SLINGSHOT… Today’s Sci-Fi HyperShort from Ethan Lawrence #shortstory #hypershort #sciencefictionstory


What if you could go back in time to save the world? But it would mean to get crushed and pulled apart at the same time. Would you?

SLINGSHOT by Ethan Lawrence

The State of Nevada had won its argument with the Federal government, and the plan to store tons of radioactive waste at an underground facility in Yucca Mountain was scrapped.  But a way had to be found to get rid of the highly volatile waste that would remain dangerous for ten thousand years.  The final solution was that it be shot into space toward the sun in specially equipped unmanned cargo shuttles where it would theoretically be rendered harmless.  In the last ten years, several cargo shuttles containing tons of radioactive waste have been making their one-way trip, like ‘bullets from earth’, to be obliterated in the bowels of the sun.

Three manned shuttles are docked at the International space station to provide equipment and new personnel for the station expansion.  They are the American ‘Pellucidar’, the French ‘L’Aiglon’ (The Eaglet), and the Russian ‘Potemkin II’.  Commander of the American shuttle is Lt. Colonel Russell Larkin, whose ex-wife, Flight Surgical Officer Danielle Jouvet,  has been on the space station for several months.  Larkin is presently engaged to Captain Leslie Johns, a biology specialist, on board the Pellucidar, while Danielle is engaged to the pilot of the L’Aiglon, Commander Emil Barrault.  While the two couples now manage to work together aboard the space station, the conflict between them is as volatile as rocket fuel and just as combustible.

The trio of shuttles have been docked at the station for several days and are preparing to return to Earth when they are advised from their bases that a major event will be taking place on the sun.  A geomagnetic storm spawned by a giant eruption of gas on the sun will be far larger and more disruptive than scientists have predicted.

An American NASA official makes contact with Larkin.  “It’s bad, Colonel.  Estimates say it will cause extensive destruction worldwide.”

“Are we talking about a super solar storm?’ asks a concerned Larkin.

“Much worse.  It will be a violent ‘coronal mass ejection’.  Solar gas and charged particles will sweep toward Earth at 2 million mph.”

“Jesus Christ,” responds Larkin.  “Is it because of the radioactive wastes that have been bombarding the sun for a decade?”

“I’m afraid so.”

Hours later, the space station and the shuttles are orbiting the far side of the earth as the massive geomagnetic event first knocks out all worldwide communications, electromagnetic energy, then hits the earth’s sunward side and causes massive destruction, turning that side of the earth into a fiery sea of burning ash.  There is little left for the members of the station and shuttle to do as the remaining hours will lead to their own destruction.  There is no way home.  There will be no home to go back to.

The recognition that earth and all that they have known is devastating to the relatively small group of astronauts from various countries.  The conflict between Larkin, his ex-wife and their new partners is overshadowed by the realization that children, parents, friends, all are dying or are dead, that their own lives are on the line.

They can’t stay where they are because, while they have air and water aboard the shuttles and the station that could last a year or two, it cannot sustain them indefinitely. But it is Danielle who comes up with a wild and almost impossible scheme to contemplate.  Her calculations and daring suggestions appear to allow them at least a chance of survival, though some are far more skeptical than others.

“Einstein’s theory of relativistic travel,” Danielle tells shuttle Commanders.

“Are you joking, Danielle?” responds a frightened Captain Johns.

“I know, Leslie,” she counters.  “My idea is bold, even reckless, but it’s the only possibility for us and for mankind to survive.”

“Haven’t you been paying attention!  Shouts Larkin.  “Mankind is gone!”

“Yes.  But we can use the sun’s massive solar ejection and gravitational pull…”

French Commander Barrault cuts her off.  “To do what?”

“To create a time warp,” answers Danielle.  “And ‘slingshot’ all three shuttles into the past…”



Born in Hollywood, California, Ethan Lawrence has served on the writing staffs of the TV series The Pretender, Murder in Small Town X, Fearing Mind, So Weird and SyFy’s acclaimed series Eureka.  He has developed web series for Generate Management/Alloy Entertainment such as Full Metal Alchemist and has sold TV pilots to NBC, ABC and The Gold Company.   He wrote the screenplay Hellraiser 5 for Dimension Films, Nevermore for Propaganda Films, Downloader for Stuart Gordon/Red Hen Productions, Mortal Velocity for Warner Bros. Studios, Creepers for Papa Joe Films (based on the David Morrell New York Times bestseller Creepers) and wrote the feature film Asylum for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios/Hyde Park Entertainment.