Each week we feature a story written by one or two of our group members at one of our meetings. For this week's featured stories, the group all followed the same prompts: "Disaster, Retro SciFi, Zoo." We had 20 minutes to write a short story based off of that prompt.
ACE PHASER AND THE ZOO OF DOOM
By Erik Engman
Ace Phaser landed his one-person spacecraft strategically in the upper mountains of Torinth 4 on the only flat plateau the terrain could provide.
He leaped out of the pod; his form-fitting uniform generously showing off his muscular frame, his wavy blonde hair wafting in the breeze, his square jaw confidentially held high. He scanned the terrain, blaster in hand. He stroked the blaster fondly.
“We’re here, Trudy,” Ace reassured the fully charged weapon in his commanding, manly voice. “Let’s find the source of that distress call.”
Ace deftly made his way down the rocky slope into the valley below.
There below him the structure came into view among the pink wetzel-trees – a vast clear-domed structure spanning miles and miles, snaking through the forest.
“There it is, Trudy. The galaxy-famous Space Zoo of Torinth 4. The largest collection of Earth animals outside of Mother Earth, herself. What’s that, Trudy?”
Ace held his blaster up to his hear. He chuckled to himself.
“That’s right, old girl. This place has the only penguins in this sector of the galaxy. Maybe we can spend some time with those loveable scamps when this mission is finished.”
He brow suddenly became furrowed. “But it’s very quiet down there. Too quiet…”
Making his way cautiously from tree to tree, using the forest as cover, Ace finally found himself at the main entrance to the zoo. It seemed deserted.
“What did you say, Trudy?” Ace asked his blaster. He grimly nodded in response. “Yes, something foul seems to be at play here. Be ready for anything.”
Ace picked up a stick from the ground, and gently pushed on the front gate. It easily swung open with a slight creak.
“Hmmm. The electricity seems to be shut off. A disturbing development. Let’s find someone in charge here and hope the animals are safe in their cages. For all our sakes…”
By Kate Weize
“Well,” Pete surveyed the remains of the giraffe’s neck wound serpentine around the cage’s steel bars. “This is a disaster.”
“You said it kid,” growled Ray, spitting on the pavement. Pete hadn’t been a kid for roughly forty-six years, not that it mattered to Ray. The old man had lived long enough to see blue sky, as the saying went. He stood there in his ratty coveralls, black eyes squinting down past a steel-wool beard, leaning on a push broom like some old-century prophet.
Pete crouched and stroked her fur, which he had painstakingly airbrushed just three weeks ago. Ochre, titanium white, burnt sienna. He could still smell the pigment on the microfibers. “What the hell went wrong?”
“The new guy. Put water in her trough instead of coolant. Just straight-up regular water! He’s gotta have a screw loose.” Ray lifted one blunt-tipped finger to his head and made a winding motion over his implant.
Pete shook his head. Thousands of dollars and eighteen months of work. Undone by some idiot with a water hose. Now her belly (ecru, nearly three tins of the stuff) lay scorched open, copper coils spilling on the enclosure floor, gears gummed with black gunk. That beautiful, fully-articulated neck, all tangled up and broken. Management had imported it all the way from Switzerland.
A few of the stainless steel vertebrae had ripped through the fur coating, made even more grisly by the oozing gel layer--cadmium red with just a touch of true black-- that gave her skin that lifelike quality. He looked into her glossy black eye, framed by the luxurious and painstakingly-placed eyelashes. It had slipped to one side, exposing the silvery microtendons that held it in place.
Ray spat again and fished out his keys. “Think you can salvage anything?”
Pete watched the gel soak into the creature’s soft throat. He’d spent three days implanting feather-fine silicone whiskers into her upper lip. “Not a chance. We’re a zoo, not a horror show.”
“Then you’ll have a new project after that hippopotamus goes on display.”
“I’ll put it on the list.” Pete rose to his feet and stretched the ache out of his back, listening to the click-click-click of his replacement lumbar aligning themselves. He could use a break from burnt umber and neutral gray.