Fiction written by members and friends of the MuseItUp Club. Submissions are invited for this page.*
A Special Commendation from our 2009 Flash Fiction Contest:
by Russel Chale
All that remained was dust. Space dust. Millions of cubic miles of it.
“Skatt,” I called over the vidcom, “what can reduce an Earth-type planet to space dust?”
I already had my suspicions, but I needed to know what my number two, the ship’s science officer, Heinrich Skatt,
thought about it.
“Skatt,” I called again.
Space bug, I’m betting on it. What else could devour a whole planet?
“Skatt!” I yelled into the vidcom. “This is your captain speaking. Report now!”
“Okay, okay. Keep your pants on,” the vidcom replied.
He must be off somewhere in the bowels of the ship.
“Skatt, that’s a recorded retort. You’d never dare say that to my face.”
Yeah, must be a space bug ate Crappelli, something like the one that took out a quarter of the Horsehead Nebula last
“Captain, why must you scream at me while I’m engaged in other business?”
I heard the distinct suck-flush-suck of the ship’s antiquated plumbing system in the background as his
voice reached my ears.
“Do it on your own time,” I replied. “Isn’t that sun in the viewport Diaperonia, and isn’t
this where Crappelli should be? I’m not looking at a beautiful blue, green, and white planet, am I!”
“Go scre ursel …”
“What was that, Skatt?”
“Sorry, communications problem. Yes, this is the exact location of Crappelli. Tri-cordinates checked and double-checked.
Perhaps we’re facing away from it, sir.”
I laughed. That guy can be such a hoot.
“No, Skatt. While you were busy, I spun the ship through 360 degrees. You didn’t notice?”
“I thought I felt a movement, sir.”
“The planet’s not there. I want to know why?”
“I can tell you what didn’t do it. Definitely not a space bug.”
“How’d you know I was thinking space bug?”
“We’ve been in this tub together two years, remember. You’re always talking about space bugs.”
“Okay, no bug. That’s reassuring, but how come you’re so sure?”
“Space dust. A bug can swallow a whole planet. All that remains is its poop; big asteroids of sticky sludge.
“Right; get ready to hyper-jump. No buyers here now, we’ll try the next star system.”
Nothing. Just space dust. Millions—
“Captain, Boggabilla’s missing, too.”
“Yeah, I noticed. Any theory now?”
“Sit tight, there’s an urgent interstellar memo coming through the GalaxFax. It’s from Home and Soil
I waited, wondering why our major supplier of trade knickknacks, novelties, and agricultural implements, was chasing
us out here in the depths of newly colonized space. It gets lonely on the interstellar peddler circuit, so it felt nice to
know they were thinking of us.
“This is serious. You know those new toilet brushes we added to inventory at the beginning of last year’s
trip, the ones that switch on and vibrate while you scrub the bowl?”
“You mean those multi-colored things with the batteries guaranteed to never wear out?”
“What about them?”
“It says here that certain events indicate customers are not reading the instruction manuals that come with the
brushes. They don’t specify what the events were, but Home and Soil seems pretty anxious that we draw buyers’
attention to a warning printed on the last page of the universal warranty statement.”
“That doesn’t sound like a big problem to me. What’s so urgent about it?”
“Well, sir, they’ve included a copy of the warning in the Fax. Should I read it to you?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“It says, ‘No user serviceable parts within toilet brush. Never open battery compartment. Nuclear battery
“Sheet! You thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Next planet on our itinerary is Outhouselle. We’d better hyper-jump and see if it’s still there.”
All that remained was dust.
THE END ***
Russel Chale currently lives in the Byron Bay area of New South Wales, Australia. He enjoys
writing poetry and flash fiction.
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