top of page

Bleak Planet -- FWG Flash Fiction for 9/2/2023

Finally! I can write some Science Fiction. Here's a cautionary tale, prompted by:


“It’s pretty bleak.” Sharia stared at the probe’s video.

Devlin shifted in his acceleration couch. “Flyby scans showed an abundance of life, but…I’m not seeing anything from on the surface.” He checked the drone’s sensor readings again. “You think we should go down?”

Sharia sighed. Since being promoted to Chief Investigator, Devlin had begun deferring all decisions to her. She wasn’t sure if it was out of respect or just his passive-aggressiveness.

“If we don’t, we’ll be questioned about it back at base,” she said.

Devlin nodded and started the descent sequence.


“Still nothing.”

The survey ship’s sensor array was much more sensitive and complete than the drone’s, which was stowed back in its hanger.

“Let’s do a nanoscopic analysis of the atmosphere. Maybe there’s something tiny that triggered the flyby probe’s sensors.”

Devlin typed a command which opened a sample analysis phial, while Sharia pulled up the flyby report.

“This data even indicates signs of industrial activity. We're not just talking algae here—”

At that moment, alarms rang out and the command console began flashing red.

“What the—. Oh, crap!” Devlin watched in horror as the test phial holding the atmospheric sample dissolved.

Sharia switched her screen to a camera in the hanger bay. “No, no, no…” As the picture went fuzzy then blanked out, she saw a puddle where the drone should have been.

“We got results before the test went to hell,” Devlin breathed. “The atmosphere is full of nanites talking to each other.”

More alarms sounded, which Sharia cut off with a slap to the console. What they heard, instead, was the whistles of hull leaks.

“Nanites. Whoever lived here were fools.” The whistles grew into the sound of rushing air. “MAYDAY, MAYDAY!” Sharia shouted into the comms. “QUARANTINE PLANET—”

10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Bonus Flash!

Here's a bonus flash piece from a writing retreat at Western Colorado University. The sprint prompts were: Professor, pyramid, domain. Here goes: MISGUIDED PROFESSOR Professor Lewis stared at the pyra


bottom of page