Gavin never expected to find a friend so far from civilization, but he did. It also helped that Bonham loved the same music. Most people scoffed at the 160-year old music that fascinated Gavin. They claimed it was primitive and technically inferior. All Gavin knew was that it touched his soul, and Bonham’s too.
As “In The Evening” by Led Zeppelin played on the control room speakers, Gavin looked out the windows of the control tower. The disc of the control room, mounted upon a spire, rested above the violent winds of the gas giant, Heracles. The remainder of the hydrogen fuel collector station reached a mile down into thicker atmosphere where 200mph winds constituted a gentle breeze. Life teemed there. A school of hundreds of Flying Shrimp flowed by below. They looked like Terran shrimp except with four sets of dragonfly wings. Some of the tiniest organisms in Heracles, each shrimp grew larger than a man. Four-winged Dagons, nearly 80-feet long, flashed through the school snapping up mouthfuls of the shrimp. In turn, Dagons stayed watchful for larger predators.
The song finished and Gavin queued up another. He often felt lonely as the single person present on the station. Heracles lay far from the normal transit routes, so starships didn’t often stop there to refuel on the collected hydrogen. Other stations managed so much traffic they needed ten-man crews. Heracles saw a single starship once every day or two.
Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” began playing. A staccato ringing sounded from the frame of control tower. Gavin smiled. Bonham loved that song and always liked to add his own percussion to it. Bonham’s beats were beautiful, melodic, and very powerful. It was how he got his name. Just as the chorus kicked in the radio crackled to life. A starship was entering the thin upper atmosphere to fuel up. “Heracles 11, this is Manila-47-whiskey. Are you all right?”
“Manila-47-whiskey,” replied Gavin. “Yeah sure, why?” Gavin didn’t check the radar like he should. He was too busy playing air guitar.
“Are you sure? You’re under attack!”
That got Gavin’s attention. He scrambled to the radar. He saw nothing close by. “What do you mean? I don’t see anything.”
“Well, there’s a…a thing, wrapped around you.”
As he listened, Gavin checked the ship’s approach vector. That’s when he saw them. “Manila!” he called. “You’re coming under attack!”
“That’s what I’m tellin’ you!”
“No, YOU are under attack. You’ve got Barracudas intercepting from 10 o’clock!”
Most living things on Heracles stayed in the denser gases of the lower atmosphere, but the predatory Barracudas were different. A tube filled with hydrogen lined their 120-foot spines, giving them extra lift. With their eight wings they could climb higher than most creatures and reach up to refueling starships. They couldn’t eat the vessels, but their cargo truck-sized jaws could tear a freighter apart before they realized it.
“Jesus!” screeched Manila.
“Get out of the atmosphere now!” called Gavin.
As he watched the radar display, he knew the slow-maneuvering freighter would never escape quickly enough.
Time for emergency measures.
Years ago, loose cables wrapped around the control tower. It made the music Gavin played echo from the station’s skin. That attracted something very large and highly intelligent. In the time since then, Gavin and Bonham worked out ways to communicate. Gavin’s radars could locate prey, things of interest, and threats. Music told Bonham what was out there.
Heart’s “Barracuda” blasted from the control room’s speakers and it told Bonham exactly what needed to be done.
In the seas of Earth, predators are eaten by larger predators, which are eaten by larger predators, and so on. On Heracles, it was no different. The mile-long fueling station shuddered as the 340-foot, 16-winged Bonham unwrapped from the station and pushed away. He could feel the active sonar signals Gavin sent to direct him left and right, up and down.
“Heracles-11!” called Manila. “My god! Something huge is coming. Help us, please!
“That IS the help, Manila,” called Gavin.
Bonham reached the threatening Barracudas and titanic bodies collided. Creatures the size of ships thrashed around each other. Foot-thick plates of keratin collapsed from the pressure of teeth the size of trees. In moments, Bonham had bitten two of the Barracudas in two. The other two fled in terror. Manila-47-whiskey was safe.
“My god, we’re so lucky that animal found it’s prey,” radioed Manila. “We were nearly goners!”
Gavin just smiled. “That wasn’t luck, Manila. That was my friend!”
John “Bonzo” Bonham was the drummer for the band, Led Zeppelin. He was known for hitting the drums extremely hard. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bonham
Each week, the Grammar Ghoul Press’ Mutant 750 writing challenge is ready to go. Up to 750 words may be written in reply to the visual, and the single-word prompts. The visual prompt is above. “Friend” is this week’s one-word prompt. I hope you enjoyed my interpretation. Look for more answers to the challenge right here: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-38/