Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12-8-14 Writing Warm-up
8:19 PM

12-8-14 Writing Warm-up

12-8-14 Writing Warm-up
Artwork © Grosnez, All Rights Reserved - http://grosnez.deviantart.com/
Story and Characters © Brannon Hollingsworth, All Rights Reserved
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

“I’m telling you, these things are dangerous!” Jimmy yelled into the screen, temples pulsing with effort and aggravation.

“And what makes you say that, Corporal?” Despite being over one billion light years away, Dr. Phintus was still able to deliver a healthy dose of sarcasm and disdain just as if he were in the room.

Corporal James “Jimmy” Means rubbed his aching head and answered the flickering image of his Senior Scientist and Commanding Officer. “Well, we’ve been studying these things for weeks now and every indication is that they are at least toxic, if not outright deadly to humans.”

“Oh, really? And what evidence do you have of this, Corporal?” The doctor never missed a chance to use Jimmy’s military title in conversations where he needed the upper hand. Dr. Phintus had never forgiven Jimmy for being selected for the Mission Team, while he was forced to remain on Earth.

Jimmy ground his teeth. “It’s all in my report, Frank.” His deadpan reply let his former-rival-now-boss know that there was no way he was going to repeat every minute detail that he’d included in the 400 Gb report he’d compiled and sent home over a week ago.

“That’s ‘Commander’ or ‘Dr. Phintus’ to you, Jimmy. Please bear in mind that this is a formal communiqué, and it is being recorded and reviewed.” The Chief Scientist’s lips disappeared into a thin, bloodless line. Jimmy could tell that he’d pushed Frank a little too far, even from Uranus. “…And, if you are referring to that botched mess you called a spectroscopy report, then it is anything but conclusive.”

Jimmy pushed back from the terminal screen and slowly rolled his head. His stress-wracked neck bones sounded off like popcorn. He pushed the backs of his hands into his eyelids and fired back, with a bit more aplomb this time. “Then what would you suggest, Doctor?” The subtle slight—using ‘Doctor’ instead of the titles he’d been directed to use—was completely intentional. Both Jimmy and Frank knew that he was tip-toeing around regulations, but Jimmy’d be damned if he’d cow-tow forever to the likes of Frank Phintus.

The retribution was quick and cruel. “I’d like a specimen captured and fully contained by week’s end. Make sure it is feisty enough to survive any and all local tests that you two would like to run and still survive the Deep-Freeze Express home.”

It was Jimmy’s worst fear made real. He’d never thought that Frank would want one of these things sent back to Earth. It didn’t matter now. The cat was out of the bag. Or, perhaps it was about to be put into the bag.


“Ugh. I hate these things. They stink to high-heaven!” Martinez groaned into her helmet-mic as they tromped down the path toward Emyn Muil.

Jimmy figured it was a good thing that both he and Elizabeth Martinez—his fellow Uranus Mission Team Member— was also a fan of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Not only did it allow them to develop their own little language (or languages, given the fact that they both completely geeked out on Professor Tolkien’s Elven languages and numerous runic writing systems), but it also made borrowing books a breeze. They’d named the path they’d discovered into the chasm (which they had dubbed Khazad-Dûm) after the toilsome and deadly path Frodo and Sam took into Mordor.

It was a fitting title.

Spars of razor-sharp obsidio-iron (an entirely new meta-element that the eggheads back at NASA were still trying to figure out) lined the craggy cliffs that wound down maze-like into the smoky depths. Massive clouds of poisonous and acidic sulfur-dioxide mixed with cell-destroying trichloramine wafted in and out of spurs of spear-like stones that would easily pierce or serrate flesh. When the mists were not masking some deadly outcropping, they were hiding the yawning maws that zigzagged all throughout the subterranean chasm— every one threatening to swallow an entire building, much less one or two insignificant astronaut-scientists.

Jimmy felt her pain. The deep-exploration-protection-suits, or DEPS, were top of the line technology, but after you used them once or twice they began to stink. “Yea, there’s nothing like the first time, is there?” Jimmy joked back to his partner. The insinuations and double entendre had gotten steadily more risque the longer they’d been together. Deep down, Jimmy wished that there could be something between him and Elizabeth; she was funny, stunningly beautiful, and intelligent, after all. But there was that pesky little issue of her marriage.

He shook his head, trying to clear his mind of all such thoughts. Distractions could end a person down here, and quickly.

Martinez chuckled into her mic, but the musical sound was cut short. “Three bogies coming in. One not far from you, boss.”

Jimmy could hear the concern in her voice. He instinctively flipped the safety off his M-477 and spun around. At that moment, James Means was very glad that his mic was in the ‘OFF’ position.

He’d never seen one of the strange, jellyfish-like aliens this close before. They usually seemed so surreal, moving in that slow-motion manner and emitting that shimmering emerald bio-luminescence. But this close…the effect was nothing short of mesmerizing. The slowly pulsating green lights were entrancing…drawing him in like the sultry eyes of a beautiful woman; or a slow, grooving jazz beat at the Blue Nile in N’awlins; or the lazy lap of waves at sunset upon a beach in Bermuda; or like floating on his back in the middle of Kerry Lake beneath the moon at midsummer.

His breathing slowed, and he could feel his heartbeat take on a relaxed, steady rhythm. Jimmy couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so relaxed and serene. Everything around him seemed to slow down, and for a moment, Jimmy no longer had any cares in the world. Dimly, he could hear someone in the far-off distance screaming. It seemed like it was Martinez, but he couldn’t be sure. It was like he simply could not focus; but that was okay, because he really no longer cared.

Jimmy was floating again, on his back on Kerry Lake. It was midsummer, and the crickets and tree frogs were singing. The moon was full. It was iridescent green…


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