By Elizabeth Bradley
Dust exploded all around Seraphima and she shielded her eyes as the shuttle winked out of sight. The silence that followed settled heavy on her ears. Seraphima scooped up her battered suitcase and looked to the settlement that lay before her.
Dust exploded all around Seraphima and she shielded her eyes as the shuttle winked out of sight. The silence that followed settled heavy on her ears. Seraphima scooped up her battered suitcase and looked to the settlement that lay before her. No turning back now she thought, passing a sign warning of wild animals on the stony path that led towards the pod-shaped buildings.
She had traveled here with another woman, who, the moment the hatch of the shuttle opened and she set foot on the planet’s bleak surface, turned around and asked how much it would be to take her back. Without argument she shoved her credits into the pilot’s hand and re-boarded. The pilot glanced at Seraphima. She shook her head. She was staying.
She had wanted to come here, she thought, kicking a pebble and watching it skitter down the path. She knew what she was getting herself into when she signed the one-year contract to teach the inhabitants of the newest federated planet.
A giggle coming from the bushes interrupted her thoughts, and a small girl popped out.
“Hi! What’s your name? Are you our new teacher?”
“Of course she is dummy” said a fat little boy climbing of the bushes behind her. “Who else would she be?”
“I’m Seraphima.” The little girl smiled. “And yes, I’m here to teach you the history of the Federation and about other planets.”
“Wow. Have you been to other planets?” the little girl asked, wonder shining in her eyes.
Seraphima laughed. “A few.”
The boy scoffed. He looked her up and down and said, “We’ll show you where your house is. Come on.” He made her uneasy but he had taken her suitcase and walked away, giving her no option but to follow.
“I’m Gemma,” the little girl said, taking her hand. “And that’s Clem. He’s my brother. He doesn’t like outsiders, but I like you.” Seraphima felt a warm glow as she listened to Gemma chatter away. She had just pointed to a low greenish pod, saying it was Seraphima’s when Clem stopped and whistled. He dropped the suitcase and ran to Gemma. He tore her hand away and whistled again. Gemma started crying. “Run!” she screamed. The two children left her frozen there as they ducked into the closest building and slammed the door.
A low roar behind her snapped her back to reality, and she ran, snatching her suitcase as she sprinted towards the green pod. The noise behind her was getting closer but she dared not turn around. She could feel hot, sticky breath on her back. The ground shook with a pounding rhythm. Swinging her suitcase behind her she felt it make contact, and heard a primal yawp. She crashed through her door and slammed it shut.
The beast roared one last time. After a moment she heard receding footsteps. Seraphima fell against the wall, sliding down to the floor in a heap. This is going to be a long year.
Elizabeth Bradley is a SAHM and writer living in rural Alaska. She loves bad reality TV and good wine. She is exploring science fiction worlds through flash fiction while working on her first novel. Check out her blog noplacelikenapaskiak.wordpress.com or follow her adventures on Twitter @LizjSmith7