This is the ninth 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.
Lab 14, Edwards Air Force Base, California
Dipesh felt a little relief drain out of him as soon as he realized that the beetles were not biting anyone, just interested in leaving. Why? His tension redoubled when he considered the further ecological damage Hachiman could wreak. Great. He knew cockroaches would take over the world one day, but he didn’t think they would be alien cockroaches.
He paused at the lab window. The two lab guards tried wrestling Hachiman to the ground. Hachiman’s claws grasped at the table surface, but the polished stainless steel finish offered no purchase. The claws grew longer, and the guards backed off.
Several guards wearing lightweight Hazmat suits flanked a door marked “Emergency Exit” next to the viewing window. One of them swiped an identification badge through a card reader and a light on it switched from red to green. The door opened, and they poured through. As soon as it closed behind them, a second door opened inside the lab and they rushed out of it, spreading through the lab, guns pointed at Hachiman.
But Hachiman hadn’t been waiting for them to take position. Its claws had elongated and grown white hot, almost too bright to look at. It lunged at the viewing window, slicing through it. The glass melted before them and Dipesh instantly felt heat on his face. He jumped back and stumbled to the ground.
When the shots rang out, the remaining glass crumbled and Hachiman tumbled through the window and fell at Dipesh’s feet. Its claws singed the linoleum, and its fingers twitched. Several oddly-shaped indentations covered its back. Several spectators that had been calmly walking to an exit forfeited all pretence of propriety and rushed the doors, trampling anyone in the way, but Dipesh, John and a handful of other scientists remained. The dents on Hachiman’s back filled in, and the finger trembling stopped. Dipesh felt his heart race and he scrambled to his feet.
The guards jumped through the window casing even as the last few chunks of glass fell to the floor. They surrounded Hachiman, assault rifles held to their shoulders and their eyes looking down the sights. One of the scientists was screaming in French. Dipesh’s two years of rusty high school French could only make out a few words, “No, he’s talking to us.”
General Jensen and two officers crowded around the fallen alien probe. The General held up his hand and the guards held their fire, but kept their barrels in line with the subject.
Hachiman moved its fingers, now cooled and with the claws retracted. It pulled itself up to a sitting position, slowly as if nursing internal damage.
“Let it speak,” the French man said in English.
Hachiman’s head – its eyes were the same copper marbled color as the rest of it – turned towards the general. An opening appeared where the mouth should be, and sounds came out, but it didn’t sound like it was produced by a flesh and blood larynx or an electro-mechanical speaker. It had the timbre of air rushing through dozens of small pipes, opening and shutting and even lengthening in order to mimic a human voice. “General Jensen, I must get out.” It spoke in a clear tone with a Midwest American accent.
The general’s eyes narrowed. “Haven’t you done enough damage?”
“Yes. That is my … my mistake,” Hachiman said. “I did not understand your species. I did not know you were,” Hachiman cocked its head to one side, “capable of moral decision.”
“Aware of what?” Dipesh asked.
The general ignored him. “Why did you do this to our planet?” he asked.
“It is the service to my people. But they need it no longer. They do not answer my call.”
No one said anything.
Hachiman spoke again. “I believe they are dead. Release me so that I might repair the damage.”
“I cannot do that,” the general replied. “You have proven yourself to be a clear threat to this nation and this world. You will be escorted to another lab where you will be examined. You may tell us then what you intend to do, and we will do it, if we deem it to be in our best interests. Is that clear?”
“That will not be quick enough.”
“Will you comply?”
“Will you comply?”
_________________________________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 Photo by aroid on Flickr