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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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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The Emulation of Keekik

garlic farm

Rows of garlic on a farm. (Photo: Gary Weathers/Getty Images)

The other local farmers had an easement agreement with Straen so they could cross his land and water their herds, but Keekik’s passionate desire for emulation put him above the law, or so he believed. True, he had no herds of his own, being only sixteen, and a stable hand on Logi’s farm, but now, crouching behind a tree at the edge of Straen’s property, he felt that ownership was inherently evil, and that resources should be available to all who desired access.

Experiencing an almost ethereal since of giddiness at his self-assigned empowerment, the excitable lad sprung from his hiding place, across the artificial boundary between Logi’s and Straen’s farms, and ran with enough vigor to clean his employer’s stables for a week (though he loathed the task).

Racing past the soil enhancement equipment, he knew exactly what he was going to say. His words would be exoteric when he arrived at the lake where all of the caretakers for the farmers were watering the herds of cukol.

Finally, he passed the last open gate that gave him entry to the gathering at the water. The thin, pale skinned boy climbed up a dozer machine that was sitting idle for the moment, took a wide stance, raised his arms above his head and cried, “Brothers and sisters, hear me,” as loud as he could.

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Odd Bedfellows

cougar

Found at Outside Magazine

Sex with Rafe was a cervical pain, even though she always cried out, “Deeper! Go deeper!”

“I’m…going…as…deep…as…I…”

“No, not yet! I’m not ready!”

But it was too late. The callous putz had finished inside of her, sending countless tens of millions of sperm cells searching fruitlessly for a fertile home in which to invade.

“Get off. You’re crushing me.”

“Whatever you say, Babe.”

Bonnie felt his now flaccid member slipping from between her moist thighs, and then her lover’s hot kisses descending from her neck, lingering over full, sweaty breasts, and then continuing down her body.

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The Blacksmith’s Well

time vortex

Time vortex as it appears on the television show “Doctor Who.”

Sever the Smith hardly ever thought of himself as Sean Watson anymore, unless he was staring down into the bottomless abyss left behind by the Tesseract Effect. Far in the future, he had been experimenting with exotic matter using a particle accelerator in his small, private lab outside of Leeds. Yes, he could still remember. Was it five…no, it was six years ago subjective time.

There was a reaction of some kind. Reality went berserk. Billows of strange energy shot from the accelerator’s ring engulfing the chamber and the labs beyond, and the scientific breakthrough the physicist and entrepreneur had anticipated, became his unending nightmare. Had everyone else been translated to another time or just been killed? He would probably never know.

“Say, ísensmiþ, mi friþhengest…” The voice came from the entrance of his shop. Sever quickly closed the lid over the well and stepped into the main work area, shutting the door of the antechamber behind him.

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The Next Soldiers

nuclear winter

Depiction of the effects of a nuclear winter” – Found at the New York Times

Abracadabra,” enchanted fourteen-year-old Elazaro Motyka as he sat under an almond tree overlooking the Port of Haifa, but the sea breeze blowing into the park overlooking the old University was still too cold. Even the magic word his American neighbor taught him didn’t work against the last vestige of nuclear winter, but he hadn’t expected it to.

It had been thirty years since the last war. He managed to avoid most of the stories his zayde told him of whether it was India or Pakistan that fired the nukes first and then pulled in the Chinese, Europeans, and Americans, blah, blah, blah. It was bad enough that they taught about it in school. The present worried him a lot more than the past.

That made him rather atypical among his classmates, since most of them loved to listen to any of the people who were alive during the Third World War. It was a reminder of the last time that even in stupidly killing millions, humanity had been free.

“Hey, Elazaro!”

He looked down to see Inaya making the arduous climb up the hill to his lookout. She was a grade behind him but liked to brag that she was more mature than he was, as if that made her better than him.

“Hey, Inaya. Did you bring lunch?” On days when they didn’t have school, they met in the park to eat and talk.

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The Maker’s Daughter

catwoman

Image of Selina Kyle/Catwoman (voiced by Adrienne Barbeau) from the 1992 Batman the Animated Series episode “Tyger, Tyger.”

The solitary Leonine was lying, concealed in the tall grass near an acacia tree watching what she assumed was a frumpy, blinkered woman crossing the broad savanna as she carried her basket. She didn’t so much walk as bounce, as if she were treading upon a sponge or the vast skin of some overly ripe fruit. Her costume reminded the female adaptoid of those worn by puritans, except her robe was a bright crimson, while he coif, shift, and apron were canvas white. With her large handbag, the amused humanoid lioness thought she looked like “little red riding hood meets “a handmaid’s tale.”

Her pale, compact body approached a coppice, which apparently was her destination. Leonine didn’t have to restrain herself, having recently dined on a gazelle, but she was curious, so she rose and silently circled around the open grasslands, padding through the trees, and finally approaching her target from the right. Too late did she realize her mistake as the woman, now appearing much younger than she had thought, turned her head, removed her ancient spectacles, and gazed directly into her feline eyes.

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The Murasaki Betrayal

galileo 7

Image of the Galileo shuttlecraft from the Star Trek episode “The Galileo Seven” – Found at memory-alpha.wikia.com

Charlton Ortega piloted his light scout ship “Lily Sloane” into the nebulous Murasaki 312 quasar-like formation at half impulse power not knowing if he and his three crew mates would make it back out again.

“Shields are nominal. Continuing sensor sweep. Still nothing.” Helen Olssen was both the ship’s systems expert and Ortega’s lover, and they were nothing alike. While he was impulsive, adventurous, and as dark as his Inca ancestors, the Swede from Uppsala was fair-skinned, blond to the point of having almost white hair, conservative, reserved, and studious. If Retenox Five hadn’t been invented, she would have been a natural for a pair of horned rim glasses.

“This whole area for a diameter of twelve light years is completely infused in a shell of hard radiation. If our shields drop even for a few seconds, we’ll sizzle like bacon on a griddle.” The navigator’s east Texas accent was what Ortega called “thick enough to cut with a knife.” Bethany “Red” Harrington checked her navcom against the readings of the old shuttlecraft that had visited the unknown planet more than a century ago. They’d been uploaded to the Enterprise’s ancient duotronic-based information system seconds before the Galileo Seven had burned up in the atmosphere, and hopefully they’d be enough to guide the Sloane on its mission. “You sure you can fly this thing under these conditions, Charlie?”

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Psyche Poised Against Infinity

woman at night

Found at the High Style Life website – no photo credit available

Psyche stood on the edge of the rooftop contemplating the city’s nightlife far below. If anyone saw her swaying twenty stories above the street, they might vitiate her plans and try to persuade her to go indoors, or perhaps to a hospital, but suicide wasn’t on her mind.

Privately celebrating the occurrence of her twentieth birthday, she took a single rose pedal from inside her diaphanous gown, where it had been nestled between her breasts, and released it to the wind, letting the obsidian sky receive its tribute.

She knew the monstrosity was out there somewhere between the wind and the darkness and the sky, and she, her young, lithe body wrapped only in barely tangible moonlight, poised like a pigeon at the edge of eternity, chose no longer to have feet of clay, but the talons of an eagle.

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Future Tension

marigolds

Photo by Surachai Piragsa – Bangkok Post – 2017

Adam had to look up the word Hemmablind to find out what his wife meant. Yeah, it described him pretty well. He just didn’t notice all of the little imperfections in and around the house. The tear in the back screen door, the weeds growing in the flowerbed, they were all the same to him, and her constant pestering about them was a pain in his pinfeathers.

Yet, as oblivious as he was to all the chores she set before him each morning, he was able to carry himself in a decorous fashion, even when she said the leaf-filled rain gutters and the clogged bathroom sink were the final straw.

Oh, he had attempted to summon up a token effort or two, but it wasn’t enough to draw her attention away from his overall pattern of inactivity. He used his bad back as a crutch, but that didn’t hold up as an excuse, and certainly did not hold their marriage together.

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