The rocket ship blasted off on its pioneering voyage to Mars, 7 souls peering into the blackness, looking toward a future that would be recorded and transcribed countless times.

The inhabitants were aware that their gleaming silver carriage was a marvel of gargantuan proportions; the very latest technology was propelling them into the stratosphere faster and faster, their journey pre-calculated and preset – unchangeable for reasons of physics and finance.

The ship sped onward, machines humming as designed, everything working correctly – they had tested and retested, simulated and double-checked; redundant redundancy was the norm – this bird was the best and most reliable creation that mankind had to offer.

Inside the spaceship there was a relaxed calm as the crew went about their work, preparing everything and settling in for the 9 month voyage and the subsequent 2 year sojourn on the martian surface.

They had locked everything down and were preparing to sleep before anyone noticed that the ship was leaking air, by which time it was of course far too late.


Lillie McFerrin

32 thoughts on “Flawed

  1. dekeboo says:

    Eek! A friend emailed me recently about trips to the moon and mars – I was thinking it wasn’t really my thing, this confirms it! Great piece.

  2. Sarah says:

    beautifully written yet so prosaic at the end – c’est la vie!

    • Andrew says:

      Thank you – I was looking for a “stark reality” type of ending. I appreciate your kind words.

  3. nice twist- great take on the prompt 🙂

  4. Dark… I really liked that. All the way through I was looking for the twist. really strong at the end.



  5. JazzBumpa says:

    You’d think that would have been the thing they would have checked most carefully. Oh, well.

    Since you’re into this sort of thing, I’ll recommend Tom Godwin’s THE COLD EQUATIONS, a pretty seriously flawed story.



    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the link – I’ll check that out. I figured something shook loose on takeoff, but who knows – perhaps someone forgot to close a valve properly….

  6. I hate it when we don’t notice the air is leaking. ;P

    Favorite line: “unchangeable for reasons of physics and finance.” Nice, natural alliteration.

    Critique-y thoughts: The “omit needless words” rule may apply to help give some sentences more punch. Reading the last sentence without the “of course” gives it more of a haunting feel, n’est pas?

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the feedback Rob.I was looking for ironic more than haunting, but I see your point. Thanks for visiting!

  7. Sisyphus47 says:

    No way! How could this be possible? A sad tale … about what may well happen… Nicely done 🙂

    • Andrew says:

      They didn’t think it was possible to send a space telescope into orbit with an incorrectly shaped mirror. Anything’s possible. Thanks for your comment!

  8. TheOthers1 says:

    You totally built me up with this. I was waiting for that moment where something awful happened and you slid it in at the end. Sometimes, not matter how good you think things are, your best calculations can be wrong. Very nice.

    • Andrew says:

      Thank you. There’s always something that you can’t test for ahead of time, or some variable that doesn’t get taken into account. The concept of perfection is in itself flawed.

  9. Really love the language in this piece! Nicely done 🙂 Made me think of the Titanic for a moment.

  10. It is amazing just how important breathing is. 😉

    The tension created in this piece is perfect, and I waited for the thud in my heart as you led us directly into the horrific climax. I was not disappointed.

    • Andrew says:

      It was bound to happen. Something was awry – there’s always a flaw of some kind in the plan. Thanks for the comment Britt.

  11. Sandra says:

    This was nicely paced, the first four paragraphs setting up the fall of the last. Nicely done.

  12. Wow. Don’t you just hate it when that happens. Such a wonderful dichotomy between their elated sense of wonder and accomplishment and the sad reality of their unexpected failure. Very nicely done, sir.

  13. Mike says:

    Great story, loved the twist at the end.
    Isn’t it always the same? Just when you think you’ve got everything organised, along comes the hitch which throws a spanner in the works. In this case a catastrophic hitch.

  14. Sarah Mac says:

    A nice sense of irony – everything accounted for but the one thing they couldnt live without.

  15. Really liked the matter-of-fact celebratory air throughout, including your final sentence! Really well written Andrew!

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