Posts Tagged flash fiction
Today I visited my friend Grace, who mentioned being scheduled to write for an international writing blog but not having any ideas. I also needed an idea for my holidailies post for the day, so I got out my Story Cubes, she rolled them, and we both wrote a story about the following pictures:
Footprint. Globe. Lightbulb. ID card. Abacus. Flower. Turtle. Cane. Falling star.
Grace posted her story within about half an hour of rolling the cubes. I spent a little more time on mine later in the evening, but not a lot. Here it is:
After the theme parks were set up, they protected my first footprint in a large magnifying cube, so tourists on all sides could look at it in detail. Nothing but the size of the boot marked it as mine; at the time of first landing, the soil and thick atmosphere were known to be toxic to us, so bare feet were not safe.
It’s different now, of course. People live and work here, and it looks for all the world like… all the world. The higher gravity attracts star athletes doing strength training and thrillseekers looking for acceleration. They start out crawling and propping themselves up with sticks, but after a few months they’re walking as normal, and back at home they can almost fly. They win all the sports competitions they can, then as they begin to weaken, they act as superheroes and make enough money to retire. That’s the dream, anyway. The trip back out of the gravity well is much more expensive than the trip in, so many who came hoping for a giant leap out of poverty spend their lives working in the theme parks hoping to earn enough to get home, their spirits crushed as much as their bodies are.
I’m stuck here too now, without valid identity to fly home on. They wanted to make me a hero, but I wanted to make myself one. I wanted to keep doing the science we’d started with that first small step. Wanted to take more samples of the air and soil before they lunaformed it. So I had a scent gland transplant and went incognito, got a job as a field technician. We fought hard to keep one small section of ground near the equator pristine, and even that has a crust from reactions with our safer atmosphere. I captured three canisters of air on the first landing, and I had to steal one of them from my own lab to continue studying it.
The first thing I found was a shape barely recognisable as a fossil. A faint impression of spikes radiating from a point. Months more digging revealed objects so bizarre that we may never be sure what they were.
There is one thing I am sure of: mine were not the first footprints on Earth.
“I… I th… thought you’d left,” I stammered.
“I came back,” he replied nonchalantly. “It’s not as if I died.” He looked at me accusingly.
Such lively eyes staring at me from a deathly face were unnerving. I gave in, and went to get some textbooks.
“Let’s work on something together,” he suggested. “My brain is open.” Indeed it was, but I tried not to look.
Uncertain though I was about the feasibility of living and undead working together, I could not refuse his offer of collaboration. And that’s how I got a late Erdős number of one.
“My name is Finn, and I was abducted by aliens.”
“Tell us about your experience. We understand.” said Ray, the group leader.
“Thank you. My whole school laughed at me.”
“We understand.” repeated Ray.
“I was pulled up into space by an invisible force. I couldn’t breathe.”
The others stared, glassy-eyed, remembering their own trauma.
“They pulled me into their ship. Huge creatures, with… sort of tentacles… tentacles with tentacles… but stiffer, you know?”
“They moved strangely, floating in space, nothing holding them up. I could hardly move. They measured me, poked me, probed me… I can’t even…” He squirmed.
“And… this is going to sound crazy, but…”
“We’ve all been called crazy,” said Ray.
“I never believed anyone who said this. But I swear they implanted a tracking device!”
“Me too!” someone called out.
“And then… they dumped me, near my home. But I’m convinced they’re causing the disappearances. They keep some, take them to their own world, for… for… I don’t know.”
Muttered hypotheses bubbled through the group.
“They’re forcing them to breed alien hybrids!”
“…locking us up and studying us!”
“I bet they’re eating us!” The children always went for the most direct horror.
“Quiet! Finn’s speaking.”
“People say maybe their world’s a paradise, where everyone’s safe and well-fed. But I was terrified. I can’t believe they’re good. My mouth still hurts,” Finn blubbed. “I just… we can’t stop them. They’ll take us all. They’re a superior species. All we can do is wait for it.”
Finn swam through the wide-eyed audience, and into the coral to mope.
As well as being part of the second cycle of my Writing Cards (and not really Letters) project, this story is an entry in Flash Mob 2013 International Flash Fiction Day blog carnival and competition. Edit: The rest of the mob is now lighting up the world with its pitchforks. By the contest rules it has to have fewer than 300 words; it’s either 293 or 263, or maybe about 500, depending on which word counting software you believe. I counted 263. Or something like that; I’ve changed it a bit since counting.