The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
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The truth as I see it

Attack of the Space People

Captain White gripped the controls of the rocket ship as it blasted through the asteroid field. The clear ion trail, colorless yet visible, traced his path through that swirling orbit of death. Behind him the aliens followed, waiting for him to make a mistake.

White tested the radio again, but the dense metals of the surrounding asteroid field blocked all incoming and outgoing radio transmissions. That was also why he couldn’t use the EMP Space Mines, which he always kept on board. He kept them in case of times like now, he thought. Times when the Space People attacked.

He’d left Pluto only six minutes earlier, smoothly gliding at light speed toward Venus with his cargo of a million Space Dollars. That was a lot of money to carry in a clear jump through space, but when you were desperate like Captain White, you had to do it. You had to take risks. Risks like a Space People attack.

They’d caught him at the halfway point. They like to hide around Jupiter and jump nearby mercenaries for their cargo. That was it. They jumped the ship and blasted the crew out of the airlock. That was the end of a lot of pilots: a vacuum-flayed carcass bumping off a ship, the shock of the impact turning them to dust. Space People had no mercy.

A massive asteroid loomed out of the dark and White screamed in terror as he heaved the controls to Space Starboard. Those things would kill you so fast it was almost as bad as being caught by Space People. Red dust in the vacuum, who cared why?

The behemoth snapped a metal boom off of the wing of the spaceship. That was a close one, thought Captain White. Too close. He was losing boost and that meant one thing: the Space People would be catching up.

White didn’t know anyone who had been caught by the Space People. Last week, a man on the same Space Station had been caught by Space People and blasted out of the airlock, but he was no more than a passing acquaintance. That didn’t make the concept of being shot into the abyss by Space People any less terrifying.

To an outside observer, Captain White’s exit from the asteroid field looked like a frog spitting a pearl out of a pool of oil and sludge. To Captain White, it was as if the entire universe opened up. Vision once blocked by a wall of rock and steel now expanded to reveal every star in the unraveled galaxy. Captain White’s awe was short lived, for only seconds later, he saw the Space People exit the field through his rearview Space Mirror. The Space People had gained distance through the asteroid belt and in the open; they were sure to catch him and blast him out of his own airlock into space.

Captain White surmised his situation; he was at six points below true light speed, well shy of his ship’s usual boost of four points. Data was unreliable but Space People Spacecraft were easily capable of boosting to a terrifying two points sub-light speed. You had to hide or out-maneuver a Space People Spacecraft. White knew from the asteroid field that he could do neither. At six hours from Mars, White did some fast math and it was bad. He had to make it to Mars in less than four minutes or they would catch him. The airlock laughed at him.

White put the spaceship on automated pilot and dashed to his private quarters. Ripping his blankets away and heaving his mattress up into the zero-gravity, his hands shot down to grab the laser rifle, which he had bought six months ago on impulse and never used. Those Space People weren’t going to blast him out of his own airlock without a fight.

The worst part of a tractor beam is the buzz: low-sounding, high frequency vibration that chatters your teeth so it feels like they are about to fall out. It causes nosebleeds, and headaches and, in this case, the specter of death. White clicked on his laser rifle and felt the warm death charging up in his hands. He was going to turn the Space People into dead Space People dust with lasers.

The buzzing stopped. Captain White heard a blowtorch directly outside his room. He prayed that they did not know he was there. A hissing bright light spat through the wall and started to follow a dreadfully obvious trail across his wall. Somebody outside was tracing a circle.

The circle completed, the torch turned off. Something banged on the wall. Captain White put his finger on the trigger and pressed down hard.

The thing nobody expects about a laser is the light. About a thousand and a half suns went off in the cabin and the light, so bright it stopped color, lanced dead center through the circular target on Captain White’s rocket ship cabin. The wall melted like butter and what remained of the panel traced out by the Space People buckled outward.

The beam continued to burn a trail of plasma death in a perfect straight line. If the light hadn’t blinded him, Captain White might have seen the heat-induced rapid expansion of flesh causing bodies to explode along the line’s path. Had he put on a visor or actually learned a thing about the highly illegal weapon he had just fired, he might have known that the air inside the enemy ship was flaring up and what didn’t explode instantly sucked into his own ship, leaving the enemy craft a sucking vacuum of fire.

The six-molecule antimatter battery drained its last joule of energy, and the beam waned out of existence.

Captain White’s vision came back about an hour later. The rush of air into his own ship had dragged metal and sheeting over the hole in his fuselage, and the last heat of the laser beam had melted it, creating a highly improbable yet extremely lucky patch. Around him, in the emptiness of space, blackened carbonized flesh and shattered bone were all that remained of his assailants.

Captain White had won.

Questions? Comments? Austin Rucker is a senior English major and can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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