Welcome to…

The stars weren’t in any pattern Ava knew. Which tracked. Being dropped on an unfamiliar planet was the expected test..

She still had the vague fuzziness of the FTL drugs in her system, too. She had the equipment she’d asked for.


They had been promised something survivable, so she hadn’t brought a suit. She heard rumors that was an automatic fail.

Water filter. Rebreather in case the air was smoky or unpleasant or very mildly toxic. Rain gear. No tent. Tents were heavy and she had slept “cowboy” before. But she did have a bug net.

Generally bugs on other planets only bit you once, but that could still be unpleasant if there were a lot of them. Until they got the message.No, they didn’t generally drop dead. They just quickly learned that blood from another ecosystem wasn’t particularly tasty or nutritious and went to look for better targets.

It was hot. She wasn’t going to want the rain gear. And the idea of stripping off all of her clothes instantly appealed.

Humid rainforest. Ugh. All she had to do was find the beacon.

The place where they had implanted the tracker itched. It was for her own good as much as to monitor her performance.

If she passed, she got the job.

They did their best to make sure the people who failed lived. She could call for pickup at any time and it would come.

It just meant she wouldn’t get the job.

She really wanted this job.

Something sang in the canopy above her that she dared not call a bird, but which was probably a bird analog.Birds predated humans by eons. Most of them died in the crash along with everything else.

There were birds on Valor III, imported ones that lived in cages so they didn’t become invasive. Or die.

There were things like birds here. She craned her neck, but couldn’t see them. They scolded her as she walked, not pleased to see this strange large thing that might be a predator in their territory.

A bug bit her. She swatted it idly. Pulled out the repellant and applied it, hoping it would work on the bugs here.

If it didn’t, she’d have to resort to covering herself with mud. It was readily available.

She walked. There was something resembling a trail. She didn’t want to meet what made it.



She turned right as the snake curled up from where she had stepped on it. She had been looking at the birds and it bit her ankle. 


She should, she knew, call for pickup. It might be venomous. The venom might be fatal.

The snake had already slithered away. She’d gotten a glimpse of its green form. A snake.

An actual snake.

She looked up again at the unfamiliar stars, then shook her head. It wasn’t possible.

Call for pickup.

Or hope it wasn’t venomous.

Call for pickup and there were no retries. She had failed. But failing was better than dying.

She pressed hard on the implant and waited.



They came in a small plane, landed nearby. Not a shuttle. An atmosphere plane.

Her ankle hurt, but it didn’t throb. She’d probably given up her chance over…

…over stupidity. Always look where you’re putting your feet.

“What happened?”

“Snake bit me. Small green one. I…stepped on it.” She knew she’d failed. There was no sense embarrassing herself further.

The man moved to inject her with something. “It was probably a dry bite, but I’m going to give you the antivenin anyway.”

Dry bite meaning the snake might not have actually used venom on her. After all, she wasn’t prey, and it had just wanted her off its tail.

She hadn’t thought of that either.

She just hadn’t wanted to die.

She strapped in as the plane took off. The injection site hurt as much as the bite, because of course it did.

Below her was forest with no sign of human habitation. A new colony world, then, but they’d been very quick with that antivenin.

“I guess I’m going to be going back to Valor III then.”

No response, the plane navigating through skies suddenly roiling with a storm, and then it was gone and they were landing.

A small town. Well built. It had been there a while.

Her ankle didn’t hurt enough to stop her from getting out, looking for the shuttle that would take her off planet.

“Ava Merrow?”

“That’s me.” She turned to face a stern looking woman with grey in her blonde hair, highlighting it subtly silver.

“You did well.”

“I stepped on a snake and…”

“And called for help immediately, knowing how dangerous it was.”

“I failed.”

“No. You passed. We don’t need idiots who try to tough things out here.”

A trick, then. Or, perhaps, sometimes calling for a pickup did indicate you’d failed.


She smiled.

“Ava Merrow? Welcome to Earth.”

Born in Nottingham, England, Jennifer R. Povey (she/her) now lives in Northern Virginia, where she writes everything from heroic fantasy to stories for Analog. She has written a number of novels across multiple sub genres. She is a full member of SFWA. Her interests include horseback riding, Doctor Who and attempting to out-weird her various friends and professional colleagues. Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jrpovey/ or Mastodon at @NinjaFingers@universeodon.com.

WELCOME TO by Jennifer R. Povey is the winner of the Apparition Literary Magazine August Flash Fiction Challenge, which was based on the prompt Survival Reality shows.


Photo by Free Nature Stock on Unsplash

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