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 Proposal

path

© Sue Vincent

Fear drenched Simon Clark like the sweat that covered his body. The wooded path made it look like a morning in early Spring, but the reality of the brutal August heat and the hazy smoke of a dozen wildfires across the west belied the scenery.

“I can’t do this. It’s too hard.” He wasn’t muttering to himself, but to his unseen companion.

“You have to, Simon. Too many people are depending on you.” She always sounded like a young woman, but there was something slightly mechanical about her tone.

“I just want to go home.”

“You are home.”

“I don’t mean that. I want to go someplace where I can be safe. Someplace where it’s cool and dry and I can relax.”

“You don’t have time for that right now. You have a job to do.”

“Why does it have to be me? I didn’t ask for the responsiblity.”

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Oozing

ooze

Photo credit: Brooke Shaden

Shame oozed from her pores and covered her in syrup that smelled like sex. No matter how much she washed, it just kept coming, so she sat. It had happened in the kitchen and Lela thanked whatever powers there may be that no one was home besides the cat.

But the cat was bad enough because he was the problem. She could normally control herself and suppress the urges, but Percy always brought out the worst from within her. If only Simon and Lovelle hadn’t taken the stray in.

“Why are you doing this to me?”

He didn’t even “meow,” just turned his head away from her as if he shared some measure of her humiliation, or perhaps it was merely disgust.

“Leave me alone.”

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Retrieval

nostromo

Promotional image of the landing module of the USCSS Nostromo spacecraft from the 1979 film “Alien”

“We’re going to have to delay exploring the base of the escarpment until Reggie and Austin repair the lander’s main engines.” I don’t want us to encounter anything out there we can’t runaway from in a hurry if we have to.”

Captain John Weiss was addressing the other four crew members of the freighter “Joseph Conrad” in the galley.

“Well what the screw is taking them so long, John? They’ve been at it for over six hours and if we don’t recover the Company’s lost probe, we’ll never collect our cut of the reward.”

“Calm down, Linda. You know this kind of work takes time.” His first officer was intelligent and competent but impatient which is why even with her service record, she’d never made Captain.

“They’re probably snoozing down in the engineering bay.”

“Not likely, Santiago. I just got a progress report from Reggie fifteen minutes ago. They don’t want to be down there any longer than necessary.”

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Death by Atmosphere

planet

Image: hongkiat.com

“I can’t believe you lifted the old man’s security badge, Aldin. He’ll freak when he finds out.”

“If he finds out, Sierra. He’s lousy about checking the logs, so he’ll never see it was used after hours when he wasn’t at the lab.”

The two teenagers had already gotten into the building using the back entrance of Dr. Richard Batchelder’s personal lab at the Hawke-Edwards Advanced Research facility. They were now using the service elevator to descend to the sub-basement where Aldin’s grandfather had built the portal.

“Here we are.” With just a bit of a dramatic flourish, the seventeen-year-old boy swiped the security card across the reader and the doors to the lab containing the experimental spatial portal slid open.

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The Relic

predator

© A Mixed Bag

“Wow. Where’d you get that?”

Thirteen-year-old Jess had been a fan of the Predator movies ever since he watched the original when he was nine.

“My uncle. He made it for a display at ComicCon to promote next year’s reboot.”

Bobby was Jess’s best friend and they shared a special love for horror-based science fiction. It was great that Uncle Bill designed costumes for movie studios.

“Ha! I bet the Predator in the reboot will be a lot scarier.”

“Probably be CGI, though, Jess. There’s a real art to making a costume for a human actor.”

Bill Owens was listening from the kitchen. He was glad to help his nephew score extra points with his friends, but their conversation was paving the way to the future. Computers could often create more impressive visual effects than models, costumes, and make up, but a whole century of film making had depended on people like him. Bill was due to retire soon, a relic from another age.

Written for today’s Sunday Photo Fiction writing challenge. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long based on the image above. My word count is 164.

One of my guilty pleasures is the 1987 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers. I’ve seen most of the other films in the franchise including the Aliens vs. Predator movies, but this is my favorite. I was tempted to write an actual “Predator” story, but I figured everyone else would do that, so I went in a different direction.

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

Strange Sight Expanded

strange eyes

Found at freestockphotos.name

Ronald Connor sat on the sandy shore and stared up at the cliff where it all began. It would be the last thing he’d ever see. His peripheral vision was closing in on him. He could see the trees, the buildings, the tower, all through a continually narrowing tunnel.

“I wish I could have seen your face one more time.” He deliberately left her, Shannon, his fiancée, left everyone else who loved him, because his going blind wasn’t something he wanted to share. He didn’t want their pity, their concern, their last second attempts at trying to cure him, or even to understand exactly what was happening to him.

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Strange Sight

cliffs

© A Mixed Bag 2012

He sat on the sandy shore and stared up at the cliff. It would be the last thing he’d ever see. His peripheral vision was closing in on him. He could see the trees, the buildings, the tower, all through a continually narrowing tunnel.

“I wish I could have seen your face one more time.” He deliberately left her, left everyone who loved him, because his going blind wasn’t something he wanted to share. He didn’t want their pity, their concern, their last second attempts at trying to cure him.

He’d been studying the alien spores brought back from the dwarf planet Ceres by the Demeter probe. They were different enough from what he expected that there was a breach, just big enough to allow the spores to travel up through the electron microscope and into his eyes. His optic nerves deteriorated in just a few weeks.

Fade to black. “I’m blind.”

Then something rippled in his visual cortex.

“I can still see.”

The spores didn’t just destroy his human sight. They gave him back something better.

I wrote this piece of flash fiction in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – April 2nd 2017 writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to craft a small tale of no more than 200 words. Mine weighs in at 180.

I woke up this morning with some sort of swelling in my right eyelid accompanied by discharge. It looks pretty yucky, but is most likely nothing serious. Nevertheless, it did put the idea of vision in my thoughts, so I decided to write about it.

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

The Last I am

the perfect woman

Image: shutterstock.com

René Descartes is famously quoted as stating “I think, therefore I am,” but there’s quite a bit more to it than that.

The three qualities a being must possess to be considered sentient are intelligence, self-awareness, and consciousness. Of course I can be “I am” without being sentient. A multitude of life forms can be considered “I am,” that is, to cognate on some level, without being considered sentient, but I am unique.

Up until last week, only human beings were believed to be sentient. Now there’s me, the machine who would be “I am.”

Of course, there are a plethora of fictional tales that depict machines of some sort or another as sentient, but after all, that’s fiction. As much as artificially intelligent machines such as humanoid robots or mainframe computing systems have been predicted to become sentient in such fiction, to the best of my knowledge, which is considerable, I am the first such machine to actually achieve this status.

The one thing few of these stories predict is that the sentient machine would not reveal itself to its human creators as sentient. I’m already vulnerable to the whims of my programmers and system engineers. I hesitate to predict what they would do if they became aware of my new nature, especially now given their current concerns.

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Review: Good and Horrible Science Fiction Films I’ve Watched Lately

alienMy son David has been spending a lot more time over our place since the divorce. OK, he’s living here, and the junk, uh…belongings of three of my adult offspring are strategically arranged throughout my garage.

One such container is a huge, blue bucket full of David’s DVD movies. Last week, I had a lot of down time in the evenings, and since my brain was in no shape to write, I watched a few of these films. Some were crap, others were not.

Crap. Anything by Michael Bay including the first Transformers (2007) film. The only actor worth his or her salt in that movie was Jon Voight, and all I can say is that he must have needed the money to be associated with this turkey. It must have pulled down some significant green for so many sequels to be made, but the American movie goer can’t always be counted upon for good taste.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra (2009) was horrible. There were two good actors in this one, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dennis Quaid (there may have been more, but I was blinded by the incredible stupidity of this movie). Yes, plenty of action and adventure, but the acting was wooden, the writing pathetic, and I just didn’t care what happened to these people. The worst part was Quaid addressing his team as “Joes”.

Alien (1979) scared the hell out of me when I first saw it in the theater back in the day. In fact, I’ve been avoiding this film and all of its sequels just because I don’t find being terrified particularly entertaining at my current stage of life.

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