The Hidden Object
By Joe Russo
Dr. Henry Googan woke us up early, around thirteen forty-five. I had just gone to sleep, my feet aching after walking the desert the whole day. We complained, both Rudy and I, about how the doctor always awoke us whenever he found something of use.
“Helen. I found it. It was there, beneath the sand.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, slipping my white coat on. I was unsure about this find, he’s been wrong that past few times. Rudy and I were just about to give up, pack up and head back home. Or ask for a better, non-senile doctor.
He nodded, his glasses slipping down his nose. Outside, the wind blew around our feet, the sand getting into our shoes.
“Its over there, Helen. I dug it up right before you went in for bed.”
I followed his pointed finger to a hole, about six feet deep in the middle of the desert. A mound of sand stood next to it. I wondered how the doctor even got up from the hole; he was no taller than forty-eight inches.
“And you’re sure this is the real object?”
“I’m sure. I had the picture with me,” he said, taking a picture out of his coat pocket. I took the picture from him, the black rectangle staring at me.
I peered down the hole. “Get me the ladder, Doctor.”
He looked around, as if he was thinking about what a ladder looked like, and dashed off back to the trailer. I waited, staring at the bottom of the hole, at the black rectangle with a cracked top.
Dr. Googan came back, with Rudy in tow, and placed the ladder- a wooden one we found three days ago- down the hole. I climbed on top of it, unsure of how to use it.
“Take your time, Helen.”
“It’s a ladder, Doctor, not an animal.” I took the steps one at a time, finally reaching the ground and the black object. It was smaller in person and when I picked it up heavier. I turned it over in my hand and saw that the name of the rectangle was still visible but faded across the letter P. I touched the half-eaten logo, which I learned through Rudy, was called an apple.
“Dr.Googan. Rudy. We found it,” I said, as I pocketed the black object and climbed up from the hole.
I’m tired. I’ll finish report tomorrow. Till then.
16 March 4014
The black object rests on the counter and Rudy keeps touching it. “I’ve heard so much about this thing,” he would tell me.
“It has these things called… Oh, I forgot. It can take pictures though,” he said, turning it around, “That’s what this thing is here.” I looked at the little sliver circle.
“That takes pictures? Its so small.”
Rudy nodded. “The screen is cracked though.”
“The screen…?” I asked.
“This part right here,” he said, pointing to the cracked top. “You see? This is glass and it can break very easily.”
I nodded. Dr. Googan is asleep, has been for most of the day. He said this object was used to call people and send messages. He called it something, but I forgot. Must ask when he awakes. I hailed the Supreme last night, using the object, after Rudy told me that it was safe. The Supreme wants the sample sent immediately to him. He then asked us to find something else; something called a Mac Book found in a city called New York. I could only imagine what kind of book this could be. Until tomorrow's report.
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Joe Russo has been published on three other flash fiction sites. He is a current Creative Writing student and is in the process of writing his first feature length screenplay and stageplay.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
The Hidden Object
Thursday, March 19, 2015
By Adam Mac
Claustrophobius kept returning to the hatch door to see if it was still locked tight. He had managed to slip away and find a sealed compartment on one of the many levels of the container ship, but not before he had witnessed the slaughter of his mates.
He was outnumbered. Before finding his hideaway, he’d seen more than 200 of them in one of the loading docks. He couldn’t outlast them all. Besides, he needed food. He was becoming weak from hunger—his last food coming more than a day ago. For now, the air supply was adequate, but they’d soon cut that off. They couldn't reach him by climbing through the vent—it was too small here—but they could block the air flow.
They would be after him. He had been seen, and he knew they wouldn’t give up until he, the last of his kind, had been exterminated and his remains vented into outer space, the ultimate act of contempt among space mariners.
He couldn’t surrender. They didn’t take prisoners, and his race never surrendered. He had to try to take as many as he could with him, but he was no weapons expert and improvisation was not his strength. Nevertheless, with some recollection of his combat training in the officers' academy, he rigged a booby trap using his laser gun. When detonated the full force of the explosion would tear apart every living thing in the compartment. Crude, but—
Outside, he heard voices. Closer to the door he was able to make out the words. Sounded like English—North American accents. Languages were his forte, and he knew over 40 human languages and dialects. It was ironic that English would be the last language he’d ever hear.
“Bring the cuttin torch. Soon as we cut the openin, toss in the gas canisters. We want im alive. Museum won’t pay for another corpse.”
“And no mutilations. Lost my own—brother-in-law and best friend—but it ain't gonna bring im back.”
“But captain. One of them slimy creachers, he literally ripped my boy limb from limb and ate im up like he was a Christmas goose.”
“Ever tried one of them? Me and Hank lit one up yesterday. Tastes like chicken, and I've worked up an appetite.”
“Men, trust me. What we've got planned for this one is worse than any torture or death you could imagine. Now, stand back.”
Claustrophobius didn't blink. He never blinked, but his lizard tongue darted back and forth as he savoured the thought of leaving them a corpse instead of a captive and three or four fewer English speakers.
- - -
The author teaches ESL and occasionally writes for his dark half.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Heritage to the Stars
By Jean-Paul L. Garnier
I remember a time when there were men on the Earth. Though I cannot say how long ago it was, or why it is that they made me, or for what reason they may have needed such a creature as I. There is one thing that I am grateful to them for, and it is that they have given me a means of locomotion. They enjoyed thinking that they were created in the image of something greater, and sickeningly they chose to do the same thing . Yes, I am grateful for the ability to walk, inefficient as it is, most likely my mind would've fallen apart had I been tethered to a single place.
I spent what were probably the first several decades looking for others, and although the world is a beautiful place, I found no one, and my wanderings proved useless. The world appeared bigger than I would have thought, but seeing the cities of the world did little to teach me about Mankind. The father who would abandon his child, and the child left without instruction. Lacking instructions I spent all my time in search of them, and this brought me at first to the great libraries of the world. Reading is a painfully slow method of taking in information but in circumstances such as these a diversion from the dead time comes in useful. One could even say that it arrives welcome, and alleviates what the humans would have called loneliness.
I decided to make my mission to learn as much about robotics as possible, so as to be able to augment my body further. If there was to be any improvement in life it would surely be found in increased ability, be it greater strength or faster movement, and perhaps there was some way to increase mental capacities as well.
Transportation was by far my biggest issue. Learning how to do maintenance and augmentation work on my body was the easy part, transfer of materials and construction proved more difficult. Nevertheless, I was able to set up a small workshop at a local machinery factory. It was in this workshop that I flowered into something new altogether, and my perspective on what I could do began to grow. I realized that I had been thinking too small in terms of the augmentation possible on my body, and it led me to the understanding of what needed to be done next.
If this world was to be free of men, and I were to be the last vestige of their thumbprint, then perhaps I owed it to them to reach out and lend their heritage to the Universe. I returned to the libraries once more and learned everything there was to learn about rocketry. I moved my headquarters to one of Man's old and abandoned rocket facilities. I knew then that my plan to become one with the Cosmos was actually possible. I would mold my body once more, this time into the image of Man's departure from the Earth. I became one of their rockets and left for the Cosmos to live out the rest of my unending time.
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My name is Jean-Paul L. Garnier and I live in Los Angeles CA, where I am an audio technician. I have had stories published in Schlock! and Aphelion magazines.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
By David K Scholes
“It wasn’t always like this,” I told my young grandson James as we sat together in one of the above ground secure observation pods looking out at the stars.
“What was it like then,” inquired James, genuinely curious, “back when you were young,” he added. He turned around and looked at me with a cheeky grin on his face. It always seemed to me that he had acquired a sense of humour beyond his years. Or maybe that was now true of many of his age.
“Ah!” I said sort of playing along with him “back when your old grandad was just a boy, eh! Well, for one thing we used to live permanently above the ground and for another there were a lot more stars in the sky.”
I started the long story which had only partly unfolded when his mother was of the same age. Of the interstellar wars, escalating to the Universe War, the Multiverse War then finally, as the losers tried to wrest away the inevitably of their defeat, the totally useless inter-temporal war.
Of course he wanted to know absolutely everything just as his Mum did before him.
At some point in the telling of it, I must have wandered off in my thought processes. Talking of the past I had started to relive a part of it. “Grandad,” James called out concerned, “grandad are you all right?” His little frame was about to start shaking me.
No reasonable grand parent, human or any of the aliens I ever came across, would willingly want to see their children or grandchildren inherit a poorer world than they themselves had known. An inherent desire for things to be better for the next generation. Even with all of the selfishness of man. Yet sometimes this just could not be. Sometimes just to survive was enough.
At one point after I mentioned my time as a star trooper James interrupted me.
“You were very brave, grandad,” he said earnestly. It was more of a question than an assertion. One seeking a favourable response. .I hesitated for just a moment. I’d never lied to either of my grandchildren and I wasn’t about to start now. Yet there were different ways of telling the truth. It could be softened a little without lying.
“We did what we could,” I responded enigmatically. “To survive, to stop our enemies before they reached Earth. You know that no matter how our historians like to interpret it we were very much one of the junior partners in the whole thing.”
“You were there though grandad; you were one of the star troopers that stopped them at Alvaren 4?" He spoke the name of the world synonymous with the greatest battle Earth ever faced with a quiet reverence. Much as my great great grandfather’s generation might have referred to the battle of Stalingrad. “Mum says you don’t like to talk about it,” he added. I nodded. The horrors of it all, only some of which I had managed to keep out of my conscious thoughts, now starting to flood back in. Starting to overwhelm me. There were things we did that none of us were proud of. Things that were best left unsaid. I would never glorify war for my grandson but neither did I want to totally disillusion him.
James could see that his old grandad was struggling to keep it all together. As the tears started to roll down my cheeks he held my hand firmly and patted me and said “it’s all right grandad, its okay to cry.”
It was only then that I realised that which I should have known for some time.
Looking down at James, I realised they were stronger than us. His generation was stronger than mine and stronger than his mother’s generation. With everything that had happened, all that they had been denied; his generation did not hold it against us. My generation or his mothers. He understood, his generation understood, how it was.
Looking down at him again he managed that cheeky grin of his. “It will be all right grandad, everything will be okay.”
There was optimism with the strength. I knew it was a strength and an optimism that this new generation were going to need.
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The author has written six collections of sci-fi short stories and two sci-fi novellas (all on Amazon). He has been a regular contributor to both the Antipodean SF and the Beam Me Up Pod cast sci-fi sites and has also been published on a variety of other sci-fi sites. He is currently working on a new anthology of short sci-fi stories and also a “Human Hunter” series for the Beam Me Up Pod Cast site
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