Afraid of What?

Another fear-related prompt (write about an unusual fear).  Playing with these is really helping me get ready for NaNo.


“Trees,” Ryan said, without looking up from the datapad on which he was typing.  When Donna made a curious sound, he did look up.

She was looking at him with an expression of complete surprise.  “How… can you be afraid of trees?”

He set the datapad on the console.  “I grew up at Windstar Station,” he said, shrugging.  “The first time that I saw a forest – a real forest, not one in a book – I was curious enough to explore it.”  He shrugged.  “I got lost.”

Donna blinked at him for a moment.  Then, she nodded.  “When you put it that way, it actually makes sense to be afraid of trees,” she said.

“It doesn’t help that my father told me about trees that could eat people or, sometimes, do even worse things,” Ryan said, as he took up his datapad again.  “I never could figure out if he was just trying to keep me from doing it again or if he was serious.”

Robin grimaced.  Ryan did not need to know that his father was being perfectly serious about man-eating trees.  In a soft voice, he said, “I’m afraid of spiders.”

Call Them Even

Seamus looked over at Ryan and frowned. There were members of the crew like Zachary, that looked young and weren’t. However, he could tell that Ryan was just as young as he seemed to be.

“Hello,” Seamus said, holding out his hand. As Ryan took it, he smiled. “I’m Seamus. I’m going to be helping with the Morph Drive.”

“You’re a fox spirit,” Ryan said. His eyes widened and then, he looked intently curious. “I’ve never met a fox spirit before.”

Chuckling, Seamus said, “Well, then, we’re even. I’ve never met a genius before.”

Ryan blushed, but didn’t deny it.

Small Things

Ryan growled as the gear slipped for the fourth time. Without thinking, he reached out and grabbed it. “Oh,” he cried, pulling his hand back and cradling it to his chest. Tears welled in his eyes.

“All right?” Julian asked, frowning.

Flushing, Ryan sighed. “I burned my hand,” he admitted. “Stupid! I know it’s hot. So why did I touch it?”

Julian smiled. “Can I help you out?”

Nodding, Ryan told him what needed to be done. Soon the system was working correctly. “And I’m off to med-bay.” It was the little things that reminded them how young he was.

Working together

As her hand accidentally brushed Julian’s hand, she blushed. “Sorry,” she said, pulling her hand back again.

He gave her a faint smile. “Was this what you wanted?” he asked, holding up a wrench. When she nodded, he handed it over to her.

It was always the same when they were alone in the engineering area. She would blush whenever they were working close together. It was hard to even speak to him. Her breath would catch in her throat when he looked into her eyes.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she said.

Ryan knew. “You like him.”

A Captain’s Duty

Kit was awake. It was the middle of the night. He didn’t even know what had awakened him. He heard a chime at his door and frowned. “Come in,” he said.

Ryan entered, sniffling softly. The youngster was visibly upset. Sorry to disturb you, Captain,” he said. For a moment, Kit thought he might burst into tears. Instead, he said, “I had a nightmare and – and I don’t know anyone else yet…”

He could imagine what the nightmare was about. The idea of a crewmember coming to the captain for such a thing… he supposed he was the father-figure, though.

Every time you go away you take a piece of meat with you

Ryan frowned. Schuyler didn’t look like the type to eat so much. “Who’s all that for?” he said, shaking his head and pointing at the plate of food.

Schuyler looked around, seeming a bit uncomfortable. “What makes you ask that?” he asked, adopting the aire of an offended noble.

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Ryan said, “You’ve been up to the buffet four times and you don’t look like you can pack the food away like that.”

“It’s also quite a bit of meat,” Alexander pointed out, nodding. His eyes seemed to twinkle with mischief as he asked, “Got a wooden leg?”

“It’s… for Carlisle,” he said, nodding at the bird that was perched on the back of his chair. It’s dark eyes flashed like glass beads at the mention of its name. “He’s rather hungry.”

“He doesn’t look like he can put that much meat away either,” Ryan said. Was there more to Carlisle than met the eye? He might have asked. However, Schuyler chose that moment to hurry away, back to his own table.

“What a weird guy,” Ryan murmured.

The ducks are hazards in the classroom

“You told him… what?” Kit said, scowling at Zackary. He knew that what he’d thought he’d heard and what Zackary had said couldn’t be the same thing. That would make so sense.

“Deduced a hazard from the claxon,” Zackary said, blinking. He shook his head. “What did you think I said?”

Kit sighed and shook his head. “Please,” he said, “for the love of all that is, speak in complete sentences.”

“You never answered my question, Captain,” he said, a faint smirk touching his lips. “What was the nature of the emergency? What set off the alarms?”

Kit sighed and looked at Ryan. “What set off the alarms?” he asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

“I don’t know,” Ryan said, shaking his head. “Maybe some cats are blue. I know mine are.”

Kit’s brows furrowed. That couldn’t be right. “What?” he said, looking at Ryan intently.

Speaking slowly and clearly, Ryan said, “Maybe some cat hair blew into the port.” Then, he blinked. “Captain, where are you going?”

“To sick bay,” Kit called, as the doors slid opened. “I think I need my hearing checked.”

Don’t shake me loose of her

Ryan was clinging to the back of the beast for all he was worth. He had squeezed his eyes closed, as they flew over the tops of trees and fields. Finally, they lighted. He forced his eyes open.

“Can you get down?” Kit called up to him.

Nodding, Ryan sat up. He squeaked when the gryphon shook herself, from head to tail. “Stop it,” he cried.

“Sorry,” Alexander said. “I touched her… face and she shook herself. I – I wasn’t expecting that.”

“Yeah, well,” Ryan said, sliding down off the creature’s back. “I’d rather she didn’t shake me off her back, thanks.”

the land where even sleep doesn’t exist

Ryan laid in his bed, staring at the ceiling. How could people sleep when the ship was in constant motion? How did they know they wouldn’t fly into something and die? How did they know no one would attack them? His mind swirled with questions like these, as his imagination brought up a million possible ways they could die.

He sat upright in bed and ran a hand through his hair. Grabbing his jacket off the foot of the bed, he pulled it on and moved to the door. There, he shoved his feet in low shoes. A moment later, he was striding down the dimly lit corridors.

He made his way to the mess, without really knowing why. He blinked when he saw that there were others there. He sighed softly and walked over to the table where Julian and Kit sat. “Hey,” he said, dropping down into an empty chair.

Kit scowled. “Couldn’t sleep?” he said, tilting his head to one side as he regarded Ryan.

Ryan shook his head. “I’ve never been on a ship before, you know?” he said. He grimaced and shook his head again. “It’s probably strange to hear, seeing as I developed the time-step device, but… my father’s a monk – they don’t… do space travel.”

Julian smiled faintly. “It takes getting used to,” he said. “I daresay, there will be many sleepless nights until you become accustomed to life on board a ship such as this.”

When Ryan sighed, Kit asked, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Ryan nodded. Then, he began asking all the questions swirling in his mind. If he could be sure it was safe to sleep, maybe he would be able to relax enough to do so?

Floating in Empty Space

“What’s he doing?” Kit asked, watching Julian drift by outside the ship. He wasn’t used to anyone moving around outside the ship.

Ryan looked away from his view screen and shrugged. “He went out to make repairs,” he said. Rolling his eyes, he added, “I’d do it, but Miss Neary told me I’m not allowed to space walk.”

Kit grimaced. It was disconcerting enough to see Julian drifting around outside the ship, he would have had a heart attack if Ryan had floated by outside the window. Environmental suit or not, it was just too dangerous for a child. “When you’re older,” he said, turning to walk away.

“Why does everything have to wait until I’m older?” Ryan called, as the captain headed out of the room. “I’m twelve, you know? I’m not a child anymore.”

“You really are, Ryan,” Kit murmured. Thankfully, Ryan couldn’t hear his words, as the doors chose that moment to slide shut.