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

TITLE: Life Pod
By Sandra Petersen


I wrestle in the grips of a dream of drowning. Several dull thuds rouse me from sleep. My eyes flutter open. Another bang resounds from somewhere in the house.

Not for the first time I think about the biorhythmic device attached to me and how it should be readjusted to better control my breathing. At my next televisit with my personal physician I will address the problem.

I wait for my husband to come in with my lunch. He will sit beside my life pod until I sip all of my nutrient malt. Then he will empty the waste chamber on my pod into the sanitary system vacuum. Maybe today we will go to Jerusalem for an hour in our Adventure Simulator. In the Simulator, I can move about like I did when I was younger, when I had the use of my body. We can visit the garden tomb or the Western Wall and pray together.

Another bang from downstairs reminds me how much I love my husband. I smile, thinking that he and Tom Flynn, our handyman, are probably working on something special.

Footsteps in the hallway. I turn my eyes, the only part of my body I can yet command, toward the door. A stranger, blood soaking the front of his shirt, stares at me from the doorway. His eyes take in with a glance my life pod and my vulnerable position. The casual leer on his face frightens me. Startled, I realize that what I thought were the sounds of two men working on a remodeling project may have been gun shots. If that is true. . .

He nears and I smell enphorim. His clothing reeks of the smoky hallucinogen. When I look up I see the unmistakable orange tinge of the drug in the whites of his eyes.

“Mrs. Sorenson? Mrs. Mabel Sorenson?” he asks. “Your husband said I might find you here. He will, by the way, not be joining us. I think you’ll be glad he won’t.”

If I could scream, I would. He disconnects the life-sustaining biofeedback machine and all of the pod’s tubes, then wheels me into the Adventure Simulator.

He smiles. “After all, you want to feel everything, don’t you?”

I recognize the casinos of Las Vegas lining the streets ahead of me. He has reprogrammed the Simulator. Before he can grip me in his sweaty arms, I wriggle away. I run through the streets of the city, desperate to find a hiding place or weapon, anything but what he has planned.

He bellows his rage. I hear the clack-clack of his footsteps a few feet behind me. My body falls backward onto the pavement and I stare up into his furious face. A clump of my scalp is in his hand. For the next hour, all I see of my assailant is his black tightly-curled hair. I drip with the sweat of his body and beg for an end to the torment. Then he snakes his hands about my throat, shutting off my life breath. I struggle, as if drowning in a sea of black water, then cry out, “Lord, my God, save me.” I die.

I die and wake to a new reality. From my seat at the table, my defense attorney beside me, I stare into the eyes of the judge. I am Tom Flynn now, not Mabel Sorenson, and the judge reads my sentence.

“Thomas Flynn, upon consideration by this court, we find you guilty of the murder of Mabel and Samuel Sorenson. I hereby sentence you to the Virtual Penitentiary where you will relive this trial and Mabel Sorenson’s last hours repeatedly for the time period of five years.”

But I’m not guilty! Mr. Sorenson sent me to the garage to get something and I was locked in. When I escaped, I found them dead. I have seen the face of the real murderer.

I know that the judge will not believe me. The Sorenson family behind me murmur satisfaction that justice has been served. But justice has not been served. As the Lord is my witness, I am an innocent man!


The people of a world without God clamor for vengeance against violent criminals. They decree that the murderer should have to suffer as much as the victim. Forgiveness and mercy are forgotten sentiments.

I lie in a life-support pod, the microchip with the program being implanted into my skull. An IV drips nutrients and sedatives into my veins, and my nightmare begins.

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This article has been read 1281 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter05/18/07
What a ghastly world! Great story, with a real twist at the end. And I applaud the message - the limitation of human penal responsibility. I enjoyed this, and it's sent me away thinking.
Betty Castleberry05/18/07
This gripped me from start to finish. It is very vivid and the writing is excellent.
BTW, I like the criminal sentences of the future.
Sara Harricharan 05/21/07
Whoa! I had to step back after reading this. So vivid. I could really feel for the innocent guy, the last few lines being particularly poignant. Very well done. ^_^
Patty Wysong05/21/07
Oh Man! *chills* I love the sentence the judge handed down, I just wish the right person were receiving it. I didn't get the part where/why/how the "I" became Tom Flynn--but it sure was effective. How horrible to be judged so wrongly!
Jan Ackerson 05/21/07
Yikes! This was truly frightening, totally gripped me, astounded me with its ending. Just when I thought you'd "got" me, you did it again. One of my favorites this week.
Pam Carlson-Hetland05/21/07
Trying to come up with another word for "Wow" or "Yikes"....how about "that was incredible!" It really drew the reader in. Surprise ending was definitely a "surprise". Wonderfully written.
Joanne Sher 05/21/07
I think I finally blinked when this was over. Absolutely frightening and engaging. This is absolutely masterful.
Melanie Kerr 05/22/07
You made great use of tension. You kept me reading to the end. It seemed a very merciless peunishment, even had he been the real criminal.
Rita Garcia05/23/07
I love endings with a twist. Great writing!!
Pat Guy 05/23/07
Wow! I could hardly breath! What a concept!

I have only one observation - it was the gun. It struck me as out of place ... more like an ancient weapon in this futuristic society.

Even so ... this was awesome and gripped my attention from beginning to end.
dub W05/23/07
Very vivid, to the point of being a bit spooky futuristic. Very well done.
Loren T. Lowery05/23/07
So creative and well-written I can only say: wow. Thanks for a great, thought-provoking read.
william price05/23/07
Oh yes. One of my favorites this week. Creative and well done. God bless.
Marilee Alvey05/24/07
Powerful, remarkable, and certainly memorable. Did I say creative? Fantastic job of creating a new reality and yet giving a Christian message of forgiveness as well. Congratulations on your well deserved win!
Edy T Johnson 05/24/07
Sandy, what a powerful piece of writing! I cannot say that I "like" it, because it is too gruesome. But, do you ever know how to grip a reader's attention. I HAD to keep reading. The sci-fi scenario was also very believable, and I certainly appreciate your message. I can see why you are a winner :)
Valora Otis05/25/07
Yikes! This gave me the chills--and like Chrissy I had to close my gaping mouth afterwards. WOW! Congratulations Sandy!
Debbie OConnor05/25/07
Sandra, I loved this sci fi mystery. I had to read it twice to grasp the ending. Excellent writing.