What Lies Beneath the Icy Depths of Pellucidar?

arctic depths

katatonia82/iStock

It wasn’t his fault that Eduardo Phillips suffered from that damned ictus, or whatever the doctor called it, and died. Yes, they’d been arguing by the kitchen’s coffee machine, having randomly encountered each other, but Joshua had never laid a hand on him, not that he didn’t want to at times. The paleontologist was incorrigible, insisting that some form of humanoid had actually lived and thrived in the depths of Sorth 662 B’s primary ocean, called “Pellucidar” by Roxanne Sims, the team’s marine biologist and resident romantic, sometime within the past 10,000 years.

At the height of their raging, mutual diatribe, Phillips dropped his Styrofoam cup of tepid Sumatra, clutched at the sides of his head with both hands, an expression of profound anguish on his toffee-colored face, and then collapsed into a heap on the floor, his salt-and-pepper hair soaking up a pool of what one of the Marines called “Java.” Captain Marcus Fink and most of the rest of the team had already been running into the galley in response to their shouting match, and were just in time to see 28-year-old Josh Munoz, astro-geologist, and the youngest member of the expedition under the planet’s north, arctic wastes, standing over the elder scientist, his fists and teeth both clenched, staring at a corpse at his feet.

Doctor Beth Holloway, 61 years old, through as active and intellectually keen as someone half that age, pronounced Phillips dead on the spot. Fink and Patrick Simmons, the Gunny Sergeant heading the small complement of Marines attached to their operation, icily escorted Munoz to his quarters, disabled his comm, and locked off the door mechanism after leaving.

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The Aulegren’s Children

kelpie

© JS Brand

It’s a tourist attraction now, but they still tell the stories, all ending with the heroic victory over a powerful enemy, perpetually frozen in their equine warrior form. But humans were the invaders, twelve colony ships, master guidance control damaged. AI was smart enough to detect the problem but not repair it, so it found an alternate world.

Unfortunately, it belonged to the Aulegren.

The colonists, being human, “discovered” the land, pretended to adapt, then multiplied like rabbits, taking over every natural resource.

The Aulegren first came as fair lasses and handsome paramours, hoping to use love to found peace.

When humans started raping them and taking what they wanted anyway, Aulegren declared war.

They might have won, but they always restricted their population, living harmoniously with the environment. Humans bred and bred, and with both superior technology, and stolen Aulegren magicks (some humans were gifted with the sight), the colonists won. That’s the official story, anyway.

A few were born of Human-Aulegren pairings and we have to stay hidden, lest we ire the pure bloods. Perhaps someday there’ll be enough of us, but to what end? Live in anxious peace with the conquerors, or begin the war anew?

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of November 11, 2018 hosted by Susan. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

A quick Google image search led me to this site and the legend of the Kelpie, shape-shifting water spirits who can appear as beautiful women.

I adapted the story to weave my own little tale of conquest and subjucation, with a hint of hope at the end.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

A Slight Miscalculation

grand canyon

© Google 2018

Eccentric billionaire Randolph Houston was making the adjustments on the temporal transfer device at the bottom of Arizona’s Grand Canyon as his fourth wife, 26-year-old Paulette watched.

“Why not wait for that expert, what’s his name?”

“Carlos Bradley, and he’s late.” The aging scientist continued his adjustments.

“What is he? A geologist, paleontologist, archaeologist?”

“All, which was why I hired him. By attaching the TTD to strata here in the canyon, I can travel back to the formation’s origins 2.5 billion years ago.

“How do you know what you’ll find?”

“Bradley, if he had been on time, was to tell me.”

“You’re going now?”

“The battery will only last fifteen minutes. Tempus fugit.” The 75-year-old flipped a switch and vanished.

Carlos arrived and passionately embraced Paulette.

“You’re sure he’s never coming back.”

“My dear, 2.5 billion years ago, there was almost no oxygen in the atmosphere. He would have died in seconds.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Grand Canyon, Arizona, which I’ve visited many times. I looked up the history of the Grand Canyon and found that “nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock.”

I looked up what was going on about 2.5 billion years ago, and found out, among other things, that there was hardly any oxygen in the atmosphere. Too bad Randolph didn’t do his homework.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Ronnenberg Confession

 

girl in cave

Image credit – Michal Matczak

The Haunted Wordsmith proposed a challenge whereby participants would pick the book of their choice (hardcopy or digital), turn to page 62, select line 6, and use that as the basis for crafting a poem, short story, or some other creative work.

Since I just checked out Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle from the public library, I decided to use that:

“And must have all the other artifacts in stock examined by University lab.”

As Professor Sterling Piper’s senior research assistant, twenty-two year old Gabriela Wallace had a valid key card to access his private research lab in McCarthy Hall at all hours. However, she still crept like literal thief in the night, dressed all in black, including gloves, and wearing sound absorbing shoes. It was after eleven on a Friday night as she navigated the work benches and displays by dim light.

If anyone checked the logs and discovered she’d been here, she could easily say she’d been catching up on collating recent samples sent over from Scripps, which she sorely needed to do. However, her mission tonight was notably different and infinitely more critical.

The straps of her backpack were uncomfortably tight, but she couldn’t afford to have the weight on her back moving enough to make noise. She wasn’t sure why she was so nervous as beads of sweat continued to form on her toffee-colored forehead, except that if she was caught, she could be condemned as an enemy of the state and executed.

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Seven Weeks of the Devil

hell's kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen in the 1920s – This file is licensed under a free license.

I was working as a printer’s devil for old man MacPherson, me, an Irish boy of only sixteen, but it was good pay, through my hands became black as night as I sorted the cast metal type in the hellbox and put ’em back in the job case. I’d gotten used to the noise, but in order to kill the monotony, Grady Owens, the chief printer, set up a radio so we could listen to music and the news, though he had to turn the volume up pretty high.

I figured I’d do my hitch at MacPherson’s, learn my way around the trade, then move up to something more substantial. Occasionally, he’d have me move heavy reams of newsprint, but I didn’t mind. Gave me a chance to wash my hands, then have a smoke with the other boys and men on the dock before putting my back into it. Even the older Joes respected me on account of my bouts at Clancy’s on the weekends. Clancy says I’ve got potential, box like the devil, which is another reason they call me that name.

I’ve always been big for my age, which causes Ma fits because she keeps having to let the hem out of my trouser legs.

For a long while, I didn’t have a clue that what I was hearing on the radio was different than everyone else. While they were listening to “Cow Cow Blues,” “A Gay Caballero,” and “Sonny Boy,” I was hearing nothing but the news. That wouldn’t be too unusual, but I’d get all kinds of news, from different days, and weeks, and months, all in the same hour.

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What Jara Bestows

dance

Image: Google Images Labelled for re-use.

They all came into The Obscene Khrelan’s Saloon to see Jara dance. It would have been more flattering if Khrelan’s wasn’t the only “watering hole” within a thousand kilometers of Julyen’s lone spaceport. Besides the incessant sandstorms and malevolent rock worms, the only thing Julyen had to offer was Cethuitium, an otherwise rare mineral that could be refined into a power source, with applications from rejuvenation treatments for wealthy Consortium lords to advanced jump drives.

Khrelen’s, was named for something that resembled an old Earth rhinoceros, but with a body twisted so it could pleasure itself with its own horn. The place was, as the expression goes, jumping every night of the week, crowded with drunken and horny miners and freighter pilots, and that’s where Jara came in.

No one knew or cared about the red and black strips as her lithe, supple body undulated nude in the dance cage. She was a marvel to behold and every patron all but wet themselves at the thought of possessing that astonishing body (and some even did), even for an hour.

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What the Storm Brings

stark desert

© Sue Vincent

Tom Allen lived in his Dad’s old cabin five miles west of New Mexico State Highway 107 along about twenty miles south of Magdalena. The retired astronomer stepped out behind his place and put his left hands on the branch of a dead tree. Figured he’d cut it down for firewood, though he had plenty already for the winter.

“Looks like we’ll be getting some rain from the west, ol’ girl.” He patted Sally’s head, and the golden retriever nuzzled her snout against the leg of his jeans.

He’d been born in a little town south of Albuquerque sixty-six years ago last Friday, so being dressed in his old Stetson, a plaid shirt, faded blue denim jeans and high leather boots seemed normal to him, but the old normal, since he’d spent most of his adult life in places like Pasadena’s JPL, Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii, not to mention in the halls of academia. His colleagues at Stanford and MIT would never understand.

“Storm’s getting closer. We’d better head back in, especially before you see some rabbit you want to be chasing.”

Sally barked with ascent and then happily followed the old man back into the house.

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The Art of the Deal

bomb

Found at NBC News – image credit not listed

Cass was a nightmare in white silk and pearls. Unfortunately, the mysterious figure was also the only way out.

“Are you bitches in or not?”

“You know we’re in, Cass. You don’t have to act so hostile just because you’re the only one to be able to speak to the Strundrun.” I was never sure if Cass was a man, a woman, or something else, and it was murder trying to constantly construct sentences without using personal pronouns.

“Then your group is the last, Carter. I never thought so many Idahoans, or is that Ida-hoes, would buy a ticket.”

Oh yeah, Cass was flirting with me, and right on the floor of the state senate. I’m supposed to call Cass “they,” and just then, I felt like “they” wanted to put me on the floor and do something to me that involved lubricant and swim fins.

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The Eye

glass ceiling

© Roger Bultot

I ran into the building to get away from the angry mob of protestors outside.

What is this place? The middle of the room is contained in a sort of marble circle. Who is that by those torches?

“Oh good, you’re here.”

He’s African-American, bald, and I’ve never seen him before in my life.

“Hurry. There isn’t much time.”

“Time for what?”

“For you to go through the eye and restore the balance. The world is terribly divided, and only you can manipulate reality.”

“Who am I?” Then I felt myself lifted up toward the glass oval in the ceiling.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I’d love to have figured out where this photo was taken, but that would have required a lot of work, and I’m short on time lately. The oval-shaped window in the ceiling reminds me of the large window in comic book character Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. Last night, I read a story about a man with amnesia who turned out to be an alien, and I have a tendency to write a lot of stories featuring a Messiah-like figure. Put all that together, and you have the tale I just wrote.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Legend of Earth

glimmer

© Sue Vincent

Luke Wallace stumbled over the alien terrain as the dawning sun rose to his left, but it was the twinkling of tiny lights directly in his path that had been holding his attention for the past three hours.

The biologist was the sole survivor of the “Hawking,” an exploratory superluminal spacecraft owned by Blue Astra Space Corporation. The primary power coupling blew just 92 hours after they’d returned to normal space, and 15 minutes after they’d entered orbit around Kessel-Origan B, the most Earth-like exoplanet ever discovered, and only 167 light years from home.

He was the only one to get to an escape pod in time as cryonic gas from the exploding coolant system filled the command module. He ejected the pod, passing through energy ripples caused by the dying FTL drive, what Hicks once called “the probability machine.” The exotic radiation passed directly through the pod’s hull, and it felt like he was swimming through liquid fire when it hit his body.

Five hours ago, he regained consciousness. The pod had already landed, or rather, crash landed. His safety couch had deployed insulating gel,which had shielded him from the shock of impact, but the controls, radio, emergency beacon were all gone. He was lucky to retrieve a three-day supply of water and rations, but there was no going back. He would either have to find a way to survive on an alien world or die.

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