I've bitten on another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction challenge. Playing on the "write what you know" meme, he asked us to take an incident from life and turn it into a bit of fiction, preferably genre fiction. I'm going to take a pan that once went missing right in my house, and put it with a ghost on a space ship. It's 1000 words max, but I came in well below.
Arthur had waited a long time for the chance to steal something. He didn't even know why he had to, but ever since he’d died he’d felt like he couldn’t move on until he stole something from the living. And there is so little on a space ship that isn't fastened down. He couldn't believe his luck when he saw the frying pan, just lying on the counter like an abandoned sock. As soon as he wrapped his ghostly hand around the panhandle, the whole thing vanished into the seventh dimension, where neither ghost nor living human could enjoy it. What was the point?
* * *
Sarah was unpacking the shuttle. They'd had a good holiday Down Below, but it felt good to be home again. She and Gil had lived aboard the Lady Luck since they were married four years ago, and this had been their first real trip dirtside. Haven was a fully Earth-like planet, and very little developed, so they'd been able to land the shuttle where they wanted and had enjoyed a grand week of fishing--you could even eat the local fish--and a lot of lying in the sun.
She pulled the kitchen supply bin out of the shuttle, and the frying pan that had cooked so much tasty fish tottered on the top. She didn't want it to fall, so she set it aside on the mechanic's bench and carried the box into the dining bay. Some spacers let the machines do all the cooking, but Sarah liked to cook. She'd grown up dirtside on Golden, and always stocked up on what she called real food. Gil laughed at her, and sometimes grumbled about the extra space her kitchen supplies took up, but he liked her cooking and humored her. Still, he let her haul all the kitchen stuff off and put it away.
Sarah puttered around the dining bay happily stowing her gear, then a glance at the chronograph told her it was time to fix some dinner, so she got on with it. Just a simple dish, the last of the campfire bread she'd baked that morning, and a bit of the local cheese.
It wasn't until the next morning that either she or Gil remembered the frying pan, when she wanted it to cook up some bacon she’d picked up in port. She sent him to fetch it. Gil came back in a minute.
"It's not there. Are you sure you didn't bring it up here?"
Sarah sighed. Typical male. Couldn’t find his head if it wasn’t attached. "I'll go. I know just where I put it." She did, too. The trouble was, it wasn't there. The bench was cleared and secured for zero-G, though they were still running the gravitation motor. There was no frying pan on it. She searched the cargo bay, then each part of the ship, even the ones they hadn’t entered since returning.
There was no frying pan anywhere.
"Gil, it isn't there. And I KNOW I left it right on the counter. Could the cleaning ’bot have picked it up?"
"I didn’t run it last night, since we’d just got back. Anyway, it’s programmed to avoid the mechanic’s bench. We’re the only people on this vessel, and we didn’t either of us touch it.”
Sarah looked at him suspiciously. ‘Are you sure. . . I know you think my cooking gear is an extravagance.”
“Swear by all that’s sacred. Anyway, I would never get rid of that pan when you had bacon to fry!”
“I suppose not. It’s gone, but no one and nothing could have picked it up."
"Only a ghost," he said, and they laughed.
* * *
Down in the cargo bay, Arthur’s last thought as he slipped into the eighth dimension was that, at last, he knew why he had to steal. He’d never see that pan again—but it had freed him at last of the blasted ship.