CASTAWAYS is one of numerous short stories offered for free in the Amazon Kindle store by prolific author STEPHEN HUFF, PH.D. This is one of only two of Dr. Huff's pieces I have read, so keep in mind I have not made an extensive review of his work. But based on the two I have read, I must admit that I am distressed.
This story involves a distant planet on which a spaceship crash landed, perhaps centuries ago. Many generations later the people who continue to eke out an existence now possess only a mythical memory of their space-faring past. Their leader (and head cook, I guess) is Ulgi, whom everyone refers to as a SynMan - which I presume stands for Synthetic Man - meaning he is a robot.
As it happens, Ulgi has a dire warning for his people - that some kind of "Darkness" is about to descend upon their world. He asks them all cryptically if they are ready to "stock the freezer." None are willing to oblige Ulgi's strange suggestion.
The meaning behind "stocking the freezer" is what serves as the lynchpin or payoff of this story - but in my mind, it's not a lot to hang one's literary hat on.
The central plot elements of the story are also not terribly original. Crash-landed star travelers who only vaguely remember their origins has been done gazillions of times in science fiction. The concept of "The Dark" is also extremely similar to the scenario made famous in Isaac Asimov's widely-read short story "Nightfall," and is also a central factor of the movie "Pitch Black," to name just two.
So, not high marks for this offering from Mr. Huff, but I plan to sample more of his work.
Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS