So I sat for over a day, opening the file and staring at it, and closing it once more. On the positive side, I got the vacuuming and dusting done, so the time wasn’t wasted completely. And then I remembered one tiny detail from the second sentence of the story! The sun in the sky had a reddish color. So, being as this is science fiction, I looked online for red stars. That led to Alpha Scorpii (Antares), to Scorpius, the constellation, to Serket, the ancient Egyptian scorpion goddess.
Now I’m not giving away the story, you’ll have to read it to find out how all of that goes together. After my research, and a little more related to my characters, I was able to write six pages that afternoon—all of it entirely new material. So, what this showed me was that the answer to a stalled story is probably inside the story itself. Again, it’s another example of not seeing the forest for the trees. Or rather, not seeing the one tree you need because of the forest. In my case, the second sentence in the book released the brake, and the story is once again roaring down the highway.