Stiles couldn’t work out what was going on. One moment his ship was flying perfectly en route to Mars Base, the next moment his cockpit was fogging up with thin wisps of white, acrid smoke.
Of course, his pilot training immediately kicked in. His first reaction was to shut down the non-essential systems.
“Blue’s first” he muttered under his breath as his gloved left hand popped the panel cover off near his right elbow, exposing a set of blue-coded fuses. He stabbed the shut-off switch on his right, then quickly ran a diagnostics sub-routine on his main flight computer touch-screen.
The blue’s all checked out fine, so it was on to the next colour. It would have been easier if he could just work out where the damn smoke was coming from, but it was just lingering and catching him at the back of the throat, causing Stiles to cough as he continued with his emergency procedures.
It hadn’t been a good day so far. His original orders to make the jump to the Horse Head and rendezvous with the second platoon were quickly changed when the news came in from Sol about an incident on Mars that needed taking care of first.
Stiles had been looking forward to visiting the nebula again, but orders were orders. Unfortunately, it now looked like he wasn’t even going to make it to Mars.
The third panel he opened revealed a spectrum of coloured components, each with a steady green light that glowed softly at him as if he say “we’re all fine here!”.
It was then that the on-board computer found the fault. Up above his smooth, curved flight helmet was a bank of switches used for atmospheric checks. According to MC (Stiles had a habit of giving nicknames to various parts of the ship), it was here that the problem lay…
The above was a 15 minute writing exercise where I had to randomly choose three words from a dictionary. It was best if they were nouns. Once the word nebula came out, that pretty much set the genre as science fiction. The story was hand-written as a quick-draft and what is reproduced here is almost exactly what I wrote off the top of my head, with two very minor corrections. This was also the first piece of creative writing I’d done in over a decade!