Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

January 8, 2013

Flash fiction – Snowball’s Chance

Filed under: fictionchunk,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:34 am

Over the holiday break I had hoped to set aside a lot of time for writing but it turns out that that’s not as easy as I thought it would be when the kids needs all-day amusement. Instead of powering through a massive chunk of the novel draft, I frittered away at a few flabby, meandering, overwritten scenes. It’s not quite nothing, but it’s not where I’d hoped to be either.

Just as waistlines have softened and widened during the Season of Gorging, so too have the writing muscles lost some of their tension. So despite this being the middle of the worst Australian summer heatwave in years – not the worst I can remember by any stretch, but still far from negligible – it’s time to knuckle down and tone up. Exercise the body, exercise the…author-gland.

(Don’t ask me. Dammit, Jim – I’m a writer, not a physician)

In times of crisis like this, where else would I turn but to Chuck Wendig’s Friday Flash Fiction prompt? In this week’s instalment, Der Wendigster demands that his acolytes roll the bones to randomly generate three story elements from [/maths] a thousand possible combinations.

Mine are: Conspiracy fiction / On the surface of a comet / A blizzard. Enjoy this, whatever it is…

Snowball’s Chance

 

“It all fits, I tell you.” Rufuz skittered around, clanking its chunky nickel pincer-bracelets in agitation, whipping up waves of slurry-sleet with dozens of jerky footfalls. “The High Cavelor’s office has been silent for half a generation. They’ve been hushing up something ever since the astronomers went missing.”

“This again?” Achaz’s snicker was fuelled by amusement more than exasperation. “Haven’t you anything else to think about?” It drummed its dripping proximal mandible-cluster against a jutting spar of ammonia ice, stretching down in a languorous ripple to show off its glistening carnelian dorsal plating. Achaz was becoming impatient for Rufuz to notice how iridescent its carapace had become since its most recent growth phase. It tired of this growing obsession with trivialities.

“I cannot think of anything else!”

Achaz scratched the sides of its face, once-twice-thrice, rubbing dirty frozen pincersful into its interplate crevices. It soothed, taking the edge off its arousal. Rufuz’s current state of obsessive distraction was not so maddening to diminish its qualities as a mate. It was that determination, that passion, that heat that had drawn Achaz to the flamboyant Philosopher-Designate.

“Think at least of returning to shelter with me. These winds grow fierce.” It was true and becoming more so. In the lifetime of Achaz’s grandsires, there had been no need for a word for the discernible movement of atmospheric gases. Now it was hearing stories of ice particles and rock fragments propelled with such violence that injury was not out of the question. “My tunnels are nearby and enclosed.”

This at last seemed to penetrate Rufuz’s thick chiton-slabs. It followed dutifully behind as Achaz clawed its way through a crumbling crust of ice and dust to the public accessways beneath the surface. It muttered all the while its suspicion refrain, speculating darkly on various politicians, educators and even low-caste drones who might be involved in a coverup. “Have you not noticed the sky?” It said it again and again, as if concluding an incontrovertible argument.

The great spray of crystallised gases and fine dust particles filling half the sky was of great concern to Achaz. It could no longer calculate reliable horoscopes with nearly one third of all known celestial objects now obscured. And at a time when its mathematical deliberations were being disrupted by the presence of a new object. The shining disc at the fore horizon that day by day grew brighter and more auspicious, confounding every known principle of astrology. Its presence had presaged a time of confusion and bafflement.

Achaz chose not to share this lament with Rufuz. The rationalist Rufuz was a notorious denunciator of supposedly superstitious practises. They had argued often on the subject. Right now Achaz had other desires in mind than to renew their old debates.

It steered the conversation along safe, if tedious lines. “What happened to the astronomers?”

Rufuz shivered, twisting its long body full around in a rippling screw action. It was becoming more heartfelt, verging on the dramatic. Achaz could not suppress a flustered inflation of its ballast sacs, but this too bypassed Rufuz’s notice.

“They discovered something terrible! Something so dangerous to certain groups that their knowledge must be suppressed. Their disappearances were too timely. I am certain they have all been murdered and left to freeze somewhere.”

“Murdered? So fanciful.” At another time such spirited and gruesome discussion might be grounds to dismiss Rufuz as unsuitable. Achaz ignored the unworthy impulse. Rufuz’s scent – inquisitive, volatile, indefatigable – filled the small tunnel habitat. Achaz’s senses were overwhelmed. It flared its head-plates and showed Rufuz its mandibles, not bothering to display them in the erotic sequences. “Attend me,” it commanded, pinning the larger Rufuz up against the packed-snow walls. It was a moment for demands, not enticement.

Rufuz got the message. It complied.

* * *

They lay entwined, coiled at the trunks and interlocked by appendages. Their heads had broken the surface crust in the violent final throes of their coupling. Mesmerised by the mutual thrumming of their exoskeletons, they stared up at the sky. Overhead the grey spray of surface detritus swept up and away, obscuring the scatter of lights across half their field of view.

“Soon it will all be gone,” muttered Achaz, effused with sudden melancholy. “Soon only the Near Star and the Blizzard will be visible. Then in time only the Blizzard.” It felt Rufuz stiffen in surprise. It no longer mattered. The venom injectors had done their work and nothing would slow the spread of toxins through Rufuz’s organs.

“Why?”

Achaz said “Because panic is not permissible. Soon the surface will boil and rise, then the crust will become surface and the cities will become steam and dust. A few – only a few – will be permitted to burrow to the core and rest there until the Blizzard ends and the Near Star is a memory once again. They will emerge to a windless world and an empty sky. They will rebuild.”

“Is that how you will be thanked for silencing my voice?”

Achaz stared at the Near Star, imagining its heat grow and consume, the hungry vibrations of  the wind as it stripped their frozen world bare. It imagined the dust and the ice, shredding and cracking and puncturing its shell into sand and flinging the sand into the sky forever.

It clutched Rufuz and held it tight. “I have chosen my reward.”

2 Comments »

  1. Well done 🙂

    Comment by Sean the Bookonaut — January 8, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

  2. Aw shucks. Thanks 🙂

    Comment by lexifab — January 8, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

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