300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #21 -- VICTORY TO JULIANA!

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willwallace

Interested Observer
Joined
Aug 13, 2011
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584
Location
New Jersey
Atchoktol



I know I am going mad, so I must write this before all sanity is lost.



It started when the Miskatonic University archaeologists found that ancient tomb under the Great Sphinx. Older by far than the pyramids, carbon dating put it at an unbelievable fifty to sixty thousand years old. Of all the treasures inside-mummies, strange objects fashioned from materials not yet identified, and other…things…not publicly disclosed, the one item that haunts me is a small, nondescript skeleton.



Birdlike in form, it exuded a powerful presence. When I first saw it, on its pedestal in the center of the grand tomb, chills ran down my back despite the oppressive heat. Tasked to catalog and box it, I was not prepared for what happened when I touched it.



The room dissolved, and I was transported to a time when the bird god Atchoktol ruled the earth. All creatures lived and died at his whim. Ten thousand years he ruled, unchallenged. Then the Old Ones awoke from their millennia of slumber, putting the upstart back in his place, sealing him in this very tomb. I could see that now Atchoktol was himself awakening, soon to regain his full powers.



As the vision receded, I found myself laying on the floor, colleagues surrounding me. Frantically I looked for the skeleton, seeking to destroy it. But my actions led to confinement here, in the Arkham Asylum. And now, I fear it is too late.



The television is full of breaking stories. Insurrections in scores of countries, strange diseases running rampant, natural disasters on a scale never seen. The commentators have no explanation, but I do. It is Atchoktol, whose skeleton mysteriously disappeared.



I look at the knife stolen from the kitchen and smile. My release is near.



Your horror is just beginning.
 

johnnyjet

Western PA High Tech Country Boy
Joined
Nov 11, 2011
Messages
1,603
Location
Pennsylvania
Parchment Out of Time

The old man left the parchment on a small table. He walked toward the door, turned to glance at the words he had written, then hastily left the room.

Dust collected around the parchment over time. Otherwise the room remained as it was, untouched by human hands.

The walls around the table gradually fell. Furniture collapsed: bookshelf, night stand, dresser, desk, chairs.

The parchment never moved.

The parchment never changed

Its words never faded.

Opened now to the outside world, the room lent itself to the curious explorations of birds and small rodents. With a partial roof still overhead, many animals found shelter there from the frequent storms.

The birds and other small animals eventually died off. Many of their skeletons remained in strange positions among the ruins and around the parchment, positions of humble servitude or reverence. Even they understood its nature.

The storms were relentless. The remainder of the roof and walls around the table crumbled into fragments and were eventually blown away by the fierce winds. The storms continued to batter the table and parchment with the wind and icy rains.

Yet the parchment never moved.

The parchment never changed

Its words never faded.

One day much later, in calm winds under dismal skies, an old man hobbled to the table which stood alone on a barren landscape. He stared for a moment, then carefully picked up the parchment. Instantly the table turned into a fine dust that was quickly dispatched by the breezes.

He held the parchment to his weakened eyes and read the words aloud. The sun burst through dark clouds. He felt the warmth on his flesh. Somewhere a bird came to life and sang a new song. It flew down and acknowledged the parchment.

A new era had begun.
 

Glen

Who are you people?
Joined
Apr 27, 2011
Messages
781
Location
Sydney
Fractured

‘It’s beautiful...’

I’ve seen the moment of Cassandra’s last words hundred’s of times...always in the same format - internal helmet shot inset to...external headcam shot...of The Event. Her face angelic, pupils widely dilated, the helmet mic. picking up her erratic breathing. Her recourse to language...seems almost an afterthought.

She hasn’t spoken since, and remains in a catatonic...yet beatific...state.

Her behaviour had become increasingly unstable and dissociated as she approached The Event, her commentary giving way to...free association...poetry recitation...her fluent Japanese...and schoolgirl French. She failed to respond to...mission control commands....to fall back...

...as did Benson and...Romera...who grunted...shouted, cursed...their aggressive behaviour was curtailed remotely by altering their regulator airmix, and...they were all removed from the site by robot.

The Artefact splintered their personalities. We know from the two men who remain conscious...at some level...though sedated, tranq’d to stop them breaking their own bones against their restraints. Each facet of themselves they display is deeply psychotic. My patients. Mankind’s problem.

The Artefact remains, the drone activity around it increasingly illogical...as it reflects...

That is the true problem, isn’t it?...

the psychosis of the remote operators...which...although not the same untrammelled aggression, or disabling rapturous fugue states...of the approach crew...is nevertheless fractured...FRAGMENTED...

...It cannot be stopped!!​

...though WE CANNOT IDENTIFY THE VECTOR...this erosion of self...is jumping from mind to mind...through the biohaz suits, the...cell walls...breaching every containment...spilling across the facility...

...like FILTH SPILLING from a blocked drain!...​

My own consciousness is strained...please...accept this report...My urgent recommendation is...CEASE ALL ACTIVITY...at Artefact and close and...seal this facility.

Our souls...and yours...are...

...in...jeopardy!
 

Cascade

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2014
Messages
252
Transcript of a speech by Gomen Humblot (SL) to the Senate of the Great Galactic Library on the Matter of ruling BH19:877:CFH:TweR


Gentleman, all we hear is Vandoth.

Vandoth’s theory this…

Vandoth has proposed…

It is Vandoth’s proposition…

Well let me tell you I for one, have had enough of Vandoth.

I say it.

I say it here.

Rembrandt Vandoth is a hack. A charlatan.

A mountebank, of little wit and less charm, who brings nothing to the library or its work. He is a young buck with ideas above his station

Granted, some of his earlier work on the re-decimilasation of the non-fiction canon from the Golean 44 point base, showed promise, but let us make no mistake he is no Melvil Dewey and he is frankly not worthy of the honor he now seeks.

For three millennia, this library has stood and grown and flourished, and gathered within its august halls the total knowledge of the cosmos. Gathered, succored and cherished, the way a human mother gathers her child to her breast.

But like a mother it is not enough to cherish, we must foster, we must teach.

We must call on the sum total of our own experience and wisdom, to guide ourselves in the important decisions we must make, so that we might better guide those who come to us seeking knowledge.

The library is too important a resource, to be subject to the whim of populism. This great and noble organization, this planet spanning monument to truth must be above the fickle folly of faddism.

I came to the library, 58 years ago. I manned the trolleys for 9 before being made an assistant.

26 years an assistant, 20 a librarian.

I earned my place as a senior librarian, and have performed that role with distinction these 3 years hence.

It is I gentleman, not Vandoth, who most deserves, parking space 875A(c)
 
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Starbeast

Benevolent Galaxy Being
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
5,243
Location
Illinois
Chapter 13: Hellboy Gets the Boid


"That wacky Lovecrafty creature is in this museum.", stated the red demon.

"You mean, Anas Platyrhynchos.", said the blue, aquatic being.

"Yeah Abe, the boid. It's just another ancient beast, reanimated from the dead."

"Hellboy. Be careful, there's a multitude of irreplaceable, priceless..."

"I know. Don't break anything I can't pay for. Now, where is that black beast...? Ahh, by those vases." (click)...BLAM!!! "Missed."

"Don't shoot the hand cannon in here."

"One bullet, and he's history."

"But you'll create more damage."

"Ok. I'll punch em'. Abe. Lock that iron door, so he can't get out."

"Alright."

BLAM BLAM BLAM!!! "Crap. He was in range."

"Stop that!"

"Ok. I see him hiding behind that statue. C'mere you monster!!!" CRASH, SMASH, BASH, POW, KERSMASH, PUNT, CRASH. "HAH! Some bad a..wha-hoyyyyyyy..." SMASH. "Try that again." SMASH "I wasn't ready. Now attack me." SMASH BAM POW.

"RED!!! Are you ok?!"

"I got this.." SMASH "Now I got this." SMASH "Monster...I'm gonna make you eat that painting..." SMASH "Oomph!!" CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH "Yuck! cough cough Francis Bacon, doesn't taste like bacon."

"Hellboy. Use your gun!"

"Yeah. I'll make less of a mess that way." BLAM "Got cha'!!! Any prayers, or last words Lovecraftian?"

"Just two, demon..........You're...despicable."

BLAM "Say it, don't spray it. Damn. Look what that thing did to my trench coat."

"Your coat?! Look at this room. Millions of dollars in damage. Oh my. Here comes the curator, Mr Kissengroper."

"Don't worry Abe. I got this."

"Deeeooh! Everything's demolished and icky."

"Relax sir. Your monster problem is over. When that creature came in here and broke everything, I shot him."

"Delightful. I'll inform the insurance company, it was an act of vandalism."

"Great. Burrrup! Excuse me."

"Eew. Something you ate?"

"Yeah, some old Bacon.
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
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Feb 13, 2011
Messages
5,109
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Missing Stock

This isn't like dad made it!

Esther spat out the soup in an orange splat of pearl barley, wheatgerm and chicken meat. Should've known it wouldn't taste the same - the kitchen didn't have that stocky bone-smell.
Derek came in. 'What are you doing?'
She poured the contents of the pot into the macerator. 'It's not right.'
Before he could complain about the waste; the leaking roof, the pressures of inheriting the family-run cemetery - whatever it was he was going to moan about - the doorbell chimed.
'I'll get it,' she said, to avoid another argument.
'It's probably for you, anyway; I don't wanna speak to the press.'
Another army of journalists confronted Esther at the door: Who took them? Have the corpses been found? Will you be taking inventory of the rest of the cemetery?
One voice rang out above the others. 'Mrs Fellowes, I'm Mr McCaffry from HMRC...'
Swines. They put dad in an early grave, accusing him of fraud. She was glad his colleague had gone missing, glad.
'I'm not talking to you - we've already seen the Police,' she shouted over the tangle of microphones.
'I'm not here about...that; it's another audit...' He cut through the mob like a lion.
Are you kidding me!? After all we've been through?
That smug smile...More a great white smelling blood, than a lion, actually.
'You'd better come in,' she said, offering her own fake smile; inspired.

***

Next week the doorbell was ringing off the wall again.

'Who was at the door?' Derek asked.
'Police - that taxman's gone missing.'
'No! Another one?' He studied her face. 'You're much happier these days, hon,'
She passed him a bowl of soup, smiling.
'Wow, hon!' he said, eyes wide.
Her grin widened. 'I finally worked out dad's recipe...'
 

Wruter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2015
Messages
423
Bird Girl

Her name was Sassa.

We met in a bar near the spaceport, where lots of extraterrestrials hang out. Her species, the kirrin, had evolved from avian ancestors. She still had vestigial avian features like beaked lips and hair more like feathers. Wings too, though she kept them folded out of view.

She told me she could fly, but only at night. I wasn't sure if she was being serious or playful, or both.

I was ... curious, shall we say.

A few months after our encounter I began to feel strange. Morning sickness, weird food cravings, hair falling out. I went to the hospital for scans. Turns out I'm pregnant, which is a mighty odd experience for a human male. Thing is, the kirrin reproduce by a process of parasitic symbiosis with other species. In effect, their mates become their offspring. You've heard of terran cuckoos hiding their eggs in other birds' nests. The kirrin method takes the idea to biogenetic extremes.

Now my body is changing, my skeletal structure, my neurology reconfiguring into something new and birdlike. I was afraid at first. But now I'm quite looking forward to being born again.

Soon I will be able to fly, even if only at night.
 

LittleStar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2011
Messages
805
Easy Choices


Oz hatched the day I arrived. Warden said he’d probably last longer than me, so let me keep him. Besides, not much worth the eating on a bird all of bones.

He flapped, leapt from the headboard and crumpled on the mattress with a xylophone sigh. Then, to the window, watching the sparrows flit between the trees. He clicked his beak and clinked against the bars, the beat to an afternoon sparrow song.

“You really wanna fly, eh?”

Oz clicked twice, strutting along the sill with bony wings folded behind like an old man.

I opened the dictionary and saw ‘Liberty’.

My dry laugh dusted the wall. As slow as a ten-stretch I tore, muffling sounds with my palm, and tied strips of bed sheet to the others.

Oz spread his wings, as he always liked, letting the breeze air through his bones. Sunlight cast his perfect silhouette skeleton on the cell floor. With the heat shimmer I almost imagined him flying.

Maybe I’d get out one day, but not Oz, not with no feathers to catch the wind proper.

I smiled. “Try them on then.”

His sockets seemed wider; he clicked. Flexing and flapping with new paper wings; he almost toppled when the wind gusted.

I laughed, ushering him between the bars. “You’ve been stuck with me too long.”

He spread his wings.

“Never look back.”

And after three years he was free.

So, alone.

I watched him glide, a tiny, bone bird, to alight and frighten the sparrows from their perch. But his empty sockets turned to me. Dammit. But it weren’t much life to be living alone.

He hopped, flapped and landed back on the sill. Shrugged from the paper wings and shuffled close, clicking his beak as the sparrows returned to the tree.
 

J5V

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 26, 2015
Messages
81
Nobody Dances

Pinpricks in night’s inky blanket
spoke to my forefathers’ lofty ambition.
Veils of wonder dispelled by mages,
plotting circles, writing pages.


Through ears ignited by howling noise,
their minds sought rhythms of nature in void.
For those who strained, the ghosts appeared,
uniquely theirs, welcomed, not feared.

Everyman knows their friend philosopher,
kind words preferred, no corrective offer.
Ghosts and veils enjoy bold vitality,
but rough-forged metal reflects no reality.


Then to many, foreign voices whispered,
beyond all doubt to commoners and wizards,
“Skeletons come, from yonder flame,
Vessels of nothing, no soul can tame.”

The fount, they said, was the Orpheus Harp,
the flickering Vega, disguising the sharp
skeletal spectres, phages of light,
slithering blackness, just beyond sight.


Then I saw them, from our blue orb,
once hidden from view; their light absorbed.
New pinpricks join Vega, harsh to the eye,
solar wind screamed; for its children it cried.

Alarmed by the speed of the shadow fleet,
Outposts sent word of impending defeat.
There was no time to respond or defend,
All we could do was wait for the end.


Sightings described their fleshless shape:
gossamer thread propelled straight.
Plucked note rang but played too fast,
straight through the air to pyroclast.

One blink after bones impaled,
the Earth did heave; its surface failed.
Houses to dust, soil to quicksand,
Nothing remained of people’s land.


After oceans boiled, and steam was lifted,
the Earth complained, its axis shifted.
Five billion years wiped off the slate,
Its thread of life evolved too late.

Now it spins in inky shroud,
no longer living, no longer proud.
No memories, no mages, no rhythm, no chances
Not a human left. Nobody dances.
 

Dan Jones

A little bit woor, a little bit waay!
Supporter
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
3,084
Location
Not on the naughty step!
Unwanted Baggage

Like any self-respecting Englishman, I’d been feeling circumspect after the local school burned down with everyone inside. However, when Biege Barry, the otiose local misanthrope, began prancing gaily - at odds with his quotidian omphaloskepsis - I welcomed the distraction.

“I’m light as a feather,” Barry warbled inanely over a rancid coffee. “Went to that new shop, Unwanted Baggage.”

I lit a fag, sucked it down in one almighty inhalation. “What’d you buy?”

“That’s the thing. Nothing. I gave him something.” His voice wavered, like an ambitiously stacked tower of pancakes left in a strong breeze. “My old budgerigar.”

“Trevor?!”

“Indeed,” plumped Barry, posting pasties mouthbound. “Can’t fathom it, me old chunturer, but since plopping him orf I’ve felt like a million gallons!”

The next day I visited the shop meself. Weird old tumbledown emporium. The owner called himself Umbleton Turk, a seven-foot pipe-cleaner surrounded by dusty animal parts.

“Came ‘ere after me famlee drownded in that Crete shipping catastrophe,” he laughed, fishing some grout from his teeth. “Lost everything: mam, pam, and…” he attempted an arthritic wink, but it came across more like a stroke. “…emotions. Can’t feel a thing!”

“No emotions?”

“Nein, guv. Now I need the feelings of others.” He cast an inspectious eyeball over me. “Got any?”

“Um… maybe.”

“Tells you what. Hand me any trinket of yours; you’ll feel like a new cove.”

I rummaged around in me pocketses and produced me fags and Zippo.

“I’ll take ‘em!” Umbleton descended into a whirligig of decrepit laughter as he swiped the unassuming doobrey. “Ooh, it tastes of guilt. Has somebody been a naughty monkey?”

Before I could answer he booted me out the shop.

Whaddaya know? He was right. Guilt, all gone.

Next time I burn something down I’ll feel like a million gallons.
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Supporter
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
4,957
Location
Edinburgh
The Bone Forest

I may not be able to walk much further. The probability of failure of the servo in my left knee is highly likely. I stop on a rock outcrop to assess the situation. Dawn illuminates a broad valley of sun bleached white trees, fractured and warped like giant femora and humeri. All life-giving green has been washed out of the landscape.

We had such high hopes; first Terran biosphere established on an alien planet!

Then it all went wrong.

A small localised outbreak of something occurred. The modified animal and plant life died off alarmingly. We were dropped in, loaded with sensors to analyse. Then I lost communications with base. Ominously, I also couldn’t pick up any signals from low orbit. Whatever has happened, has happened on a global scale. I believed I could achieve the walk back to base - tens of thousands of kilometres. Unfortunately even the heavy duty exo-suit, required for the high gravity of this world, is failing. I will not succeed.

Recording continues: pink stagnant ponds, a toxifying atmosphere and bones of animals everywhere. Perhaps if someone dares to come close enough I can transmit my precious data. It may help them work out what happened. If they do find me, I wonder if they will find it macabre. The skull of the man that wore me is still in my helmet. His other bones rattle inside. Partly it is sentimentality; he was a good man. Really it is a warning. I am the highest grade of quarantine and suit-AI and could not protect him.

The servo responds better in the climbing temperatures. Higher up is preferable for transmission and there is a hazy line of hills on the horizon. I should be able to reach them. I re-enter the bone forest.
 

mosaix

Shropshire, U.K.
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Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
7,657
Location
Shropshire, U.K.
A Spot Of Bother...

We should never have broken into the place. The four of us – Bas, Spence, Andy and me – were just looking for a bit of excitement. It wasn't the first time. We'd done a few places before. Nicked a bit of stuff, done a bit of damage, started the odd fire. Harmless fun really...

We usually picked places where no-one was around at night – offices, storage depots, secluded warehouses. But this place was different. It was tucked away at the back of a trading estate. Looked like a small factory unit but with no signs, no windows and just a single door. Took some getting into but Andy's got a way with locks...

Never seen anything like it inside. Looked like some kind of crypt. A few stone benches, weirdly decorated drapes on the walls and at the back, up a couple of steps, a sort of altar with a small skeleton taking centre stage. I thought it was a bird but Bas said dinosaur. Thought it was really cool, said he'd always wanted one and bagged it. That was it really. We toppled the altar, pulled down a few drapes and left.

Down the bar a couple of nights later – no sign of Bas. The three of us went round his place but pulled up short – cops everywhere. No big deal, we thought. A day in court and his knuckles wrapped. And he'd never snitch on us. Then out came the covered stretcher. Shocked us, I can tell you.

Next was Spence. Me and Andy found him. Dreadful state. His face was the worst. A bloody mess. But the pecked out eyes got us running. Really running.

No sign of Andy for a day or two. Probably in hiding.

There's a noise at the door. Could be him...
 

reiver33

Only Forward
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Joined
Jul 14, 2008
Messages
1,788
Location
Dumfries
Nevermore

Plasm flowed from my extended fingertip, sliding between the bones. The bio-fiche on avian physiology behind my right ear was an unobtrusive ringmaster, transforming thought into deeds. Internal organs formed, the heart began to beat, skin sprouted glossy black feathers.

The raven looked at me and blinked.

I watched myself smile.

Simone laughed. “Quite the party-piece, Decker. Not long ago you’d have been burnt at the stake for a stunt like that. These days you’d just get remaindered for your tech.”

I grunted. “Blame the media for that. Black-market implants are worthless, but that doesn’t stop any ham-fisted butcher with a cash-flow problem chancing his arm.”

“Ah, the trials and tribulations of a techo-mage.”

“I hate that term; please don’t use it around me.”

She kissed my cheek. “Don’t sell yourself short. As proof of concept I’d say this was a complete success.”

The raven fluttered its wings. My shoulder muscles twitched.

Simone was an audio-visual witness, relaying my demonstration to the proverbial ‘interested party’. “So, how long will this resurrection last?”

“Oh, it’s permanent, a living entity.”

The raven saw her stiffen slightly. “So you’re playing God now?”

I frowned. “Not exactly, there are limitations-”

A single high-velocity round shattered the window and struck my forehead. I felt a slight tap, nothing more.

I watched my body jerk and slide from the chair.

Simone sighed. “You were right. Given a full work-up someone like Decker could bring Howard Ghent back from the grave…Yes, send me details on the next candidate. I’ll sanitise this site and get right on it.”

I fluttered out of the broken window, ignored.

Limitations.

I couldn’t create new life, merely share out my own - leaving me as an overly-intelligent bird burdened by self-awareness.

At least I didn’t fancy worms.
 

HazelRah

Professionally indecisive
Joined
Jul 9, 2015
Messages
161
Of Legend and Lore


Rosie squeezed Clara’s hand as tight as her six year old strength would allow. The room they entered was dusty and long, cluttered with old bones and books. Clara navigated their way past the columns of science and mythology texts, towards the shelves upon shelves of skeletal creatures carefully pinned together in their original form. At the very end of the room there was a small skeleton of a bird-like animal, protected by a large glass cage with two words beautifully etched into it.

Rosie stared at the fancy writing. “The first what?”

Clara smiled, “This is why we’ve come, Ro.” They bent closer to look at the small figure. “Do you see what it is?”

“A chicken?”

“It's much older than a chicken. In fact, it comes from a time when there were no birds at all.”

“It's a dinosaur!” Rosie squealed, “That's older than a chicken.”

Clara laughed. “It is sort of like a dinosaur, I suppose. The flying kind from Zagros.” She straightened up and sighed lightly. Perhaps she is still too young, she thought.

They made their way back through the bones and books and dust. As they passed one of the bigger displays, Rosie stopped still, staring at a large skull in front of her. It's long face was smooth and horse-like, yet it had a big hole in the centre of its forehead.

“Is that a flying dinosaur too?”

“No… But it did have wings. And a single horn here." She pointed to the gap in its forehead.

Rosie’s face crinkled for a minute, then broke into a wide grin. “It's a unicorn!”

Clara said nothing, but her eyes danced brightly as she watched her niece’s discovery.

Rosie looked closer at the plaque next to it, and sounded out the word. “P-egg-a-corn.”
 

Moonbat

Chuckle Churner
Joined
Jul 18, 2007
Messages
2,219
Location
Devon
The Zoo
(for Animals that probably shouldn't be in a Zoo)​


Elodie peers closer to the enclosure and asks her Dad

Is it dead?
No, what makes you say that?
It hasn't got any skin.
We are in the skeletal aviary.
It's not moving.
It's an immobill.
So what is it doing?
It looks like it's reading.
But it hasn't got any eyes.
It does have eyes, they're see through.
But that doesn't make any sense, how can it see if its eyes are transparent?
Very clearly.


Out by the Rockery

So what do they do?
All sorts of things. That one over there is an accountant, the small one by the water is probably a philosopher.
But they're not moving.
Of course not, they're rock bears.
I get the rock bit, but not the bear bit.
Well they're not rocks are they, what kind of rock can do accountancy?
But its not doing anything? What is it accounting? Where are the sums?
You can't see the sums! It's doing them in its head, well when I say head I mean central processing crystalline mineral formation.


Later in the teeny-tiny-terrarium

So what am I looking here?
You seem to be looking at a section of wall, the beeleetles are slightly to your left and down a bit
(moves head) here?
Yes, just there (pointing)

….

So what am I looking at? I can't see anything.
These are micro insects, human eyes can't see them.
(sighs) Another pointless animal.


Down by the arboretoid-savannah.

It's just a wooden plank!
What do you mean just? This is one of the galaxy's finest examples of plankton.
But this isn't plankton.
Well, not in the terrestrial sense no.
It's just a WOODEN PLANK! This is the worst zoo ever.
Just wait till we get to the macro-gravity-snails, they're really dull.
 
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TitaniumTi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2013
Messages
821
Location
NSW, Australia
Museum at the End of a Universe

“These are unique. They’re all extinct species,” Ardon said, ushering his guest into a room crowded with death. He nodded towards a mounted skeleton. “A glizzard. Last of its kind.”

“Sad.” Charg moved closer to inspect its beak. “It doesn’t look sad, though.”

Ardon grinned. “Nup. They were cheerful little beasts. Tasty too. So plentiful that no one thought to collect any specimens. Until the asteroid struck their planet.” He stroked the bones with absent affection. “We thought we’d lost them all, but we found this one in a cage on Thiria – a watery planet, way out past Fahra. It’d been a pet, until it ate its owner.”

Charg gaped. “Really?”

“Yep. The owner’s mother is right here.” Ardon drummed his knuckles on a glass jar, taller than he was. “In formaldehyde. The merchant who sold the glizzard to the Thirians called by again a few years later. On that trip, she sold them a delicacy. Gossamer Crame. Didn’t warn them about its nasty little side-effect. They only discovered it after she’d left, when the crame spread its spores through their bodies. Stupid of the merchant. She killed her own trade.”

“And this one?” Charg peered past the jar at the tall specimen mounted against the wall. “It looks almost…”

“Quite Thrisenoid, isn’t it? Bilateral symmetry. Bipedal. Opposable thumbs. Note the teeth though.” Ardon bared his own long fangs, as if for contrast. “Seems like they were herbivores.”

“Seems like?”

“No one knows for sure. We found this one in a spacecraft. Alone and very dead. For a long time, no one knew where he’d come from.”

“But you know now?”

Ardon sighed. “Sure. We know. Unfortunately, by the time we tracked down his home planet, there was nothing left. Just a charred cinder, orbiting its sun.”
 

Ursa major

Bearly Believable
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Joined
Aug 7, 2007
Messages
22,634
Location
England
Extreme Measures



The red light blinked on the recorder.

“You were so careful.” Detective Inspector Stone shook her head. “But your choice of victims gave you away. You thought you’d selected them at random. But you chose them. Let me tell you something my father told me.”

She sat down across the table from me. “When he was young, he built a random number generator. Only the numbers weren’t random. He discovered that the output reflected the presence of a square wave, picked up from some other equipment. In your case, those supposedly random choices were affected by something else going on in your twisted mind.

“The equivalent of that square wave was a harder to spot,” she continued. “You can’t plug an oscilloscope into reality. That’s why you got away with your crimes for… far too long. But once I’d spotted the pattern – one invisible even to you – I was able to track your murderous spree, right back to little Rodney.”

I’d almost forgotten my first victim.

“Then there was Kowalski, then the farm worker… the competition angler… the feed merchant….”

“I don’t understand?”

“You find it… unfathomable? I did, until you killed Gillian on Cable Street. Did your subconscious mind want to give you away?”

What was she saying?

“Do I have to spell it out? Rod, Pole, hand, perch, grain, Gill, cable….”

“So what? None of it connects those murders to me.”

“Did I mention that I can read minds? That I can write minds?”

The table, the uniformed policeman standing guard at the door, the room... all dissolved into darkness.

“Your biggest mistake was killing the husband of a powerful witch. My husband. And for that crime, I sentence you to live inside your own perverted mind… where you’ll hunt yourself for all eternity.”

 
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StilLearning

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Trolled.

Will peered at the computer over his coffee mug. This case was definitely… odd: FBI cybercrime didn’t normally investigate trivial abusive messages - unless a seemingly sourceless tidal wave of them was making global headlines. Then it was, apparently, Will’s job.

Setting down the mug he started reading again:

On sffchronicles.co.uk: “…RESPECTLESS ANIMALS, showing children’s bones …”

On paelentologytoday.com: “Maybe when YOUR ancestor’s body is PUBLIC VIEWING…’

On the Discovery channel’s website: “I’ll petition my government to obliterate your nasty little civilisation….’

“Nasty little civilisation….” Will muttered to himself, frowning: Sites from every nation were being swamped by the messages.
The more he looked the more weirdness surfaced: All the abuse was directed at images of dinosaur skeletons - one species, in fact. But even that paled compared to where he’d tracked the messages back to. Frustrated, he called his supervising officer over:

“They ‘re all from a NASA server sir.”

“You called NASA?”

“Yeah – that server distributes space probe data to NASA facilities. Very secure. They checked anyway: No breaches.”

“Will… don’t lose sleep ok? I just wanted to honestly say ‘we’ve investigated’. There’s lots of smart nutjobs. Like... well, did you hear about that palaeontologist?”

“No?”

“Says he found a dinosaur skeleton with an ipad in its claws.”

“Ha, yeah, it’s intelligent dinosaurs! They left Earth before the asteroid, they’ve just found one of our space probes and logged on through it – that’s why the server’s clean: It’s a space probe that’s got the breach!”

“Ha ha!”

Grinning, Will checked NASA’s server again. “Look, the data from Voyager two is spiking, right now. It's them!” His grin faded. “A huge spike… impossibly huge…”

Mouths open, the two humans watched as the internet received another wave of righteous anger…
 
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Mr Orange

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb...
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Jun 17, 2013
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Mortimer


“..Never meant to cause you any sorrow… Never meant to cause you any pain…”

I looked up from another useless CV to an empty space in front of the counter.

“Umm… Hello?”

There was a grunt and it flopped onto the counter. My eyes widened.

“You’re a penguin.”

“Not this again. Yes, I’m a penguin. Hooray… Name’s Mortimer.”

“Umm… Okay.” I shook the proffered flipper and tried to recover. “Well, welcome to New London Space Recruitment Services. My name is Nigel. How may I help you?”

The bird dropped a rather damp, fishy piece of paper on the counter.

“My CV. Need a job don’t I.”

I flashed my heart-warming smile.

“I’ll get right on to it.”

I didn’t even look at the CV. I already knew we didn’t have any jobs for penguins. When it turned up again the next day, I let a concerned, helpful look cross my face.

“No luck I’m afraid. We don’t have any jobs suitable.”

The penguin arched an eyebrow. “Really? That’s a surprise. Oh well, cheers, keep looking.”

It was the same the next morning. And the one after that. And for the next three weeks. I actually started to feel sorry for the little bird.

Then the carnival ship SSV Big Top put up an ad for their upcoming trip around the Provorkian nebula:

“Aquatic performer required. Must be excellent swimmer, get on well with dolphins. Own costume a plus.”

The next day I excitedly slapped the ad down on the counter in front of Mortimer.

“We got something!”

“That’s gre-… Hang on… Aquatic performer? Own costume? What the hell is this? You havin’ a laugh or something?”

“But, but, it’s perfect for you.”

“Perfect? Did you even read my CV? I'm a bloody mechanic!"
 

Mad Alice

From Earth; Mad House of the Universe
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Jun 23, 2015
Messages
934
The Magician

The battered theatre, weary as its sole performer, "Amazing Vincent", greeted snow rimed school buses. Vincent smiled, greasepaint settling into wrinkles, as ebullient school children gasped at animatronic wonders. Tiny dinosaurs danced. Tropical birds vyied with pterodactyls, transforming this Vermont village into a paleolithic paradise.

Magic. They needed it. Children's delighted laughter warmed more then the one working spotlight. Warm as the Virginia sun from his boyhood, fortifying from pitiless winter bleeding his soul dry. The price of age, of magic.
Robert grinned. He had loved the show as a child. Oriya snorted. "Father should know better then to try this at his age!"
Robert couldn't agree.

"Now with the very Ankh of the Priest Imkotep, used in terrible rites, I call upon the Goddess of Life, Hathor, the God of Death Sukmet, to release these relics, reinvigorating them!"
The lights flashed. In the empty tank was the ancient Tiktaalik, crocodile jaws snapping. The children squealed.

The show ended in smoke.
Wading through the thunderous applause Oriya, jaw set , strode into battle.

Weary of these endless skirmishes, Vincent surrendered.
That was it then. He didn't have another sun to find.
The ankh gleamed, reflected in Tiktaalik's tank.
But maybe one more step into the darkness.
Once more he raised the ankh, and the lights flashed.

"Old fool!" Oriya sputtered, entering the car where Robert waited. "Calling that...thing after Mother! Well tomorrow its the Home."
The implosion rocked the car.

Oriya wept over the charred Ankh.
Robert fingered blooming flowers surrounding Mothers picture.
Vincent had been a Magician after all.
Unnoticed twoTiktaalik skipped past their feet, to find their place in the sun.
 
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