The VTOL Pilot

On the letter V in the A to Z Challenge. That leaves us with a challenging final four letters. But I get a day off to contemplate what to do for them. This entry contains some language, so if four letter swear words offend you, then you don’t read enough non-YA fiction. Just a friendly warning.

The VTOL Pilot


New Athens

Eighth day, second month, eighth year after colonisation, Ariadne Era (2/08/08 AE)

“Landing pad is clear,” said the voice on the radio.

Barry Wong lowered the VTOL. Then it was dark. The lights and all instruments went out. He jerked the manual controls up. “I have a problem here,” he said.

“What’s happening? We lost computer contact,” said the control tower.

The lights returned and instruments turned back on. “I don’t know what just happened. I lost all the lights and screens in the cockpit,” he said as he regained control. “Everything is back.”

“We have contact again.”

“I’m getting this thing down before it does anything like that again.”

Barry landed the craft without any further incident. He checked the instruments and everything read normal. He removed his straps, opened the cockpit door, and bounded down the steps.

“Hey, Barry,” said a young blonde woman. “What the hell happened up there?”

“Never thought I’d see your face again, Kristina,” said Barry. “Nearly pissed myself up there. Everything went dark in the cockpit. I need a diagnostic run.”

Kristina connected her tablet to the VTOL data port with a cable and tapped a few times on the screen. “Diagnostics running.”

“Shit, that scared the hell out of me. Never seen anything like that happen before. With all the redundancies in the systems, that should never happen,” said Barry as he gesticulated.

“Well, I don’t have your answer. Diagnostics complete. Everything is normal. The computer recorded the power drop, and it was within the power system for the cockpit itself. The backups would’ve failed anyway. It lasted one point six seconds only, enough to make you shit your pants. But all systems are normal now.”

“That shouldn’t happen. How is that even physically possible? The circuits themselves stopped working?”

“That’s what it says. I don’t understand it, either. But I’ve been hearing about this kind of thing happening all over the place. Sudden power cuts, but the cause is unknown.”

Barry sat on the steps to the cockpit. “I need a drink. Is this planet screwing with our electronic systems? Some strange magnetic field or something?”

“Well, I’ll get this data to the university, then I’ll dig around inside this piece of beautiful garbage,” said Kristina.

“I’m getting my drink now.”