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Dara Naraghi's graphic novel Lifelike is now available in both digital and print editions. Click here for more info.

Books – Dara
Image of Lifelike
Image of Igor Movie Prequel
Image of Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland (Witch & Wizard (Idw))
Image of Terminator: Salvation Movie Prequel
Image of Witch & Wizard Volume 2: Operation Zero (Witch & Wizard (Idw))
Image of Ghostbusters: Haunted Holidays
Image of Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales Of The Here And Now
Image of The Absurd Adventures of Archibald Aardvark Volume 1: Bullets, Booze, and Beelzebub
Image of MGM Drive-in Theater: Motel Hell and IT
Books -Panel
Image of No Dead Time
Image of Comic Book Tattoo Special Edition
Image of Saint Germaine: Tales of an Immortal
Image of Sherlock Holmes & Kolchak: Cry For Thunder S/N Limited Edition HC
Image of Ghost Sonata
Image of Vampire The Masquerade Volume 1: Blood and Roses
Image of Moonstone Monsters Volume 1

Welcome back to Panel 350, Panel’s foray into flash fiction. Each story clocks in under 350 words, although this one’s even lighter than that. Despair at the existential sci-fi horror that is … The Damned Fleet.

We are the Damned Fleet.

It was in 2045 that Earth heard the transmission from a far-off star. Soon, we deciphered each others’ languages, and set up a lively correspondence. Our “pen pals” had much to teach us. Human civilization flowered, and soon we colonized our solar system.

But then, the Insult: Over the vast ether, the aliens made an insult so vile, the human race swore blood vengeance. The exact nature of the Insult is a secret, but the world united in hatred. Man raised a vast war fleet, and sent it to punish our former friends.

We were that fleet.

But eventually we realized: The trip would take 50 years, each way. Even if our mission was victorious, we would never again see the green hills of Earth. Our parents sent us off to die.

We mutinied. We threw the officers out the airlock, and turned our fusion rockets back toward home. Twenty years has passed, and we were all but forgotten.

We burned the Earth to a cinder.

Now we wander the stars, our bodies twisted through solar radiation, our offspring mutated in ever-more grotesque ways. Our air grows thin and stale. Ever more of us succumb to space sickness, hiding in their cabins from extreme agoraphobia. Our ships are cannibalized for spare parts until their drives fail, ending our torment in nuclear fire. We eat fungal rations, embittered by the taste of tears. The enormity of our crime flies with us always.

Perhaps some men survived, back on Earth. Perhaps some human colonies survive, even though they are cut off from the homeworld, and they will return to Earth. Perhaps the Earth must wait for the great cycle of time to bring about new life. Maybe someday the Earth will be restored to green abundance.

But until that day, we wander the void.

We are the Damned Fleet.

I tell you what, folks, the better my personal life goes, the darker my writin

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