Unholy Trinity: Ones and Zeros by F.M. Scott
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
Ones and Zeros
The thrust, the firepower, the ones and zeros. The flawless timing of every component, every brain involved. The money.
Meritok Corp., with this mission as a trophy of its holdings, a token to the planet that owed its progenitor the spoils of a man who reflected the promise of global community, bankrolled the Juliette. Andries sat in its cockpit, waiting to depart asteroid Murnau-8 with samples of the blue ore detected by a previous probe.
Outside the window, a purple cloud advanced. Sensors warned 1,000 feet, 500, 100… Fixed, angular faces poured from it. Cabin lights went out like candles.
Backup power and communication failed.
An hour passed, then another. Ignition failed, countless times.
Murnau-8 turned away from the Sun, snuffing out all ambient light. Andries sat strapped inside the Juliette, playing a loop of his life movie, his conquests. And failures.
Shining a penlight, he fumbled for the case under his seat.
The Gray Pill. Chemical execution in a vitamin-sized caplet. Three time-release phases—sedative, paralytic, heart stopper. Less than a half hour.
Dark tranquility cupped Andries. Like clockwork his muscles became leaden, breath labored. Above him hovered a glowing face like those he’d seen through the window before.
Wait for It
The asteroid mission he’d funded, supervised, and flown solo as his money and legal machine stipulated, had dissolved. It sank under last-second failure, marooned him in the land of a blue ore whose gases promised repair for an overheating Blue Planet.
Barely conscious and fading under the paralytic phase of the Gray Pill, Andries felt the jolt of ignition as the Juliette’s power returned—the result of commands queued up before it blinked out.
He lifted off, managing a feeble, resigned laugh as the spirits of this rock returned him to a desolation encased in the artifacts of his kind.
F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. His stories have appeared in Apple in the Dark, The Horror Tree, The Killer Collection Anthology (Nick Botic Horror), Sirius Science Fiction, The Tulsa Voice, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel, Reborn, and The Woodcutter, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused (all via Brigids Gate Press). Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.