08/22/22 Snippet, TOUR OF DUTY

Trying to make up for lost time.

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In the end we didn’t have to use Janusz’s door-kicking idea. Chin used a handheld probe to touch each bit of extruded shipskin, each bit retreated back into the seam, and by the fourth touch the door was shuddering on its own. The seventh one was the one that did the trick; it probably would have been very dramatic, the way the door irised open, if only there had been any air or sound. And nothing tried to eat Chin’s face.

I’ll admit it here. I expected that we would find nothing unusual, at least at first. Even if there had been some kind of incident on the other side, the ship’s no-power systems were still online, and they were very good at cleaning up debris, dust, and presumably evidence. So subconsciously I was ready for an anticlimactic view of yet more too-yellow lights and pristine corridors.

What we got instead was a hallway of bones. Alien bones; the skulls were too wide and low, with four orbital sockets and no nose, and all the bones piled halfway to the ceiling were thick and heavy, like someone had gone through the pile and pulled out all the ribs and teeth and spines. But the more I looked, the more I could make out outlines of what must have been the alien’s skeleton. Nothing had been at these bodies. Nothing had disturbed their bones… until now.

This makes it sound like we were gawking. And, for one horrible moment, we were. But then Aldini laughed, through his suit. “Ecco i nostri genitori! Cosa ci sussurreranno?” he shouted, in his own language, and started to move forward. Clearly the sedative had worn off.

But two people grabbed him, out of reflex — and then suddenly it was like a spell had lifted, and we were all being given instructions. Film the bones, scan for traces of atmosphere, run diagnostics on the systems on the other side of the door. It wasn’t exactly an archeological dig and it wasn’t exactly a crime scene investigation, but it was close enough to both for all of us to improvise.

3 thoughts on “08/22/22 Snippet, TOUR OF DUTY”

  1. Stream of consciousness:
    What am I looking at?
    It’s a river.
    That’s a body.
    It looks like an RPG campaign gone horribly wrong.
    It looks like an RPG campaign gone horribly right.
    Holy crap, two years? There’s no way!

    1. Why the frick did WordPress put this here, instead of a a response to the beekeeper comic?

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