Friday’s Flash Fiction – Engineering Dream

Another entry for Flash!Friday. (

The Challenge:
200 Words Exactly
Based on the following image:

Smoo Cave, Durness (Highland, Scotland). Photo taken by Florian Fuchs, WikiCommons.

The Entry:

Engineering Dream (Short form)

Alex waited anxiously as the engineering review board studied his request to preserve a derelict spaceship. The fact that the craft was still functional after a century and a half indicated that studying it could give them a better understanding of how to improve their own craft, which rarely lasted thirty years with constant maintenance.

“This is the reactor core and cooling system,” he said, as the images appeared on the overhead display.

Instead of the customary cooling rods and tanks one would expect, the reactor was made up of a series of caverns. Waterfalls of coolant cascaded down the one wall into a flowing pool that surged past the glowing chamber of the reactor itself only to be filtered through the rocks and recirculated in a perpetual, sustained cycle.

“The design of the HTBD drive is amazingly efficient and self-contained,” Alex assured them.

The board nodded appreciating both the beauty of the design as well as its functionality.

“I see why you want to study this,” the chairman agreed. “But this note is rather confusing…”

‘Not really,” Alex said. “It’s why we call it the HTBD Drive.”

“Here, there be dragons?”

Alex smiled, this was where things got interesting.

The problem with this story is, in my opinion, I had to cut WAY too much out to get it down to 200 words exactly, and so I’ve gone back and wrote the story I wanted to write… I think it makes the whole thing just a little clearer and a lot more enjoyable.  Then again… that’s just my opinion.

The Story as I imagined it:

Engineering Dream (the long version)

Alex watched anxiously as the ER&R Engineering Review Board studied his request to preserve rather than scrap the derelict spaceship they had discovered on their last sweep of the nebula.

In his thirteen years as Earth Rescue and Recovery’s senior field engineer he had never seen anything like it.  He’d seen the standard steel of the early spacefaring vessels, the plasteel developed in conjunction with the Centari; the hyper bonded particle styrene used by the Zarneff and the quartz-diamond fusion plating that formed the portals of almost every space bound vessel for the last fifty years, but this find put them all to shame.

The ship was a marvel and it offered amazing insights into the minds of the people who’d designed her.  He hoped the board would agree that there was much they could learn from the alien technology.

The fact that the craft had maintained hull integrity and containment for well over a century alone warranted a study, but what he really wanted was to preserve and study the ship in its entirety.  The key was selling them on the importance of the reactor system itself.  Its design was beyond anything he’d ever imagined, it was pure engineering genius– a work of art in its own right that needed to be preserved and maintained.

When images of the ship’s reactor core and cooling system appeared on the overhead screen he smiled, quickly reassuring the board that these were indeed images of the cooling system and not some planetary event.

He remembered the first time he’d laid eyes on it, and he stood much as the board did now, staring in awe and amazement.

The design was simply that breathtaking.

Instead of the customary cooling rods and flow tanks, the reactor was cooled by what looked like a series of caverns with waterfalls of coolant cascading down the one wall into a flowing pool that surged past the glowing chamber of the reactor only to be filtered through the rocks and recirculated in a perpetual, sustained cycle.

“The design of the HTBD drive is amazingly efficient and self-contained,” Alex assured them.

Naming the system had been a slight fit of whimsy on his part, but he did not regret it in the least.  The system that could turn a hard-core mechanical engineer into a love-struck teen deserved a name that hinted at the magic it created. 

While the rest of the board simply nodded, the chairman looked at him and then back at the diagrams.  “HTBD?”

Alex tried to suppress his smile, but failed.  “Here there be dragons.”

“Really?” the Chairman asked.  Alex could tell by the man’s tone he was finding it hard to believe that any engineer, let alone one of ‘his’ senior engineer would take this so… lightly.  Only Alex wasn’t.  This ship was like a caveman finding an internal combustion engine when he hadn’t even invented the wheel.  It was beyond anything they’d ever dealt with before.

Alex sighed and tried to explain.  “Sir, this technology is so far off the map, it will take us generations to even begin to understand it so yes, ‘Here there be dragons.’  Here we toss everything we know about fusion and propulsion out the airlock and start over.”

He held his breath as the Chairman looked at the other board members and one by one they nodded their consent.

Alex felt his heart race as the chairman stamped his approval on the forms.

Now the adventure truly began.

I think, sometimes, more is more.  Let me know what you think.

Until next time!

About mtdecker

Just your average writer- which is to say, I have a full-time job developing and testing software.
This entry was posted in Editing, Flash Fiction, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Friday’s Flash Fiction – Engineering Dream

  1. mmdecker7 says:

    First one is great. Longer version is a work of art.  Yes ,in this case more is better Really enjoyed this!


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