71. The Unnatural City, Part VI   2 comments

Meanwhile in Space

Episode 71: The Unnatural City, Part VI: The Great Escape

The robot that was previously Sundance gripped its cold metallic fingers around Timmy’s neck. Timmy reached up and tried to pry the fingers off his neck, but the robot was stronger. The more he struggled, the less he was able to breathe. He knew his time was running out. He planted his left foot into the center of the robot’s abdomen. The robot was surprised and its grip loosened. Timmy took this opportunity to take a deep breath and plant another kick with his right foot. The robot stumbled backward.

“Timmy, what’s wrong with you?” The robot transformed back into Sundance, but Timmy knew better. “Timmy!” Sundance’s voice morphed into something dark and electronic.

Timmy pushed past him and ran out of the bathroom. “Everyone needs to get out of here, now!” The air caught in his throat when he looked at everyone in the restaurant. The entire restaurant was filled with robots. There were robots sitting down enjoying their meals. There were robots cooking meals. There were robots giving other robots glasses of water. Timmy stared in horror. How had he not noticed this. His eyes darted to the table he was sitting and saw that Astralyn and Colonel Graves were also robots.

“No,” Timmy moaned.

All of the robots turned and stared at him with their red hot eyes. Then in unison, they all stood up and slowly marched towards him.

Timmy reached for his laser pistol and remembered that he didn’t have it with him. He cursed himself. He started eyeing the exits. There was the front door and the emergency exit near the far right corner of the dining room. There was too much distance between the bathroom and the front door. There was no way he could make it without being caught by one of them. The emergency exit had just as many robots, but the trek wouldn’t be as far. He decided that’s where he’d make his escape.

The robots extended their arms out to him as if they were wanting a big hug. Timmy cautiously stepped forward and prepared to make a run for it. The bathroom door opened and the robot that was inside stepped out and grabbed Timmy by the waist.

Timmy cried out and tried to kick the robot, but couldn’t get his bearings. He struggled as the other robots moved in. He decided if he couldn’t kick them, he could at least use gravity against them. Timmy pushed back on the robot so that it crashed up against the wall behind them. The robot released him as it tried to regain its balance. Timmy immediately made a dash for the door. Two robots stepped in front of the emergency exit and prevented him from leaving.

“Oh no, you don’t!” Timmy quickly scanned the dining room for anything he could use as a weapon. All he saw were plates full of Italian food. It wasn’t much, but it would have to do. He grabbed two plates and promptly shoved them in the robots’ boxy faces. The robots scrambled to unobscure their view. Timmy used this opportunity to pull the robots towards him, away from the door. He slipped between them and pushed the door open. A high pitched alarm sounded. The robots seemed to be irritated by it and they froze.

Timmy stumbled into the alley and checked to see if the robots were behind him. They weren’t pursuing him so he ran to the streets. He bumped into a few people as he rushed by them. He looked up to apologize but gasped when he saw that the people he ran into were robots! He shouted and ran away. The robots proceed to chase after him.

The entire street was full of robots pretending to be people. Timmy couldn’t believe it. How could this be? There was something definitely wrong. How could no one notice that robots had replaced every living person? He needed to get to the bottom of this, but he needed to get out of the reaches of the robots first.

Timmy knew that he couldn’t hope to outrun them; he needed a speedy escape and he knew exactly how to go about doing it. He ran to the parking lot where there were a plethora of different cars to choose from. Timmy found the one the robot formerly known as Sundance drove to the restaurant. He thought that it was only right to steal his car. The top of the car was down, as usual, so Timmy jumped right into the driver’s seat. He reached beneath the steering column and broke open the control box. He tinkered around with the circuits until he found the one he was looking for. In a snap, the car activated and lifted off the ground. Timmy laughed at his accomplishment. He had never hijacked a car before.

Timmy drove the car away out of the parking lot. He looked in the rear view mirror and saw that the robots were still coming for him, but they had no way of catching him. He hoped that these robots didn’t have rocket packs like the previous set did.

As he drove away, Timmy had many questions running around his head. Had all of Citadel City been taken over by robots? How had no one seen them coming? Why was there no warning? Where were the people that the robots replaced? Could he fight them alone? He couldn’t make any sense of the situation. Everything about this was wrong.

As he made the right off of Broadway Street, he asked himself another question. Where was he going?

“To the beginning,” he uttered under his breath. He needed to get back to the source, the place where everything started. He decided that he was going to go back to Christopher City. Timmy leaned over to the passenger side and opened the glove compartment. There was a laser pistol resting on a pair of white gloves. He pulled the pistol out and set it on the seat next to him. With pistol procured, Timmy navigated his way through traffic and headed towards the city gates. 

70. The Unnatural City, Part V   4 comments

Meanwhile in Space…

Episode 70: The Unnatural City, Part V- Robots in Disguise

Timmy was released from the hospital in the early evening. To prepare for dinner with the others, he immediately went to his apartment to take a shower. He was tempted to go over to Sundance’s apartment to tell him about what he saw in the doctor’s office, but he thought the better of it. He was going to see him at dinner anyway.

As soon as he entered his apartment, he immediately started to disrobe on his way to the bathroom. He couldn’t wait to take a shower. He was sure he had sand in places he didn’t know about. He turned on the water and the shower automatically set it to the desired temperature. He stepped inside and imagined that he was washing everything down the drain. The worries about his blood work, the wire snake, the robot doctor, everything.

As hard as he tried, he couldn’t shake the image of the robot doing his blood work. He kept seeing its bright red eyes staring into him. Timmy rested his head on the wall and let the water rain down on him. He wanted to convince himself that the hallucination wasn’t real, but he couldn’t shake the idea that maybe it was. Something wasn’t right. He slammed his fist against the wall as he told himself he just needed to get over this feeling and move on.

He finished up in the shower and got dressed to go to dinner. He didn’t think he was going to be need to be in his uniform, so he dressed casually. A blue polo shirt, a pair of khaki shorts, and his best sandals. He walked into his living room and his cat, Argyle, welcomed him.

“Hey, kitty!” He made sure that there was sufficient amounts of water and food in Argyle’s bowls before he left. “Don’t wait up!” The cat meowed him and watched as his master left the apartment.

—————

“Lieutenant! So glad you could make it!” Colonel Graves said, holding up a glass of red wine. “I was beginning to think that the doctor had you tied up.”

“Or something like that,” Sundance added. He stood up and pulled a chair out for Timmy. When Timmy sat down, he reclaimed his place at the table. “What did the doctor say?”

“She needs to run some more tests.” Timmy informed, looking at the menu. “The results keep coming up inconclusive. I wonder what the hold up is.” He looked up and saw the concern in Astralyn’s eyes. “But I’m sure it’s nothing. Anyway, I don’t want to think about it. So, what are we having?”

“I am being adventurous and am ordering the Gamberi al Vino Blanco,” Astralyn said, placing her menu down in front of her. “Prawns are just shrimp, right?”

“I guess I’ll have my usual.” Sundance stood up and shouted, “Waiter! Bring me the ravioli!”

“Sundance! Sit down!” Astralyn hissed. “You’re not going to make a drunken display tonight!”

“What? I’ve only had one glass of wine!”

“Speaking of adventure, do you guys remember how we got out of our last one?” Timmy asked. He couldn’t help himself. “Because I don’t remember anything.”

Colonel Graves coughed and took a sip of his wine. “I found a place to hide from the beast and I called for back up. I ran from that thing for as long as could before it got me. Fortunately, back up arrived just in time to rescue me from being pulled underground.”

Timmy nodded his head in mock understanding. There was something oddly vague about the colonel’s explanation. Timmy hadn’t lasted ten minutes, but the colonel was able to hold out for almost two hours for back up to arrive? Sure, the colonel had more experience in the field, but the wire beast was pretty major and no amount of combat experience would have trained him for that.

The waiter eventually arrived and took their orders. Astralyn ordered first, which gave Timmy time to look through the menu before the waited got to him last. He was hungry enough to order everything. After Colonel Graves and Sundance ordered, Timmy decided on the Osso Buco; it had been a while since he had veal.

“And for you, sir?” the waiter said.

Timmy looked up at the tall waiter as he said his order and saw that he was a robot. He shouted and fell out of his chair. He crawled backwards until he hit someone sitting at the table behind him. “No! No!” he screamed. The robot turned and looked at him; its wide circular red eyes glaring at him.

“Timmy?” Sundance got down from his seat and knelt down next to Timmy. “Timmy, are you alright?”

“Don’t you see it?” Timmy pointed at the waiter only to see that he was a very frightened human. “Didn’t you see it? Oh, god.” He placed his hand on his forehead and sighed. “I’m okay. I’m sorry.” Sundance helped Timmy up and they sat back down in their chairs.

“I’ll have the Osso Buco, please,” Timmy said, feeling very embarrassed.

The waited closed his order ledger and quickly went to the kitchen to place the order.

Timmy stared down at the table because he knew that everyone was staring at him. He could even feel the people at the other tables staring at him. He was just glad he didn’t have his laser pistol with him. He could have pointed it at the waiter and shot him.

“Timmy, are you okay?” Astralyn asked. She placed a hand on his leg.

“No, no I’m not.” Timmy stood up from the table and left for the bathroom. This left everyone at the table in confusion.

Timmy pushed open the door to the bathroom and allowed a man to exit. He entered the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror. He looked at his reflection while he wondered what the hell was wrong with him. He ran his fingers down his face and let out a sad moan.

The bathroom door opened and Sundance came in. “Timmy, what’s going on with you?”

“I don’t know, Captain,” Timmy replied. “I honestly don’t know! I’ve been seeing things since I woke up this afternoon.” He gripped the sink and started to cry.

“What did you see?”

“Remember those man-eating robots we fought last year?” He looked to Sundance and saw that he nodded his head. “I’ve been seeing them lately. First the doctor and now the waiter. Captain, am I going crazy?”

“I don’t think you’re going crazy,” Sundance replied. He turned Timmy around so that he was facing him. He placed his hands on Timmy’s shoulders. “I think you’re just freaked out by what’s going with your blood work. The whole incident with being strapped to that big engine on Deimos has got you all messed up.” He shook Timmy a little. “You’re my buddy! You’re going to be just fine! We’ll find out what’s happening to you.”

Timmy closed his eyes and gave a sigh of relief. He was glad to hear Sundance say that. He was beginning to feel a little better. Then he felt Sundance’s hands go from his shoulders up to his neck. Then he opened his eyes. Instead of Sundance standing before him, there was another robot. It had its hands on Timmy’s throat and began to squeeze.

Posted June 23, 2014 by Xanto P. Jones in Flash Fiction, Sci-fi

Tagged with , , , , ,

69. The Unnatural City, Part IV   5 comments

Meanwhile in Space…

Episode 69: The Unnatural City, Part IV: And You Were There…

“I think he’s coming to.”

It was Astralyn’s voice that brought Timmy to consciousness. His eyes jolted open and he tried to sit up but he was restrained by something, someone. He felt two hands on his chest push him back down to a lying position. He reached up and grabbed the hands and was surprised that he was able to move his hands at all. He looked around and saw that he was lying in a hospital bed in S.P.A.C.E. Headquarters. To his right were Sundance and Astralyn. Both of them were wearing hospital gowns.

“Relax, Timmy, you’re alright,” Astralyn said. “We all are.”

“Yeah, you had us scared for a while there, buddy,” Sundance said, patting Timmy on the chest. “I thought you’d be asleep forever.”

“If only,” Timmy joked.

He was relieved to see familiar faces. He felt like he had survived some horrible dream. At first, he couldn’t remember what he had dreamt about. Then images began to flash before his eyes. A giant monster composed of wires chasing him and the colonel, blue electric sparks, arms and legs restrained. The recollection of these events caused him to gasp and sit up.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Easy there, tiger.” Sundance helped him lay back down. “You just woke up, you’re not quite ready to be running a marathon yet.”

“Colonel Graves!” Timmy looked to Sundance with panic in his eyes. “The colonel, is he okay? I couldn’t find him!”

“I’m right as rain.” Colonel Graves walked into the hospital room and approached Timmy’s bed. “Dr. Page just released me.” He was wearing his uniform instead of a hospital gown. “How are you doing?”

“I can’t complain,” Timmy replied, finally calming down. “I’m just glad you’re okay, sirs, Astralyn.”

Dr. Page entered the room with her clipboard and tapped it on her available hand. “Alright, folks. Let’s let him rest. He’s been through just as much as you lot. Visiting hours are over.”

“But he just woke up, Doc!” Sundance pleaded. “Just a little longer!”

“Lieutenant Falken isn’t ready to come out and play just yet, Captain.” Dr. Page started pushing Sundance and Astralyn out of the room. “So, run along. I’ve got some tests to run. Colonel, you, too.”

“Alright.” Colonel Graves winked at Timmy as he left the room. “We’re meeting at Louie’s later tonight. See you there?”

“If you’re buying!” Timmy said. He nodded and smiled at the Colonel.

With his visitors gone, Timmy relaxed and let out a relieved sigh. “I’m so glad they’re okay.”

Dr. Page closed the door to the room and quickly attended to her patient. “Yes, they’re all very lucky to be alive. From what they told me, you had quite the adventure. But don’t worry about that right now. Give me your arm.”

Timmy held out his left arm and Dr, Page tied a rubber strap around it. She asked him to squeeze his hand into a fist. Timmy obediently acquiesced. Dr. Page pulled out a small medical gun that had a needle on the muzzle attached to a vial. She pressed it against Timmy’s arm and with a puff, she extracted Timmy’s blood.

“Ow!” Timmy complained. He turned to the doctor to give him a look of malcontent when he froze. Dr. Page was suddenly not there. In her place was one of the boxy carnivorous robots from Metropolis. Timmy wrenched his arm back from it and tried to climb out of the bed.

“All done, you big baby.” Timmy blinked and Dr. Page had returned. She untied the rubber strap and put it in her jacket. “I’m going to run more tests on your blood and see what the deal is with it. I should have some results for you tomorrow. Until then, just relax. Welcome back.”

Dr. Page opened the door to the room and saw that Sundance and Astralyn were still standing there trying to look inconspicuous. “Don’t you people have things to do?” They flinched and walked away. “Some people’s children.” She walked off to see her other patients.

Timmy’s heart was beating so hard that he thought it was going to beat right out of his chest. He laid frozen in his bed wondering if he had really seen what he thought he saw. He couldn’t have. The robots were destroyed and gone. No, he was just stressed by having survived his last adventure. Now that he thought about it, he couldn’t remember how he had survived the incident with the wire snake. The last thing he remembered was that he had been tied down and the snake was coming for him. All was darkness after that. He made it a point to ask the others when he was released. For the time being, he was content to lower his heart rate and drift off to sleep.

68. The Unnatural City, Part III   1 comment

Meanwhile in Space…

Episode 68: The Unnatural City, Part III: Wire Tap

Colonel Graves and Timmy cautiously climbed the stairs to the second floor. The halls were empty and dark. Timmy took out his flashlight and shined it just ahead of them. He led the way to the first office to the left. Since the door was open, Timmy was able to just shine the light into it. Nothing looked out of place.

“What do you think happened here?” Timmy asked. “Do you think that there was an attack of some kind?” He walked inside the office and examined the four desks that occupied the space. Each desk had its own natural order of chaos with manila folders and stacks of documents, but nothing looked too out of the ordinary. He picked up a piece of paper and looked at it in the hopes of gleaning something useful. When there was nothing of interest, he placed it back on the stack he got it from.

“I don’t think so, Lieutenant,” Colonel Graves said, looking further down the hall. “There are no windows broken, nothing looks disheveled. It’s as if everyone just decided to get up and walk away.”

“Most disturbing,” Timmy added. When he saw all there was to see, he rejoined Graves in the hallway. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this in my life. What could make everyone leave at once?”

“Yeah, this is definitely a new experience.”

Timmy continued to lead the way down the hallway. All of the office doors were wide open, making it easier for them to be inspected. All of them lacked the excitement that would have indicated a cause for the disappearing people. When they reached the end of the hallway, they weren’t any closer to explaining the phenomena than when they started. It would have been easier if they had any clue what they were looking for.

“Do you think it’s worth checking all of the other wings of the building?” Timmy asked. “I think it’s going to be more of the same.”

Colonel Graves contemplated skipping out on the other wings, but he wanted to be thorough. He wanted to rule out every possibility that there was something he could have missed.

“No, I think we should keep going,” Colonel Graves said. He motioned for Timmy to follow him into the next wing. The two traversed down the next dark hallway only as far as the second office when they heard something akin to a whip crack. They both stopped and looked at each other as if to ask the other if they heard it. It sounded like it came from the hallway they just came from. Colonel Graves signaled that he wanted to go back. Timmy nodded his agreement and they quietly walked back to the previous hallway.

Timmy held his flashlight in one hand and his laser pistol in the other. Colonel Graves also had his pistol at the ready. They walked toward the end of the hallway where the noise sounded like it came from. As they neared the last few offices, they heard the crack again, this time accompanied with a scream and laser fire. Timmy determined that the sound was coming from an open window in one of the offices.

“Astralyn!” they heard Sundance shout.

Timmy and Colonel Graves didn’t think twice. They immediately ran down the flights of stairs to the lobby. There was no sign of Astralyn or Sundance. They surmised that they were outside. They pushed the doors open and ran outside. There was a large dust cloud floating by, but they couldn’t make out where Sundance and Astralyn had been.

“It did sound like they were outside, right?” Colonel Graves asked. Timmy nodded. “Then where the hell are they?”

“They couldn’t have gone far!” Timmy looked down at the sandy ground and tried to look for footprints. The thick dust cloud made it difficult to distinguish anything. “Captain? Astralyn? Where are you?”

“They were shooting at something,” Graves reminded. “They’re probably hiding from whatever it is they found.”

“Then we should be careful.”

Timmy and Colonel Graves walked close together as they explored the empty, sandy street. They looked high and low for anything that might be waiting to attack them. They didn’t know what to expect.

“Keep your eyes open, Lieutenant,” commanded Graves.

When the dust cloud dissipated, they observed that there were a collection of thick wires and cables lying on the ground. They gingerly stepped over them and continued to keep their eyes trained on the buildings on either side of them. When they were far enough away, the wires began to twitch and jerk. They slithered across the sand towards each other and assembled themselves into one long snakelike configuration. More wires seeped out of the ground beneath the sand and joined the collective. When it got big enough, the giant mass rose up like a cobra preparing to strike.

Timmy and Colonel Graves stopped walking behind they heard something slipping and sliding behind them. They slowly turned around and saw the giant wire snake and immediately opened fire. The tips of the wires sparked with electricity as it made its first attack. It dove for them, sparks dancing. Timmy and Colonel Graves split up and ran in opposite directions. The snake landed where they had just been. It seemed to look at both of them, trying to decide who to go after first. Timmy and Colonel Graves continued to fire ceaselessly.

“Split up!” Colonel Graves commanded. He turned and ran in between the buildings that were nearby.

Timmy took his cue and ran in the opposite direction. He hoped that this would confuse the massive wire beast. He risked a glance to see if it was following him or the colonel. He saw that it was doing both. The head of the wire beast split in half and pursued both of them.

“Great,” Timmy mumbled.

He picked up speed and ran towards the building that looked like a commissary. He could take shelter and possibly hold off the attack from inside. He would have no way of knowing if the colonel was alright until he dealt with his half of the beast. He didn’t have the first idea on how to defeat a massive collection of wires come to life. His laser pistol wasn’t going to cut it. If only had something to cut it with.

Timmy glanced over his shoulder and saw that his half of the snake was no longer pursuing him. He was tempted to stop running, but he sensed that something wasn’t right. He turned around and continued to towards the commissary. Then something grabbed his foot and he tripped. Timmy looked down and saw that several wires had crept up from the ground and wrapped themselves around his foot. More were joining them on his other foot. The snake head slowly slithered over to him as more wires wriggled up and wrapped themselves around Timmy’s arms and throat. No matter how hard he struggled he could not get free. He struggled to reach for his laser pistol. He had dropped it when he fell. It was too far out of his reach. The wires were doing a good job of restraining him.

The snake head hovered over him. Timmy watched as it seemed to be looking him up and down, admiring the work the smaller cables were doing. It seemed like it was enjoying what it was seeing. The ends of the wires sparked with joy. It gave one bright flash and the smaller wires tightened their grip. Timmy shouted out as the wires began to pull him beneath the ground. He made futile attempts to get his laser pistol. The last thing Timmy saw were the sparks rushing at his eyes, blinding him.

Posted June 9, 2014 by Xanto P. Jones in Flash Fiction

67. The Unnatural City, Part II   2 comments

Meanwhile in Space…

Episode 67: The Unnatural City, Part II: Ghost Town

Sundance drove through the city towards the gates that separated the city from the desert outside. Timmy sat in the passenger seat looking back at Colonel Graves and Astralyn. They were briefing Astralyn on the mission.

“So you lost contact about a week ago?” Astralyn asked, brushing her blonde hair out of her face. “That’s a long time not to check in.”

“What kind of research is happening at this base?” Timmy asked.

“They’re studying the underground of the desert. They discovered some caverns and they are gathering data,” the colonel replied. “There’s still so much about this planet that we don’t know. I’d like to get to know it a little better. Then I’d feel better about being stationed here.”

Sundance slowed the car down as they reached traffic at the gate. The border officers asked each car where they were headed and when they should be expected to return. When the response was given to their satisfaction, they waved the car onward and talked to the next car in line. When they reached Sundance’s car, they smiled and saluted him and the colonel.

“Good morning sirs, ma’am.” The border officer saluted them. “Where are you headed today?”

“Christopher City for a routine check in,” the colonel replied. He watched the officer scribble down some notes.

“Yes, sir. Have a safe journey,” the officer said. He saluted them again and waved them forward.

Sundance couldn’t help but salute him back before he drove away. “Man, I hate to have his job,” he said as he sped through the city gates.

“That could be arranged quite easily,” Graves said. “Just keep it up!” Timmy and Astralyn laughed as Sundance slightly lowered in his seat and gulped.

The two hour journey to Christopher City crept along slowly. Astralyn kept the conversation going by talking about all of the exhibits that were coming to the museum in the coming months. Her excitement kept Timmy and Colonel Graves from nodding off to sleep.

Sundance was all to happy to interrupt her when they had reached the desert facility of Christopher City. He pulled up to the city gates, but there was no one there to greet them. The gates were wide open so Sundance drove through. He thought that it was strange that no one was working the gate, but assumed that maybe the border officer was on lunch duty.

Christopher City was a small military outpost that was home to S.P.A.C.E. officers and scientists. They weren’t any shops or restaurants, just buildings where the officers and scientists worked. It was just a small patch of civilization in the desert.

Colonel Graves sat up as Sundance drove through the facility. It put him on edge to see that there were many cars outside of the buildings, but they didn’t look like they had moved in a while. The whole facility was quiet. There was something wrong.

“Is it normally this quiet, Grover?” Astralyn asked. She noticed the stillness as well. She looked around for signs of life inside of the buildings they drove past. There was no one inside them. “Where is everyone?”

“This isn’t creepy at all,” Sundance said as he pulled up to the main research building. He turned off the car’s engine and let the car settle comfortably on the ground. He and Timmy got out and looked around. Astralyn and Colonel Graves did the same. “Something is definitely not right here.”

“Let’s check the inside,” Timmy suggested. “Maybe they’re doing an exploration of the caves and everyone is watching.”

“It’s eerie sometimes how optimistic you are, Timmy.” Sundance led the way to the front doors. He tested the handles to see if they were locked, but they weren’t. He opened the door and escorted everyone inside. They collected in the study and looked around. All of the lights were turned off. The air smelled old and stale.

Colonel Graves walked over to the receptionist window and picked up the sign in clipboard. He looked at the sign in sheet and tapped it. “No one has checked in here since last Wednesday. This is definitely strange.”

“That’s the last time you heard from them, right?” Astralyn asked. “Last Wednesday?” Colonel Graves nodded his head.

“Let’s all search the building and see if we can find any clues,” Sundance said.

“Right, let’s split up,” the colonel said. “Timmy, you’re with me. We’ll search the top floor. Sundance, you and Astralyn search down here and outside.”

Sundance nodded his agreement and watched as Colonel Graves and Timmy went upstairs. He whistled and spun around to look at Astralyn. “So, it looks like we have the place to ourselves,” he joked.

“Where do you suggest we start looking?” Astralyn asked, walking to the receptionist’s window.

“The receptionist’s computer.” Sundance walked around the corner and entered the front office. The door was open, so he walked in and set up camp at the receptionist’s computer. He turned it on and waited for it to boot up. “This might take a while.”

“What are you hoping to find?” Astralyn asked.

“Maybe Timmy’s right, that maybe there was some kind of big event that happened that required everyone’s attention.” The computer finally booted up and immediately opened to the desktop. He navigated to the calendar application. When he opened it up, he saw that there wasn’t anything major scheduled for last week. “Well, there goes that idea.” He stood up and joined Astralyn in the lobby. “Let’s say we give ourselves a tour.” Astralyn nodded.

They walked along the hallways of the first floor and searched in every room. They didn’t find anyone they could talk to. Every office was empty. This frustrated Sundance to no end. With each empty room they found, the more visibly upset Sundance was.

“People don’t just get up and disappear,” Sundance growled.

“There have been many instances of entire colonies disappearing into the night without a trace,” Astralyn said. “I’m not saying that this is one of those instances, but it’s not completely unheard of.” She didn’t know what else to say.

Sundance walked back into the lobby and waited for Colonel Graves and Timmy to come back. Astralyn walked over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Why are you so upset?” Astralyn asked. “Ever since we got back from Deimos, you’ve been acting strange. You’re so distant. I mean, while we’re not as close as I’d like to be… I can tell the difference.”

Sundance touched Astralyn’s hand and turned to face her. For the first time since they met, he stared into her green eyes soulfully. “I’m sorry. You’re right. This isn’t like me. I don’t mean to alarm you, or push you away. It’s just that I’ve been…” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’ve…” The words failed to come to him.

“Yes?”

“The whole thing with the Caretakers really freaked me out,” Sundance said. “And the stuff with Timmy… I’m just worried about him. He’s got things in his blood! I don’t know what that means, but it scares me!”

Astralyn looked concerned, but Sundance could also tell that she looked disappointed. There was something that she wanted him to say and he didn’t say it. She wasn’t going to press the issue and for that Sundance was glad.

“Timmy will be fine,” Astralyn said, taking Sundance’s hand into hers. “It’s you I’m worried about. I know you like to pretend that nothing bothers you, but I want you to know that you can always talk to me.”

Sundance was about to thank her when something rattled outside. He pulled away from Astralyn and headed outside, laser pistol drawn. Astralyn followed behind him.

“Did you hear that?” Sundance asked. He stood by his car and looked up and down the dusty street. “There was a noise; a thump or something up against the window.”

“I didn’t hear anything,” Astralyn replied. She slowly pulled out her laser pistol and waited for a sign.

“Hello?” Sundance shouted to the wind. He stepped into the street towards the building next door. “Is anyone out here? We’re here to help!” Sundance and Astralyn strained to hear anyone reply. “I think there’s someone in that building! Come on!”

Sundance started running to the next door building. Astralyn followed him, not knowing that something was following her as well.

Posted June 2, 2014 by Xanto P. Jones in Flash Fiction

66. The Unnatural City, Part I   1 comment

Meanwhile in Space…

Episode 66: The Unnatural City, Part I: An Apple a Day

Timmy sat uncomfortably in the doctor’s office waiting for the doctor to return. Per the doctor’s orders, he was wearing nothing but a hospital gown and his underwear. Sitting on the cold examiner’s table, he shivered. The air conditioner had been on since he’d been there. He rubbed his arms until they felt some semblance of warmth.

The doctor’s been gone forever, Timmy thought. What could she possibly be looking at? Ever since he got back from the trip to Deimos, he’d been worried about how the Caretakers had been able to use him as a power source. How were they able to do that? Was he some kind of freak? That question had been weighing on his mind for days. It finally drove him to visit Dr. Page.

“Well,” the doctor said as she walked back into the room. “I’m afraid I don’t have much news.” She placed a folder containing images of the body scan they had just performed. She reached and pulled the x-ray paper up and handed them to Timmy. He, then, held them up against the light. “Looking at those, you’ll see that there really wasn’t much to see. Everything looks fine.”

“But everything is not fine, doctor,” Timmy replied, holding up another sheet displaying his chest. “They were able to use me to power a massive robot!”

“Yes, you keep saying that, and I don’t see how they could have.” Dr. Page folded her arms and sighed. “With the exception of your blood tests, everything came up roses. You have a clean bill of health.”

Timmy slapped the sheets down on his lap. “What’s wrong with the blood test?”

Dr. Page’s face turned serious. “I didn’t want to scare you, but I found… something… in your blood.”

“I thought you said that everything came up roses!” Timmy was beginning to panic. His stomach was beginning to turn itself into a pretzel. He just knew something was wrong from the get go. The doctor was just trying to make him feel better before, he reasoned.

“I’m sure you’re fine,” the doctor reassured. “but I found some particles of something in your blood. It’s nothing to be alarmed about, but I’m going to keep my eye on it.”

“Cholesterol?”

Dr. Page’s look changed from serious to contemplative. “Your cholesterol is fine. There’s a metallic element in your blood that I’ve never seen before. It doesn’t appear to be poisoning you, but I really can’t make any assumptions.” She sounded like she was excited by the challenge of figuring it out. “I’m going to keep my eye on it, like I said. I’ll do a few tests and I’ll call you when I have results.”

“So, that’s it?” Timmy’s voice squeaked. “You’re going to send me off knowing that I’ve got something freakishly wrong in my blood? What kind of doctor does that?”

Just in the nick of time, Sundance knocked on the door to the office and poked his head in. “Hey there, buddy. You almost done?”

Dr. Page took this time to take the x-rays from Timmy and stuff them back into her folder. “Hello, Captain. I’m all done with him now. He’s all yours.” She ignored the worried look that Timmy had on his face and left the office.

“That’s just incredible!” Timmy muttered.

Sundance came into the room and smiled at his friend. “You look a little freaked.”

“That’s because I am a freak.” Timmy sighed and shook his head, trying to deal with the information Dr. Page had given him. “She found something in my blood that’s abnormal and she doesn’t know what it is.”

“Cholesterol?”

“No, not cholesterol, something metallic.” Timmy looked truly worried.

“Well, don’t worry about it, champ!” Sundance slapped Timmy on the shoulder heartily and laughed. “I’ve got something that will take your mind off all this. Colonel Graves has a new mission for us!”

“Of course he does,” Timmy shuddered to think of what death defying mission the colonel had in mind. The last thing he needed was something else to worry about. He didn’t voice this to Sundance because he looked so happy. One of the things Timmy admired about him was how much pleasure Sundance got from his work. That’s what made working with him so easy. “Where are we going?”

***

“Christopher City.” Colonel Graves snapped at Sgt. Harriman and an image of a map appeared on the viewscreen in the War Room. It then focused in on a dot labeled ‘Christopher City’. “We recently lost contact with our sister station this past week. I’ve tried hailing them several times, but I have heard no response.”

“We seem to be losing contact with a lot of things around here,” Sundance said, thinking back to the satellite system that went haywire due to a virus.

“Don’t I know it,” the colonel replied. He turned to Sundance and Timmy and held their shoulders. “This mission is really special because I personally handpicked this crew and I’d hate to think that something happened to them and it was my fault.”

“Of course not, sir,” Sundance said. “Timmy and I will get on this right away! Have no fear.”

“Yes, sir,” Timmy added.

Colonel Graves stood up from his command chair and stretched. “This time I’m going with you boys. I need to get the hell out of this place and get some fresh air.” Sundance and Timmy exchanged glances at the news. “Don’t make faces, it’s not polite. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been out in the field, but I’m good for it.”

“Anything you say, Colonel,” Sundance said.

“You think dealing with Space Chickens is tough,” the colonel said, leading the way out of the war room. “I’ve got stories that will chill your very bones.”

“You can tell us all about while we pick up Astralyn,” Sundance said.

Sgt. Harriman was left standing in the doorway wondering what trouble they were going stir up this time.

Posted May 26, 2014 by Xanto P. Jones in Flash Fiction

65. The Ancient Engines of Deimos, Part XII   1 comment

Meanwhile in Space…

Episode 65: The Ancient Engines of Deimos, Part XII: Second Victory

Caretaker Dave turned around and headed for the door that would take him back inside. He heard someone cough behind him. He stopped and turned around. He saw two hands come up over the edge. “No.” He shook his head and walked back over to the edge. He found that Sundance was clinging on for dear life. “You are like a cockroach. You just won’t go away!”

And I thought people liked me for my persistence!” Sundance thought he would try to pull himself up, but he knew what was about to happen and he grimaced in anticipation. Just as he thought, Caretaker Dave stepped on his fingers. He cried out as the Caretaker acted like he was stamping out a cigarette.

I suppose the third time is the charm,” Caretaker Dave said. He twisted his foot and allowed the fingers to crunch underneath his feet. He felt Sundance slip his fingers out from underneath him. He promptly picked up his foot and stamped it down on his other hand. This allowed Sundance to replace his previously crushed hand back on the edge. Caretaker Dave saw this and placed both feet on his hands. Sundance cried out again. The Caretaker cackled evilly as he saw that his victory was at hand.

Sundance pulled one hand out from underneath Caretaker Dave’s feet. In spite of the pain, a funny thought came to his head and he started to laugh. Caretaker Dave was curious and looked down at him. Sundance gazed up at him and smiled. “Remember when you told me that we’ll see who’s laughing? Well, hardy har har, bitch!” Sundance quickly reached down and pulled out his laser pistol. He fired it and the laser shot through Caretaker Dave’s shoulder.

His fingers were released from the pressure of the shoes. He replaced his pistol and pulled himself up. Caretaker Dave stumbled backward, holding his wound. “How’d you like those apples?”

Caretaker Dave pushed the pain aside and charged towards Sundance. When he saw the smirk on Sundance’s face, he realized that he was up to something and there was nothing he could do about it.

Sundance simply stepped aside. Caretaker Dave managed to stop himself at the last second. He spun around and gave a short laugh. “Ha!” The robot jerked as it gave the fallen robot below another swift kick. Caretaker Dave suddenly lost his balance and fell over the side. Sundance tried to reach out for him, but he was too late.

Sundance turned his head so that he couldn’t see Caretaker Dave hit the ground. He immediately ran inside and ran down the stairs. He tried to remember the layout out of the compound before it turned into a giant robot. He searched frantically for the Heart Room. He passed several Caretakers on the way down, but he quickly took care of them with his laser pistol.

Sundance finally arrived at the Heart Room and opened the door. Timmy was slumped over in the chair, looking pale and drained. “Timmy!” he shouted. He rushed into the room and looked for the way to disconnect him. “Hang in there, Timmy. Just hang on.”

He didn’t know in which order the wires needed to be removed. He didn’t want to hurt Timmy, but he also didn’t want the robot to be functional anymore. He grabbed all the wires he could and gave them a good yank. Sparks flew out of the plugs as they were rudely interrupted. Sundance could already hear some of the engines shutting down. He reached over to the other side of the chair and yanked the wires out. More sparks flew. Sundance, then, disconnected Timmy from the helmet that he was wearing and untied him from the chair.

Timmy woke up and groaned. “Captain?”

I got you,” Sundance said, hoisting him over his shoulder. “Say bye bye!”

Bye bye,” Timmy moaned.

They left the room and sped down the hallways, looking for the way out. The many engines were slowly powering down and made the robot difficult to control. The Caretakers in the control room knew that their number was up.

The robot began to fall forward. Everyone inside felt it and braced themselves for impact. Sundance and Timmy were in the stairway heading to the top of the robot. They held onto the railings as the robot made its final descent to the fiery ground below. People were tossed around as the robot hit the ground. The torso had managed to fall onto the robot Astralyn had been piloting. When all was still, Sundance and Timmy clumsily made their way to the head of the robot. They climbed out and safely slid down to the ground. Astralyn and Ben were waiting for them.

Oh my god, I can’t believe that you made it,” Astralyn said, running to Sundance and Timmy. “Timmy, you’re alright!” She hugged him tightly. He quickly sat down to collect himself. “I was beginning to worry.”

I knew you’d be alright,” Ben said, smiling from ear to ear. “We’ve already alerted what’s left of the authorities and they’ll be here soon enough to pick up the rest of the evil Caretakers.”

I love that plan,” Sundance said.

Sure enough, the Deimos police arrived at the scene when they thought it was safe enough to approach. They wanted to make sure that everything was indeed done. They arrested the surviving members of the Caretakers as they stumbled out of the robot.

I’m sure glad I’m not caught up with that lot,” Ben said, watching Caretakers Steve and Joe being arrested.

What are you going to do now that you no longer have a job?” Astralyn asked. Ben shrugged.

I don’t know,” Ben replied. “Maybe become a mime. I’ve always admired their tenacity.” He thanked Sundance and Astralyn for their help and left to seek his fortune amongst the wreckage.

He’s a nice guy,” Sundance said.

Astralyn folded her arms and surveyed the damage done to the city. Her gaze ended at the heap of robots. “Well, there goes the Ancient Engines of Deimos. What a shame.”

Tell me about it,” Sundance said, patting her on the shoulders. “Do me a favour, please. The next time you want to go on a field trip, could we just not and say we did?” He helped Timmy back into the StarTango, leaving Astralyn alone to try and find some redeeming qualities to their trip. She just sighed and followed Sundance and Timmy into the StarTango and shut the door.

Posted May 19, 2014 by Xanto P. Jones in Flash Fiction