This silly little story was written at my writers’ group where we had a 20 minute time limit and a prompt of ‘The Key’. It isn’t my best work but it is quite fun. Hope it brings a smile to your face, even just a little one.
Tom was worried, and with good reason. The call had come from Australia, a very large asteroid had suddenly appeared from what appeared to be a right angle to the plane of the solar system. Scientists all over the world were meeting over the internet, trying to decide where the asteroid could have come from. There wasn’t supposed to be anything out there, apart from the Ort cloud and that only gave birth to large, easy to spot for months ahead, comets. This was a very large, very dark mass that they’d only found 12 hours ago and that they couldn’t be sure wouldn’t hit the Earth.
Tom’s job was to align the telescope to take over the tracking of the object when the Australians could no longer hold it. That was why he was so worried. Here he was, in sole charge of the most sophisticated multi-imaging telescope in the northern hemisphere, the entire scientific community, in fact the whole global community, counting on him to feed them up to date information and he couldn’t find the keys to the control room.
He glanced at the clock. 10 minutes! He had 10 minutes to find the keys, program the controls and realign the telescope. Where could they be?!
He fought to swallow his rising panic – that wouldn’t help at all. They couldn’t have gone that far. He’d had them last night when he locked up and that was only four hours ago. He’d already retraced his steps to the dorm, the tiny room provided for on duty astronomers, so he was pretty sure he hadn’t dropped them. He’d emptied his pockets in both his trousers and his coat, he’d delved into the bin and tipped out the contents of his lap top bag. He’d even been out to his car, though he’d known they weren’t there. He simply didn’t know where else to look. He looked back at the clock. Nine minutes! He ran to the control room, grabbing a fire extinguisher as he went. Only one thing for it, he’d have to break the door down. He arrived at the control room a breathless three minutes later, raised the extinguisher high above and turned his face away from the carnage he was about to cause.
Glass cascaded from the broken door glass, covering his trousers but, mercifully, mostly falling inside the door. He wrapped his hand carefully in his jumper sleeve and reached through to turn the lock, barely waiting for the door to open before he rushed through. The jerk that stopped him surprised him more than the pain in his leg and tore his attention to his leg, more in annoyance at the delay than anything else. His trousers were caught on the door. He reached out to free himself and discovered the thing that had stopped him were his keys, blithely sticking out from the lock where he’d left them the night before.
Hellen Riebold’s Author Page