Story prompt: The story’s protagonist is male and a collector. A cat plays a significant part in the story. The story is set in a blizzard in the future. The story is about loneliness.
Grigor shivered and closed the pod. He could have sworn he’d heard something. And yet, when he opened the pod to look, he saw nothing but driving snow and layers of ice. As always. Or at least ever since he’d landed on this godforsaken outpost.
He thought back to the fatal day his pod had been ejected from the starship. His crime had been considered so heinous, so horrible, that his punishment was banishment far from civilization. Altarean society considered the death penalty to be cruel and also too lenient. They wanted criminals to reflect on their misdeeds. And so he would have plenty of time and space to think, they had chosen this uninhabited locale so that Grigor could not damage other citizens.
“Damage” – Ha! That was their word. Grigor was taken from his family and friends and deposited here. They had allowed him to take his beloved recordings and books with him. He could read and he could write, although he could not communicate with anyone. They dropped food and supply shipments regularly. They never asked him what he wanted and they did not tell him when to expect it. The pod was equipped with a state-of-the-art communication system. but Grigor was forbidden to use it, and they did not choose to use it.
There! He heard the noise again. It was louder. He wrapped himself against the cold in his ice suit, grabbed an electron lantern, and opened the pod door again. He stepped out into the swirling ice and snow. And he heard it. A cry. He turned and closed the pod door behind him and headed toward the sound. He waded through the drifts. The sound seemed to be coming from the direction of his supply drops. He struggled over a larger ice rift, tripped and rolled. When he righted himself he noticed he had dropped the lantern. He walked over to retrieve it and found it firmly wedged under a rocky ledge. Cursing, he tugged and pulled to no avail. It would be more difficult to get back to the pod without the lantern.
Then he heard the cry again and forgot the lantern. He slogged toward the sound. He stumbled over the supply shipment. Cursing again he maneuvered around the shipment and kept moving toward the sound. It seemed to be coming from underneath the pile of containers. He started digging out the containers and stacking them to the side. He’d have to move them into the pod later.
He moved another container and heard a loud screech. He quickly picked it all the way up and set it aside. There in the snow he could barely make out a small, dark, furry ball . He reached down a hand to pick it up. It shrank back in between the other containers.
“Now, now…” His voice cracked and the fur ball hissed.
“I guess it’s been a long time since I’ve uttered anything but expletives. Although that doesn’t mean I wish you harm.” He spoke in soothing tones.
He reached in again, more slowly, continuing to murmur.
“Come here little one. You won’t survive long out here.”
The fur ball finally let him pick her up. She mewed pitifully and shivered. He opened his ice suit to put her in next to his heart for warmth. Then he noticed her leg.
“You’re hurt! Oh precious little one, I’m so sorry. That container must have been heavy. I should have come sooner.” He tucked her safely into his suit and closed it again. He could feel her shiver once more and then start to purr as she warmed up.
Grigor made his way slowly back to the pod.
The wind didn’t seem quite so cold any more.
With thanks for the story prompt to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php
And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.
What do you think? Did I honor the spirit or the letter of the writing prompt? Enter your thoughts in comments below.