Fraz was flipping the coin and catching it repeatedly, completely oblivious to the fact that it was this sort of carelessness that made him lose it in the first place.

“Yeah well, ‘sentimental value’ doesn’t pay for my fuel, does it?” Doozor pressed on.

Their bickering continued as the ship took off, did a quick loop around The Sun and started its journey back to Karoon.

They wouldn’t be visiting the Solar System again anytime soon.