Downing Station

It’s been far too long since I’ve participated in a 500 Club writing prompt. The writing’s clunky, and story is, well… I’ll let you decide. I’m presenting it as I wrote it. Only a spell check was used. I need to get back into the flow of writing daily, and these prompts are always a great source for getting things going.

Downing Station

In an ideal world, Rollie would’ve flung rockets into space. This wasn’t an ideal world. Far from it. Instead he sat at his terminal and watched the sky, his monitor a window to his expanse of sky.

No one else watched the same sector. It was his, and his alone.

He pushed his dark-rimmed glasses back up his nose and exhales a sigh of extreme boredom. The number to the side of the screen as blinked the same number for over an hour now: 17-0.

He thought about the change in technology since he’d started work here. Joysticks and keyboards. Then a track pad replaced the joystick. Soon touch screens replaced those. Track screens begat touch screens. Despite the monitor being able to “know” where Rollie was looking, they still required him to hit a button to launch. That was until the next batch of software eliminated false launches. Now all he had to do was look at the screen.

Rollie was sure they didn’t even need someone to man the launchers anymore. It was the perfect deterrent.

A soft, unassuming beep brought his attention back to the screen. A black dot enter the bottom-left portion of his sector followed by a white pluming contrail. As he stared at the object, the screen zoomed in on the head of the plume. A solo jumper. Looked like a converted 2052 model. He could see a vibration in the left wing that could have been a fatal flaw if he made it to the stratosphere.

A red box blinked and locked in on the jumper. A bright red line shot through his screen, intersected the 2052, and Rollie watched as flaming debris rained down and off his screen. The number changed.


“Nice work Rollie.” The disembodied voice responded. He gave his expected thanks.

“We the people thank you even in our misguided attempts.”

Misguided indeed.

He should be flinging his fellow man far from the hell hole of a rock. Help them reach the out stretches of space. Not pull their leash.

Every citizen is required to yearly operate the Downing Station. A yearly reminder of what will happen if they try to leave.

How is the planet to get better if we all just leave it? We need to clean up our own messes. It would be irresponsible to spread our bad habits. We must change before we can expand.

The mantra of the Planetary CEO burns in his ears like the brand on his hand.

He chose to work here on a daily basis for several reasons. Selflessly he thought it might reduce the amount of other needing to be subjugated to this. Selfishly, he hoped it would show him away to get around it. The only insights he got were from the system upgrades. Unfortunately, the upgrades showed only the holes that were just patched. As hard as he tried, he could find the loop-hole, bug, or work-around before the system did and corrected.

A soft, unassuming beep brought his attention back to the screen.


2 thoughts on “Downing Station

    1. Thanks, Dex.

      I almost forgot the difficulty in containing an entire story in a mere 500 words. I find that with each word I write, the world I’m creating gets bigger and bigger, and I want nothing more than to explore it.

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