10th January: Confused

‘It really is quite simple,’ Dave said.

‘No, I get what you’re saying, I just don’t understand why,’ replied Hep-B-2-9. Dave stared, considering the reptilian alien before him.

‘You’re confused about the why?’ he asked.

‘It simply doesn’t make any sense. How does the paper have any effect on the rock?’

‘Well it,’ Dave paused, ‘I suppose it kind of covers the rock,’ He made a motion with his hands, ‘Maybe it blinds it?’ Dave trailed off, feeling confused himself.

‘But, human-Dave, rocks do not have eyes.’

‘Oh, no. No. Not literal eyes.’ Dave said, shaking his head, ‘It’s a thing called personification, where you give an object human, er, traits.’ He trailed off, fidgeting under Hep-B-2-9’s five eyes.

‘Human-Dave.’ Hep-B-2-9 finally said.

‘Yes?’ Asked Dave, hopefully.

‘I have eyes.’

‘This isn’t working.’

‘My eyes are fully functional under human understanding of eyes.’

‘That’s not what I meant.’

What had been a simple conversation about Earth games had suddenly taken a strange twist.

‘Human-Dave, am I a rock?’

Dave had no idea how it had happened.

‘Human-Dave?’

‘Yes Hep-B?’

‘Would you like to play  rock-beating-scissors-with-paper?’

‘It’s just called rock, paper, scissors.’

‘Oh. Would you like to play?’

‘Yeah, alright.’

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10th January: Confused

J is for Jellyfish

J

Not so rare and not endangered but I hope you like this one. If you’re interested in finding out more about the A to Z blog challenge look here.

Jellyfish filled the sea, surrounding him everywhere he looked. Their bodies were difficult to make out in the deep afternoon light that filtered through the water. Salt was stinging his eyes but he blinked hard and focused his camera. They were beautiful, moving slowly around him. One or two bumped against him but their tentacles had no grip on his wet suit. Until one of them did.

There was a strong pressure around his leg. Something that felt more like another person, grabbing him for dear life. He twisted as fast as he could, but there were only jellyfish behind him too. He glanced down; there was nothing on his leg. The pressure was gone. Inside his helmet he could hear his heart starting to race. The only sound that he could here. He shook his head, bringing the camera back up to his face.

One of the Jellyfish pressed into his back, tentacles swirling around his face. He panicked, stretching his arms out, twisting and turning away from it. There shouldn’t be any jelly’s in this swarm big enough to cause him harm. When he was certain he was free of tentacles he turned. There were only small ones, like he had seen. Everywhere he looked tiny jellyfish filled his vision. He paused. Took a moment to breathe.

He had been warned that sometimes being surrounded by such a large amount of animals could trigger hallucinations. His guide when he had first started to learn diving had told him a story. One in which he had been swimming with a school of fish, but had sworn that out the corner of his eyes he could see a large predator. One that lurked just outside of safety, just beyond the glittering scales of the tiny fish.

There was something on his arm.

He was careful not to look at it, only raising his camera to his face, watching out the corner of his eye. There was a hand on his arm. He took a deep breath, his oxygen tank wouldn’t last him if he started to panic. He looked back. Yep, still there.

The hand was unlike any he had ever seen. It was translucent and soft, no fingernails or knuckles, the fingers just curved around him. The only reason he knew it was there was because of the pressure it put on his muscles. Not tight, but noticeable, like it wanted to see how hard it had to grip before he reacted. Just as he was thinking that, it tightened. He kept calm and turned.

This time the creature had no time to hide, obviously not realising that he had felt it. It had become more daring, and now he could see it. The whole being was transparent, blending in and out of the water like the jellyfish around him. It had an almost human structure, there was clearly a head and shoulders but the torso and legs were tentacles. Long drifting, swaying tentacles, they moved the creature forward. He looked back up to its face; two grey almond shaped eyes were the only part of its body that weren’t clear. There was a darker shape below that could be a mouth, but it led deep inside the body and he shied away from thinking about what that could mean.

It watched him watching it. Slowly he moved backward, the grip on his arm released and he took a shaking breath. However, now that he had seen it the creature seemed reluctant to leave. It circled him and watched as he pulled his legs up to avoid its tentacles. As it came back to his face it twisted them to float of behind, seemingly intelligent enough to realise that it could hurt him. He raised his camera, trying to keep his breathing steady even as his pulse raced.

It looked straight into the lens, eyes clouding over for a second. He took the camera away, puzzled at why the lens had fogged up. The creature watched him twisting it back and forth, and when he looked up at him, its eyes clouded again. He took a sharp breath that wasted some more of his oxygen. But he couldn’t help it. The clouding was the creature blinking, it was more human than he had considered. A human like jellyfish, for it must be a jellyfish derivative.

A human jellyfish.

He raised the camera.

A human fish.

He took several photos.

A…

He lowered the camera, stared straight into its eyes and watched it open a mouth full of teeth.

J is for Jellyfish

H is for Honey Bee

H

I know Honey Bees are a pretty well-known species, so this breaks my theme of looking for more unusual animals. However, they fit in with the ‘endangered’ theme I have going sometimes. Which, really, is a horrible thing to think about, that I even have an ‘endangered’ theme. Honey Bees, however, are one of the few species who would cause a horrible change to life if they went extinct.

More information on the A to Z blogging challenge can be found here.

The noise of the Swarm filled the air, a distant metallic buzzing that drifted in from the fields. She shielded her eyes looking out into the horizon. Just at the end of the closest field she could see two or three figures, the Controllers. She hurried past. The noise grated on her.

Compared to the light sound of a fly or the distant calling of a bird you always knew when the Swarm had been released into a farm. They would come every spring to pollinate the crops. Her mother told her that when she was younger there had been insects similar to flies that naturally spread the pollen. While a few insects remained they were wild and nothing like the animal her mother called a ‘Bee’.

She had only ever known the Swarm. It was all she would ever know.

H is for Honey Bee

The Short Story of Abigail Huyat

Abigail stood slowly, her crimson skin glittering with sweat. It wasn’t easy to mine on this land, the dirt was hard and well packed, deep crevices littering the skyline, threatening to crumble and take the land around it with it. They had no idea what lay in the deep cracks. Even the light from the two suns could not penetrate that far. Some of the miners on the lower levels claim to have heard the rumbles of large animals and the skittering of small insects. The Owners did not listen to them though, laughing at the superstitions of her race. They had known this planet for a long time, staring at it from the continents of her home world as it grew closer to them in its orbit of their suns.

Someone called from below, a bell ringing at the top of the miner’s ladders, alerting those on the surface to a problem down below. Abigail stumbled as an earthquake shook the ground. Others were crying out, two of the strongest workers had grabbed the rope that worked the utility bin, and were frantically pulling at it, trying to stop several tons of glowing gems from dropping back into the shaft. The Circle Point shaft was the closest one for two miles, and Abigail tried hard to stop herself from imagining what would happen if this one was blocked.

‘Girl! Get the spittle hammer!’ A worker yelled at her as he ran past, his arms full of heavy nails made from a strong metal. Abigail nodded; dropping the small nails and hammer she had been working with and running across the shaking land to the bigger construction site. They had been working on making an office for The Owners, though their visits were few are far between they still liked to have somewhere out of the suns to watch their worker toil.

It wasn’t hard to find the hammer, it being one of the largest tools they used, but it was heavy. The metal head weighing more than Abigail could easily lift. But she was strong and this was an emergency. Adrenaline coursed through her tiny body, helped along by her two hearts.

When she got back to the Circle Point two more men had grabbed the rope, all four of them were pulling, straining against the twine. Normally there were pulleys and leavers to pull up the bins however they had been rebuilding the shaft covering, trying to fortify it against the sand storms that were due with the beginning of summer. Now there were only the bare four poles that stood as markers to the entrance, and a team of people setting the big pins in strategic locations. The man who had sent her for the hammer plucked it from her hands as soon as she was close enough. He slammed it down with a practised grace.

The man closest to the end of the rope wasted no time in wrapping it around the pin, revealing some of the weight. In no time at all they were pulling the rope through a quickly made series of pulleys, easing the bin up and over the edge. As soon as it was out the way a stream of miners followed it. The ground still shook, and the workers paused, gathering their breath. A man made his way towards Abigail, smiling at her despite the weariness she could see in his face.

‘Da, What happened?’ Abigail asked, echoing the question that had been in many of the workers minds.

‘Cave in.’ He grunted. He was covered in more sweat than her, his hair sticky with mud. ‘The ground just slumped away, covered half the Going Crew.’ He sighed, ‘S’all the warning we got.’

The Going Crew were four or five children that drilled smaller tunnels to test the rock before the miners got there. They usually worked about 50 yards in front, small lights on their helmets all that they had to signal their position. If things went wrong and there were cave ins, it was the Going Crew that found out first. The man sniffed, staring at the shaft.

‘N’way, what ’bout you, Abigail?’ He said, wiping his nose on his glove. Abigail shrugged.

‘We’re not finding what they want, that’s f’sure.’ Abigail was part of a team that was digging south of the shaft. The Owners were hoping that they would find some of the gems closer to the ground in order to save costs in mining. All Abigail had found so far was a lot of sand and one sharp rock. The earthquake rumbled to a stop, allowing the workers to take a moment of peace.

‘Hey! What’s going on? Why are you all up here?’ It was the dig leader, recognisable only by his pristine clothes, ‘You still have ten minutes of your shift left!’ He was out of breath by the time he got to the edge of the group. Abigail saw one of the miners pointing to the shaft, explaining what had happened. But she knew too that the leader wouldn’t care. He was here to make sure the owners got more gems than they could count. They didn’t care about the people working for them. It was proven when the miners started shuffling towards the shaft again; deadly earthquakes and moving rocks didn’t matter to him. The rest of the workers dispersed just as slowly.

‘Abigail!’ Someone whispered, prodding her in her side, Abigail turned swiftly.

‘Lena! I didn’t know you were working here.’ Abigail said, wiping her neck with the scruffy towel her friend offered.

‘I weren’t, but I found one, di’n’t i?’ Lena said, winking, ‘Reckon they brought me ‘ere to give ’em a bit more luck.’ Lena was like Abigail with her crimson skin, but unlike her she had been able to keep the long curly hair of their mother, while Abigail had been forced to cut it short while she worked in the fields.

It was normal to keep twins apart, especially working twins. The Owners believed in a prophecy that twins would bring about their ruin when working together. The workers thought it was utter rubbish. However every twin was now separated at birth, the father taking one to work in the mines and in the fields, the mother taking the other to work in the mills and with the animals.

‘Hows mama?’ Abigail asked, trying to play it cool. Lena smiled at her.

‘About as well as Da I ‘spect. She’s been taken into our Owners household. Keeps encouraging the cook to spit in his wineglass, silly bugger.’ Abigail laughed with her sister. Every Owner took a few of the women from their land to work in their estate, be it child care or cleaning. However it was unusual for an Owner to take a woman who had borne children. Normally they preferred to have the younger ones, so that they could have mistresses by the dozen.

‘Still, better than the fields.’ Abigail said. Lena hummed, picking up a leftover shovel and starting to carve a trench next to Abigail’s. All around them the workers were settling back into routine. The excitement of the earth quake been eaten up by monotony once more. In the distance she could see the leader making his rounds.

‘How long are you out here for?’ Abigail asked.

‘Only until they get board ‘gain.’ Lena said, ‘Nowt up here.’

‘I hope they send us back to the fields.’

‘With ‘ny luck.’

The fields were pleasant work, mainly because it was on their home planet where the air was cooler and shade easier to find. There were crunching footsteps as the leader made his way over, his shoes moving the loose sand on top.

‘Find anything today girls?’ He said in a pleasant voice.

‘No sir.’ Abigail said, leaning against her shovel. Lena stopped, letting her hair brush forward to cover her face.

‘Pity, pity. Maybe dig a little deeper tomorrow. And you,’ he said, looking at Lena, ‘Your trench is not nearly close to the desired length. You’ll have to work hard out here to get your privileges.’ Lena nodded silently. He stared at her a little longer, before glancing at Abigail and turning away.

As soon as he had gone far enough Lena pulled her hair away from her face, long strands of it stuck to her. Abigail smiled, pulling out her towel. It took a bit of tugging and a word she was chastised for but she managed to rib a strip from it. Once Lena’s hair was out of her face they returned to shovelling.

‘Twins. Good god. You’re twins.’ They looked up, started to find the Leader stood in front of them once more. This time instead of a patronising smile he was staring at them in horror. Lena and Abigail looked to each other, but no excuse came to them. ‘You’ll have to be reported! You can’t stay here! I’ll be shot!’ He grabbed Abigail’s arm, pulling her from Lena.

‘We’re not trouble! She’s only just gotten here! Let go!’ Abigail cried, tugging at her arm where his fingers were digging in. Lena followed after them, shouting at him. Their cries caught the workers attention, many of them putting down their shovels. Abigail had worked here a long time now, since she was 12. They all knew her name, and they all knew Lena and her father. Abigail thought she saw one scramble down the mine shaft but couldn’t be sure. She was dragged into the Leader’s tent, Lena scrambling in after. He paid them no mind, already reaching for the communication port.

‘Hello? Yes, it’s Kidi Lumbarge of Circle Point. I have twins here. Working twins.’ He paused, listening to someone on the other end.

‘Are they going to kill us?’ Lena whispered, Abigail shook her head.

‘You’re not his to kill.’ But she was, and they both knew it, Lena gripped her hand so tight it hurt. They pushed closer together, stood in the middle of the tent, dirty thin shoes contrasting with the thick plush rug.

‘Well now. See, we’ll soon have order. Yes, yes, order soon.’ Leader looked like he had gone slightly mad, his forehead twinkling with sweat. They were saved from answering by a tearing sound; they turned to find their father, silhouetted against the sun.

‘You’ll be leavin’ my girls be now.’

The Short Story of Abigail Huyat