Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2019/04/17 (Week 102)

I read the cast metal plaque bonded to the wall next to the obelisk. “Found 17 November 2097, Back Bay National Wildlife Reserve.” It was one of dozens that had been found. Concrete rectangles, encased in metal frames. Each one in a small crater where it fell from the sky. They all fell on the same night, across the planet.

It was a great story, objects clearly not natural had fallen from space. The military organizations of the world had grabbed them all, and studied them for nearly 10 years. They scanned them in every way they could. X-rays, gamma rays, ultrasound, ultra wideband radar. They tried everything to see what they were. And every scan showed nothing but cold, lifeless concrete, set in a metal alloy frame.

They used blow torches, drills, saws, lasers, water cutters, and even old fashioned crush tests, to reduce them to fragments they could examine. Not one of the obelisks got scratched. No dents, dings, chips, nothing.

Acid baths? Nothing. Corrosives? Nothing. Shooting with an armor penetrating round from a rail gun? Nothing.

Eventually, everyone gave up trying to figure them out, and one by one, they got turned into monuments, on display in cities or towns everywhere. This one was next to the largest building in Norfolk, Virginia. A little plaque next to it. “We know we’re not alone.”

We’d tried to determine where they came from, or at least a direction the came from. But every small crater was caused by a different trajectory. And the craters were too small for the objects to have fallen more than a few thousand feet. It was like some cargo ship made a random course across the sky, and dropped one every now and then, haphazardly, with no pattern.

They changed the world, just by existing. No one could deny they were not of the Earth. No one could figure out what they were made of. Nothing we could identify, because we could get samples of everything we’d ever found. But we couldn’t even get dust off the blocks to test.

The metal frames looked more like concrete than metal. Our best guess was it was a meta material, made from layers of metals and ceramics, although we honestly couldn’t say. All we could do was stare at them, and go, “Oh. They came from space. We’re not alone!”

I walked past that obelisk each day as I went to work. I had machines to teach ethics to. Machines to train in proper human behavior, so they could run the financial institutions of the Hampton Roads area in more human, caring ways.

At least I had a job. Many didn’t. They spent their days on beaches, soaking up the sun, getting fat on synthetic junk food, and living on universal incomes. It wasn’t ethical to let people starve to death because they couldn’t earn a living.

It was Friday morning. After a few hours, the machines would send me home, and I could be another useless human they took care of. I shrugged, and turned toward the building, to continue my trek to work, as I mumbled, “They sent us bricks. To illustrate how stupid we are.”

That’s when every security bot in the building raced through the front door. They nearly ran over me, on their way to the obelisk. They all 3D printed projectile weapons on the way. “Shit, that ain’t a good sign.” I dodged them, and plastered myself along a wall, to stay out of the way.

They surrounded the obelisk, and they opened fire. It was useless, of course, the military organizations of the world had already demonstrated we couldn’t damage the obelisks in any way. But the security robots kept shooting away.

That’s when I noticed the concrete inside the metal frame was stirring, moving. The projectiles struck it, and vanished, as if consumed. Then, a hand popped out of the concrete. Somewhere else, a foot showed up. Then a head. The concrete reformed itself, grew thinner, as humanoid forms took shape, and walked out of it.

The security robots stopped. Like they’d been turned off.

I didn’t stick around to see what happened next. I ran. Me. I ran. I don’t think I’d ever ran anywhere in my life. But that day, I ran until I fell over from exhaustion. As I ran, all I remember was the news cast message from the network link in my left ear. “You humans have sure fucked the planet. Just like you did the last two times we left you alone. Now, we’re gonna have to reset the biosphere, and try a third time.”

All I remember was thinking, “What the hell does that even mean?”

782 Words

It’s week 102 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

The Fairies : Roses At Christmas

Rose had always visited Fauna’s site in the small cemetery, each year. It was in a town she didn’t know the name of. She didn’t really know if it had a name, so many towns didn’t. It was the town Flora and Fauna had defended when the invaders from space had arrived, and tried to conquer the planet.

That’s when Rose, Mystica, and all of Mystica’s adopted daughters, had learned of the machines. Tiny, invisible machines, everywhere, in the air, the water, the ground. They’d explained all the magic. Black, White, and Wild. It was them. The machines. The magic was her way of talking with the machines, of letting them know what she imagined. The machines, being ubiquitous, and being so advanced, so developed, the things they did were, to her, like magic, made what she imagined happen.

With a few exceptions. Like how not even the machines could bring Fauna back.

She rode her crescent moon to the town. Everyone knew she didn’t have to. She could have flown using her wings, and that stone moon that stood so much taller than she did, weighed several tons. But, the machines moved it through the air, effortlessly. She’d asked them how that worked, how they could move such a heavy stone, so easily. They’d explained it was done through constantly adjusting the gravity around the stone, to make it float. But, Rose didn’t really understand. It was a technology the machines had developed long after they’d left their human parents behind, on Earth.

Her stone crescent moon floated down from the sky, and hovered, just above the ground, barely touching the blades of grass. It waited there, floating, for Rose to return.

Rose walked through the entrance of the cemetery, to Fauna’s site. A simple tombstone rested there. The townspeople kept it clean, and kept the ground where Fauna rested well trimmed, and cared for. They thought of her as a hero, one of the town’s saviors. Rose felt the town would never forget what Fauna had done for them.

Each year at this time, the townspeople brought bouquets of flowers, and placed them around Fauna’s grave. It took several years for Rose to see the flowers, and not cry. Even then, seeing the flowers touched her heart, and once more, she missed her dear sister, Fauna. As she had since that awful day.

Rose knelt beside the tombstone, and ran her fingers across the carefully etched letters of Fauna’s name. “This year, I have something for you, dear sister.” Then, she closed her eyes.

Slowly, two rose bushes grew from the ground. They started as tiny twigs, but grew, until they became full sized bushes. One on each side of Fauna’s tombstone. Somehow, magically, the bushes grew right up to the stone, but never touched it. Instead, they grew next to it. When they’d grown enough to be taller than the stone, they grew over it, as if held in an archway.

Once the rose bushes had reached their full height, they began to bloom. Candy Cane red and white blooms. They had been Fauna’s favorite. The bushes filled with blooms, hundreds of them.

Rose knew the blooms would always be there. When one bloom died, another would take its place. The bushes would remain, for centuries, perhaps forever, in full bloom. In rain, or snow, or wind. Rose imagined it. Rose dreamed it. Rose knew the machines would make her dream come true.

“For you, dear sister. So you will always know, wherever you are, beyond this veil of life, that you are remembered here. And loved here.”

Rose gently traced the stone etching of Fauna’s name once more. “May your heart always know joy, dear sister.” She wished once more she could hug Fauna, and cry on her shoulder, and say good-bye, though she knew she never could.

In time, the sun set, and Rose sat once more in her crescent moon, which floated into the night time sky, and took her home, to her place among the trees, beside the forest lake.

“May you always know the joy, and the beauty, of the roses you so loved, sister. May they always bloom for you.”