I’m pleased to be hosting another leg of the Mystery Thriller Week blog tour – today with an excerpt from Damon L Wakes’ Ten Little Astronauts…
About the Book
Ten Little Astronauts is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None set in space. The novella takes the essence of Christie’s murder mystery and condenses it down into a tense, hard sci-fi thriller.
Ten astronauts are awoken from suspended animation to deal with a crisis on board their ship. Selected from a crew of thousands, none of them knows any of the others: all they know is that one of their number is a murderer. And until they work out who it is, none of them can go back to sleep.
You might notice that the opening chapter below is headed “Eleven.” That’s because the chapters in Ten Little Astronauts count down rather than up: each takes its title from the number of crewmembers alive on board the U.N Owen.
Even before the alarm began to sound, Blore knew in his gut that something was wrong. It was only when he pushed open the hatch of the suspension tank, and a few drops of thick cryonic fluid drifted out into the pitch-black hallway, that he realised what it was: there was no gravity. That was why his stomach churned. The world, the tiny pool of light spilling from his tank, seemed to swirl.
The computer gave no response.
“Owen, turn on the lights.”
“Owen…” But there was something else now, beyond the cold tank and the dark hallway. Something that no crewman wanted to encounter anywhere, let alone ten trillion kilometres beyond Earth orbit.
It was the smell of burning plastic.
Blore hauled himself out of the tank and clawed for the rack of emergency supplies. Even the smallest fire could render the air unbreathable very quickly. Finally managing to find a torch, he tore it from its bracket and pumped the dynamo. A feeble light flickered into life.
Without gravity, every direction was down. Away from the wall of suspension tanks and handrails, the darkness of the hallway yawned like an endless chasm. Gradually the smell of scorched plastic grew stronger. The end of the passage loomed in the torchlight, and Blore pulled himself hand over hand towards the steel door of Computing Hub Five. He heaved it open, and the torch picked out a blizzard of extinguisher foam. Someone else was already here. Sweeping the torch across the room, he spotted a figure in the far corner, clutching an extinguisher, but the man hung motionless in the air. A ball of blood was forming on his back, held by surface tension to the axe planted between his ribs.
“In the event of an emergency, the ship defrosts ten crewmembers.”
Blore wheeled round to see a black-haired man, and a small group behind him, clinging to the handrails at the doorway to the next cryonic bay.
“With you and your friend over there,” the man continued, gesturing to the corpse, “I make that eleven.”
Read on at: https://unbound.com/books/ten-little-astronauts
About the Author
Damon L. Wakes was born in 1991 and began to write a few years later. He holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester, and a BA in English Literature from the University of Reading. Ten Little Astronauts formed the final project of his MA and has since been accepted for publication by Unbound, who are currently crowdfunding it.
When he isn’t writing, Damon enjoys weaving chainmail. He began making chainmail armour ten years or so ago, but quickly discovered that there was no longer much of a market for it and so switched to jewellery instead. He now attends a variety of craft events, selling items made of modern metals such as aluminium, niobium and titanium, but constructed using thousand year-old techniques.