“A Plague Of…”

Chapter 3

Art and story by Raja Thiagarajan

“—trina, do you hear me?”

She blinked. “Yes”. Katrina focused on the young woman. “You’re Agra, right? Director of life-support/nutrition?” Her eyes wandered past the young woman. “I recognize those lights. We haven’t arrived yet?”

“Correct. Do you remember me explaining why we Woke you? No?” Agra took a breath. “Ok, Wakening can interfere with long-term memory storage. Basically, we’re 17 years out, but there seem to be some protein imbalances, and there’s an unusual noise in the agricultural pod.“

“Agricultural pod. You think there’s an equipment problem?” Katrina blinked again. “Of course you do, or you wouldn’t have Wakened me. Sorry, it’s the memory blockage. Have they opened the pod yet?”

“The team is at the airlock. About five more minutes.”

“Unusual noise? Can you play it for me?”

“Sure.” There was a high-pitched sound, somewhere between a chirp and buzz, that kept playing continuously. “Do you recognize that?”

Katrina smiled. “Phaser on overload.”


“Sorry, sorry, just a joke.” Katrina frowned. “I don’t think it’s an equipment sound, but I do recognize it. Can you give me access to my personal messages?”

“Pers—Ok, your hands seem steady enough. Go ahead.”

“I’m thinking. My granddaughter sent me a message just before we left. If I remember correctly—Here we go.” A message started up, showing a young girl greeting her grandmother and talking about her day. The girl opened a door and stepped outside, blinking in the bright sunlight. There was a loud sound as soon as she stepped outside. “I think that’s it.”

“What is it? What’s that sound?” There was a notification of an incoming message for Agra, but she ignored it.

“It isn’t an equipment sound.” The view changed, showing a large red maple tree with hundreds of tan-colored shells at the base. The view tilted upwards, revealing a dozen dark insects flying around the tree. Katrina said, “I think it’s periodical cicadas.”

Agra’s eyes widened and she opened the connection. “Airlock team? Stop what you’re doing! We don’t want to open until–What? Too late?? No, they’re harmless.” She looked toward Katrina, who nodded. Agra continued, “Well, whatever you do, don’t let the protein escape!”

A few hours later, Agra came back, and said, “Okay. As far as we can tell, the temperate-agriculture supplier sourced their soil from the American Midwest. Things are out of balance, but as long as we close the cycle we should be fine. Unfortunately, the automated feeder is down for a week, so we’ll just add them to our meals—” She saw Katrina grimace. “What? Is there a problem?”

Katrina said, “No, I just don’t like eating bugs.”

Raja Thiagarajan read (in an online market) that “insects are nutritious, sustainable, environmentally friendly, and raised humanely.” He hasn’t eaten any yet, but would be willing to try.

This was Chapter 3 of a four-part flash fiction series by Raja Thiagarajan. Find links the whole flash fiction cycle below:

You can read more of Raja’s flash fiction in Loop Garou, an SF e-zine. Click here to download EPUB and PDF files of Loop Garou 6.

3 thoughts on ““A Plague Of…”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: