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The Drawing Rooms

Drawing Rooms

There was no reason to panic. The rooms had been this full before and the transporter crews had always come through. Anderson was anxious as always, transferring the black slick liquid from one room to another and watching the gauges. He checked which were filling up the fastest. Only six rooms remained unfilled, including the one we were now operating in. A small number decided to stay and control the drawing while most retreated to the upper levels of the temple. In the dark and slime stained rooms, Jefferson was reassuring everyone we would be OK. Rescue crews above us were drilling down as he spoke and, even though we were cut off temporarily, we would all laugh about this later over a drink.

In the twelve years since its discovery, the structure had only overflowed twice. Each time the staff had been evacuated before they could be suffocated in the rich thick fuel that flowed into the temple vaults. When the first crews had landed on the planet, the temple had been completely dry. There had been no signs anywhere of the civilization that had built it. Judging from the rich jungle surrounding it, the builders hadn’t originated here. Situated on a high cliff several thousand miles above the canopies of the tallest trees, nothing else on the planet showed the complexity and skill. They began to explore.

After several months, they noticed that the floors of the lowers rooms were becoming slick with a substance rising from the ground. It was a rich hydrocarbon oil that, when distilled, provided an incredible fuel source. Geologists were brought in to survey the area but no-one could work out why the substance was rising up into the temple. It was as if it was drawn up from beneath the jungle floor, oozing along with a life of its own. They searched for any kind of extraction mechanism. They studied the rocks of the cliffs and searched for underground reservoirs. The rocks were porous but could never be used to replicate the process. Most surmised it had to be triggered by our arrival.

It wasn’t long before the Stenson corporation arrived, installing in the lower chambers. The drawing room crews began their work; monitoring the levels, filling room after room while the transport crews shipped it back to earth for refinement. A whole new era of space exploration was being developed on the basis of this baffling discovery. It was lucrative for everyone to spend a cycle working in the rooms between transports. Risks were high but worth it. Now listening to the next room beginning to fill with the black slick; curdling and gurgling as it sloshed around, I thought on that. It was a matter of hours before everyone would be forced to evacuate into the jungle. There were predators down there, more dangerous than the fumes down here.

I could feel the walls vibrating as the crews drilled down to us. There was no need to panic.

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The Zuckerman Cascade


 

 
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Modern Sci-Fi #1 William Gibson

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Mind your Head

Flash project: write 200 word story on the theme of “Mind your Head.”

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In the backwater, plastic walls of laboratory 39 we tried everything to increase the activity in their brains. Aldus, with his brow permanently furrowed peered at the results of countless trials. Magda shuffled up and down, drinking while she poured over data from each permutation of the experiment. Indigo only now admitted that his initial excitement was beginning to wane. He had been convinced these were the creatures identified by the ancients. They were nothing to look upon, but a perfect match for the drawings on the steel temple.

Each attempt started with such promise and yet always produced another dead end. The subjects would show improvements; responding to visual stimulus and spoken instruction. They would develop complex communication amongst themselves. The first time I saw one teaching another to make a cutting tool, I nearly cried. Always they would start to form groups. Always they would destroy each other. Soon we would lose our window of opportunity. We had come so far to find them; across the vast emptiness between our worlds. The steel temple they sent had shown the way and we had followed, only to find their deserts of destruction; the last fruits of their mindless savagery.


The Quick and the Dead.

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Artist Kaya Mar walking with painting in Westminster.

 
See more Short Stories by Supernova1987 at:
Short Stories


The Curious Child and the Long Walk

Curious Child

I woke this morning and couldn’t get this out of my head. Something that happened years ago but has stayed with me as a shining memory. As the day has unfolded it has become like a patience puzzle, endlessly opening its lotus leaves to reveal more complexities and hidden things.

This story started as something simple; an idea to make a walk more interesting one day. It became dreamlike in the afternoon sun, distanced over time and memory until it returned fuzzy, browning at the edges and hinting only at peripheral feelings of the days we spent together in the sunshine.

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The Tick of the Night Watch

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The Pale Horizon Beyond the Darkness

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Another story from 2011. How far would you go for even a remote possibility of a dream coming true?

Supernova1987

We rested for a moment. He lowered his elderly frame onto one of the many boulders that lay around us and he slowly removed first one and then the other sandal. Placing his hands on his knees, he raised his gaze to the hot midday sun and tried to slow his breathing. I offered him water one more time but as before he smiled at me without answering in that disconcerting way that made me wonder if he truly understood.

He was 87. He had told me many times the night before. He told me how he had travelled with the cattle trains across the delta straights, ridden the post barge up river to the city, how fever had taken him at the Tiger Foot Inn during the monsoon. His convalescence caused a great commotion amongst the missionaries, happy to have a new soul the save. He stayed through the winter and worked…

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Aside

First published in 2011, tonight’s reblogged story is a chilling tale of dreamscape detective work.

Supernova1987

It was a Tuesday morning in early June when I was called to investigate a curious incident by the sea. A hotel had been thrown into disarray at five in the morning by what could only be described as a herd of stampeding Rhinos. Luckily most of the patrons had been asleep at the time on the first floor and above. Only the night porter had been injured and taken to the local hospital with a broken arm and bruising down his left side. Aside from shock and nerves, most of the guests and staff were in good health but the proprietor could not be found.

This incident in itself would seem curious enough to most if it wasn’t for the fact that exactly seven minutes after the beasts had filled the ground floor spaces of the hotel causing countless damages, they had disappeared without any trace of exit or…

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