Contributor: E.S. Wynn

- -
“Doctor Williams!”

Gerald glances up from the ragged chunk of glassy-smooth sediment in his hand, lets it fall, unremembered. Eyes rise through the bioplastic of his helmet, focus on the distant silhouette of a figure waving arms where a dip, perhaps a crater, breaks the monotony of the stone-scattered wasteland.

“What is it, Dinsmore?”

“Something interesting,” comes the vague response.

“There's nothing interesting on this rock.” Williams grumbles, unwilling to budge. “Nano-survey said there would be fossils. All I see is a lot of pyroclastic breccia.”

“This is way more interesting than fossils.” Dinsmore persists, and the sound of the grin in his voice makes Williams squint. Briefly, Williams considers calling up to the orbiting ship, requesting a Q-anchor to portal them back to the gate-bay. Childlike curiosity keeps his finger hesitating at the panel on his hip, unwilling to tab the comm key.

“I'll bet you a hundred Creativity Units this is going to amaze you.”

A hundred CUs? Williams considers. Half a month's allotment. Enough to print the paint, brushes and vellum canvases he's been putting off in favor of bioprobes and testing rigs.

Bioprobes and testing rigs ultimately wasted on too many dead planets.

Williams lets his eyes fall to the ground. 100 CUs is enough to keep him sitting in orbit of KP-1138, playing chess against Dinsmore for sixteen more standard planetary rotations if he loses the bet.

In the end, he says nothing. KP-1138's weak gravity gives him a drifting, skipping gait as he crosses the wasteland to Dinsmore's dip. Overhead, one of the planet's twin moons races across the sun, drops a shadow over everything that leaves as quickly as it comes.

And then Williams sees it. He sees it, and his irritated features open in wonder. Dinsmore's laugh comes choppy, static-laced over the comm channel.

“Dismore. . .” Williams breathes, crouches where the dip drops away suddenly into sprawling, cavernous depths. Almost immediately his eyes find the glass spires, the glittering meshwork towers, the crystalline domes stretching endlessly into the darkness, impossibly huge, all glowing, all lit from within by some internal light source.

A city, Williams thinks. No, a nation.

A civilization.

A civilization, just beneath the surface.

- - -
E.S. Wynn is the author of over thirty books and chief editor of Thunderune Publishing. Find out more by visiting
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Help keep Linguistic Erosion alive! Visit our sponsors! :)- - -