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Peripheral Turbulence

Scalzi Story

Okay, I like this one, Peripheral Turbulence. Here is wherein I take a band name from Scalzi’s Next Band Name list, and spend no more than 20 minutes writing the story with the band name as a title.


The alarms were going off. The lights were flashing, making the room stupidly red. Whoever thought this design was a good idea clearly never had to look at a console when the room was pulsating red. Jeffries gritted his teeth and turned to his partner.

“Okay, what was that?” he asked.

“I have no clue,” McGraine responded, looking intently over the dials and lights in front of him. Everything had looked normal to Jeffries both before and after the alarms started going off, before and after that bump.

“Me either. Turn off the damn alarms already.”


The comparative silence was welcome. The hum was below their hearing, but they felt the sound, knew that at least the engines were still going. They didn’t know yet if they were okay.

A few minutes later, McGraine commented, “I can’t find anything wrong. We didn’t seem to hit anything, everything is within normal parameters.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’m seeing, but, yeah.”


Yeah, nothing really blipped a cruiser their size. Nothing physically could.

“Okay, go backward with the stats, find the first anomaly.”

Twenty minutes later, they had found something, but weren’t conviced it was related: an expanding gravity wave doesn’t rumble a starship, and certainly not at the frequency they felt. Between stars, in the space they were moving in, no, even that was odd.

“Want to drop out?” McGraine asked the question he knew they were both thinking.

“Not really.”

“Think we should?”

“Protocol says yes.”

“Do you think we should?”

“Should? Yeah.”

“Are we going to?”



McGraine kept the systems looking backward at the data it collected before “The Bump,” as they started calling it. An hour after that, the data revealed another anomaly. McGraine and Jeffries looked at it, puzzled, then asked for a translation to the data.

“Uh, so, drop out now?” McGraine asked.

Jeffries looked at the message from the third ship that had ever entered The Loop, the famous one lost to the stars two centuries before, with myths and legends and lessons in the history books, the launch that nearly stopped humans from reaching the stars. He looked at it, completely in disbelief.

“Unpassable peripheral turbulence ahead. Advise retreat.”

The ship rumbled again.

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