Picking Through the Remains. Flash Fiction.

Hope everyone had a good weekend! Mine was fun enough, watched some movies with a friend. I didn’t get around to making sourdough bread but the starter is still going so hopefully I’ll make some in the next few days.

Watched What Happened to Monday? I have to say it was a really good film and much, much better than I expected based on the premise. Would definitely recommend giving it a go!

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Jorge pushed at the door, even through the gloves he could feel it pulsating. He absent-mindedly wiped his hands on his jeans as he stepped inside. He quickly scanned the room, it was just like the others. Dome shaped, about fifteen feet wide, the walls were made of organic, vine-like material which gently pulsated to an unknown rhythm. The floor was covered in what looked to be carpet, but Jorge knew that each of those little fibres was alive. He had touched it only once, on a dare, it had been luxuriously soft and seemed to contour itself to the shape of his hand, it was warm and swayed gently despite there being no breeze to move it. There was a pile of fabric on the far side of the room, something they’d been assuming were beds. Jorge left the room, it was empty, just like all the others. Outside there was a gentle breeze, it carried with it strange scents that tickled at his nose, floral but with a hard, sharp edge of burning plastic. Jorge hated searching through the ghost towns, they were always empty, the whole planet was empty but still, they insisted people check each house one by one. At least they thought they were houses, no one was quite sure what any of the structures were for or who they were built by. The natives of the planet were obviously intelligent, they’d managed to create living buildings that existed long after they were all gone, but little else was known about them. There had been no writings, no paintings, even the rooms held few answers. The houses had various functions and strange devices would open down from the ceiling but no one had managed to make any of them work. Jorge stretched, only six more houses to check before they were done with this village. It was hard to think of the small cluster of buildings as anything else, not when they’d come across vast cities made of towering domes and what seemed to be apartment blocks. There was no visible infrastructure, but vines ran through the ground connecting everything, fulfilling some arcane purpose.

Together Jorge and his group trudged back to the ATV’s with nothing to report, as usual. He had expected a life of excitement when he signed up to be a planet explorer, seeing strange and beautiful creatures, maybe even meeting intelligent life but so far there was nothing. They’d found two planets that had once been inhabited but there was little left behind to tell them anything about the beings that lived on them. Jorge knew that was making some of the bigwigs nervous, it was putting them all on edge, two reasonably advanced civilisations just gone without any trace. Jorge would have felt much better if there was some evidence of an internal war or natural disasters, but with both it looked as though the people just decided to leave and never return. Perhaps one day they’d come across another spaceship, stuffed full of the people that once inhabited the planets. He got onto his vehicle and started it up.

As they drove back Jorge ignored the scenery, at first the strange plants were fascinating but now they were just part of the background. When he first stepped foot onto the planet he didn’t think he’d ever be bored of it, that was six months ago and before the endless drudgery of the day to day searches. They hadn’t even come across any large animals, so far the largest had been about the size of a frog, a strange looking thing, purple skin, five legs, several eyes and it moved in a quick, jerky strides that reminded Jorge of spiders.

When they got back to HQ, about an hour later give or take a few minutes as one of the men needed to stop and take a piss, it was abuzz with the news. They’d found a third planet with evidence of civilisation, this planet was deserted but there were writings left behind along with painting and there were rumours of video. By the time Jorge got back to his room he’d been reassigned and given an hour to pack up his stuff and say goodbye.

An hour later he sat on the ship, feeling the rumble of the engines through his body, a ball of nerves sat in his stomach and a thin sheen of sweat coated his forehead. He always hated take off and landing, they were the most nerve racking moments. The rumble grew to a roar that felt as though it was trying to shake his insides loose, then it was over. The assistants moved along the aisle, passing out pills. Jorge took his and dry swallowed it, one pill and he’d wake up billions of miles away, somewhere new, somewhere better. He closed his eyes and felt himself relax, warmth enveloping him like a hug. He fell asleep smiling, dreaming of what they’d find on this new world.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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