New snippet from my latest short story, The Drone Pilot. This is part of an anthology called The Expanding Universe: Volume Two. It’s a great collection of 23 stories from best-selling and debut indie authors. Link is at the bottom.
“Answer,” she muttered. Mene Okeke’s fuzzy, holographic image flickered into view. Nancy straightened. Dr. Okeke, one of their Quantum Computing Technicians, wasn’t usually one to make urgent phone calls in the middle of the night. She reached for the sheet to cover herself before remembering that her HoloScreen was set to automatically turn off her camera after 8 PM.
“Did I wake you?” Okeke asked.
“There’s six hours before the flyover we’ve been planning for months. The President is going to be watching tomorrow, along with half the world’s population. Do you think I’m sleeping?”
“Right…” He trailed off. “There’s something important. Can you turn the HoloScreen on?”
“It’s okay, just gives me a moment.” Nancy slid out of bed, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, and pulled a robe on. She sat down on the edge of the bed, trying hurriedly to arrange her hair into something more fit for a work meeting. It struck her as silly. She and Mene had been together for years. But everything had changed after May had died.
“HoloScreen on.” She said and was bathed in a blue light. Mene’s face looked tired to her. More than usual. He was in one of the small conference rooms, but he was alone. That made Nancy even more worried.
“What’s happened now?” Nancy asked.
He took in a breath. “Trappist Voyager’s gone rogue.”
“What do you mean, rogue?” Nancy asked.
There was a long pause. “It’s changed course.”
“What about the flyover? Will it still happen as scheduled?
“Trappist Voyager is presently on a collision course with Colonia One.”
* * *
Nancy’s commuter drone lowered itself onto the roof of Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She hated the tiny vehicles. But the flight from Santa Monica had only taken her twenty minutes, from phone call to landing. You could never do that in a car.
Okeke and several other members of the Quantum Computing team waited at the doorway as Nancy approached them.
“When did the course change happen?” Nancy asked over the buzz of the drone’s fans cycling down.
“Approximately one A.M. this morning,” Okeke responded. Nancy followed her team across the roof toward the access elevator.
“And it’s definitely from the Trappist Voyager?”
“We’ve confirmed it, yes.”
“Is there any corruption in the data stream?” Nancy asked.
“Shit,” Nancy breathed. “So, It’s happening again.” The elevator dinged, and the doors swished open.
They rode the elevator in silence.
“There’s one more thing,” Okeke said.
“What’s that?” Nancy replied.
“A reporter is here.”
“We don’t have time for reporters.”
Okeke leaned closer. “He says he’s got exclusive information, and he’s ready to break it. He’s asking for a comment. Nancy, with everything happening with the data stream, and considering what happened to the other two pilots, I think you should talk to him.”
The elevator slowed. Nancy glanced at her Slate and nodded. “I’ll give him ten minutes. But I want to see the team, first.”