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June Excited, Jacobs Frantic

The sun was high over Wellington Road as the crowds gathered outside Trilobite Park, waiting for the doors to open for the first time. June Kim arrived a little later than she'd intended. In her eagerness for the opening, she'd almost left home without her briefcase, watch or shoes, and her mother had made her sit down and breathe deeply for ten minutes before letting June drive.

Now she was here, though – it was all happening! It was all real! The live trilobite aquarium was about to open. Look! Look at the news crews, all there for the occasion. Granted, some were trying to chase away a wild-eyed man in a white suit waving a 'UFO Survivors for 9/11 truth' banner, but -- news crews anyway. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 7: The Big Day Begins"

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It felt out. Felt with the antennae of its mind. It needed something… No. It needed someone. Where? When?

Ah, yes. The touch pool. Three hours time. There it would find what it needed.

***

It was the day before Trilobite Park's opening, and Hay was just beginning to realise how deep she was in. She'd lied on her resume, and created a Certificate of Food Safety by using her only real skill, which was forgery. Now she was in charge of a large commercial kitchen ready for a gala opening, and with only the very foggiest notion of what to do to make food happen.

"Uh, man on the phone wants to know about our vegetable order," the head chef said.

"Okay, tell him… we'd like some vegetables." ...continue reading "Trilobite Park – Chapter 5: The Day Before"

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The flows of water were strange and unnatural – but no more so than the flows of time that surrounded it. This place – where was it? It was not the sea floor. Where else was there but the sea floor? And the era… How could the era be wrong? What could it mean?

***

June's heart leapt in her chest when she finally got to see the trilobites, for truly they are the most majestic of creatures. Somewhere between a slater bug and a cockroach, with just a hint of prawn, they scuttled slowly over the artificial seafloor at the bottom of the massive display tanks on level one.

"My God," she said. "I've never seen anything so beautiful!"

"Aye, lass," Captain Pete said. June glanced at him and saw that he, too, was staring entranced at the trilobites in the tank, his eyes moistening at the sight of their muddy-brown carapaces and masses of nasty little crawling legs. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 4: A Bad Feeling"

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Plumbing
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It remembered the seas. That was all it remembered, all it was. Just a memory. But it remembered itself, and memory is important.

It couldn't feel the seas now. Water, yes. Water it could feel. But small waters, slow and contained. Where were the vast oceans? Where were the endless seafloors?

It didn't know. All it could do was wait.

It was good at waiting. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 3: Doubts Multiply"

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Library
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Carol's Cafe

The OH&S orientation went on even longer than expected, as Thag had somehow found six additional points to cover. Due this, June missed her meeting with Captain Pete and with it her chance of finally seeing one of her beloved trilobite. Disappointed, she decamped for lunch to the nearest café. This turned out to be surprisingly hip little place at the South Hertling Super Centre, just across the road. There she drowned her disappointment in a latte and a chicken Caesar wrap, which both seemed too good for a little coffee shop wedged in between two carpet shops and across the way from three more carpet shops.

"Hey, hi," said a greasy looking young woman from the next table. "Are you working at the new place? The Park, I mean?"

"Yes?" June said, suspicious.

"Dude! I thought I saw you there! I was getting my orientation too. I'm the new manager of the Trilobite Park café, and I am like, whoa!"

June looked the stranger up and down. She was a skinny young woman of perhaps eighteen, pale, and acne ridden. She wore a t-shirt advertising a band that either had a very difficult to pronounce German name or else a lot of random umlauts.

"You're the manager?" June said. "You seem a little young. And inexperienced. And greasy. And frankly kind of stupid."

"Oh, that," the greasy girl grinned. "I lied about my age. And experience, qualifications, intelligence, general cleanliness levels, punctuality, spelling..." ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 2: The Kids are All Right?"

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Night had just fallen as Carl Wintergreen reached the Pyramid. A Greek demi-god, a robot truck, a water-witch were escorting a lady gunslinger off of the vast structure. A frumpy looking middle aged couple were standing a little higher up, and wearing silvery uniforms that, Carl thought, should probably have been fitted a little less tightly.

"Oh," Carl said to the Water-Witch. "I was just about to report that my attempt to crack the Pyramid open failed because of a second time distortion. But it looks like you have everything in hand, so..."

"Yeah, about that," said the Water-Witch, whose name was Fiona. "Yeah, Carl, I'm not going to lie to you. I didn't really need you to do that. I just wanted you out of the way so..."

"So when you say you 'don't want to lie to me,' you mean 'any more'," Carl grumbled.

"Yeah, well," Fiona said. "For a guy who's super paranoid, you're really kind of gullible." ...continue reading "Clocks and Boxes — Part 54: Finale"

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"So victory, eh?"

Donna put aside the glowing amulet she had been staring at, and looked up to see who was addressing her.

"Oh, hello Brownie," she said, without enthusiasm. "I guess victory. The AI holograms have stood down, the Barnlings are in retreat and most of the Pyramid Cultists have… well they're not dead or in retreat, but they've been pretty solidly beaten up."

"And you took Theopoulos' amulet?"

"Did you know Theopoulos had an amulet?"

"No, but it was always the smart bet that he did."

"I see," Donna sighed. ...continue reading "Clocks and Boxes — Part 52: Nope"

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Alfred  felt the smooth surface of the Watch as he wandered in the darkness. It didn't help, not even to reassure him. But he was too afraid to try to put it back in his pocket, lest it slip from his fingers and be lost in the tunnel -- if tunnel it was.

It had begun as a round, tunnel with granite walls. as the light had died, the tunnel had become square, the walls rougher. Then it had become round again, with walls clad in what felt like metal sheeting. Then the walls had become soft, with a peaty smell. Then the corridor had widened, and Alfred was almost glad he couldn't feel the walls any more.

In the silence, Alfred heard a sudden clang. He started and tried to run, but was grabbed by a strong arm, and there was cold metal at his throat.

"Who are youse?" came a voice from the darkness.

"Alfred Pilbrook," Alfred said. "Um, I hope you can see in the dark or something, because otherwise it's not very safe to have a knife…"

Suddenly there was light, bright electric light. Alfred squinted, his eyes feeling like they hadn't seen brightness in a year. When his pupils had adjusted, he looked down, to see that the implement at his throat was not a knife, as he'd imagined, but a bronze sword.

"Good-o," he sighed. ...continue reading "Clocks and Boxes — Part 51: Exposition"

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On the side of the Pyramid, Delia held Erik in place as the Bubble absorbed him, or tried to absorb him. It bubbled and howled as it engulfed the little old man. It blackened like a marshmallow in a fire, but it wasn't hot to Delia's touch. Alfred was panicking but, to his credit, his panic took the form of grabbing Erik's hand and trying to pull him out, rather than just flapping his arms.

"What have you done, Delia! What have you done?" he cried.

The Bubble/Erik/Marshmallow thing stopped struggling and was still. It seemed to shrink into itself before Delia's eyes, becoming more humanlike in stance and shape.

"I. AM. PARADOX," it said.

"Oh," Alfred said. "Good-o." ...continue reading "Clocks and Boxes — Part 49: Ma"

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Fanaka didn't quite know what he expected to see in the future world tyranised by evil AIs, but it wasn't this. It wasn't this darkened room with its great mirror ball. It wasn't these people in platform shoes and bell-bottom pants, drinking pina coladas and doing the hustle. And it certainly wasn't the music, the weird yet compelling music…

"Hot Chocolate," Axel said.

Glancing down, Fanaka saw that he was holding a drink. He sniffed it. "No, I think it's a Harvey Wallbanger."

"The band, man," Jemmy said. Had Fanaka intended to bring Jemmy along? Oh, well, he was here now. "Hot Chocolate is the band that's playing. You Sexy Thing."

"You Sexy Thing being the name of the song," Axel added.

"Yes, I got that. Yes." ...continue reading "Clocks and Boxes — Part 48 Disco"

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