science fiction

Dino Eggs for Sale

brontocopy

Check out my latest published story in the January issue of Jersey Devil Press.

Brontosaurus, by J.D. Hager

“Jacob found purpose in those eggs. He took them to his sandbox and buried them with exaggerated care. He constructed a small protective structure out of twigs and acorns, and guarded and doted over them like he himself had laid them.”

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The Countdown

 

Asteroids by Nicholas Wilson

Asteroids by Nicholas Wilson

Scientists had first observed the asteroid months ago, but most people didn’t comprehend the magnitude of the consequences. For the first few months after the discovery people suspected some sort of impossible scientific conspiracy, like the big bang, the Higgs Boson, or global warming. Many researchers and pundits were accused of conspiratorial motivations involving a far left or far right agenda. Christian theologians began preaching the coming of the Apocalypse, as if Jesus were somehow riding into town on the asteroid like a holy space cowboy, which in turn led to a dramatic increase in prayer and salacious requests of salvation. Most assumed that between the United Nations, the global industrial military think tank, and brainy scientific literati, some sort of solution would be proposed and executed before the impending strike. Blow it up with nuclear warheads, use rockets to alter its path, blast it to smithereens by lasering into its icy core, construct some sort of giant space blockade out of plastic bags and styrofoam. Human kinds brightest minds would undoubtedly surmise some sort of solution to this impending disaster. For most life went on in a predictable and routine manner, unfazed, despite the fact that asteroid P-52637 was hurtling toward Earth at 280,000 miles per hour, and though there was a level of unpredictability in its trajectory, most models and calculations seemed to indicate it would make a direct impact somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere on December the thirtieth.

After the brainiest engineers’ plans and calculations had proven inadequate in abating the large chunk of space dust’s path, the impending impact grew closer and more unavoidable. Some people became frantic, attempting to live an entire life in the course of a couple days. Others rioted in the streets trying to seize control of their destinies while they still had destinies to seize, looting things like high end liquor, big screen TVs, and surround sound systems, so they could watch the doom and gloom footage in 1080p while they got drunk and tried to forget about it. Not that the shop owners or police cared. Some of them were looting too.

Some people tried to frantically build catastrophe shelters or spaceships in hopes of avoiding the carnage altogether. Others grew despondent and fell depressed into a sort of paralysis, a state prevalent enough to be termed the comet coma. The whole of humanity seemed to be reaching a sort of emotional apex covering the spectrum of possible responses. Anger, sadness, denial, elation, regret, apathy, forgiveness. Most, it seemed, suffered from a strange combination of all these, inducing even more instances of comet coma as the impending impact approached with its promise of blasting life as we knew into the the nether regions of space.

While some became agitated and lashed out at the cruel absurdity of it, more and more fell into their comet comas, still alive on the outside, but lifeless and empty on the inside as if they were already dead. It was an inescapable and vacuous feeling of having everything we had worked for and dreamt of and aspired to accomplish in our lives suddenly taken. Sure we all die, but this felt so much more permanent than death. Most of us hoped that even though our time on Earth was limited to this one life, some small piece of us—a memory, a child, a resume of accomplishments, an obituary in the local paper—would live on past our temporal existence.

Knowing that there would be no tomorrow for any of us somehow made today so much more valuable. I lamented the fact that it had to take this impending catastrophe to trigger this realization. I did my best to avoid the coma and the comatose pacing the streets in despair like zombies. I tried to embrace the sanctity of this moment—of every moment—before these moments spiraled to their cataclysmic end. And as that fiery ball filled the sky and reminded us all of our impending mortality, I climbed onto my roof, popped my best bottle of wine, and lifted a glass to the heavens. It had been a good run.

Cheers!

Posted for the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Countdown

The Stopping

No one knows for sure why it happened. Scientists, theologians, philosophers, politicians–the brightest wavelengths in the human spectrum–each had their own theories. Some thought it was caused by solar winds, or the reversal of Earth’s magnetic field. Some thought the electronic infrastructure had reached critical mass and tumbled like a house of cards when some celestial door had slammed. Some thought that the deities in heaven and hell had all conspired to teach humanity a lesson for millennia of transgressions. Others blamed invisible alien forces. But for all the postulates and conspiracy theories nobody had any proof, and without a comprehensible reason for it a solution seemed impossible. Communication satellites failed. Fiberoptic networks stopped transmitting bits of information. The modern world as we knew it came to a crashing halt.

The implications reached much further than anyone could have predicted. Television and radio transmissions ceased. Cell phones became useless paperweights. The internet recoiled into the darkness of cyberspace. Electricity and petroleum and the capitalist industrial complex all became obsolete, untenable relics. Even guns and firearms stopped working, bullets and missiles suddenly nothing more than worthless props. Money became an outdated meme, with bartering for concrete goods and services the chosen method of trade. The written word once again became bound to paper, meticulously handmade books and pamphlets. The sailing ship and horse returned as the pinnacles of locomotive technology. Community gardens sprang up in every neighborhood and locality as people relearned to feed themselves.

Without computational models and artificial intelligence to help solve the problem, getting back to the old modern ways became an optimistic impossibility. Lacking possible solutions humanity had to adapt, to figure out different ways of living. And lacking the tools that it had become so dependent upon, humanity had to look to the past for methods of survival. The old ways became the new ways. The wisdom of ancients became the blueprints for tomorrow. And while many assumed the world as we knew it was slowly and inevitably spiraling to an end, that it was flickering feebly like a fluorescent bulb on its last legs and about to go dark forever, in truth the sudden change saved humanity from a slow and methodical death by apathy and self absorption.

Nature always finds a way.

Oops (by tobyct on Flickr)

DP Weekly Writing Challenge: A Lost Art

Brains

You know what’s happening, that’s the hard part. You’ve seen it hit so many other people, and the symptoms are so well known and hard to ignore. The fever, the pale skin, the cloudy eyes, the odor of rancid milk. And then there’s the unbelievable craving for brains. It’s inexplicable. It’s not like they’re some sort of gourmet masterpiece of culinary delight. Honestly, they make me nauseous. It’s a texture thing, like overripe banana. Just kind of mushy and no flavor, hard to actually swallow, but for some reason I cannot get enough. The brain cravings are even worse than the nicotine cravings I had before I was afflicted. I usually started craving my next smoke when I was half way done with the one I was smoking, but at least I found smoking enjoyable on some level. How depressing it is to not only be a zombie, but to be so disgusted by the one and only thing my so called life now seems to revolve around.

There is a short period of time when the sickness first hits that you realize what is happening and you become very emotional. There are tears, angry tantrums, a lot of feeling sorry for yourself and asking why me. The thought of blowing your head off with a shotgun makes numerous appearances. Then the emotion fades away suddenly and you feel okay with it. It’s not so bad. No more pain or depression. No more bills or taxes. No more sneaking off to smoke a cigarette when no one’s looking. No more responsibilities or worries, almost like a vacation. But then you get your first whiff of brains and you lose it. Brains are all you can think about, like some sort of preteen on a One Direction binge. I have urges to get an I ♥ brains tattoo even though I don’t really love them. I’m caught up in all the hysteria. I don’t want to regret it later.

Got Brain? (by DBDimitrov on Flickr)

So I’m trying to deal with this brain fetish thing. I wish there were Brain Addicts Anonymous meetings. A 12 step peer support group. A sponsor I could call when the craving hits, which I’ve got to say is pretty much all the time. Not like I could actually use a telephone anymore. All coordination of my fine muscle control has abandoned me, leaving me lurching around like a corpse with a handicap. But while my body deteriorates I’ve still got all these thoughts in my head and no way to express them. My tongue fell out last week. I can barely even lift my arm anymore let alone bend my fingers. I’m lucky if I can actually stand up and balance these days. It’s embarrassing. But when I get a whiff of that brain matter I get a sudden surge of energy and stumble off toward the source, asking myself what have I become.

I’m on the hunt now, having got the faintest hint of fresh meat in the air. Me and few of my zombie bros are shuffling down the street with teetering purpose. I catch a glimpse of myself in a storefront window as I’m hobbling along, and I can’t help but think that I look like shit. But compared to some of these other car wrecks I actually don’t look so bad. At least most of my face is still there. At least all my limbs are still attached. My tongue is gone but honestly it was just getting in the way. But I don’t stand for long, because the scent is strong.

Then I see the meal ticket already swarmed by brain addicts. I’ll be lucky if there is anything left the way the melee is digging in. I feel sick but I can’t help it. I stumble toward the bloody mess in hopes of getting a sad little morsel. I see another zombie approaching from the opposite side, and our vacant eyes meet for a moment. I can sense that he is sharing my feelings about our current situation, saying what the fuck bro, can you believe this shit with his cloudy eyes. I wonder if we all have these same disgusted, self-loathing thoughts as we continue about our business. I wonder if we are all sad little prisoners trapped inside our decaying bodies, addicted to something we don’t really want.  Then he shrugs his shoulders, which is no easy feat for a zombie, and dives into the swarming mass of brainivores. And I of course dig in from the other side, hoping to get at least a taste, and I have only one thing to say for myself.

Brains.

Letter to My Future Self

Greetings to me in the future.

I am writing this letter to relate a peculiar happening and also provide a reminder of the utmost importance to you.  The happening occurred fairly recently, and I am only relating it to you now because you play an integral role in its passage despite my current ignorance of the exact methodology. Of course you probably already know this, and if I think on this fact too deeply I find myself paralyzed by a logical fallacy deeper than my tiny brain can endure, so I must just continue on and not consider the implications of it all.

I was wandering along the beach (you no doubt remember the one) lost in many moments of deep contemplation, such as consideration of the number of sand grains on the shore, the exact hue of the ocean’s blue, and the seeming pointless existence that I appeared to be carving for myself through the passing of days. The general melancholy and malaise that had been filling my gut recently had started to take purchase in my physical body in the form of stressful headaches, near debilitating back pain, and a battery of sleepless nights. I had just finished my college education and felt no more prepared for life than the day it had started. My job was a tedious dead end of triviality, and left me each day with a sense that I had accomplished nothing but a continued trajectory carrying me one step closer to the grave. There never seemed to be enough money, enough time, or enough love in my life to allow me to even feign happiness.

As I was reveling in my self-induced circling of the drain, a strange elderly gentleman approached me. I tried to ignore him so I could concentrate on the existential dread that seemed to be so important at the time, but his insistence was difficult to avoid. His hair was grey and frizzed out in the style of Einstein, and he walked with a pronounced limp accentuated by the soft unevenness of the sand. He waved to me and I continued past him, so he turned and shuffled after me across the beach. It was only when he called out my complete name that I halted and provided my attention.

I asked him how he knew my name. He responded that despite the fact that I was not familiar with him he knew me well. I asked if he had been spying on me, and he responded that he had indeed, but from a distance greater than I could comprehend. I then asked him who he was, and he told me he was me from the future, that he had traversed the very fabric of time to provide me with an important message.

The rigors of doubt immediately flooded my mind. I wondered if was he crazy or dangerous, what mental institution he had escaped from, and whether the authorities should be alerted. Of course he was able to understand my skepticism since he had presumably experienced the same moment of doubt himself at one time. He told me that he knew I didn’t believe him, and that was understandable, and someday soon I would come to appreciate this peculiar rendezvous. He told me that he had one simple thing to tell me.

“Just keep writing.”

I am providing it in quotes so you will know what to say to me when the time comes. Indeed the words seem to reverberate through my head without end recently, a mantra that I am unable to forget even with my most determined effort. I decided at the time that even if the man was crazed the advice was indeed useful. I at that point still didn’t believe anything he had said except those three words, not that I felt inclined to act upon them immediately. He then told me that was all he wanted to say, and that he felt it important enough to travel back to this beach to provide me this message using some as of yet unimagined technology. He then turned and started walking away, leaving me in the confusion that had overtaken my conscious thought.

On a whim I asked him what had caused his limp. He turned to me and smiled, and told me it was a motorcycle accident. I found this to be the final straw of discredit to his claims, as I did not own nor had I ever ridden a motorcycle. He winked at me and repeated those three words to me again, Just Keep Writing, and then hobbled off down the beach in a lurch. And I continued on with my woeful meditations and general unease with the process of living for many years after the encounter, positive that it had been a short foray into an old man’s dementia. But just to be safe, I avoided every temptation to ride, touch, or in any way come into contact with all imaginable manner of motorized cycle.

It wasn’t until I was standing on a street corner many years later and witnessed a motorcycle run a red light, get struck by a truck and sent careening through the intersection into me and my now destroyed leg that I realized the true value and importance of the man’s visit.

And of course, after the accident, I sat in my wheelchair during my rehabilitation and started writing immediately.

You know what to do.

Sincerely,

A Man Transformed

DeLorean Time Machine (by Anime Nut)

Written for the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine, and/or the DP Daily Prompt: If I Could Turn Back Time

 

Mars One

Everybody was excited. Everybody had either been recruited or volunteered. I personally had responded to the ad on Craigslist. It seemed like a great opportunity, and lets face it, I didn’t have much of anything going on at home. My wife left in a huff one day and took the kids and the dog, but she of course left the cat that I hated. The cat hated me back, and had avoided my every attempt at capturing it. But even though I hated the damned cat and wanted it gone, I still fed the animal and changed the litter box, just because the cat felt like the only piece of family that I had left. When I sold the house I told the new tenants the cat was included.

When I first saw the ad it seemed like a perfect method to leave my past behind. The Mars One Mining Co was looking for employees to make the 7 month trip to Mars, to help establish the mining colony there and start new lives on the red planet. The salary wasn’t great, but all housing and food was included, and employees would be provided with a plentitude of leisure time to enjoy other pursuits, such as surfing the interwebs, exploring the Martian dunes in their patented Mars Buggies, playing golf beneath one of the numerous dome-covered courses, or just relaxing at the resort-like pool and spa built by the company.

I assumed that most of the other volunteers and recruits were trying to escape their lives on Earth for one reason or another. We had all been allowed one suitcase of belongings and no personal electronic devices. The company would provide us devices upon arrival, and any other supplies we needed would be appropriated if possible using the requisition request forms. The shuttle was buzzing with excitement of terminal losers and fallen heroes looking forward to their chances to start anew, to rebuild their lives and happiness from the ashes of broken and mistake ridden histories. Nothing more exciting than the prospect of a clean slate.

We were given instructions how to wear the mask apparatus before takeoff, which would put us into a suspended stasis during the majority of the flight. We were told that by the time we awakened we would already be on Mars, and our new lives would begin. The entire shuttle vibrated with the excited possibilities and the promises of adventure. I took one last look at Earth out of the porthole, and then carefully applied the mask and nostril tubes as instructed. I had visions of scaling the summit of Olympus Mons and standing at the precarious edge of Valles Marineris as the mask apparatus began working its magic and I faded into a dreamless unconsciousness.

It wasn’t until I awoke shackled in a cold cell constructed of red Martian rock that I realized the laws of Earthly decency apparently didn’t apply anywhere past the third planet’s gravitational influence. Needless to say, they weren’t exactly the accommodations I’d had in mind.

Mars planet 2 (Nasa image enhanced) (by J.Gabás Esteban)