“Hot Air Balloon Ride from Hell”

I wrote this science fiction short story in the autumn of 2016. Radically different from my other work at that time, I had this piece published under the name of a friend. Twisted Sister Lit Mag, an online magazine, was the original publisher. This post consists of a slightly reworked and updated “Hot Air Balloon Ride from Hell”.

I definitely had too much fun writing this one.

Savannah pulled her shirt over her head, and Gabe couldn’t help but stare as the two triangular Confederate battle flags of her bikini top Continue reading ““Hot Air Balloon Ride from Hell””

“A Qianzhousaurus in the House”

“I may have just successfully built a time machine,” Owen stammered.

Susan was familiar with the defeated expression that often dominated the face of her husband, Owen, after an evening tinkering in the basement.

Continue reading ““A Qianzhousaurus in the House””

“Qianzhousaurus Feathers”

“Qianzhousaurus Feathers” originally appeared with Fictional Pairings in August of 2017.

Donald Barlow didn’t have any pots on his head or bands of aluminum foil wrapped around his arms.

That was a step in the right direction.

The old man was crazy, but, aside from an absurd hat, he answered the door in ordinary dress.  Continue reading ““Qianzhousaurus Feathers””

“Dying for Dinosaurs”

“Dying for Dinosaurs” originally appeared with Evening Theatre (defunct publication) in August of 2018.

Paleontologist Alma Ojeda was a veteran of countless excavations in her native country. She had established herself quickly in her field when she helped to unearth the largest Argentinosaurus ever found while working on her doctorate at the University of Córdoba.

Continue reading ““Dying for Dinosaurs””

Fragments of “Dead Planet”

I believe I originally wrote these “scenes” in early 2017. However, I don’t recall why I elected to script my thoughts about this particular idea in such a way. “Dead Planet” was definitely intended to have action and horror elements, although I never got around to recording any of those imaginings.

Characters

Rubicon Crew
Everett
Walls
Day
McCutchen
Benson
Vaughn
Zamora

Others
Newman – program director

***

NEWMAN
One StarChip made quite a discovery.

EVERETT
Which one?

NEWMAN
Number eight. Transmissions started arriving last month.

EVERETT
Kepler-22?

NEWMAN
That’s the one. And you thought we’d never find anything.
Biosignatures, metal-heavy signatures –

EVERETT
I had hoped we wouldn’t.

Beat.

And just 180 parsecs away. Incredible. This is beyond the most
optimistic projections.

NEWMAN
There’s more.

EVERETT
What?

Beat.

NEWMAN
First contact.

***

WALLS
I want you to seriously think about something for me.

DAY
What’s that?

WALLS
Is this our last mission?

DAY
That’s what we’ve all talked about.

WALLS
This is the last one for me – this has to be the last one. No more readjusting and relearning how to live. I don’t ever intend to leave Earth again once we get back.

DAY
I don’t think anyone will blame you or any of us for wanting a normal life.

WALLS
I want a life when I get back. And I want that life to be with you.

***

NEWMAN
Rubicon will reach the Kupier Belt in ten years. The mass drive will
be activated at that point. Within a few seconds, Rubicon will be
just outside the Kepler-22 system.

POLITICAL ADVISOR 1
How soon can we expect a transmission?

NEWMAN
There can be no transmission before Rubicon has returned to our
system. Ten years out. Six or seven years to approach the planet.
Another six or seven to return to the jump point.

POLITICAL ADVISOR 2
Twenty-five years?

NEWMAN
We should have them home in thirty-five, but, yes, twenty-five years before
we can expect transmissions.

POLITICAL ADVISOR 1
I may well be dead in twenty-five years.

NEWMAN
We all may be. But the crew won’t be. They’d age only a year or so.

***

EVERETT
Kepler-22c was selected for this program due to the belief the planet was
an Earth analog.

DAY
The similarities are amazing.

EVERETT
And the data from the visiting StarChip is even more unbelievable. The
biosignatures are the same you’d expect to see on Earth. Enhanced images
clearly demonstrate artificial patterns on the surface.

MCCUTCHEN
What level of development are we suspecting?

EVERETT
There is a strong suspicion we are essentially dealing with a
Bronze Age culture. Perhaps somewhat more advanced than that. Perhaps not.

WALLS
How did StarChip make contact?

Beat.

EVERETT
StarChip didn’t. Our parameters included no contact unless absolutely unavoidable. We were the proverbial good children in the room – perhaps seen but never heard.

MCCUTCHEN
How did a Bronze Age culture detect StarChip?

EVERETT
We don’t believe Starchip was detected, but there appear to be intentional fires on the
surface – very extensive fires burning in roughly geometric shapes. Some of the images suggest that these patterns were intended to be observed from above. Starchip just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

DAY
Forest fires?

EVERETT
Apparently. But we believe these were intentionally set to burn as a means to communicate.

BENSON
So, maybe like a survivor stranded on a deserted island? You build a fire in the hopes of catching the attention of a passing ship or airplane.

ZAMORA
That’s an interesting thought. But destroy your forests – an invaluable resource for such a civilization – to contact who? Who are you reaching out to?

WALLS
The natives didn’t build fires hoping Columbus would find land.

MCCUTCHEN
I think the natives may have burned everything to stop Columbus from
landing – had they known what was coming.

(to Everett)

Are you sure StarChip wasn’t detected?

EVERETT
Very unlikely.

WALLS
Could be a sign of conflict.

EVERETT
True.

WALLS
How does this look to everyone else?

DAY
A plea.

EVERETT
I agree – an appeal to the gods.

WALLS
Do we intervene?

Beat.

EVERETT
Would God?

“Tyrannosaurs and Carburetors”

Not the best pairing.

Snowflakes fluttered as he turned the key to the time machine. The hum of the engine was lost in the roar of an approaching Tyrannosaur.

Continue reading ““Tyrannosaurs and Carburetors””