Day 20: Screaming Trapdoor

Author Jenna Eatough's Flash Fiction Story from Fyrecon's Fyretober Writing Prompt 2023-10-20

During October I am bringing you extra flash fiction or poetry in celebration of the season and inspired by Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Enjoy my twentieth entry into Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Fyrecon's Fyretober Daily Prompt List

1. New neighbors
2. It’s Alive
3. No Exit
4. Walk in the cemetery
5. Door in the wall
6. Mirror
7. Space visitors
8. The Monster Is
9. Anti-magic costumes
10. Skeleton’s battle cry
11. Djinn party
12. Space dwarves
13. Zombie fireball
14. Possessed guild house
15. Lorekeeper’s mask
16. Dragon sight
17. Alien scryers
18. Trick-or-Treating Shapeshifters
19. Disguised spellbook
20. Screaming trapdoor
21. Ghost weaponsmith
22. Jack-O’-Lantern avatars
23. Pheonix light sail
24. Sparkle castle
25. Graveyard pocket universe
26. Sentient wand
27. Haunted Skyhook
28. Pirate space elevator
29. Disguised terraforming
30. The Witches’ Laws
31. Precognizant cats

Bonus Fanged griffin

Mark had not expected the chorus of “No” to greet him reaching for the trap door in the engineering room floor. Snatching his hand back, he straightened and stared at the five crew members arrayed about the room. Each had lunged toward him, and, seeing him pull back, paused glancing at each other. They shuffled back several steps in discomfort, as if surprised by their own reactions. All this over one trap door?

“Does the not work?” he asked, pointing toward the trapdoor. It riled him having to ask the question. He was accustomed to knowing his ships, but he’d only just bought this ship. He didn’t even know the crew. His old crew hadn’t come with him. A fact wrinkled at him more than not knowing the ship.

The crew didn’t know him either. They glanced between each other with various shifting and scratching of necks and other movements. All of which indicated they weren’t entirely comfortable with the question themselves. That and that they hadn’t elected a spokesperson yet.

“I wouldn’t say that it doesn’t work,” one of them finally spoke up. The chief engineer, if Mark recalled the introductions correctly. Those had been harried and quick. The man shrugged. “It opens just fine.”

“Do engine fumes vent into the crawl space?” Mark let a bit of incredulity seep into his tone. Gasses in the crawl space would only spell trouble, and that certainly hadn’t been disclosed to him when he’d purchased the ship hiring aboard the current crew. Mark didn’t have the coin to fix that type of issue. Not in a timely manner.

The engineer’s face tightened and scrunched as if insulted by the implication. As well he should be. Maintaining the systems before and now would have been his primary duty. Assuming Mark had the position straight. “Of course, she vents just fine. Nothing’s going into the crawl spaces.”

“Then what could possibly be wrong with me opening the door?” Mark blustered. Kneeling quickly, he grabbed the latch and yanked up on the slim metal loop.

The trap door snapped up easily in his hand. No gas vented out. Nor did anything jump out at him. But the second he broke the seal, Mark understood why they hadn’t wanted him to open it.

Screaming filled the ship’s speakers, echoing throughout the section. Raising his hands, Mark clapped them over his ears, trying to drown out the sound. The motion did little more than keep the clamor tight in his skull. Echoing, vibrating, and threatening to drive him mad.

He saw the engineer swear when he pulled open the trap door open. At least from the expression, abrupt hand gesture, and general deportment, Mark assumed that was what he had done. He couldn’t hear him even at close proximity. The engineer turned from Mark, grabbed a pad off of the nearby counter, scribbled something on it, and held it up for Mark to read.

Mark wished that the screen had flickered, hiding the message from him. He really hadn’t wanted to know it was going to be two days before they could get the wailing to shut off again.

Another of the crew members grabbed his arm and tugging him away, even as the engineer tossed the pad to the side and took a sharp stepped toward Mark. He did not protest the crew members jostling him about this time.

Mark retreated through the ship following the crew member’s direction. Eventually they reached a small, plain compartment far from engineering, far from the bridge, far from anywhere as far as he could tell. But the sound seemed softer here. Soft enough he could hear her.

“You just had to go and open it.” Raising her hand, she rubbed her brow. “Well, this is the only room on the ship that’s going to be worth sleeping in for the next few days. And everyone’s gonna be grumbly.”

She shrugged and moved past Mark. When the door swung open, the welling increased substantially. Still not so bad as in engineering where he hadn’t heard a thing. Although again perhaps that would have been preferable.

The crew member looked back at him. “It’s no wonder your old crew voted you out. You’re just lucky we’re in deep space. Perhaps tempers will cool before we reach port,” she said and thudded the door closed behind her.

Mark turned to investigate the room again. There wasn’t even a port to see the stars, just plain metal, some crates, and an angry crew beyond. Mark slumped down onto the nearest crate and cradled his head in his hands.

They’d heard.

They’d heard he’d been ousted from his previous ship which he’d captained for five years with great success. Great renown even, and then… one mistake.

One mistake which had cost them their cargo and nearly their lives. Now he hed’ been reduced to starting over on a barely function freighter. And his first day here he’d triggered this. Starting over with a mistake again.

When was he going to learn? He couldn’t bluster his way through everything. Right now the whole ship screamed with his failure. He was going to have to pull off a miracle to win them over now.

Good thing he’d built his reputation before on miracles. He just needed to engineer the right one. Pulling out a data pad, he began to look through the routes.

Be sure to check out all the #fyretober creations.

#fyretober2023 #fyretoberflashfiction2023 #fyretoberprompts2023 #fyretober2023day20

“Fyretober is for everyone who loves to create, and this month we’re looking to see your flash fiction, poetry, and illustrations every day. We’ll be providing daily prompts for the month and want to see what new concepts and wonders you can make with them.”

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