This is the fourth scene from A Taste of Earth,
a science fiction short story in ten scenes.
I will post the entire story one scene at a time each Friday.
I hope you enjoy A Taste of Earth, and I would love to hear from you.
Santa Monica Beach, California, USA
“Alright,” John said. “Somebody’s playing games. Someone in that crowd has a remote.”
Dipesh watched the object with fascination. “No, John. The spot where that tentacle came out is flush with the rest of the body. See? Look. The base of the tentacle is smooth like it grew out of it.”
John took a cautious step forward, almost forgetting to record video.
“The base material liquefied and formed into that … tentacle,” Dipesh continued. “We don’t have that technology. No one on earth does.”
Almost imperceptibly the tentacle’s surface changed from smooth and ridged to molten. It slid – not retracted – back into the main body. Was this first contact with an alien race? How did it get here? Did it piggyback on the meteor, or was it a victim of circumstance, stuck to the meteor by accident? Would it be grateful for being rescued, or was it the first step in an invasion? Dipesh edged closer to the object until his curiosity and fear reached equilibrium.
John gasped, “Irene, the object is Hachiman, and it’s not just a meteor. It’s a probe.”
Dipesh pointed his infrared thermometer gun at it, but froze when a thought seized him. The IR thermometer looks like a gun. What if the object can see and thinks the thermometer is a weapon? He brushed the thought aside as a childish fear, and took readings from several angles.
“The entire surface temperature reads five degrees C above ambient,” he reported to Irene. So there must be some …”
John cut him off. “Some sort of internal exothermic reaction… or maybe a mechanism maintaining a constant temperature.”
“Like body temperature,” Dipesh said.
“More likely,” John said, “the material has a high thermal capacitance that hasn’t reached equilibrium with ambient. It’s a probe, like Spirit or Opportunity.” He glanced at one of the DHS crew who was listening to him and added, “You know, NASA’s probes to Mars?”
The man just stared back.
“What do you guys do,” John asked, “just watch football all day?”
Dipesh shook his head, a meaningless gesture in a hazmat suit. “We don’t know for sure that it even is a probe. It could be alive.”
“It’s a probe. Why else would it take a soil sample. You think it’s a tourist?”
“It could have been eating.”
A technician walked over and said, “Initial air and soil samples show that the object is not contaminating the environment.”
“I don’t know if you heard yet,” John told the firefighter, “but the other fragments have polluted the environment with what appears to be silicon microbes. No offense, but I don’t think your devices are rigged for that.”
“Do you think,” Dipesh asked, “that releasing the contamination is a programmed function of the probe, or a byproduct of its time in space?”
“You mean, it’s just something it caught on the drive over here?” John considered it. “No, I think it …”
Shouts from the crowd cut him off.
They turned and saw a dog running towards them, its leash dangling. It headed for the object. A national guardsman in camouflaged hazmat gear lunged at it, but the dog dodged him and the guardsman landed in the sand, floundering to get up like a turtle turned on its back. The dog ran up to the object and circled it. It barked at it and capered around as if Hachiman were a large Frisbee. With its head cocked to one side, it sniffed at it. A bulge formed on Hachiman’s surface. John raised his phone, fumbling for the video button in his clumsy gloves. From the bulge on the object grew a stalk like a fast-growing sunflower, the head of the sunflower turning towards the dog. The dog yelped and darted back to the crowd. The sunflower receded back into Hachiman and it showed no further signs of movement.
Everyone had taken several steps back, except for two DHS specialists who ran after the dog. Need to take him in for questioning, Dipesh thought.
“Dipesh, this thing is acting like a probe,” John said. “Given what we’ve heard from the other impact sites, it is my educated analysis, that meteorite Hachiman intends to terraform earth.”
“You mean,” Dipesh said, “it intends to alien-form earth.”
_________________________________The entire text is currently discounted: Free. If you would like the entire story as a PDF, click here: A Taste of Earth – Justin Tyme. For ebook format Amazon, visit: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kubo, Smashwords, and others. Copyright © 2011 Justin Tyme