Ending a semi-official 2-year hiatus from writing, I’ve just penned a flash-fiction piece for io9.com.
The piece is part of a project they’re running, in which authors submit stories to accompany a set of images supplied by Framestore; then they will supply new images to go with the chosen stories submitted, collect new flash-fiction writing, etc, until they will (hopefully) get a coherent and entertaining story out of it! And it might even be published! Huzzah!
Anyway, attached are the images in question, followed by my submittal, which I call “Little Earth”… enjoy!
“What are the winds doing?”
“Pretty much anything they want to,” I told Dr. Taq. It was a bit of a flippant answer, but I knew Taq would understand. We’d worked together for years, and I wanted him to know that this was frustrating me as much as him. As I guided the platform closer to Little Earth, the meteorological readings were jumping like mad, causing the graphs to reset their displays faster than I could keep up.
The platform itself was no better. Even with its DI compensating for the constantly-changing wind, gravity, temperature and atmospheric charges, it was bucking like a bronco, and everyone was either gripping tightly to anything they could to keep from falling down… or already fallen and wisely staying where they fell.
Thankfully, I was strapped to my chair, and could use my mental link to helm the platform; if I’d needed my hands to steer us, I’d’ve killed us by now.
“I’m beginning to think,” I said more to myself than to Taq, “that I wished we’d opted for the Argentinian expedition.”
“Right,” Taq said after a moment. “Like you could handle the cold.”
“I’d rather give it a shot,” I protested, “than this job, right now.” At least you could approach the Cables in Argentina on foot. Yeah, if you were good with minus two hundred temperatures. But no lethal weather patterns around them. Yeah, I’d give it a shot.
“Get us higher, Jack,” Taq requested. “We should be able to get above this weather effect.”
“If we don’t collapse first.” The platform was a rigid airship, but I was worried that the winds and gravity would put too much of a strain on it before we could get close to Little Earth. The boundary, where Little Earth connected to Real Earth—it was funny how those labels had already become standard vocab in so short a time—was an impossible region, a 2,003-kil-diameter maelstrom that prevented anyone or anything to approach it any closer than a few dozen miles without being ripped to shreds by wind, lightning and gravitational shearing.
We assumed that anyone or anything on Little Earth experienced the same effects… but only because Little Earth seemed so similar to Real Earth, and we’d had yet to get a good look at it beyond satellite photos of a planet, seemingly Earth’s twin except at one-twentieth scale, attached to our planet like a bubble atop a larger bubble. Based on measurements, exactly half of Little Earth was buried beneath the surface of Real Earth; no one knew what had happened to any living things that were within that area when it happened… or, for that matter, exactly how it happened.
We would’ve loved to be able to ask Dr. Hammond for insight. If they’d only let him out of wherever he was. What had prompted him to surrender to the White House and admit to this freak result of his energy experiments was anybody’s guess. Where he was now was also anybody’s guess.
I glanced at Taq, when I had a free millisecond, and I could tell from the way he stared so intently at the main display screen that he wished it was an actual window. Not me. I was glad to have so much of the platform protecting me, though I still wasn’t sure it was enough.
“There’s just nothing possible about this,” he said as I fought for more altitude. “Even if Hammond could tap into a neighboring reality to extract energy, how could it possibly pull elements from that reality into ours? And why not everything? Why didn’t it just cause a Big Bang?”
“You sound disappointed,” I commented as I compensated for a port-side lurch in the engines. Readings indicated a lightning strike on engine four… not good.
“Almost,” Taq said wryly. “It means most of the things I knew about the universe are bullshit.”
“Afraid of learning something new?”
“No,” Taq replied. “Never afraid of learning. Afraid of the result.”
True enough, I thought. Most of us doubted that Earth could survive the earthquakes and redistribution of mass that Little Earth’s appearance had caused. And the Cables that now jutted out of Rio Negro and hung all the way out in space like whiskers were sucking the heat out of the atmosphere faster than the core could replenish it. If there wasn’t a way to reverse whatever Hammond did, the planet would probably shake itself apart in a matter of weeks.
Slowly but surely, I began to see a lightening of the weather patterns around us. “Getting easier to maneuver,” I said cautiously. “Good news… I think we might actually be able to get in there.”