“Goodbye Terra Firma”

Another flash fiction piece created back in October of 2012. Tried to capture a real sense of impending doom for this one. Used a first person point of view to narrate, and much scenery from a disturbing dream I had.

“Goodbye Terra Firma”

1,197 Words

It all started with strange lights in the sky. It was summer and I was at camp with the other girl scouts. I’d been trying in vain to get to sleep in my tent with the humid heat and flying bugs. The only bugs I cared for were the fireflies.
I heard a couple of the other girls outside, getting boisterous over something. I brushed the red hair out of my blue eyes, abandoning my attempt at sleeping and came out of my tent to see what all the fuss was about. They were all standing out on the grass, some of them pointing to the sky.

“What’s going on?” I said as I approached the group.

“Look, there’s a line of red lights in the sky!” said one girl.

“Do you think it’s aliens?” asked another girl.

I just stood there unable to voice any question or opinion I had. The sight of these neatly organized lights made my body tremble with an apprehension I’d never felt before.

The lights were red stars in the sky aligned in two rows stretching across the whole sky. Little did any of us know that these rows of light encircled the globe.

A year later, very odd things began happening. I remember being on the beach shuffling my bare feet in the sand, and feeling the sea breeze on my face. I had been enjoying that day until I saw the beached dead carcasses of whales and dolphins onshore. A week later the news reported no definite cause for the deaths.

Throughout the years, more and more animals beached all over the world. Following that, more types of sea life began dying in great numbers.

I still can’t forget the time I watched small marine creatures crawling en masse out of the seawater. They were fleeing from something in spite of the fact it meant their own death to do so.

Our best scientists looked to our seas, did surveys on the dying multitude of species, and ran every test they could. Nothing obvious was wrong with any of the species, but an external element was killing them.
A microorganism of unknown origin was finally found in the samples taken from the corpses. It was nothing like any Earth native species. It consumed everything indiscriminately, and multiplied in vast numbers.

I was just out of high school when all seafood was declared contaminated because of some alien parasite. I was so young then, and even this bit of news did not strike enough fear into many of my age group. We should’ve been so much more afraid than we were.

Our government tried using chemical and biological weapons designed to destroy the alien microbes, but they failed miserably.
There was an interview with a government scientist on the news. He looked tired and forlorn. “Nothing we can make can beat them.” He said.
I could see the fear in his eyes, even though he was trying to hold it at bay.

Evolution usually takes millions of years, but these things don’t play by those rules. Before we knew it, these microbes were evolving into larger, more complex animals within a few decades.
Everything else was falling prey to them. We were afraid to swim in our own oceans.

Just before my twentieth birthday, I was driving over the bridge in my hometown when I saw a group of people standing off to the side. They were staring at something in the water.
I stopped off, and got out of my car. As I approached the group, no one spoke a word, they just watched.

“What’s out there?” I asked. My question was immediately answered the second I reached them.

Fleshy, leaf-like things the size of buildings, were emerging from the sea in all directions. More of them were unfurling as we stared down at them. The alien plants, if that’s what they were, looked like the fins of a fish with a crooked spine.
Long fleshy fans of turquoise arched out of the sea for miles.

One of the older men in the group turned to me and said, “I never would’ve thought something like this could happen.”
His face was one of shock and disbelief, and he had a dazed, far away look in his eyes.

“Neither did I.” I replied, my mouth suddenly dry.

The old man turned back to the sea, and added one last thing. “I suppose it’s not long now, before we go just the same.”
He then lifted a bottle of liquor I hadn’t noticed before, and took a heavy swig.

I think that was the moment when I realized deep down that our species didn’t stand a chance.

When everyone started developing sores and other symptoms, the fanatical among us began preaching about biblical plagues, and the rapture. They’d been claiming the end of times scenarios for some time before then. No one believed until it was too late. Not that belief would have saved anyone.

I am watching as unseen alien microbes waste the plant life of my world, and as the animal life begins to succumb to the same fate. It is terrifying, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

We are being devoured from the inside out. I might’ve told you the world itself was dying, but that is not the case.
This planet is being wiped clean. Basically, that’s what terraforming entails; molding one environment to suit the needs of a colonist species. It just so happens that our “colonists” much prefer the extermination of virtually all native flora and fauna on their new world.

We are just one in the struggle of the billions of life and death battles in the universe. Our single demise does not mean much in retrospect, and we simply don’t contend in the face of astronomical statistics.

I still can’t believe that I am to be one of the last minds to reflect on the things that made this world unique. I am nearly 60 years old, and I don’t have much time left. I know from watching the others that death isn’t going to be easy.
Everything humankind has ever done, and all its potential will become little more than ruins. Millions of people have died, and whatever is left won’t last much longer. I have no choice but to accept the same fate. There is simply no alternative.

I would’ve liked to live longer, to watch my grandchildren grow, and maybe travel the world. Those poor children will never see our world the way it used to be, and sadly, they too will succumb. They might’ve become great inventors or philosophers. Now they will never have the chance to fight for those human aspirations.

It is brutally unfair, but then, so is the nature of life. If there is any silver lining to this crisis, it is that we die making way for another form of life. That doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

When the last of us are gone, it won’t be much longer before new life crawls out of the sea, and whoever began this great process will come down from the sky.

*******

~ Lynn

“Amphibian”

A flash fiction piece written back in October of 2012 for a contest over on SFFWorld.com. Decided to post it here to add a little something special since my hiatus.  I have another flash fiction from a few years ago that I will post next week, so stay tuned. 🙂

 

“Amphibian”
By Lynn DeRiso
679 Words

A creature swims upward and away from the darkness of its home. Something buried in its subconscious has called it to the surface. It doesn’t remember the surface, nor does it understand why it is drawn there.

Before it reaches the light green of the upper ocean strata, it catches a fish-like animal and gulps it down quickly. The aquatic creature has managed to survive in the darkness, hunting, feeding, and occasionally breeding. It doesn’t recall ever being an infant, or how it came to be here. It seems that life has always been this way.

It pauses a moment to look at one of its arms. There are marks down its length, and they stand out against the mottled flesh. These marks are permanent.
A flicker of hidden memory surfaces, and the creature begins to recognize the marks as letters and numbers. Though, it doesn’t understand their meaning.

As the creature breaks the water’s surface, a pale green-gray sky with angry winds greets its presence. Waves swell all around, sea spray stinging its eyes. Vision feels strained in the light, as its eyesight is more suited to life in the darkness.

There are large black objects suspended in the sky. Wispy clouds flow past in gale force winds, as red and blue lights pulse on the underside of the objects.
A long wand points downward from one of the dark orbs, emitting a series of nearly unnoticeable pulses of energy.

The creature looks at its arm once more, and lifts the limb fully out of the seawater. The slender arm terminates in an appendage with five digits, thick webbing between them.
The creature’s memory tells it that this is a hand. It knows this word, even the sound of it. It tries to speak this word, but all that it achieves is a gurgling noise.

It is in that moment that the creature’s deeply buried memories begin to surface. While it fails to speak a half remembered language, it realizes that its home of watery darkness is not its first.
A blue and green sphere, beautiful and precious, appears in vivid visual memory. Then, the last recollection of this world floats into mind.
The continents are pale and brown, and the seas are a dark gray. It is the dead home world of humanity.

The creature pined for the ability to say that world’s name, even for one last time.

The name John flashes into the mutated human’s mind. That was his name once. Now, the serial number tattooed on is arm is his only identity.
He remembers that he and others like him were brought to this alien ocean years ago, after being changed drastically to fit the environment. They were the first in a series of people to undergo forced adaptation.
He recalls being told about the wand, and that he is to come within its range periodically for exposure to its quantum waves. These waves, he remembers, function as a tune up for his mutated body. It keeps his cells from rejecting the changes, and strengthens his immunity.

As he looks toward the ships one last time, he knows that more humans live up there. They are the stewards of John’s kind, and of a project spanning many decades.
The mutated humans were the first phase of adapting to the alien world. There would be more soon enough.

John submerged again, dazed, and returned to the darkness beneath. His eyes readjust, and soon the others become visible once again. Their forms, once recognizably human, had a more serpentine appearance. Large, spiny fins sprout from their sides, arms, and tails. Male and female are nearly indistinguishable.

As John swam toward them, perhaps what would be one of his last recollections of irony occurred to him.
Humanity had reduced its home world to an uninhabitable rock within less than a thousand years. This new home would force a drastic change in them in less than a century. By the time they have fully adapted, this alien world will have consumed all that it is to be human.

New Year Update

I have not abandoned this blog after so many months of no posts, again. Plenty of things have been going on. I had been putting more time to marketing my artwork, and it became a job that eventually burned me out for a while. My parrot broke her leg, which was an ordeal of 2-3 months of special treatment for healing. There are other things, such as family health issues, but that’s really just adding to the excuses.

I 18,665 words invested in a project that I want to finish, and I have been reworking the prologue to extend some of the characters backstory. The themes are becoming more clear to me as I go along.

I can’t really even worry myself with the issue of publishing, as I think that whole bag of worms has evolved past traditional venues. By the time I finish a project, I believe publishing will be more electronic based and possibly easier for newer writers to get their stuff out. The marketing may end up going hand in hand with the electronic basis if some companies go with that route. There’s a part of me that would still like to see a traditional physical book if I get published some day.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading some classic scifi. Up The Walls Of The World by James Tiptree Jr. was very good. I enjoyed the world of the aliens and the communication they used; audible colors. Reminded me alot of cuttlefish, which are already are like little aliens. The human characters were also interesting, and some of their histories were a nice touch as well. I was impressed, considering this book had a black female lead character, but also its mention of female circumcision.  Of many science fiction writers at the time (1960’s-1970’s), few were women, or had many female character leads. Along with that was the rarity of diversity among the genre.

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I have a few collections from Octavia Butler, which was likely one of very few authors to write from the perspective of others rather than the white male authors so prevalent at the time. I believe she emerged in the late 70’s (please correct me if I’m wrong).

 

Another book I read was a short story collection from Philip K. Dick.

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Many of his short stories were turned into movies, some of which read better than the films, and some of which don’t. A familiar line of paranoia and conspiracy sets the tone for much of Dick’s work, and it makes for a fun twist at times.

My favorite picks from this collection were “Upon The Dull Earth”, “Golden Man”, and “The Second Variety”.

 

Anyway, just wanted to let the readers of the blog know that all is well, and the blog is still alive despite my absences. I will return soon.

~Lynn