THE BIG WAKE- Guest slot by Rich Wiltshir (@RichWiltshir)

Two Lovely Flash Fictions today from Rich Wiltshir. To be honest I could’nt decide between the two so I posted both.

 

THE BIG WAKE…

“Professor,” said the voice that carried above the white noise of the room’s conversations conversations, “Professor.”   From Mintor’s tone, I guess he’d received another communication from one of the observation posts.

“Where’s this one from?”

“It’s Earth, Ma’am.   Should we wake him?”

“No.   No, not yet.   I want to interpret the data first.”

“But, he said…”

“He demanded that we tell him as soon as there was news,” said Mintor.

“And that’s what we’ll do.   But we need to know what the news is, don’t we?”

“Can I at least start the reactivation process, Professor?”

“That, I will permit,” I stared into the lens that was the great computer’s presence in my laboratory, “but do not accerate the process.   Do you understand?”   Not waiting for a reply, I escaped the crowded area, observed by the eyes of all who were there.   Afterall, some had a vested interest, their ancestors had helped to seed the planet with the Overseer’s preferred DNA profiles.

“AberCombe, share my office with me, a while will you?’   It’s more than half my career since I last spent so much time reviewing one set of data.   At one point AberCombe, my personal DataBot, tried to order me asleep.   But the Overseer would tolerate no excuse for an inappropriate waking or delayed report.

Many thousand lifespans ago, he had been instrumental in the programme of planting life on newly cooled planets, but planet Earth had been his first, despite being half way across the galaxy.  Though it had been slow to establish forms capable of manipulating their environments, hominids had finally arrived.   That’s when the Overseer took to his chamber and ordered surveillance.

I knew his reaction before uttering a word.   His grief would mutate to ire, then rage and my work would be over.

“Overseer,” I said, “Your people will by now be extinct.   I regret to tell you they have discovered the means with which their destruction is certain.”   The great one’s eyes closed, as they had been through his multi-millennial slumber.

“We should have seeded others this way.   Maybe one of them would have survived,” he mused.   “Is it possible that hominids could grow beyond religion?” “

 

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IT’S A GAS…

As tracks imprinted rectangular patterns in surface materials that belched malodorous gases, Dermott concentrated on his controls. Another accident would mean they couldn’t afford to bring him home.

“Looking good,” he announced to the cameras, “we should be finished in a few minutes.”

“Just make sure you don’t sink this time,” said the Sheila, his team manager from her air conditioned cabin on the ship.

“That hadn’t occured to me,” he said. She didn’t respond but made typed a comment against his personnel file, ‘can’t maintain respect for rank under pressure.’

Sheila hadn’t been happy about allowing Dermott to pilot the remaining tractor, not since he’d barely escaped from last week, but she’d decided he was the most expendable.

“What’s the water table feel like?” she asked.

“I need to keep moving, otherwise she’ll just sink,” said Dermott, repeating the words from Sheila’s briefing.

“When you get to the seam, make sure you distribute the load evenly, Derm. We can’t afford you to lose this one as well.”

“Thanks for the concern. I’ll call back in a minute.” His fingers danced over the controls, instructing the caterpillar tracks to widen. Underneath the vehicle, the planet’s sludge had stopped cracking and emitting gas. The new-formed puddles of methane weren’t as wide now. The ground looked and felt more firm as he reached a lighter-coloured area within the crater.

Through broken clouds, Jupiter dominated the otherwise black sky.

“How’s it going Dermott?”

“Give me a minute.”

The narrow line of yellow ground was under all the tracks now, he felt secure for the first time since… since he couldn’t remember. This surface was pock-marked, like a teenager’s healing acne.

Dermott readied the drill and scoop for excavation. He decided on a laser burst first, to confirm the mineral content.

From three earth miles away, Sheila monitored the readings. A spike of energy!

“Stop!” she shouted, “Stop, Dermott. It’s alive!”

His tracks couldn’t hold on. The basking leviathan’s pain under burning light made it shift… it scurried for deeper methane… it broke the ice.

Sheila’s monitor showed a series of splashes as new-found life sought safety and her crewman’s life ended. Waves of alien liquid shifted, rippling concentriically. Steam rose high as the vehicle sank.

Jupiter’s rainbow announced Dermott’s death.

 

 

So there you have it, the first guest slot. Many thanks to @RichWiltshir, follow him on twitter.

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