#freereads – Adrift Ch 48 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week, the contributing members write a chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

Um… did we leave with Arad planting a big smootch on our favorite tiger DemiShou?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 48

Roku froze to Arad movement, but warmed with little coaxing. The kiss was different—Roku’s lips weren’t human anymore, yet they found a rhythm of mouths and teasing licks to one another easily enough. Need sang inside Arad. For all their shared moments, this was a new experience. One Arad rarely allowed in his years hustling. Too intimate. Too personal. And now he’d had the first taste, he only wanted one thing.

More.

They separated, and Roku fixed his lidded gaze to Arad’s. “We shouldn’t be doing this. I could hurt you.”

“When you woke up, out of your mind, you managed not to hurt me.”

“But—”

Arad silenced Roku by whispering fingertips over his mouth. “You didn’t then. You won’t now. I don’t expect anything in return. I just want you. Stop making me wait for what we both need.”

With a brief nod, Roku lurched forward and claimed Arad’s mouth for his own. No tentative nibbles. Now that he’d given himself permission, he devoured Arad with full abandon. He didn’t even back off as he lifted Arad and stumbled out of the bridge. As long as he didn’t slam them into the wall, Arad didn’t care where they went.

The world spun and they fell, again not caring as long as Roku held him close. They bounced on the bed, now in the bedroom with Roku covering Arad with his body.

Taking strong inhales, Roku rubbed his face and chin along Arad’s neck and shoulder. “You’re so perfect for me. I’m sorry for making you wait.”

“Don’t be sorry. I think we both had to wrap our heads around it all. We’re here now.”

Roku’s sniffing caught in Arad’s collar and he suddenly sat up. Arad stayed confused only until Roku grabbed his shirt and yanked it over his head. It was still floating in the air when Roku attacked Arad’s shorts and divested of them just as quick. Arad’s head continued to spin when Roku jumped backwards long enough to unfasten his kilt and toss it aside. His ample member mesmerized Arad as it bobbed in concert with his racing heartbeat. Without warning, Roku pounced, rubbing his entire silky fur-laden body over Arad’s. 

Less than a minute passed before Roku froze, pressing his forehead into Arad’s chest.“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“I’m rushing this, and I shouldn’t, but your scent… It makes me want things.”

Gripping Roku’s jaw with both hands, Arad raised his head and forced the tiger to look him in the eye. “Roku, c’mon… we’ve spent weeks doing foreplay. I think it’s okay for you to nail me now.”

Arad reached for the bedside drawer, but his hand came up short due Roku’s weight pinning him to the becd. Taking the cue, the tiger grasped the handle and jerked it open. Peering inside, he paused.

“Why do you have handcuffs in here?”

Arad flushed. “Shut up and grab the slick already.”

Roku chuckled and went back to work, unstoppering the bottle with one hand. It may have been a little while since anyone had been inside him, but Arad hadn’t forgotten how to relax, how to fall into the stretch as Roku worked one, then two big, slippery fingers down to the last knuckle. Desperation, experience, and impatience sped the process through three fingers.

Slathering a coat of gel on his length, Roku aimed for Arad’s needy hole. Arad raised his knees and shifted his hips, noting how eager he was, something he couldn’t remember being in years of encounters in Grey District. 

Arad gasped as Roku rubbed the fat head in slow circles at his twitching opening, teasing, dipping it slightly inside. Roku knelt transfixed, watching the dirty display, until Arad bore down and drew him in. The wet length breached him, and Roku moved forward, slowly feeding him the entire beast. 

When Arad had every inch, he exhaled hard. “Whoa. That’s a lot of dick.”

“Am I hurting you?”

Arad clamped down and forced a pleasurable grunt out of Roku. “Don’t even think of stopping. I’m not some blushing virgin you’re deflowering.”

A lecherous grin curled the edge of Roku’s mouth. “No, you are not, my captain.”

Curling his torso, Roku’s abdominals rippled as he pulled back, dragging that delicious piece of meat nearly out before sliding back in at the same luxurious pace. And repeat. And repeat. At his size, there wasn’t anyplace for his dick to go that didn’t rub Arad’s internal gland into an overstimulated nerve within minutes.

The craving intensified with each passing second as if it was a living thing that knew how close it was to getting what it wanted. It drove Arad to wrap his legs around Roku’s hips, pulling at him with every stroke to force the tiger to bottom out. 

Drive him harder. Give me everything. Make him spill.

Roku’s words twisted within a growl. “I want to ruin you for anyone else.”

“Stop bragging and do it already.”

With that challenge, Roku rode Arad hard. Each thrust should have been paired with a noisy slapping of flesh, only to be softened by Roku’s rapidly dampening fur. Pleasure shocks ripped through Arad with each plunge, making him cry out uncontrollably. He’d never ached so badly before, he didn’t dare touch himself. Instead he held onto Roku’s neck and lost himself in the chaos.

With a feral roar, Roku buried his entire length and came, holding himself in place as the deep, flooding pulses left their mark, claimed their territory. Arad could feel the warmth spreading inside him and it triggered an unexpected wave of carnal bliss. It surged through Arad, like the greatest high he’d ever known, and his cock erupted between them untouched.

Breaths heaving, Roku rolled to his side without letting go, holding Arad down so they didn’t disconnect. The nagging craving quieted, and contentment bubbled all the way through to Arad’s fingers and toes. He hoped the next time would be as sweet at this. Every time.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 47 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

I’m so glad to be back after the rough week I had. My dog suffered a stroke and I’d spent several days caring for her as she recovered, constantly worried that this “would be it.” Thankfully, she made an amazing recovery, and the old girl will be with us for a while longer. Now I can get back into the swing of things.

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week, the contributing members write a chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

Is the sensor array working after Arad’s near-disastrous spacewalk?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 47

Without another thought, Arad bounced out of bed and headed out into the hallway, not waiting for Roku to follow. A new energy rush suffused his body, drowning the previous melancholy. It shoved the spacewalk mishap’s list of events out from under the microscope and into a glaring spotlight.

Bare feet slapped the metal floor with increasing speed the closer Arad came to the bridge. His heart thumped with the rising tension. Now with the question out in the air, could he bear the answer? No path inside the ship took long, but getting to the front of the Ansariland and the command controls appeared endless. Anxiety extended the corridors into a trek through dry desert.

He should have broken into Tank’s liquor stash.

Familiar the bridge may have been, yet he crossed the threshold with wary steps. A life full of near-misses and near-escapes could only be pushed so far. The ship was his, but he found himself praying to it, begging for to grant him this small privilege.

Sliding into the navigator’s seat, a sick vibration unsteadied Arad’s hands, even as he began tapping at the monitor. Finding the path through the menus took little effort. He’d ran this program so many times since the jump to no benefit. Would he actually get a different result this time?

*** INITIALIZE SENSOR GRID – Y/N? ***

Arad licked his lips and swallowed, hands hovering over the control. The chance of the system being fixed seemed so remote, but in all likelihood, the initial problem hadn’t appeared to be a complicated one. Luck was fickle, and he’d danced on its razor’s edge for oh so many years.

“No time like the present.” Holding his breath, he pressed an index finger to the screen.

*** SENSOR GRID INITIALIZATION IN PROGRESS ***

For once, Roku’s natural feline stealthiness didn’t hide his entrance to the bridge. “Any news so far?”

“Too early to tell.”

Roku settled close, peering over Arad’s shoulder. His firm chest pressed against Arad’s shoulder blade. “How long should this take?”

“I don’t know. It hasn’t worked since the Ansariland became mine.” 

“What will we do if it doesn’t work?”

Exhaling, Arad shuddered. “I’m not sure.”

Excruciating minutes passed, ended by an electronic chime.

*** SENSOR GRID ACTIVE ***

Arad stifled a gasp to hide any premature excitement. The next prompt did not help.

*** INITIALIZE SUB-SYSTEMS – Y/N? ***

Without another word, Arad chose yes. According to every schematic he could lay his hands on, communications was integrated with the sensors in a way that disabling one had shut down the other, and there was no way to disentangle them. Since the jump, the Ansariland had no way to send out or gather any information coming in. Arad wanted the strangle the idiot engineer responsible for the design and its flaws. Probably someone who had never set foot inside a spacecraft or held a wrench in their lives.

Admittedly, being adrift with no prying eyes had been a godsend at first, but once Roku woke, everything changed. All the stakes were new, and the survival game needed new strategy.

*** COMMUNICATIONS SUB-SYSTEM ACTIVE ***

Roku leaned closer, pushing Arad’s back off the seat. “Is it working?”

Arad swiped the windows to fill the screen, allowing the data to flicker through intermittent static. “It’s a little sketchy, and there’s still gaps in the sensor range—”

A gentle, happy chuckle floated out of Roku. “But it’s working.”

“Not completely—”

“We can see what’s out there again, right?”

“Yeah, but it’s hardly perfect—”

Sincere reverence and wonder coated Roku’s voice. “But you did it.” 

The honest compliment made Arad wince. “I guess.” Years of skating by on sheer dumb luck and sly maneuvers had turned this success into something awkward and unfamiliar. His inner monologue wouldn’t shut up about how a loser from Grey District didn’t deserve this kind of praise. Not for plugging in a loose circuit board.

“Arad, stop!” Roku grabbed Arad by the shoulders and gave him a shake. “You went outside and risked your life for us. Before this, we were floating blind with no longterm hope of survival. We have a chance now. A real chance. You did it!”

Eyes alight, and grinning, Roku shifted his hands down to Arad’s waist, and tossed him in the air, smacking Arad into the ceiling with a dull thud of skull on metal.

“Ow!”

Smile flashing into shock, Roku gathered Arad close, stroking his head with panicked, but delicate caresses.“Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“That’s gonna leave a mark.” Covering the throbbing point with one hand, Arad didn’t fight Roku’s attentions. The more contact, the less he paid attention to the ache. “I’ll be okay. It’s just my head.”

“I didn’t mean to do that. I promise.”

“I believe you. For the future, I don’t think the ceiling’s high enough for that kind of celebration.”

Arad laughed and the concern filling Roku’s expression became warm and giving. While he had stopped checking Arad for injuries, he had yet to lower Arad’s feet to the floor. “You’re amazing…”

Arad’s brain stalled trying to remember the last time anyone said such sweet words to him without expecting anything in return. Slugs weren’t accustomed to kindness. Promises from men like Davis were the most they could hope for. Until today.

The sight of Roku’s earnest smile made Arad’s eyes mist. Maybe shards of splintered bone had shredded his grey matter. There had to be an explanation. Something in Roku’s rapt focus drew Arad in, made the nightmares and memory loss seem unimportant, replacing all their trials and suffering with a feeling he hadn’t known in ages. Hope. Palpable and rich between them, they shared it, and it sang of the potential future. The sensation flooded Arad as he reached out and cradled Roku’s head between his palms.

Roku’s raspy whisper thickened. “Arad, what… what are you doing?”

“Shh… now’s not the time for talking.” Leaning forward, Arad covered Roku’s lips with his own.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 46 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week, the contributing members write a chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

This week I used the prompt: Use the words: bench, morals, and knife.

What happens now that Arad’s meltdown has settled?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 46

Fitful sleep chased Arad through the night. The sound and feel of Roku’s purposeful inhales against his skin kept him from finding it, yet he wouldn’t give up the sensation for all the funds on Grey District. The tiger dozed, but his distress was clear, visible along the ragged edges of his usually smooth fur.

Arad hadn’t said a word about the state of the Ansariland when Roku escorted—or carried—him from the airlock. No comment about the weight bench which had been flung against the wall and the broken exercise machine. Silence over the glints of metal showing through the hallway paint scoured with a random, overlapping quilt of claw marks.

Carefully, Arad shifted so he could see Roku better, trying not to wake him, but found him watching, eyes heavy and lidded.

“I thought I’d lost you.” Roku’s thick whisper dripped with fatigue in spite of their nap. Anguish spilled across his damp eyes. His whole face sat in half-shadow as if under harsh antique neon, and Arad put together the fragile pieces of Roku’s continuous despair.

“Oh man, you saw me out there, didn’t you?”

Deep knife lines marred Roku’s brow as he averted his eyes. “I watched you out every viewport I could find as soon as you stepped out of the airlock. I was scared something would go wrong. Then you were floating away.”

“I’m sorry. I should have listened. You were right. I shouldn’t have been out there.”

“I don’t want to be right. I don’t care if I am. I’m just glad you made it back.” With a deep exhale, Roku nuzzled the side of Arad’s face and neck. “In your absence, I may have done some damage to the ship.”

“Define some.”

Roku’s eyes narrowed. “You already know, don’t you?”

A tiny shrug punctuated Arad’s grin. “It all looked pretty superficial. You can fix the bench press and repaint the walls later.”

“Is that captain’s orders?”

“Yes. I believe that is.”

Even through the fear, the near-death experience, and the care taking during his meltdown, Arad still rode his messed up cravings for Roku. What kind of man wanted to get laid when his life is in danger? A mentally deficient man, that’s who. The cinders never extinguished, continuing to smolder ever greater now, especially given their current proximity. And hearing about how affected Roku had been made Arad weirdly happy. It made him question his own flexible morals. 

He decided to put it out of his mind for now, but the damn itch proved persistent… and continuous.

Rolling onto his back, taking Arad with him, Roku contemplated the ceiling. “The only part I don’t understand is how did it happen? You studied the procedure for days. You were being so careful.”

“I thought I was. Everything was going smooth until I found the open bulkhead.” 

“Was that damage in the sector you were looking for?”

“Yeah. A panel got ripped open either from that cruiser shooting us or the fold and exposed a bunch of circuit boards for the sensor grid. One of them had gotten dislodged—maybe during the jump—and was out of its socket.”

“Is that why the sensors won’t restart?”

“Most likely. Probably shorting the system the way it was sparking, so I couldn’t touch it. I stomped it back into place, but I bounced off the ship. Misjudged the zero gravity. Then the cable disconnected—”

Roku closed his eyes and covered Arad’s mouth with his hand. “Stop. You don’t have to go into detail. I have enough nightmares to deal with.” 

Arad nodded and let the conversation fade. No attempt was made by either of them to leave the bed, and something about that just felt right. Luxuriating in another company without worrying about where the next meal would come from or where he’d sleep the following night. An indulgence Arad hadn’t experienced in far too many years.

Men in Arad’s past had been allies, enemies, or customers. No lovers to be seen. Torrins and Davis didn’t count. Contact with both men was a transaction, not a relationship. It was sad to think how much time had passed as a slug.

That was strange. He hadn’t thought of himself as a slug recently. Perhaps his self-respect had been patched into a useful foundation. Day one in the workhouse had undermined any he had. Overnight up-and-coming socialite to less than nothing with only the clothing on his back. What a fiction cliche he’d become.

But then Roku entered his life in the outrageous, unconventional way he did. Being sex mauled should have brought Arad lower, but seeing the regret for something out of his control endeared him to Arad. Watching Roku struggle to contain himself, showing his honorable nature in spite of the lack of memories, only added to his esteem.

Roku had proved himself many times over, and Arad could only call himself fortunate that Roku’s cryotube failed. The Ansariland would have been a very lonely place without him. Instead, it turned into a home. A home Arad was willing to fight to preserve, and protect the family inside. Even if it was a small family, it meant more to him than the biological ingrates who turned their back on him before.

The peace he now felt surrounded by the half man-half tiger was sublime. He’d ignore the ship repairs to have every day like this if he could. It was almost a shame they still needed to fix things.

“You said you put the board back in place?”

Roku’s question startled Arad out of his pleasurable musings and it took him a significant pause to rally an answer. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Are the sensors working now?”

Arad shifted up onto one elbow and stared into Roku’s eyes, blinking in wide-eyed confusion. In all the chaos, he’d ignored the most obvious result to the outer space drama.

“Um… You know what? I don’t know.”


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 45 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week, the contributing members write a chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

Arad has successfully made it back on board.

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 45

WARNING — Oxygen cell depleted.

Fog began coating the visor as the air inside the suit grew dank faster than Arad expected. His lungs seized as he scratched at the helmet searching for the seal releases. The gloves poor fit required him to have a surer hand, and with the rising panic, he did not. Darkness crept into his sight, and colors separated and turned grey. Suffocating in his suit after barely making it back inside would be an unfair way to die.

Many things in Arad’s life were unfair.

Chest burning, he fell over but curiously didn’t hit the floor. His hands were slapped away from the helmet and the vacuum seal broke open letting in a fresh burst of atmosphere.

Recycled air had never tasted so sweet. He inhaled like it would be the last breaths he’d ever have. Color and light restored themselves in concert with hard, wheezing gasps. His eyes came settled and Roku came into focus, holding Arad with one arm and slinging the helmet aside with the other.

Roku’s brow furrowed in concern and matted fur drew dingy lines from his wide eyes to his jawline. The sleek hair coating his arms and shoulders stood up in patches, a mark of disquiet.

“Arad. Arad, can you hear me?”

“Yeah… I’m okay.” The suit confines became unbearable the moment Arad couldn’t find the next seal clasp. The outfit had nearly been his burial shroud. It needed to come off. He scratched at the seams with an increasing apprehension, but the fat, clumsy, gloved fingers refused to grasp the release. The lack of success made his breathing race and his pulse surge. Tears filled his eyes. “Get… get me out of this suit.”

Without a word, Roku flipped the catches Arad couldn’t and opened the suit. Arad scrambled to free himself even as Roku peeled back the reinforced fabric. Only once his feet hit the deck, did Arad calm somewhat, keeping one hand firmly on Roku’s arm, unwilling to break the connection. 

Acrid sweat and other indignities wafted from the suit, reminding Arad of the hours spent at its mercy and he kicked the suit aside. The scent revolted him. He could only imagine what Roku’s heightened sense of smell picked up from it. The stank permeated his clothing and skin. He wanted to remove it, to wash away the memories.

“I… I need a shower.”

Arad wiped at his eyes and snuffling nose as he headed for the lavatory, his grip on Roku’s wrist. The tiger allowed himself to be dragged, not protesting or resisting for a second. The lights turned on automatically when he entered the room and strode to the shower. Arad caught his haggard reflection in the mirror and he nearly burst into tears. He tore at his clothing, unable to figure out how to remove the tacky, clinging garments.

“I… I can’t get them off.” Arad’s vision blurred as he came unravelled.

Roku’s enormous hands covered Arad’s. “Shh… Just let me help you.”

Arad sniffled and nodded as he let Roku’s hands trail down the hem of his shirt and peel the fabric upward. It tangled for a moment around his head, and a spike of panic howled out of him. Once the shirt cleared his face, Roku palmed the back of Arad’s neck and made soothing platitudes until he settled again.

Once Roku had completely stripped Arad down, the sensation of choking he couldn’t set aside finally let go. A situation he found himself not doing in regards to Roku. He’d leaned forward into Roku’s chest and stomped the idea of relinquishing the contact out of his mind.

Roku reached in and started the shower. “You still want to bathe, right?”

Arad simply nodded into Roku’s chest, comforted by the muscular arm holding him close, but made no move to enter the stall. An endless minute passed before Roku reached down and unfastened his kilt. The heavy weave brushed Arad’s shins and feet as it fell to the floor.

Still holding Arad against him, Roku led them into the steamy shower, protecting Arad’s face from the spray. The two of them inside was a tight fit—especially given Roku’s size—but it didn’t trigger Arad’s fears. He simply stood letting Roku rub the soaking warmth into his bones. Not even a soft moan left his lips when Roku collected some body wash and tenderly soaped his hair, taking his time to do a thorough job. Once complete, he rinsed Arad’s head clean and worked his way down, bit by bit, cleaning every centimeter of Arad’s weary frame, down to his feet.

Neither Arad’s not Roku’s body responded to the intimate touches, even when Roku washed his privates and backside. Not even when they were pressed together under the water to prevent Arad from puddling to the floor. An act he was certainly capable of at that point. No, Arad simply luxuriated in Roku’s ministrations, letting them overwhelm the lingering horror and bringing him ever so slowly back into the real world.

Roku cleaned himself briefly as best he could without losing hold of Arad, who was in no condition to help. He shut down the shower and edged Arad back out into the lavatory. The disposable towels scuffed his bare skin, but the deliberate care of Roku’s efforts drowned out the discomfort.

Grabbing a few more towels, Roku rubbed himself dry as best he could with an arm around Arad’s shoulders. His fur resisted some of his efforts. Leaving their clothes in a heap on the floor, he curled his free arm under Arad’s knees and lifted him off the floor. Wet footfalls echoed off the hull as he carried Arad into the hallway.

Nuzzling Arad’s temple, Roku took long telling inhales that tickled Arad’s hair. “Let’s get you dressed, and back in bed. I think we could both use some rest.”

Arad curled his arm around Roku’s neck and snuggled in deep. He couldn’t agree more.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 44 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week, the contributing members write a chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

Arad goes on a spacewalk to repair the Ansariland part 3.

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 44

No. He was not giving up. Not now. Not after all he’d been through. Roku needed him, and he needed Roku.

But the real question: How could he fix this?

Arad needed to cancel his momentum and generate new thrust. How? What did he have to do anything of the sort? Releasing air through a small hole in the suit could push him in the right direction, but he had no way to seal it again and who knows if he had enough oxygen to last until he reached the Ansariland.

Think, Arad, think.

It all started from stomping the circuit board. The physical force rebounded and uncontrollably pushed him off. Equal and opposite reaction. Science classes weren’t a waste.

He need to come up with an option to reverse the process and he needed it now.

What he wouldn’t give for a can of compressed air or other propellant. The tools anchored to his belt were more mechanical in nature, intended for use in a vacuum. None of them had a power source that could be used to propulsion.

Oxygen levels thirty-three percent.

A solution needed to appear soon, or the chances of making it back inside were slimming into nothing.

Arad wracked his mind in frustration. Whether it was his desperation or the constant yearning for Roku—which shouldn’t be building while he scrounged for ideas—Arad couldn’t find a solution. There wasn’t an option to get himself home. Rage swept over him because the tears had long since dried up. With a snarl, he snatched a wrench off his belt, wishing for something—anything—to smash. Right now, he’d crush the circuit board if he had a chance.

The circuit board.

Physical action had provided the first thrust that launched him into the dark. Could another undo it? Only one way to find out.

Carefully, Arad kicked and twisted, causing him to turn around until the Ansariland faced his back. He hated doing this to perfectly good tools, but they were going to be lost out here anyways, so…

With all his might Arad heaved the wrench out into the abyss. 

Hopefully the force would cancel his current speed and send him back the way he came. Arad allowed himself to spin around while holding his breath to see if he’d done it correctly. Squinting, he could see the ship barely growing in his visor. He was drifting towards the ship.

Unfortunately, he’d burned too much oxygen getting to this point and he wasn’t moving fast enough. But there were more tools on his belt, and he was determined to get home. Every time the Ansariland was behind him as he spun, Arad hurled a tool for thrust, checking his trajectory between each to speed up the trek until his belt sat empty.

Oxygen levels twenty-nine percent.

Reaching the end of the tether had slowed him initially, but not stopped him. Now he had to hope he could cover the distance with the air he had left. Arad prayed he’d built up enough momentum to make up the lost time. Agonizing minutes passed as he continued in a lazy spin, unwilling to ruin his sped by trying to change it. Watching the Ansariland come and go in his vision helped pass the time. Keeping his eyes off the his wrist monitor’s time stamp proved difficult.

Slowly, the ship grew as he closed in, almost giddy at his decent aim considering how poorly he’d managed the rest. The area’s poor light tricked him into thinking he was flying at a more reasonable rate, but slamming into the hull erased that mirage. With a mad scream, Arad scrabbled to get a grip on the exhaust port’s rim, barely preventing himself from bouncing back into the dark. His side ached from the impact, and the bruising would be spectacular, but he decided to worry about that once he was inside once again.

“You can do this.”

He’d landed on the ship’s underbelly. A quick scan caught a faint reflection. The umbilical waved in his headlamp. Too far off to reach but seeing it marked his goal. He could follow it to the airlock.

WARNING — Oxygen levels nine percent.

“Stop looking at the damn screen already!”

This would be close. He had farther to travel and he could only hold his breath for so long. Without wasting another moment, Arad began crawling across the hull. The pace was somewhat reckless, and controlling his breathing took effort. Don’t waste the air. There was a good chance the oxygen cell would expire faster near the end of its life. Losing the game through hyperventilating would be a poor way to go.

He skimmed along the surface, the cable in his sights. A beacon of hope in a hopeless night.

Working as fast as he dared, he pushed along grabbing the edges between panels and ports, trying not to count the minutes he was losing. Images of Roku flickered in his thoughts, the main fuel for keeping him moving and not giving in. There was still a chance, even if the target appeared so far away.

When the lamp swept over the open airlock, he nearly shouted in success. Almost there, but he needed to get inside before he passed out. The timer threatened to zero out if he lost focus now.

WARNING — Oxygen levels two percent.

Climbing into the airlock, he disconnected the umbilical and tossed the useless piece of shit outside. He punched the control and waited for the hatch to close. The moment it sealed, he spun and activated the airlock cycle.

WARNING — Oxygen levels one percent.

He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t breathe. Only wait for the atmosphere to level out and the inner lock to release. His eyes filled and he ground his teeth.

Oh, please don’t let this be the time I don’t survive my life.

The indicator light went green and Arad punched the button. The door ground open and he lurched inside.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 43 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week, the contributing members write a chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

Arad goes on a spacewalk to repair the Ansariland part 2.

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 43

No rushing wind signaled the speed of flying into the distance of outer space, only the sight of the Ansariland’s hull shrinking through Arad’s visor. Horror spiked in short, rapid gasps, freezing his voice until Arad remembered the umbilical connecting him to the ship. He could use it to drag him back to the airlock and everything would be fine. The lazy cable spun in his vision as it snaked between him and the ship. It drew taut and gave a quick jerk and…

Detached from his suit.

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Time turned sluggish as the reality set in. The cable bumped between his flailing hands clad in clumsy gloves and the umbilical fell out of reach. Arad could only stare, panicked and helpless as his lifeline teased his safety, gradually floating away. The tiny distance was no less daunting than a canyon, and given enough time, would become one. The tension during the disconnect had slowed him but he was still drifting out into the vast wasteland.

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The screaming only stopped when Arad’s throat went hoarse.

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Oxygen levels fifty-six percent.

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How long had he been out here? The hysterical edge had leveled itself into a numb state of mind through sheer exhaustion. Arad couldn’t believe his luck. Somehow the cable hadn’t been engaged properly whether by user error or faulty design. He scrounged his memories over all the instructions. He’d been so careful, hadn’t he? Followed every step and received all the green lights. Did he screw this up, or would it have happened no matter what? Did it matter? Either way, he was going to die for it.

After all he’d been through, where was the fairness in that?

Ousted by his parents. Surviving the workhouse. Pneumonia. Living with a Syn dealer. Learning how to hustle on the streets of Grey District and managing not to be found in a trash compactor in some twisted john’s attempt to hide the body.

Torrins and his crew—no matter how less than ideal—was an opportunity to improve his situation. No one believed his stint on board the Midas Ascending would be permanent. The change of scenery and Torrins’ bed was simply a means to an end. Once it became the Ansariland, the idea of staying on forever didn’t sound so bad. The ship was his, as banged up as it was, but it was his. Oddly enough, he was grateful for that despite how it happened. Although he wasn’t about to thank Torrins any time soon, the scheming prick.

Certainly not with the time he had left.

Arad understood. Once the oxygen cells were dead, so was he.

The worst part? That he couldn’t say goodbye to Roku. He could only imagine how devastated Roku would be when Arad didn’t return. Or once he’d realized there was a problem. He had to know something was wrong. How could he not after so long? Had he seen? Had he watched Arad’s stupid amateur maneuver that led to this, powerless to do anything? Imagining Roku’s horror made Arad want to start crying again but his eyes were dry and his cheeks caked with salt. There was no way to let him know for sure. Communications wouldn’t be restored without a fresh restart, even if settling the circuit board corrected the fault. Roku hadn’t been added to the crew roster and given a rank. Arad hadn’t looked up how to do that yet, because he hadn’t seen the need so far, so the operating system wouldn’t update the tiger with command controls once he’d left the ship. No engine to travel. No communications or sensors. Eventually the food would run out, and Roku would be left alone with no way to reach out for help after Arad was gone.

Arad’s mistake had killed them both.

“I’m so, so sorry, Roku.”

The craving for Roku clawed at his soul, never having quieted despite the amazingly poor timing. His terror and resignation had done nothing to shove it down. All the benefits of having Roku on board taunted him. He would give anything to curl up in those sheltering arms, if only for one more day. So much they’d barely touched on. So much to still explore. Due to circumstance, they hadn’t even kissed. Arad would never wake up to find the purring giant in his bed again and the loss tore at the raw space under his ribs. 

How many days passed standing watch over the sleeping DemiShou before Roku woke? He’d promised himself to care for the outcasts, the people like himself. Who knew a promise had a shelf life?

“I should have listened to you, but what else could I do?”

He’d been so sure he could do the repair. Roku’s objections had probably spurred him to prove the tiger wrong. Obstacle after obstacle had grown in his path through his whole life and he’d managed to leap over each one. Yes, he’d tripped here and there, but he honestly believed this would be yet one more step forward. Just like all the rest. Perhaps pride was his sin after all?

Thankfully, he’d never have to reveal this to the crazy preacher who used to shout scripture at all the heathens in Grey District. She’d never have shut up about it.

A raspy peal of laughter echoed inside the suit. Better to laugh than start crying again.

Who knew the edge of madness was such a real thing? 

Arad shifted the helmet’s sloppy fit so he could see better. The Ansariland looked much, much smaller now. He hoped whatever station Roku haunted right now, he had no viewport to see Arad as he gradually disappeared in the airless void. Given the lack of light, it was doubtful either of them could have kept an eye on him.

Oxygen levels thirty-five percent.

This was taking an awfully long time. At least the oxygen cells work correctly. Hopefully death by asphyxiation wouldn’t hurt too much, but somehow he knew better.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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