Friday, March 15, 2024

“Astronaut Countdown” • by Brandon Case

Five meters of regolith, rocky and gray.

It’s the shortest hike ever!

Four boulders, jagged and sharp.

Easy handholds for your EVA gloves!

Three beeps, shrill and warning.

Who needs oxygen tanks? Your lungs are full!

Two legs, crushed by the rover.

Your arms are strong in lunar gravity!

One airlock, holding safety inside.

You’ll call your friends on the outpost radio!

Zero strength, limp against the door.

This concrete step makes a nice pillow!


Brandon Case
is an erstwhile government cog who fled the doldrums into unsettling worlds of science and magic. He has recent or forthcoming work in Escape Pod, Air and Nothingness Press, and The Dread Machine, among others. You can catch his alpine adventures on Twitter and Instagram @BrandonCase101.

P.S. If you appreciated this one, be sure to check out Brandon’s other recent contributions to Stupefying Stories, “Divided Sky, Stolen Life,” “Leave the Plasma Gun, Take the Cannoli,” “Writers Strike Reaches the Office of Predestination.”, “Spin Drive Class with Captain Ryan,” and more!


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The Pete Wood Challenge is an informal ad hoc story-writing competition. Once a month Pete Wood spots writers the idea for a story, usually in the form of a phrase or a few key words, along with some restrictions on what can be submitted, usually in terms of length. Pete then collects the resulting entries, determines who has best met the challenge, and sends the winners over to Bruce Bethke, who arranges for them to be published on the Stupefying Stories web site.

You can find all the previous winners of the Pete Wood Challenge at this link.

This time the challenge was to write a flash fiction piece playing off key word: hike.