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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)

TITLE: Out of Sight… Out of Mine…
By Shari Armstrong


Thud.….Thud “Ow!”

Startled awake, Keith’s head echoed the sound off the bunk just above his head. He pulled his hand away from his head and saw blood on his palm. “Great….” He grabbed the nearest pair of coveralls and pulled them on over his skivvies. Lights dimmed and yellow lights along the top of the wall began to glow. He started to jog, but the throbbing in his skull made him slow down again.

”Attention, all crewmembers, yellow alert. Beta crew, please report to duty stations ASAP.”

Keith ducked through the hatch, careful not to smack himself in the head again. He wiped at the blood now trickling down his cheek. “Anybody here?” He grabbed a package of gauze off a nearby exam table, ripping it open with his teeth, applied it to his head, hoping to slow the blood flow.

A nurse emerged from the back, looking nearly as frazzled as her hair, which was falling out of its on-duty bun. She noticed the blood soaking up the gauze, and reached for more. “Lieutenant? What happened?”

He grinned, “The bunk was harder than my head.” Grin turned to grimace as a wave of nausea and dizziness hit him and he dropped into a chair.

“I see.’ She placed more gauze on top. “Let me get a cold pack.” She gingerly placed it on top of the gauze, and moved his hand to hold it. “How’s your vision?”

”So far, only seeing one of you, but my stomach isn’t very happy with me.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.


The ship suddenly lurched, causing Keith’s stomach to revolt into the nearby trashcan. “What was that?”

”Asteroids. There’s been some hull damage, but thankfully just in the cargo hold. It’s been sealed off and repair crews are already working on it.”

”Asteroids? They must be huge to rock the ship like that. How’d they miss spotting them on the scope?”

“I’ve been too busy patching people up to find out.” She handed him a pill and a glass. “Take this, it’ll settle your stomach.”

He swallowed as she began to clean up his wound and seal it with liquid stitches. “That should hold. Take it easy for a couple days. Come back in five.” She typed some notes on her computer. “If you have any problems before that, come in immediately.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

* * * * *

“Here, you guys analyze these the repair crew found in the hold.” Stevens dropped the crate on the lab table. “I’ve got to get back and help move more debris out of the way. The captain wants to know why we never saw these things coming.”

Keith looked at the box of rocks sitting in front of him and his fellow science officer, Jefferies. “So that’s what rang my bell.” He picked up a small piece with a pair of tongs, turned it over, and put it on a tray.

Jefferies got another piece out and took it to his side of the lab. “I thought the nurse told you to take it easy?”

”She did. If I don’t feel well, I’ll go back to see her… er see the doctor.” He grinned. “I’m fine. Really. She gave me some pain meds, and they are doing the trick.”

Jefferies let out a low whistle. “Hey, check this out.”

Keith joined him and looked through the viewer. “Synthetic rocks?”

”Yup. Look closer.”

Increasing the magnification, he soon saw micro circuitry imbedded in the outer layer of the “rock”. “Cloaking tech? Why would anybody cloak a chunk of fake rock?”


Keith took a segment of rock, and tried to chip off a piece. It exploded, sending the chisel across the room, sticking in the wall. “Yowch!” Keith shook his hand out, and then looked at the new bruise already forming on his hand. “This just isn’t my day.”

* * * * *

“Cloaked mines? Disguised as small asteroids?” The captain ran his fingers through his hair.

“Yes, sir.”

”Seems like a bit of overkill to me, one or the other would be enough to cause problems in the spacing lanes.”
“We’ll keep digging, sir. We haven’t found a clue to the manufacturer yet.”

“The bigger question is,” the captain paused to look at the view screen in front of him, “who would want to mine this part of space? and why?”

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This article has been read 1273 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Patty Wysong05/17/07
I love how the title is a play on words and ties in so completely with the story. :-)
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/17/07
oooo, I like this... I knew something was wrong with the rocks and you didn't disappoint. I loved the play on words in the title, but I think I must be missing something in the ending, because it didn't seem like it really had an ending... Otherwise great job!
Pat Guy 05/17/07
Well, I didn't have a clue! (so cool!) Good stuff ... the kind that should continue - I'd LOVE to know what happens next. I guess that must mean you did a great job of writing! Kudos on this piece!
Julie Arduini05/18/07
I love this, title and all. What an intriguing read, I want more for sure!
Joanne Sher 05/21/07
Great action. I also felt like the ending wasn't satisfying (I want more details!!) but that's just because I was so engaged. I love the way your characterization shone so much in this - it's easy to "depend" on the technology to carry the story, but you definitely didn't do that!
Pam Carlson-Hetland05/21/07
What an intriguing story! I wanted more. Liked how the characters were still human in this out of this world scene. I think you need to continue on so we can all find out what happens next. Excellent writing, held my interest, great characters, suspenseful and even a slight hint of romance. Well done.
Jacquelyn Horne05/21/07
Very good science fiction. When is the book coming out?
Jan Ackerson 05/21/07
Great title, love the easy-going feel of this...too much sci-fi is just techno-babble. This is just right.

Watch your modifier in the first sentence--it sounds as if his head was startled awake, not him.

Even though this reads like a chapter of a larger work to come, that worked for me, because the writing was so engaging, and you fully established your characters. Nicely done.
Sandra Petersen 05/21/07
Interesting premise; this sounds like it will be part of a future book.

My only suggestion is to watch out that you don't repeat words in sentences. Like the word 'head' here: "Startled awake, Keith’s head echoed the sound off the bunk just above his head."

You left us with a hint that Keith has a little interest in the nurse (possible future romance?) and a big mystery about a cloaked mine field in a well-traveled area. Yes, more please.
Rita Garcia05/22/07
This sci-fi is crying out to be expanded. Fantastic writing.
Sara Harricharan 05/22/07
Good play on words with the title. I liked the realistic dialouge and feel of the story. It needs to be expanded though! I so want to know what happens afterward!
T. F. Chezum05/22/07
I like this, from the title through the end. Very good job.
Betty Castleberry05/23/07
Ouch! I almsot felt the head wound. Great description. I didn't quite get why the rocks were cloaked, but then, I don't usually get sci fi anyway. This held my attention all the way trhough. Nicely done.
Philip Barnes05/23/07
This was like an old scifi serial. The story has been going on and will continue. Some question is always answered. Another question is always proposed.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/23/07
What a creative idea! I would never have thought of mining in space. The characterization was excellent. Like everyone else, I want to know more.
Marty Wellington 05/23/07
Great writing, as always Shari. This is a gem! I loved it.
dub W05/23/07
You give good sci fi :) - this has to be the start of something greater.
Brenda Welc05/23/07
This was well written, very descriptive, I could see the whole scene unfold in my head. Let me know when you get the novel done:)
william price05/23/07
I don't know what to say that hasn't been, but to tell you that I really enjoyed reading it and was impressed with the skill. God bless.
David Butler05/24/07
Got me hooked. I'd like to know who the mine-layers were and why they did it. I guess I'll find out when the best-seller comes out. Well done.
Kate Grey05/25/07
Quite enjoyable read. :)