Song Inspiration Challenge

A Cannibal Star © 2010 NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

A Cannibal Star

A few months back, I was doing a series of challenges organized by The Quillians, my writing group on Second Life. I managed to miss out on May’s and June’s challenges because of the Project That Ate Summer™ at work. But I’m back for July.

The challenge was simply this: in 250-350 words, write a flash piece inspired by a song. Bonus for guessing the song!

(The bonus is because what we do is gather together one Monday night at 6pm Second-Life Time, read all the entries, and then vote on which ones we like the most. The votes are then tallied, and the winner gets a cash prize (Second Life in-game cash, that is), as do the second- and third-place winners. This time, whoever can correctly guess which songs inspired which stories gets an additional prize.)

Now, I can’t give the name of the piece or the song that inspired it, because I know some of the Quillians read this blog. :) The name comes from the lyrics of the song that inspired it, so I’ll just call this “Name Withheld” for now. I’ll update this with the actual name and the song later. Or make a new post. Whatever.

Once again, when given a word limit, I tend to hit it exactly. But this time, I hit the LOW end instead of the HIGH end. Hm. Interesting. So this is exactly 250 words.


He parked the ship just inside the orbit of the third planet, the one they used to call Jupiter after a long-forgotten myth. The eyes of the worlds were watching, and he wanted a good vantage point, but it would be stupid to endanger himself just to get a story.

He was not the only one here. The proximity sensors indicated several million other ships of various sizes and configurations, some further out, some closer in. All positioned with an unobstructed view of Earth.

Humanity, in all the forms it had assumed and in all the far-flung parts of the galaxies to which they had migrated, still remembered home, or at least some few of them did. Still felt enough nostalgia to mourn—or at least mark—its destruction. But for most of humanity, Earth wasn’t news. It wasn’t even a distant memory. It had been uninhabitable for several billion years. All that was left was just a burnt husk. A useless cinder.

Still, that cinder was the cradle of one of the most powerful civilizations the Cluster had ever known.

He cut unneeded systems to conserve power, unfurled the solar arrays, launched and programmed the recorders to capture all wavelengths at maximum bandwidth and density in three dimensions. Stellar transitions weren’t predictable to split-second accuracy, but it would happen long before he ran out of supplies.

He got comfortable. When Earth was engulfed by the expanding sun, Man would be here to bear witness, after all.


Hope you enjoyed it. I think I really like this piece. I tried making it longer, but I hated it every time I did.

We’ll meet Monday (7/25/11) night and vote. If you do have a guess as to what song this was inspired by, do feel free to guess. I moderate all comments, so if someone guesses, I can just hold them until after Monday, then let them through. I’m interested to see if it’s obvious.

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