Nominal Meat, the second in my every-other-month series of new science fiction stories is now available on Kindle – see https://james-aston.net/science-fiction-stories/ for details and Amazon links.
The metallic sound varied in pitch as it blasted from the speaker grills set around the room. Every few seconds a voice cut in and announced that ‘Alert status one’ was active.
Keaghan remained seated at the table where he had been eating, hand halfway between his plate and his mouth. Drops of brown gravy dripped on to the table as he crooked his neck, trying to discern whether the sound was going to abate. Two minutes of continuous noise convinced him that this was not an alarm test, and that he would have to react to it.
He dropped his fork and the skewered meat back on to his plate, a spattering of juices emanating from the impact point. He scraped his chair back and slowly trudged towards the exit of the empty cafeteria.
In deep space, one man’s stay on a battleship equipped for war is about to take an unexpected turn.