Rust Never Sleeps
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 642
“It's better to burn out 'cause rust never sleeps” Neil Young, Rust Never Sleeps 1979.
Captain Jamieson landed the shuttle on the strange planet’s surface effortlessly. It was his thousandth and last mission before retiring to a humble, but adequate pension to enjoy the rest of his life with his wife, Andrea.
“Okay, boys,” he said to the entourage of marines and scientists. “It is time to do your thing.”
“Lock and load, marines,” Sergeant Gunnery shouted. “This is a purely scientific mission, but I want you all on full alert. We still know little about this planet.”
“That’s just asking for trouble,” one of the marines grunted.
“Stow it!” shouted Gunnery.
With a heavy groan, the loading dock door opened slowly, letting a red dust swirl in and cover the crew lightly. The atmosphere outside contained enough oxygen to sustain life commonly found on the high mountain tops back on Earth. The marines lead the way down the ramp and onto the sandy surface, followed closely by the team of scientists. The marines did not offer any assistance in carrying any of the heavy testing equipment; rather laughing at the fumbling and stumbling as the scrawny men and one woman struggled down the ramp.
The captain was the last down the ramp, signalling to the two marines left with the shuttle to close the door.
“Let’s have a safe mission, boys,” Jamieson said as he made his way to centre of the line, amongst the scientists. “How long do you need to retrieve your samples?”
A heavily bearded man scratched his chin, twirling the long whiskers, and then said, “Two hours should be sufficient. You’ve landed exactly in the location we requested, so no travel time will be required. Just a few deep drill samples, surface samples, atmospheric readings...yes two hours.”
“I want a secure perimeter, marines!” Gunnery shouted and the troops dispersed to a hundred meter radius.
Jamieson pulled his Zippo lighter from his utility belt and shook it; even though it had been securely tucked away it seemed to be covered with the red dust. He flicked the lid open and it crumbled under his touch.
“Looks like time for a new lighter, Cap’n,” one of the marines said.
“This one was only given to me before we left on this mission, a kind of farewell present from the boys in the landing crew back at base.”
A few meters away, one of the scientists shook a cylindrical apparatus that appeared to be not co-operating with him. The scientist put the device down and rummaged through a case, looking for another piece of equipment to test the atmosphere.
“Ouch!” he yelped, pulling his hand back with a jagged wound running along the back of his arm.
“What happened?” another scientist said.
“All of the equipment is falling to pieces. Friggin Dynamoter crumbled and slashed my arm.”
“What the...” a marine yelled.
Jamieson looked over and saw the marine tangle in the straps of his backpack. The metal buckles appeared to have rusted away.
“Gunnery,” Jamieson said. “I think we’d better get back onboard the shuttle.”
“Why’s that?” Gunnery said.
“For some reason, all metal objects are rusting rapidly and I don’t fancy flying back to base with half a ship.”
“OKAY!” Gunnery yelled. “Marines, round ‘em up and board the shuttle, pronto. Leave the equipment, we have to move immediately.”
The marines began herding the scientists toward the shuttle. Once onboard, Jamieson headed straight to the cockpit, stumbling on his way.
“You okay, cap’n?” a marine said, noticing Jamieson had a blood nose.
“Yer, just have a bit of a headache.”
Jamieson rubbed his head then collapsed in a heap. The side of his skull looking unnaturally concave.
“Oh, crap!” Gunnery said. “The captain has a metal plate in his head.”
Rust Never Sleeps
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