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Science Fiction Microstory Contest
* AUGUST 2016 MICROSTORY CONTEST - STORIES ONLY
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Jul 28, 2016 09:20AM
Science Fiction Microstory Contest August 2016)
** STORIES ONLY **
The theme* for the month follows this note from the competition's Creator/Director, Jot Russell:
To help polish our skills and present a flavour of our art to other members in the group, I am continuing this friendly contest for those who would like to participate. There is no money involved, but there is also no telling what a little recognition and respect might generate. The rules are simple:
1) The story needs to be your own work and should be posted on the Good Reads Discussion board, which is a public group. You maintain responsibility and ownership of your work to do with as you please. You may withdraw your story at any time.
2) The stories must be 750 words or less.
3) The stories have to be science fiction, follow a specific theme and potentially include reference to items as requested by the prior month's contest winner. The theme for this month is posted below.
4) You have until midnight EST on the 22nd day of the month to post your story to the Good Reads Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion. One story per author per month.
5) After, anyone from the LI Sci-Fi group or the GR Science Fiction Microstory Discussion group has until midnight EST of the 25th day of the month to cast a single private vote to Jot Russell () for a story other than their own. This vote will be made public once voting is closed. Voting is required. If you do not vote, your story will be disqualified from the contest. You don't need a qualifying story to cast a vote, but must offer the reason for your vote if you don’t have an entry.
6) To win, a story needs at least half of the votes, or be the only one left after excluding those with the fewest votes. Runoffs will be run each day until a winner is declared. Stories with vote totals that add up to at least half, discarding those with the fewest votes, will be carried forward to the next runoff election. Prior votes will be carried forward to support runoff stories. If you voted for a story that did not make it into the runoff, you need to vote again before midnight EST of that day. Only people who voted in the initial round may vote in the runoffs.
7) Please have all posts abide by the rules of Good Reads and the LI Sci-Fi group.
8) Professional comments and constructive criticisms are appreciated by any member in either group and should be posted to the separate thread that will be posted at the end of the month and all voting is complete to avoid any influence on the voting. Feel free to describe elements that you do and don't like, as these help us gain a better perspective of our potential readers. Remarks deemed inflammatory or derogatory will be flagged and/ or removed by the moderator.
9) The winner has THREE days after the start of the new month to make a copy of these rules and post a new contest thread using the theme/items of their choosing. Otherwise, the originator of the contest, Jot Russell, will post a new contest thread.
*Theme / Requirements for the August 2016 contest:
Must be SciFi
Must Include: Alien bones are discovered where they shouldn't be. Use that however you want.
(last edited Aug 19, 2016 11:06AM)
Jul 29, 2016 09:16AM
Cats and Dogs
By C. Lloyd Preville, © Copyright 2016.
General D’ogg peered warily into the large storage container’s furnished interior.
Kittae the unmerciful was waiting for him, sitting at the one table. After removing his helmet, General D’ogg heard the two separate warship crews button up the outer seals and hastily depart the desolate moonlet.
Kittae silently glowered at him from his one good eye. There was a great welt-like scar crossing his face, from notched ear to jaw. This was not a Feline to be trifled with.
“Welcome.” Kittae grumbled. “I do not know why they made me come here to converse with a Canine, but since I am here, I suppose we might make an attempt at communication.”
D’ogg looked around the unremarkable room. There were a few pieces of furniture and a large pile of supplies. “I am not thrilled with our meeting either, Feline. I have attended too many funerals to be in a social mood.”
Kittae slammed down his cup of cream angrily. “I too am in no social mood, mongrel. I have witnessed your kind chasing our civilians down to rip them to pieces—it’s barbaric.” He started to shout. “Our thousand year war is your fault! Canines are savages and sons of bitches!”
General D’ogg strode over to the table to confront Kittae directly. “Pussies are cowards who deserve no quarter. They would rather leap out of a tree or sneak up on you from behind than fight honorably!” He was also shouting, and he slammed his fist on the table. “This thousand year war has bankrupted us both--and for what? Our puppies hardly have a bone to gnaw anymore!”
They glowered at one another, but then Kittae the unmerciful spoke in a low purr. "My people are starving too, Canine. Our kittens don’t even have any string to play with. It took years of death matches to produce a champion for this meeting. I imagine you have been thorough similar seasoning, and deserve some measure. . . of respect.” He bit the words out and bowed his head slightly.
“That’s true enough, Feline” D’ogg growled. “Many good-hearted brothers were lost. I too acknowledge you are worthy of respect.” He nodded his head slightly, returning the honor.
“So…” Katae suggested, “…shall we get down to business?”
D’ogg drew a flask of water from a nearby cask and drank deeply. “We wish to end this stupid war. We wish to find agreement with your people through mutual respect. If we work together rather than continue fighting, we might have a chance against the encroachment of the monkey people. They are a threat to us all.”
“We too have monitored their progress inhabiting worlds on the spinward fringes. Something must be done.”
“And so we must cooperate.” D’ogg took the chair opposite Kitae.
“And so we must, my friend.” The Feline flinched as he inadvertently used the word.
D’ogg waved at the large stack of papers on the table. "These are documents defining territory, military cooperation, and so forth. Luckily, we prefer wooded worlds with forest animals, while your kind prefer…” General D’ogg shuddered, “…desert worlds with reptilian lifeforms.”
“Let us stop this wasteful fighting, D’ogg, and instead launch a successful campaign against our common enemy.”
“I foresee a glorious future where our combined armies send the monkey people back where they came from, their missing tails figuratively between their legs.” D’ogg bared his fangs in anticipation.
“This master page requires only one signature from each of us and…” Kittae waved at the stack, “ …all this becomes binding. Shall I go first?”
D’ogg bit his lip. “Yes, you shall have the honor of the first signature, and I the binding last.”
Kittae the unmerciful gently rubbed his cheek fur against the document to leave his spore, and placed his paw, flexing the claws to puncture the paper precisely.
D’ogg took the offered document. Like Kittae, Canines mark their territory first, and then leave a paw print. His marking would be a bit more customary, however. D’ogg placed the document on the floor, and raised one leg to mark it, while Kittae looked on with shocked outrage. Unfortunately, Kittae misunderstood the gesture.
Years later, the monkey people were surprised to find the bones of the two warriors when the tide of battle brought them to the abandoned moonlet and the cargo container. The canine had the feline by the throat, but the feline’s claws were sunk deeply into the canine’s mummified chest.
Jul 31, 2016 08:29PM
By Tom Olbert
Craig Morgan cursed bitterly. His breath was white steam, the arctic chill cutting through the layers of his clothing, turning his bones to ice. He glanced up at the oil rig, still silent, useless as the ice flows stretching to the horizon. First, the damned environmental activists, and now this. If he lost his bonus over this…
He clenched his teeth and silently swore as his half-numb fingers tightened on the icy rope and he repelled down the walls of the ice flow, down the drill shaft into the darkness below. He and his men descended through the shattered crust of…whatever had damaged the bore and held up production yet again. As his boots touched a hard, smooth surface he knew shouldn’t exist, he looked around in the dim electric light. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, he saw…curved walls. And…shapes. Large shapes like fossilized skeletons of creatures the like of which he’d never seen. Things like…huge spiders, or crabs, or scorpions, with strangely shaped forward claws and mandibles. And, they were positioned at…no. It couldn’t be. Stations, or instrument panels of some kind…no. He shook his head, almost hysterical with the absurdity of it. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t. Humphries, the biologist the government had flown up here approached him, the gawky little man’s face clarifying in the lamplight, icicles hanging from his beard, the lamplight reflecting off his glasses. Morgan stared at him. “It’s a hoax,” Morgan said, looking around. “It has to be. The damn eco-freaks rigged it all up, like a Hollywood movie set.”
“No,” Humphries said quietly, shaking his head. “It’s been down here for at least five hundred years, judging by the depth of the ice. And, bio-chemical tests on bone scrapings taken from these exoskeletal fossils proves beyond any doubt they didn’t originate on this planet.”
“A spaceship?” Morgan finally managed, the words straining in his throat.
“Or, an installation of some kind. We won’t know until we can get an excavation crew down here. Needless to say, this whole site is now designated as a scientific research preserve.” A trembling smile spread across the little man’s face, his pale blue eyes alight with dreams of fame.
Morgan closed his eyes, his fist trembling in rage as his bonus evaporated.
Morgan and Humphries stood at the summit of the oil rig, the harsh polar wind rattling through their jackets. “How does it feel, Morgan?” Humphries asked, shielding his eyes and looking out over the glaciers toward the ocean beyond, watching for the ice breaker. “To stand witness to the greatest scientific discovery in human history?” He smiled and Morgan smiled back. Humphries was still smiling when the rifle bullet shattered his skull.
Morgan sighed. By now, his men would have laid the explosive charges at the base of the shaft. Soon, all evidence would be buried under tons of ice, and production would resume with no further interruptions. Morgan silently rehearsed his statement to the press. Another victim of ecological terrorists.
Intricate robotic arms delicately brushed away the ancient sediment from fossilized human bones.
Krazz, the alien engineer observed through the overhanging observation port, her mandibles clicking in wonder. “I’m told colonization of this planet is well underway,” she remarked. “Odd. Only fifteen centuries ago, the survey ship we sent here, in their last transmission reported this planet too cold and too rich in oxygen to sustain our species. Now, the environment is perfect for our kind. How could so much have changed in only fifteen hundred years?”
“Your answer is there,” Traxx the exobiologist said, pointing her claw at the excavation.
“The indigenous lifeforms?”
“Intelligent mammalian bipeds. Judging by their ruins, they built a heavily industrialized civilization. They apparently burned fossil fuels for energy, flooding their atmosphere with carbon dioxide gas, raising the global temperature until the ecological implosion destroyed them.”
“Inconceivable,” Kraaz said, her antennae quivering. “What kind of intelligent species would do that?”
“Evidently, they valued individual profit over the greater good.”
“How very tragic.”
“Tragic for them, yes. Quite fortunate for us.”
(last edited Aug 02, 2016 05:40AM)
Aug 02, 2016 05:10AM
Floor Of Bones
The Antar closed its solar sails and coasted over the asteroid Kaustos. It was an asteroid roughly 85% the size of California back on Earth and a rich source of Graviton Crystals, the rarest, most valuable energy source. Kaustos was one of many Graviton rich asteroids in a cloud that revolved around a three body star system.
This asteriod cloud was discovered 85 years ago when mining machines were costly and primitive and transport to the cloud took years of living in a cold, crowded can, inhaling stale air. Back then, mining was done the old fashioned way with explosives and tunneling. For all these reasons the local alien population were briefly used before they suddenly disappeared.
The company that first got the contract to mine Kaustos some 85 years ago was the media darling of all industry. Competitors described them as efficient and their employees were said to be highly driven. In the begining they nearly went bankrupt when the second energy revolution struck the markets and swept across the entire world economy, sinking companies and nations alike. Some say that it was their vision and philosophy that fueled a desire to succeed in harsh times. They took their name and company symbol from a little known political movement from ancient times. A political movement from the days before the Great Data Loss when knowledge was found on paper. Now, they are known across the galaxy.
”Take a look at the crater Afua.” Essie said pointing to the large dark crater on the screen. She flipped a switch on the control panel and the downward, circling road that hugged the crater wall lit up all the way to the bottom.
”I still don´t see how the robots of 85 years ago could get so much done. They must have used alot of alien labor Essie. More than they will admit to.” Afua said leaning back as he yawned.
”You need to suit up and take some robots with you to the control station. They want to start mining asteroids on the outside of the cloud, like Kaustos again because they fear the cloud will not stay stable over the next 240 years. We can mine faster on the outside of the cloud and hence get more Graviton before this cloud is shredded by its suns.” Essie said. Her eyes fixed on Afua over her cup of coffee.
The Shuttle with Afua and his two humanoid robots left the Antar, arriving at the landing bay entrance in the side of cliff a few kilometers from the crater Essie had shown him on the screen. She had to turn on the lights and clean air since most of the maintenaince robots worked in the dark. Afua was horrified to see that the whole landing bay floor was a gruesome mosaic of alien bones partially buried in dirt. The robots did not notice the floor.
”Rusty86. You need to look into what needs an update.” Afua said staring at the vacant expression on the face of the female looking robot then looking down at the bones.
”I will do that right away Afua.” It said walking away to the crunching of bones under its feet.
”And you Rusty85, you need to find me some kind of records.” Afua said looking up at the giant male humanoid robot. His eyes fell to the pistol at its waist then the bones on the floor.
”There aren´t any records Afua and Essie wants me to guard you and make sure you´re OK.” It said tilting its head to the side and arching its eyebrows. Its eyes followed Afua´s eyes and its hand slide down to a pistol handle at its waist.
Rusty85´s shoulder suddenly exploded as its pistol arm flew off its body. Blue goo leaked out the hole that was now the robots shoulder. Another shot blew its head off its body.
”What´s going on down there? What are you doing Afua? Essie screamed from Afua´s wristband.
The whole landing bay shook and Afua heard rumbling as the entrance collapsed and everything went dark.
”I´m in a pickle.” Afua thought holding up a lighter with a warm pistol in the other hand.
”RUSTY!” Afua yelled.
”We need to leave immediately everything is collapsing.” Rusty86 said appearing out of the darkness.
”Lead the way Rusty.” Afua said.
( 732 words John Appius Quill ©2016)
(last edited Aug 04, 2016 06:23PM)
Aug 04, 2016 05:10PM
Requiesce in Pace
“The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”…
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.”
Ezekiel 37:1-5, 10
General Benedict Custer leapt out of the Blackhawk helicopter and into a swirling dust storm. Ducking low, he held his black beret firmly to his skull with one hand while shielding his eyes with the other. He could not hear the saluting Colonel’s words over the whup, whup, whup of the blades but it was clear he wanted the General to follow him. The helicopter lifted off, banked steeply and quickly receded into the deepening twilight of the Nevada desert.
“This had better be good Almstead,” he growled. “I left my wife sitting at the O Club celebrating our thirtieth anniversary – by herself.”
“Yes sir, I’m sorry about that General. But you absolutely need to see this,” assured the Colonel.
Custer could see generator driven lights and a lot of civilians in white hazmat suits moving around something just out of sight.
“We have an accident today I wasn’t aware of?”
“Not in the usual sense sir.”
Custer stopped in his tracks. “Vince, bring me up to speed right now before I have the Pentagon breathing down my neck and a news crew crawling up my ass.”
Colonel Almstead was clearly agitated or excited, Custer couldn’t tell which, but right now he wanted answers.
“It’s easier just to show you Ben. It’s absolutely incredible.” Almstead dropped the military formalities.
“Two F-35’s test dropped a new type of ground penetrating bomb. You know, to use against deeply buried targets.”
“Yes Vince, I’m familiar with the type.”
“Well they successfully penetrated deeper than any of our other ordnance and they uncovered something.” The Colonel turned and started walking again towards the lights.
“What did they uncover? Not another Native American burial site I hope?!” That was all Custer needed; another run in with the local tribal elders. Catching up to Almstead, Custer could see a gaping hole in the ground and a cave of some kind that fell gently away from the surface lights. Almstead was already making his way down, flashlight dancing madly on the ground in front of him.
“Do we need to suit up?” Custer called out.
“No! The civvies just said not to touch anything.”
Making his way down, Custer was unprepared for what he saw.
“Good Lord! Are they?”
“Yes General. They are. Thousands of them. Maybe hundreds of thousands.”
“But…what…is this place? Some kind of alien ossuary?”
Lining both sides of the cave were large alcoves, each one holding the skeleton of what clearly had to be an extraterrestrial. Their arms were folded neatly across their chests in graceful repose, yet to Custer the ferocity of the fanged skulls belied any peaceful intentions.
“Amazing isn’t it sir?”
“All this time we’ve been looking up at the stars and wondering if anyone else was out there, and they’ve been here the whole time under our feet.”
“Well don’t get too kumbaya on me Vince. They don’t exactly look all warm and fuzzy. Look at those teeth and talons. You can’t tell me those are for eating salads and basket weaving.”
“General you can’t seriously think that-”
“It’s my job to seriously think Colonel, about any threat to this country.”
Custer absently poked a rib bone to emphasize his point. Microscopic barbs along the bone’s surface retained some of Custer’s skin cells, absorbing the DNA and devouring the rest for energy.
New tissue began spreading quickly across the skeleton.
(746 words in story) Justin Sewall © 2016
(last edited Aug 05, 2016 08:31PM)
Aug 05, 2016 01:57PM
A ROBOT WALKS INTO A BAR
He pulled hard on the reigns of the horse, dust pillowed up under its hooves and slowly settled in the late afternoon sunlight. He dismounted with a clang, wrapped the reigns around a post and sauntered through the swinging saloon doors.
One of the establishment girls in a low cut, frilly dress looked up, yelped, and headed out of the room. Scared.
The dirty, nicked-up metal-man walked into the saloon and took a seat next to Ol’ Sam, the local drunk, part-time sheriff cum bullshit artist cum purveyor of more conspiracies than anyone west of the Mississippi.
The metal-man clanged a pitted and dusty hand down on the bar top. “Man!” he said. “What a fucking day I’ve had.” His voice had only a hint of metallic about it. His shoulders slumped as he settled onto the barstool, servos whizzed and from some interior space came a
. A machine sigh, if ever there was one.
Several men who were playing cards noticed the metal-man and quickly drew their weapons, grabbed their money, playing cards, drinks and hats and exited the building. Ol’ Sam never looked up, his gaze fixed upon the whiskey and bar top in front of him.
“Tough one, eh?”
“You could say that.”
“What’s got your knickers in a bunch?”
“Knickers? Ah-ha. Well, down past the Johnson place, beyond the mesa where the river bends, where people won’t go because it’s haunted or some such malarky …“
“I know the place. Paiutes call it ‘Manegesumu’yoo Poohwi’, if I recall correctly.”
“So,” said the metal-man, “I was digging. Looking for a mineral I need. Well, may I rust out completely if I didn’t come across something quite amazing.”
Ol’ Sam lifted his drink, shlossed the ice around a bit, and took a sip. “Oh?”
“No barkeep in this place? I need to get oiled up. Anyway, you won’t believe what I found! So, I’m digging, deeper and deeper, I mean like
, and I start coming across things, strange things, out of place, out of
. Like, exotic stuff. Finally, I go so deep I hit something solid, steel of some sort.”
“I did an analysis of it. Damned strange stuff, I tell you. Damned strange. Not natural. Anyway, I cleared the top of this thing off and found a latch.”
“A latch?” Ol’ Sam held his whiskey glass up before him, eyed its contents.
“Precisely. So, I opened it up. I figured what the molten steel, might as well. Inside, well let’s just say that inside I found something that will change this world.”
“How’s that? Wadidya find?”
“Bones, my friend,” said the metal-man. “
“There’s something you don’t hear every day.”
“Don’t hear every…! Are you listening to me? Alien bones, completely different than yours. A head that looked like something straight out of Revelations. Not. Of. This. World.
“I hear ya.”
They were quiet for a moment.
“Man, this place sucks. No barkeep anywhere. No wonder it’s empty in here. I’ve had it. I’m gonna find someplace new.”
The metal-man got up to leave, but then turned to ask a question. “What does ‘Manegesumu’yoo Poohwi’ mean in Paiute?”
As he answered the question Ol’ Sam turned to look at the man for the first time, “It means Area 51.”
Ol’ Sam’s face froze, his jaw hung as though it were unhinged. He shook uncontrollably. A battered tin thing was looking at him, metal plating for a face with two slits for eyes and another for a mouth. There was an oil spot on the top of its forehead and a thin layer of rust had formed over the area where there might have been a beard.
“What, really? Area 51? What the hell does that mean? And where is Area 43 or 17, for that matter?”
A small drizzling sound could be heard. The metal-man craned his neck forward -
- and looked directly into Ol’ Sam’s eyes, only inches away, and said, “Sir, you are leaking and you are clearly out of balance. You need a good mechanic.”
The metal-man turned and walked away, servos and actuators hissing and grinding, spring-loaded mechanisms popping and pinging.
A moment later the barkeep entered the saloon from the back door, carrying a small barrel and a couple of bottles in his hands. “Hey, Sam,” he called out, “have you heard the one about the robot that walked into a bar?”
(last edited Aug 05, 2016 02:32PM)
Aug 05, 2016 02:22PM
Dry Bones ©2016 Kalifer Deil
“Professor Kurchner, I was skindiving in a well near a Mayan temple in Chichen Itza and I found this skull buried in the mud. I think it proves that aliens were here helping the Mayans.”
Stanford Professor Kutcher eyed the item wrapped in burlap, brought by his former student, “Charlie, you could have been sent to prison for a very long time taking that out of Mexico.”
“I know, professor, but after I saw this skull, well, it's different.” With that he flipped off the burlap covering revealing an ivory-white elongated skull in perfect condition.
Professor Kurchner leaned his head in his hand, elbow on desk. “You know these elongated skull are common all over the world. You were there when I lectured on these, how they would bind their heads to get this look.”
“Professor, bear with me. Feel this skull; it's in perfect condition, it's white, not brown. It's not weathered or eroded. It doesn't feel like bone.”
Professor Kurchner picked up the skull. “It's very light, feels waxy, and the perfect condition is quite remarkable. No parietal or occipital suture. Mind if I take it down to the lab?”
“I don't want it harmed in any way!”
“You know that there isn't a lot one can do without a slight bit of destruction.”
Charlie, agitated, shaking his head almost violently, “Absolutely not!”
“Okay, How about I X-ray it?”
Charlie calmed down, “That's okay, I think.”
“Why don't you come with me to the Stanford Linear Accelerator. They have exactly the kind of X-ray machine we need.”
Charlie looked a little bewildered that they needed to go to such a facility, but nodded in agreement.
A half hour later they arrived at SLAC and talked to Dr. Pierce at the Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray facility. “Yep, we can do that. It will take a few minutes.”
A laser lit the path a beam of high energy X-rays would follow through the eye socket, then through the back of the skull. The machine flashed a series of X-ray pulses as the skull was moved incrementally on a stage.
Dr. Pierce watched as images were reconstructed on the screen. “The thickness is consistent with skull thickness.” Charlie and the professor remained quiet while intently watching the screen. “Ah, now we can see the fibrous structure with voids that must have contained osteoblasts. Hmm, very regular. Quite clever!”
“Clever?” Professor Kurchner frowned, “What do you mean by clever?”
“It's not a human skull!” Dr. Pierce laughed.
Charlie bolted to his feet, “See, I told you it was an alien skull.”
Professor Kurchner motioned for Charlie to be seated, then looked at Dr. Pierce, “Please explain.”
“Come on, you guys, you are pulling my leg!”
Charlie pleaded, “No! It's alien isn't it?”
“Professor, what have you told this poor boy?”
“I've tried to teach him that many people around the world engaged in deforming the skulls of babies to achieve this elongated skull effect.”
“Well, this one is quite different. The fibers are much too regular, linear and beady. Human skull structures are far less regular, lots of overlap and no beadiness. So, you know what that tells me?”
Professor Kurchner frowned and wrinkled his nose, “Come on, you're not telling me that it's alien, are you?”
“Certainly not! It was made on a high quality 3D printer out of alumina-silica-ceramic containing titanium oxide which gives it that cameo appearance. If you paid anything for that, you have been snookered. Although it would be quite an attraction in someone's curio cabinet.”
Charlie whined, “Why would anyone bury this deep in the mud in a Mayan water hole?”
“Professor, you should tell him about the Piltdown Man.”
Charlie was practically in tears, “Well, I don't believe you. I'm going to the world authority on this stuff, Erich Von Däniken. He will believe me.
Professor Kurchner shook his head in dismay, “I'm sure he will.”
After Charlie left the room Dr. Pierce whispered to Professor Kurchner, “I think we're in trouble.”
“Why is that?”
“There is no 3D printer in the world that has this resolution.”
(last edited Aug 17, 2016 11:34AM)
Aug 08, 2016 02:49PM
A mechanical whir preceded a whistling hiss as atmospheres equalized. I could feel my hands shaking, anxious to even step aboard…though I suppose ‘step aboard’ wouldn’t exactly be accurate in this case. The military had been sitting on their little discovery for almost two decades. Originally a pet project for a handful of scientists with the highest level security clearance, it suddenly became a larger operation. At least that’s what I’d learned.
The reinforced hatchway slid steadily to open and a soldier in light fatigues was there to meet me. “Dr. Foster?”
I hoped my nerves didn’t show. “Yes, that’s me.”
“Welcome to the Leviathan. I’m Colonel Nelson. You’ve been briefed?”
“A bit,” I explained. I’d received the classified information via physical courier while vacationing on Europa, unusual in this digital age of instantaneous communication. I suppose it ensured the encrypted dossier reached my eyes only. Of course, the most shocking revelation in the dozens of files was that we weren’t alone in the universe and I was about to step into the literal carcass of an impossible creature, the floating exoskeleton of a spacefaring monster. We’d discovered it by chance survey, drifting amongst the countless tons of icy debris around Saturn. Now, it orbited beneath a synthetic cocoon of plasteel and tech, sequestered away. Curiously though, after everything I’d read and learned, I wasn’t sure at all why they needed an anthropologist.
Colonel Nelson was my escort as we proceeded inside the skull. It smelled old, not rotten or foul like you’d expect of a decayed corpse, but sterile and dusty. There were teams everywhere, moving this way and that, some of them scientists, marked only by their blue fatigues, the same I’d received with my invitation.
“Colonel, why am I here?”
“The simple answer is that you were the closest,” he replied. “At least close enough to shuttle you in quickly. The more complex answer is that you have a disappearing specialty and increasingly rarer expertise.”
“You do know my specialty's anthropology, right? Studying ancient civilizations and stuff? I mean, I kind of feel like you’ve got the wrong guy.” Then, we rounded a junction and I was suddenly awed. “Holy crap,” I marveled at the massive cavern, the petrified interior of the monster’s hulking carapace. Artificial lighting stretched its entire length and teamed with activity at every level, some personnel working weightlessly while others were bound by the gravitational deck plating of their workstations.
“Until recently, you’d be right. We’ve got experts from every specialty you can imagine – physicists, zoologist, neuroanatomists…”
“So why me?” We stepped aboard a small shuttle which drifted away into the expansive void. “It seems like you’ve got all the minds you need.”
“Not quite, Dr. Foster.” It was a short trip to the next dock. “This way.” He led me though another corridor built of plastic sheeting over an aluminum frame and handed me an environmental suit.
“You’ll need this.”
“I will? Honestly Colonel, what’s this all about?”
He didn’t answer and zipped the helmet in place, escorting me through a cleanroom where great effort had obviously been taken to ensure full containment. Another whir and hiss and we stepped inside. “Welcome to the stomach.”
To say I was astounded crossing the threshold would be an understatement, the least of which was the tremendous plastic dome towering twenty stories above us. More striking was what the dome contained: the shattered remains of a destroyed civilization. Ruined structures and crumbling walls obviously fabricated by a thinking hand now laid in fractured heaps, the space overflowing with devastated debris.
My first awestruck step met a crunch and I discovered the floor was layered with countless old bones most of them mashed into little pieces. Then, I literally stumbled upon a curiosity both amazing and terrible, hefting it with both hands. It was obviously a skull, some pieces of bluish flesh still clinging to it and three empty eye sockets staring back at me. The nasal cavity seemed set into the forehead and the mouth, if that’s indeed what it was, seemed almost too small for any sizeable bite. “Colonel, why am I here?” I asked again, now with more dread.
“Seventeen days ago, we discovered an anomaly in our long range scopes. It was one of these colossal space monsters headed directly for our system with unclear intentions. Now, we need to know who these people were, if they were the ones who killed it, and how. You have three weeks.”
(last edited Aug 18, 2016 01:28PM)
Aug 09, 2016 10:09AM
by Heather MacGillivray ©2016 (750 words)
The difference between life and fiction is that fiction has to make sense
" ~ Tom Clancy.
GALACTIC BROADCAST CENTRE:
Among all the Human specimens that had ever been studied alive, by (as they call themselves) the Pioneers, one trait, that all Humanity seemed afflicted by, had an irony: Humans were
in their understanding and awareness of their own state of Consciousness. Any non-Human would find it surreal: this, one minute, choosing to acknowledge and, the next, choosing to disguise, whatever was in their Mind. In a single Human specimen it was 'fascinating.' En masse, trouble!
The Pioneers even went through a phase of (mis)taking that 'choppiness' for 'proficiency in art'; a sardonic performance art in which the subject matter (the Consciousness of Humanity) was cleaved into pieces, rearranged and examined from this angle and that, by the Human as Artist ... 'cubed' you might say, akin to Human visual art practice during that, albeit short, era that they called 'cubism.' But then the Pioneers searched their own souls and concluded they'd been lenient, and for millennia!
So, they decided to be true to their original uncomplicated purpose in gifting Sphenoid Bone Consciousness to the Humans: to overcome a problem that had been apparent from the start: a self-separating Human Consciousness! Some Human sub-cultures did maintain true Sphenoidal Consiousness. And those Humans still called its 'boney-throne' the Christ Bone. But how on Earth the majority had managed to splinter that bone remained unknown; hence The Recall.
But Mechanic was there, so we'll let him tell the story of the last mass retrieval of the Sphenoid Bones from the Humans, first hand ...
The first Sentient among us crew to feel Earth's sunlight was the innervated edge-surround of the outward opening Door. Then warmth penetrated everywhere. As Door tracked through its full range of movement, sunlight-on-metal flickered into the eye of our Fastcraft’s commander. It winced, then took a singled-lensed, tinted eye glass from its pocket, fitted the frame of the lens onto its head then took a step closer to the brink of the opening.
Then it said, “Thank you, Door … though another time maybe throw out your
field, before you open? Maybe Earth's sun’s rays are still tolerable to post-post-Humans like you, but ..."
Then it, Commander I mean, glanced back into the craft, smiling; the signal to the rest of the crew to join in expressing gratitude mixed with good-humoured condescention towards Door. Door was after all always the first to have to expose the sensitivity of its belly-side towards whatever elements or radiation or hostility awaited on any planet we visited.
“Well done, Door!” the crew all called out, and clapped.
As a mechanic I had been hovering, like a mother duck, close by our dear Door ... just in case. The first Door-opening in a while, on any planet, is an anxious time. I know mechanics are valuable to the fully-formed Pioneers! As a nod to post-Human Pioneers like me (but not post-post-Human ones like Door) they let us stay gendered and bi-eyed, since, pragmatically speaking, depth of field sight is more vital to our work than any focus of Consciousness that comes from having a single Mind's Eye! Hey, I guess that's why we never retire - to keep those privileges for life! Plus we get to behave like undisciplined gendered-children: our initiatives are tolerated! That includes friendships. And I really like Door. I suspect some 'born again' Pioneers have retained a capacity for jealousy - an original human trait - so I whispered, when I said to Door,
"Tomorrow, all's well, we'll whip you off the hinges and take you for a little whirl around the place."
"We'll see!" the commander said. "I'm keen to know what the reconnaissance crew discovers before sunset. Its hard to find pockets of still-Sphenoided Human civilization nowadays. But we're here to do a recall of ALL remaining Sphenoid bones! I don't expect resistance. Only a few Humans here would have used them in ages ... certainly not the most clueless of all: Earth's scientists! They perpetuate the myth that Consciousness emanates from the brain alone! So we'll set to work right away!"
And we did! You'll never guess how insightfully the coralled Humans interpreted what was happening. Talk about consistency! I'll play you what every Human wailed ... though it could have been an involuntary ecstatic-release caused by excitation of the Sphenoid Consciousness as we relieved each one of that precious, unwanted, skull-bone. Listen ...
"Angels are among us!"
(last edited Aug 18, 2016 05:19PM)
Aug 14, 2016 01:03PM
by Jot Russell c2016
“Boss, we need you to come down to sub-level four.”
“This better be good news. We're already behind schedule for next year's orbital sling and I won't get paid unless we get this done on time!”
“I think the space agency is going to care more about this than their schedule.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“You're gonna have to come down here to see for yourself.”
The boss closed the connection, stormed from his desk and over towards the vertical shaft. Under the weak lunar gravity, he easily slid six levels down the ladder and met up with the small team of engineers.
“This better be good!”
“You bet it is! Come on, it's right down under the surface where we were digging to place another anchor support.”
“What is it?”
“It's metallic. The drill didn't want to cut through, but when it finally did, we retrieved these fragments.”
“Yeah, it's some type of alien letters. Now take a look down the hole.”
The boss peered down the beam of light to see inside a small section of a strange vessel. As he looked closer, something caught his eye; the bones of an elongated arm with an odd number of fingers. “Holy shit!”
“The agency is gonna freak!”
“Agency? Fuck the agency! This is ours. If we tell them, they'll militarize the project, put the lunar sling on permanent hold and kick us off the moon. No, you three clear around it and resume work on the sling mount as soon as possible. This thing has obviously been here long before us and it'll be waiting for us once we get paid. Afterwards, we'll have all the money and time to learn what we can from this thing. Think of the possibilities - propulsion, energy generation, weapons! Tell no one about this!”
The agency's vessel successfully linked up to the end of the six million meter sling and hit its engines to accelerate past the moon. As the sling started to wrap around, it drew the vessel into a tighter orbit and drastically increased its speed: 2x, 4x, 8x...
The vessel was drawn to only a kilometer off the lunar surface before it released at 16x its original speed and headed off towards the outer solar system. The boss enjoyed the cheers over the broadcast with his newly acquired associate.
“Thanks, but I think I should be congratulating you for what I am about to show you.” He touched his screen. “Okay team, our day has come. Meet me at sub-level five.”
“Who's this?” asked an engineer.
“My linguist. She's going to decipher their language.”
“Who's language?” She asked.
“That's a good question. Hit the lights.”
The linguist's mouth dropped open as she walked over towards the acute, triangular vessel. She ran her hand over some of the markings. “This seems to be an insignia. It's not going to help much in learning their language.”
"There's a lot more inside." The boss shined the light within the hole and illuminated the alien skeleton. The linguist gave a faint shriek, but shook it off and maintained her stance.
“Care to look inside?”
She looked over at him, grabbed his light and squeezed herself through the hole.
The skeleton had strange clothes that compressed around to outline each of the bones within. Intrigued, she brought her face in for a closer look. The skull was large, smooth and overly round at the top. She drew even closer and peered into the lip-less mouth and empty eye sockets. A hand grabbed her shoulder. She screamed and jumped back.
“Ha ha, I thought you were going to kiss it,” said the boss from behind her.
“Gross!” She looked back and saw that the engineer also made his way in.
She resumed her study of the subject and the control panel around him. “These seem to be numerical digits. If I had to guess, I would say they used a base ten system.”
The engineer gave her a strange look. “Why would they do that?”
“Cause they have ten fingers.”
“Are you sure? Look, we saw this character outside. Has thirteen stripes and fifty stars.”
“It's not a character, but a symbol of some kind. If I had to guess, I would say it represents a union of thirteen planets around a fifty star region of space.”
The scales on the boss's face shifted as he smiled. “Fifty star region? That's impressive!”
(last edited Aug 23, 2016 04:19AM)
Aug 15, 2016 06:37PM
Copyright 2016 by Paula Friedman
“Oh yes, my hands have always been considered particularly beautiful.” The leader of Dem Bones articulated her words with utmost clarity.
“And in these lands of Nada . . . ”
“Indeed. In OURLAND,” she amended, truly elegantly. So elegantly I, though of Earth, easily "got" her message.
So went Dena Soba’s report. 19:35 earth3Sol =\2205wnc_alpha(senddate) DenatoSol-art.
I shrugged, glanced at Willi. Didn’t matter what ol' Dena Soba claimed.
Willi--Third-Major Wilpert--swinging his metaphoric ball and (all-too-actual) chain while spinning through Fleet Tri-X-16’s cabin, shouted, “Listen up, guys, listen, hear what that there Soba’s fuckin’ sayin’. . . ,” all that crap, but, dodging artfully and grabbing past the chain to pull old Wilpert to a fast stop, “Damnya, Willi boy," I cried, "there no BONES out there, certainly not Dem talkin’ bones. There can't be BONES in empty space. Get off it.”
“Get off what, Sergeant?” I heard Willi snap.
I shrugged again. “Whatever. Can't be nothing. 'Countta it's empty. Empty--space is empty. Just get real, Sir. Look, we’ve got a something out there, Sir. We don’t know what. Whistles and jingles, metaphorically speaking, in the—meta-phor-ic, get it?—space winds. That’s all, Major, Sir. Now don’t be takin’ me for disrespectful, and I ain’t undis-ci-plined, Sir, Major, but . . . “
Well, Willie’d come in close now, swayin' before me—got me backed up, hard, against the control panel now—his big face with its hawk-beak stuck out practically into my eye, saying, “Fuckin’ Dena Soba, and that’s General Soba to you, son—knows her stuff. 'N what she’s sayin’”— he slams me one—“there be BONES out there, so you better believe it. Better believe it, Boy. Dem bones, y’hear?”
“Yes. SIR.” And I shoved off, hard, from that panel. Shoved hard right into Wil the Pill, so he pitched backward, started rolling cartywheels round round round the cabin.
“Dig /dem bones,” I was singing. “Damn /dem bones /in DIS land.” And added, “I ain’t dissing any races, either now, Sir, Major. No Sir, and no Ail-yens neither.”
Staff sergeant Roe and Adjunct Doe and Privates Dough and Mo were standing in the stairwell watching—watching hard, as you can imagine.
“At ease, men.” Thus pontificated Wilbert.
Now approaching earth3sol. 19:59 earth3Sol =\2205xnd_alpha(senddate)Sol-art to Dena. ALERT, ALERT. SHOW BONES. Come off it, Dena-babe. You know fuckin’ well no fuckin’ alien (let alone alien-ated!) bones out there. Don't go getting hysterical-woman on us, D-honey.
p.s. You spaced, babe? Want some, uh, “grounding”, like maybe this evenin’?
[copy unavailable/blanked. No reason known.]
20:19 earth3Sol =\2205xnd_alpha(senddate)Sol-art to earth1. ALPHA! ALPHA-OMEGA! ZERO—REPEAT: ZERO! REPEAT: ZERO. ZERO, ZERO, ZERO. OMG. ALL FORCES TO BATTLE STATIONS. DEFENSIVE. REPEAT: ZERO. ZERO, ZERO, ZERO. OMG. ALL FORCES TO BATTLE STATIONS. DEFENSIVE—ALL FORCES SOL-SYS ALERT. REPEAT: ZERO. ZERO. . . .
“Oh yes, my hands have always been considered especially effective.” The leader of Dem Bones articulated her words with utmost clarity. “All innumerables of them.”
“But why did they dare invade Our Quadrant of De Nada, trespassing upon our Dead, Great Skull?” The speaker rode our very best (most effective) "earthshaker" prancing meteorite.
The leader of Dem Bones here in Dese Lands, "voice" tragic, nodded in indubitable clarity. “Indeed. Answer unknown, my dear ones.” Shaking her empty Skull in cosmic comprehension, starlight shimmering from her fingers' bones translucent in good N6 space-time seeming-emptiness. A clink, a clang, as if a ringing in our N9 wilderness—our (asseen by 3-D Earthers) Quadrant.
“Knowest we not, dear Skull?”
She shook her N-6 emptiness. “Beats me, Horatio. Lord knows, they're terribly limited-percep entities, but we had no bone to pick with them.”
[NOTE: Written for my own pleasure. No critiques solicited.]
Aug 15, 2016 11:58PM
By Jon Ricson
The long war with the aliens was finally at an end, and humankind had won.
With a final blow we would take them out once and for all, from within.
It was all too easy.
Our spies told us exactly what we needed to know.
We knew just how to strike them, and they would never see it coming.
The plan was to infiltrate their city from the inside. Our entire platoon easily snuck into a cavernous underground area under their main city. There, we were told, we would find remnants of an older race which would also spell the end for the aliens after ten long years of war.
Once we entered the planet’s atmosphere though, I had started to feel strange. Once on the ground it got worse for many of us. Someone up ahead announced they’d found something, but we never got there. We didn’t meet resistance, but something was definitely wrong. We struggled to get back to the landing shuttle. I wasn’t the first to black out, but I finally succumbed.
I woke up in a med bay, and when I did the captain walked over from another bed.
“Sir...” I managed. I was unable to move my arms.
“At ease, son.”
“What happened, sir?” I asked.
The captain looked at me, and then back at Baker in the other bio bed.
“Where were you born, son?”
“Born?” I asked. “Kansas sir, why?”
“Do you remember your parents?”
I tried to picture them, but my mind was fuzzy. “I...am having some trouble. Why are you asking me this, sir? And why can’t I move?” I then noticed my restraints.
He nodded to the tech who flicked a switch and a holo floated over the bio bed. I strained my eyes to see it better. My name was at the bottom, but I didn’t understand what I was seeing.
“What am I looking at, sir?”
The captain looked at the holo and back at me. “Those are your...bones, ensign.” I looked at the bed where Baker laid. A holo over his bed showed the same. “As you may be able to tell, they’re the same physiology as the aliens.”
“I’m an...alien? But how can that be, I remember my life. I was born in Kansas, I....” Suddenly I was having trouble remembering details of my life growing up. When did I join up to fight in the war? Why can’t I remember my mother’s name?
“Relax son, you and Baker aren’t alone. So far most of the crew that have been scanned are the same. We’re even hearing word that our other ships are finding they too have crew with alien physiology. You and others in the landing party reacted because you came into contact with your home atmosphere. It was all a setup…”
The captain kept talking, and the aliens ingenious plan became sickeningly clear. They had somehow slowly replaced most of us, with alien versions of ourselves. No matter if we won the war or not, the aliens would survive as a race. It was humans who would eventually all be replaced galaxy wide.
They knew just how to strike us, and we never saw it coming.
Our spies told us exactly what we wanted to hear.
It was all too easy.
With a final blow they took us out once and for all, from within.
The long war with the aliens was finally at an end, and humankind had lost.
(last edited Aug 18, 2016 07:31AM)
Aug 18, 2016 07:30AM
By Dean Hardage
“We’re not supposed to be here, dude. The mayor and the sheriff were very, very serious about it.”
“Of course they were. They’re desperate to keep this little hoax alive. This place is just a wide spot in the road without the mystery.”
Brad shook his head. He’d read all the stuff Kevin had collected on the little town of Aurora, Texas and the supposed crash of a UFO. According to local legend some kind of cigar-shaped airship had smashed into the windmill of the town judge and crashed. Its single occupant, a strangely shaped humanoid, had been buried in an unmarked grave in the town cemetery. All of this had happened back in 1897. Fast forward to the 1990s and a television station in a near-by city looking for some kind of filler piece finds out about the legend and does a ten minute piece. The town becomes something of another Roswell and the city administration closes ranks against anyone wanting to dig for remains or do anything else besides drive by the town historical marker that has a one-sentence mention of the incident.
Unlike most others though Kevin wasn’t one to let little things like the possibility of getting arrested and tossed into jail stop his investigation. He even managed to convince Brad to come along and play look out. Now they were walking around the small graveyard with some kind of gadget that Kevin claimed was ground-penetrating radar to find the purported grave of the alien pilot. It was very dark and they dared not show any more light than the luminescent screen of the detector.
“Look, you’ve covered this whole area and nothing. Give it up already.”
Kevin shook his head stubbornly.
“They could have shielded it, but it beneath another grave or something.”
“Then you’ll never find it.”
“Don’t bet on it. I came prepared.”
Kevin powered the detector down and opened a bag he was carrying.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s an experimental scanner that reads DNA. It has a built-in database of every animal on the planet including humans. If there’s anything alien here, this will find it.”
“Where did you get that thing? Some crackpot inventor looking for an investor?”
Kevin shook his head.
“Can’t tell you. Can’t tell anyone, that was the deal when I got it.”
Kevin turned on the device and started sweeping with it. Instantly a small red indicator lit.
“See, its right here in this grave.”
“You’re nuts. That’s a child’s grave.”
“Well, they said it was small. Here, hold this while I dig it up.”
The very idea of digging up any grave was distasteful, but a child’s
was totally disgusting. Brad was just about to drop the detector and walk away when Kevin reached the small coffin.
“This can’t be it. There’s a name and date on this one. Hand me the detector.”
Kevin made a small adjustment and passed it over the miniature coffin, the indicator light remaining red. He turned in on himself and the light turned green.
“Something is wrong here.”
“No, I mean something is really wrong. This thing identifies me and you as human. It identifies these remains as not of this world. I wonder…..”
Kevin jumped up and out of the shallow grave, passing the device over every other plot nearby. The indicator stubbornly stayed red until the device was again pointed at Kevin or Brad.
“We’ve got to get out of here, now.”
“Afraid you boys aren’t going anywhere,” a new voice said as a blinding light was suddenly turned on the pair.
“What, going to arrest us? That won’t stop me from telling everyone…”
“Oh, no, son. We’re not arresting you.”
Two flashes of light and both men vanished like shadows in sunlight.
“Think anyone will miss them,” asked the sheriff?
“No, neither of them had any close relatives or friends except each other. They will eventually be reported missing, investigated, and forgotten.”
Both men shook their heads. The threat of arrest was usually enough to discourage most alien hunters but occasionally more drastic action was necessary. The residents of Aurora didn’t like all the visitors to their reservation but they’d been given permission to deal with it in whatever fashion they liked. The government had provided them a place to live and it was mutually
beneficial. Tomorrow things would be back to normal, just another little sleepy Texas town. At least until the next hunter came.
Aug 22, 2016 06:36PM
The colonists had a sense of humor, she’d give them that. As the domes went up, the first two were named New New York and New New Orleans. When some reporters formed a newspaper, they called it – what else – The Martian Chronicle.
She had just plugged in her purse at her desk when her boss called her into his office.
“Remember that archaeologist? Thompson? Says he’s got a story for you. He sent some coordinates.”
“Wait. Isn’t he dead?”
“It’s him alright. Retina Scan, thumb print – at least his phone says so. Back on Earth, he was regarded as a modern-day Indiana Jones so it’s possible.” Her boss looked his Padd: “According to the log files, he left Little America just over a year ago. He took a pallet of medical equipment, some power units and two mining robots with him. What was odd is that he didn’t take any food and he didn’t take off his suit, not even the helmet. He hasn’t entered an airlock or even checked in since. Until now.” He paused, then said “It’s probably just some old bones. But I thought you’d enjoy finding out where he’s been hiding.”
Three hours later, she sat in her rover at the coordinates. A tracking device pinged the satellites above. If anything happened to her, her colleagues would know the Where and When part of the story. They also had Who, but she still needed the Why.
She saw some movement on the horizon. A space suited figure climbed out of the ground and waved. When she reached the hatch, she saw stairs descending in the darkness.
“Watch your step!” Thompson said as he led her down.
About three stories down, an eerie light drowned out their flashlights. The metal stairway gave way to a floor. At first, she thought it was marble, but it was too metallic. They left their suits on a discarded pallet. Nearby, several medical devices displayed numbers. A few feet away, another machine lit up. Strange symbols winked on and off.
“I had to make sure the air was good. Their stuff is much better than ours, but I couldn’t be sure I was using it correctly. I found some biologics down here, too, but nothing harmful. To us anyway. Still thought it was prudent to quarantine myself.”
She stared on the alien console.
“Oh, it’s gets better,” he said and headed down a long corridor carved into the rock.
The corridor opened into a giant cavern. If she had any doubt that this was an alien environment it was gone now. It resembled the geodesic domes that now covered the surface of Mars, but the braces looked more organic than mechanical.
“Yep. Turns out Ray Bradbury was right. There’s a whole civilization down here. Or was. Their machinery still works. Keeps the air clean and makes food, too. Pretty intuitive interfaces. The hardest part was finding the light switch.”
“Where’d they go?”
“Well, at first, down here. Something happened to their atmosphere. Didn’t happen too fast, so they moved everything underground.”
“After that, I mean.”
“They didn’t go anywhere. They didn’t have time.”
He led her into another room. Rows and rows of tables showed draped bodies. They were clearly bipeds but all except one were over 8 feet tall. The cool dry air dried them out so only a faint odor was detectable. Under the sheets were elongated faces and long spindly hands with 6 fingers. There were two more bodies, one on a bench near the entrance and another on the floor, still clutching some device. “Those two were probably doctors or scientists. It was a disease. Best I can tell, it wiped them out in a matter of weeks. They tried to quarantine it, but they must have had a long enough incubation period before it was detected.”
“Won’t we catch it?”
“We already have. Most humans have. Most of us do just fine.
“What do you mean?”
He walked to the corner of the room where a table was set apart from the others. A much smaller body lay on it. It, too was desiccated, but the features were unmistakably human. “I have no idea how he got here. My best wild guess was that he was abducted. European from the bones, mid-15th century from his diet.
“H.G. Wells was also right. All of their technology couldn’t save them from a common cold."
Aug 22, 2016 08:55PM
The Amethyst Code
by S. M. Kraftchak
Travis fumbled with his keys and cursed when they hit the floor. He stumbled backward and swore again when he gouged his forehead on the latch plate. Slapping his hand onto his wound to staunch the inevitable stream of blood, he slid the key home and entered his office. Would his latest experiment be groundbreaking or another failure? Years of research on hemophilia brought only disappointment until one failed experiment led him here.
The wooden door’s groan ceased as he stepped inside and stopped. Travis’s heart began to race. Fear dropped his jaw and his hand from his wound as he scanned the glass wall at the back of his office. The light streaming through the closed Venetian blinds was the wrong color.
The space colonies were enjoying the fruits of his unbridled success with genetic code modification, replication, and reconstruction. He had successfully built a dozen animals from neutral bio-plasm in his Church Chamber (named for the great geneticist of the early 21st century), and those animals had thrived where earth species had not. But during his previous reconstruction experiments, the genetic code combinant had emitted a spectrum of yellow light for reptiles and amphibians; variations on blue for dogs, cats and other quadruped mammals; crimson for all avian, and a deep algae green for all primates. Based on this, the color for a Homo sapien shouldn’t be amethyst.
The sting of blood in his eye broke his gaze. Pressing his hand against his wound, Travis rushed to the first aid cabinet. He fumbled with tearing open three gauze pads with one hand and his teeth. “Two bleeds in three days. I really need to be more careful,” he said struggling to start the roller bandage and keep the gauze in place. Once the bandage was snug, he rinsed his hands, mopped his face, and rushed to open the blinds.
The Chamber was working perfectly, but on what? Ultra-fine threads of brand new DNA filtered from a large gray globe at one end, snaked through the recombinant, and then disappeared into the cylindrical, cloud-filled reconstruction chamber. Travis rushed to his computer and started typing.
Had the sample DNA been cross-contaminated? If it had, then the neutral bio-plasma was being wasted because there was no chance for avian and mammal DNA to combine in a survivable form. The sample profile popped up on the screen. Travis gasped. “Sample cross-contaminated” flashed in red letters. He flopped back in his chair. Nearly forty-eight hours of waiting and 200,000 credits worth of bio-plasm; wasted on an unviable specimen.
As he scanned the side-by-side genetic models, he spotted the hemophilia gene on one and dropped his head forward. His bleed, two days ago, had somehow contaminated the DNA he’d extracted from the bones he’d received from the Universal Human Genome Catalog on Mitataru. But, that still didn’t explain the wrong color. He looked a little closer at the second set of DNA on his screen before bringing up his disassembling program, and washed the second module through it. A minute later, the program produced two separate diagrams: one distinctly human, one unrecognizable. A chill danced up his spine. He’d only heard about this in some small-time xeno- biology journal from the far side of the galaxy. An alien had actually co-existed in a human’s body and no one was the wiser until the human was hit by a speeder and two corpses were found- one human and one alien.
Six hours later, Travis paced back and forth. He refused to allow any creature to live as he did. If the specimen had the hemophilia gene, he was ready to end its suffering. Armed with a syringe of cyanide, Travis approached the Chamber and began the emergent process. As the cloud cleared, his mouth fell open. He stared. The obviously female humanoid with blue-tinged skin turned lavender eyes toward him. He saw her pupils dilate a second before she sprang at him. He instinctively scrambled back, clutching the syringe and was relieved when the female retreated to the far side of the Chamber.
Cautiously, Travis returned to the console to examine the genetic data. When the female lunged again, Travis held the syringe tip to the inoculation port. The female backed off. Travis set the syringe down and leaned into the genetic model. He studied intently for a full five minutes and then slowly looked up. The female was eye-to-eye with him.
“You’re the cure.”
She grinned, showing a mouth full of razor sharp fangs.
Aug 23, 2016 04:47AM
Time's up! Please cast your vote.
Aug 28, 2016 04:26AM
The winner has been posted.
Aug 30, 2016 09:45AM
First round votes:
C. Lloyd Preville => Tom
Tom Olbert => **Jack, Carrie, C, Justin
John Appius Quill => **Jack, Carrie, Dean, Jot, C, Chris
Carrie Zylka => **Chris, Paula, Greg, Heather, SM
Justin Sewall => ****Jon, Chris, Jack, Heather, C, SM
Jack McDaniel => C, Kalifer, Carrie, Chris, SM
Kalifer Deil => **Dean, Jot, Chris
Chris Nance => ****Jon, Carrie, Jot
Heather MacGillivray =>
Jot Russell => **Chris
Paula Friedman => ****Jon, Heather, Tom, SM/Carrie/Justin, Greg
Jon Ricson => SM
Dean Hardage => ****Jon, Tom, Chris, Carrie, Justin
Greg Krumrey => **Dean
S. M. Kraftchak => Justin, Jon, Chris, Dean
First round finalists:
A Robot Walks into a Bar by Jack McDaniel
The Leviathan by Chris Nance
Infiltration by Jon Ricson
Reservation by Dean Hardage
Second round votes:
C. Lloyd Preville => Tom; ***Dean
Tom Olbert => **Jack, Carrie, C, Justin
John Appius Quill => **Jack, Carrie, Dean, Jot, C, Chris
Carrie Zylka => ****Chris, Paula, Greg, Heather, SM
Justin Sewall => #Jon, Chris, Jack, Heather, C, SM
Jack McDaniel => C, Kalifer, Carrie, ****Chris, SM
Kalifer Deil => ***Dean, Jot, Chris
Chris Nance => #Jon, Carrie, Jot
Heather MacGillivray =>
Jot Russell => ****Chris
Paula Friedman => #Jon, Heather, Tom, SM/Carrie/Justin, Greg
Jon Ricson => SM; ****Chris, Dean, Jack
Dean Hardage => #Jon, Tom, Chris, Carrie, Justin
Greg Krumrey => ***Dean
S. M. Kraftchak => Justin, #Jon, Chris, Dean
The Leviathan by Chris Nance
Infiltration by Jon Ricson
Third round votes:
C. Lloyd Preville => Tom; Dean; #*Jon
Tom Olbert => Jack, Carrie, C, Justin; #***Chris
John Appius Quill => Jack, Carrie, Dean, Jot, C, #***Chris
Carrie Zylka => #***Chris, Paula, Greg, Heather, SM
Justin Sewall => #*Jon, Chris, Jack, Heather, C, SM
Jack McDaniel => C, Kalifer, Carrie, #***Chris, SM
Kalifer Deil => Dean, Jot, #***Chris
Chris Nance => #*Jon, Carrie, Jot
Heather MacGillivray =>
Jot Russell => #***Chris
Paula Friedman => #*Jon, Heather, Tom, SM/Carrie/Justin, Greg
Jon Ricson => SM; #***Chris, Dean, Jack
Dean Hardage => #*Jon, Tom, Chris, Carrie, Justin
Greg Krumrey => Dean; #***Chris
S. M. Kraftchak => Justin, #*Jon, Chris, Dean
The Leviathan by Chris Nance
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