Panic! Horror In Space – An Overview

An overview of the “Panic! Horror In Space” series (as told by Christina Engela):

“‘Panic’ is a series of science-fiction-horror stories featuring regular characters, with the occasional introduction of new characters or settings. The premise of the concept was to create a horror-sci-fi story in a series of connected short fiction installments.

Panic! Horror In Space #2 Front

The series came about by complete chance, when I was in the process of finishing off some incomplete short stories which I intended to put into a sequel for “Space Sucks!” called “Space Really Sucks!“. I took a high-school essay I wrote back in 1987 (“The Curse”) and rewrote it into a short story (“Mercury Rising“). My fiance’e (Wendy K. Gloss) deserves the credit for encouraging me to write a sequel (“Mercury Resurgent“) and turn it into a standalone sci-fi horror series!

Fellow South African sci-fi author Anike Kirsten reviewed that first story very positively in early 2017!

Reading is supposed to be fun, and if the writer enjoyed writing it, the reader will enjoy reading it. Panic is  fun to work on, and the feedback I’ve had from my readers has been very positive!”

What Can Readers Expect From ‘Panic’?

Christina is known for her strong character writing and suspense, and is quickly making a name for herself in the horror genre as well! Things like zombies, ghosts, haunted or cursed objects as well as assorted kinds of paranormal activity are likely to feature in a variety of settings such as deserted colonies or outposts, and derelict space ships or stations.

Each volume contains two distinctly separate stories of around 13,000 words each, and these stories would not necessarily be of a ‘part 1 & part 2’ nature as in the first volume (April 2017). This means that while both stories in each volume would feature the same core group of characters, they would typically encounter a different scenario in each story, as in the later volumes.

The series was launched (April 06, 2017) with “Mercury Rising” and “Mercury Resurgent” appearing in the first volume (#1), where the reader is introduced to main characters Stuart Flane and Vic Chapman, and some of the crew of the ill-fated starship Mercury.  Most of the crew die in those two episodes anyway 😉 so it’s not worth mentioning them anywhere.

Volume #2 features “Dead Center” where Captain Flane and the regulars – and the (new) crew of the Mercury, have to ‘babysit’ a TV crew on a purportedly haunted abandoned mining facility with disastrous consequences.

 “Through A Dark Glassy” tells how the Mercury is sent to assist a cargo ship in trouble, only to discover that the cause for the loderunner Marconi’s distress – and now theirs – is a box-load of haunted items!

Volume #3 contains “Miora” and “The Big Rain”.

More stories are to follow in subsequent installments.

Characters & Plot Devices:

Altimitsu-2 – a planet.

Atooin – another planet.

Brigid – a star. Brigid-4 is a gas giant located in the system’s habitable zone, being just the right distance from its sun, and has eight moons of its own, one of which is Brigid 4.4.

Brigid 4.4 – once called Hamet by the extinct race that once lived there, Brigid 4.4 is the fourth moon of the planet Brigid-4.  The planet-sized moon appears to have supported an advanced civilization once. Debris, including dead satellites, several defunct nuclear warheads, and a few small ships that look like shuttles and fighters drift slowly around the planet like bugs swarming around a corpse. Even though the nuclear winter has begun receding, most of the polar regions are still covered in thick sheets of ice. The tell-tale sign of radiation still cling to the surface. The equatorial region is virtually free of ice and snow, and the ruins of giant cities mark the devastated land – broken and shattered towers, craters that marked the site of devastating explosions, collapsed structures, roadways choked with rubble and the remains of long-decayed vehicles. The planet was devastated by war approximately 2987 years ago.

Cajuna – A furry creature that looks something like a cross between a cat and a large bunny rabbit from Brigid 4.4, the pets of the former inhabitants.

Corsairs – space pirates.

Delubrian-3 – another planet.

Durastress – an extremely durable plasto-metallic alloy made from a combination of plastic and metals, and blended in an industrial-scale transmatter. Durastress alloy is used for everything from ship hull-plating to garden furniture. It’s also a handy replacement for glass panels and windows as it can be made transparent.

Floridia-7 – known as the most haunted abandoned Terran outpost in the universe. According to the team of paranormal investigators from ‘Specter Adventures’, Foridia-7 was ‘A promising paradise planet settled by two thousand miners, artisans and administrators over 40 years ago – suddenly abandoned for no apparent reason! What drove the people who came here in search of adventure and wealth in a highly profitable selenium mine to suddenly just walk away from it all? Was it abuse of power by the administrators? Was it the high accidental death rate? Is the Prosperity Selenium Mine on Floridia seven haunted?’ Apparently, it was.

Gravitas – a company that manufactures artificial gravity systems for use in space ships and stations etc.

Gravity net – the artificial gravity system networked into the deck plating of space ships and stations etc.

Hands & Feet – A painting of a little boy standing barefoot in front of a shop window, in which disembodied hands and feet are displayed. According to accounts given by several previous owners, the child-like figure in the painting moved around at night, sometimes disappearing from the canvas entirely, only to reappear after dawn. The little boy in the painting was said to creep about the house where the painting hung at night! The artist who painted the item, when consulted by an art gallery before his death in 2016 expressed surprise when told of the paranormal drama surrounding what he always thought of as a ‘art student’s experiment fueled by a drunken binge’ – but did mention that the first three original owners after him had each died within a year of purchasing ‘Hands And Feet’.

I.S.S. Mercury – a Ningan class battlespringer, a ship of the imperial Terran Space Fleet’s exploration division, the Pioneer Fleet, registry number P476.


The bridge of a Ningan class ship is typically small and relatively crowded with control desks for the helm, weapons array, communications, sensors, and a snug little command seat for the Captain right in the center. In fact, the bridge on a battlespringer class ship is so cramped that jokes abounded in the Fleet that it comes equipped with bucket seats!

Purple Shirts – the security marines of Terran Pioneer Fleet ships wear purple tunics.

Sickbay – like all sickbays on Ningan class ships – comes equipped with an SMD (Space Medical Doctor) and nurse – and an airlock at the main entrance, fitted with a cycle of decontamination filters, which includes bombarded with radiation, chemical cleaners and other light-spectrum purifiers in case of infectious diseases.

Jug of Death – an alien object discovered on Atooin by a terraforming crew believed to be responsible for at least 13 mysterious and messy deaths.

Kilgary – a loderunner, Foreman class,  lost for over forty years until rediscovered by the I.S.S. Mercury. At the time of it’s disappearance forty years previously, the Kilgary was last seen in orbit around Tegra, forty three years ago. She was reported missing, given up for lost with all hands six months later.

Marconi – a loderunner almost as unlucky as the I.S.S. Mercury.

Portascan – a portable scanning device.

Snork – a kind of pet animal with  suitably silly name.

Spectre Adventures – Interstellar Travel Channel’s most popular paranormal investigation TV show, featuring (until their mysterious disappearance on Floridia-7) Mak Sagan, Nick Gruff, Erin Goodman and Milly Marley.

Standard Order 117 – on away missions, team members often wear viro-suits, which are sealed off from the outside completely. Standard order 117 assumes a risk of exposure to a hazard outside the protection of the environment suit, be it radiation, temperature, chemical, biological, or unknown, and expressly forbids the team members from opening their suits, breaking the air-seal, for example by removing their helmets.

Starbase 27 – a Space Fleet outpost often visited by the I.S.S. Mercury and run by the unforgettable Commodore Peters.

Tesla City – a city on Mars.

Transmatter – a matter dematerialization/rematerialization transportation device.

Viro-suits – environment suits, a.k.a. space suits.

Vista Prime – a young colony in the Quillian Sector.

Zoms – a contraction of ‘zombies’, applied to undead walking corpses, sometimes operated by alien nanites.


These are some of the more prominent or regular characters that appear in the series, others that are minor, incidental and transient are not listed.

  • Chapman, Vic – Commander, Executive Officer of the Terran starship I.S.S. Mercury. Vic is the long-time friend of Captain Flane, and a secondary main character in his own right. Despite coming forward more as man of action than thought, Vic is also drawn to matters of historical interest, arts and academics and philosophies.
  • Flane, Stuart – Captain of the Terran starship I.S.S. Mercury. Stu Flane is the heroic leader of the crew – who has the unhappy distinction of having his reports ridiculed at Fleet H.Q. level by flag officers who find his reports featuring paranormal events suspicious at best! He fears his chances of being promoted are outweighed by his chances of his being fired. Out of a torpedo launcher.
  • Franklin, Paul – Lieutenant, nurse aboard the Terran starship I.S.S. Mercury.
  • Killian, Fred – Doctor, chief medical officer of the Terran starship I.S.S. Mercury. A genteel, reserved man, Fred Killian has a lengthy career with the Pioneer Fleet and is known for his bedside manner and for not swearing. Except in unusually stressful circumstances, in which he may also use the word “dude”.
  • Mahoney, Samuel – junior pilot & assistant of the loderunner Marconi.
  • Severance, Abel Dyke – Senior pilot of the loderunner Marconi.

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