In Canberra, miles away from the disaster at Trilobite Park, a hood was being yanked off the head of a handcuffed man. He blinked in the sudden brightness, and sneered at his captors.
"Taipan McGillacuddie?" came a voice.
"You know, the hood was kind of uncalled for," Taipan said. "I only have one eye. You could have just moved my eyepatch over onto it, and I couldn't have seen a thing."
"You have been –"
"I mean, I guess the hood was easier to pull over my head, but it's hot. Middle of summer, yeah?"
"You have been accused –"
"I don't even want to think about how my hair looks now," Taipan continued. "I know, I'm an ex-special forces hardass turned criminal, maybe I shouldn't be worried about the hair. But my mullet is my trademark, you know? Where am I anyhow? AFP headquarters?" ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 12: Downhill"
When the lights went down, Jacobs the engineer didn't have time to wait for R17 to climb the stairs from the pump-room. He ran up them two at a time, tripped, fell on his face, turned on the flashlight on his phone, and ran up them again. Bursting from the pump-room door, he ran across the corridor into the Trilobite Park control room. Backup power was on inside the room indicated – for some reason – by a red incandescent bulb that the unknown original engineer had seen fit to install.
"Converse with me, humans," Jacobs said.
There was a long pause before a palid young man in an Aquaman t-shirt replied: "Do you mean 'talk to me people?'"
In the cool damp bowels of Trilobite Park, Jacobs the chief engineer was heading towards apoplexy. The plumbers who he had hired were nowhere to be seen, the pumping room was full of smashed barrels and there actually seemed to be more pipes running spaghetti-like through the room.
"This is bad engineering," he said. "The engineering is just bad."
He noted that this wasn't much of a thing to say, but as there was no one there to hear him, he didn't suppose that it made a difference.
The robot R17 entered from upper doorway. "Beep," it said.
It sat in the cafeteria, swimming -- though out of water. It swam through a head, a brain… the brain of an air breather. The host was strange – its blood was warm, its skeleton internal. Instead of an armour of interlocking plates, it had a soft skin like a worm. And yet it would do. It would do!
Barry Hodges sat in the Trilobite Park cafeteria, drinking the worst coffee he'd ever tasted and listening to really lazily written narration from the prehistoric ghost-trilobite or whatever the Hell it was that had taken up residence in his head. To make matters worse, he couldn't manage to get Captain Pete to sit down with him and finish the paperwork. All in all, it was turning into a pretty shitty day.
The doors were opened and the crowds slowly entered Trilobite Park. How they ooh-ed and aaah-ed with vague disbelief at the weird looking bug things in their tanks. For about five minutes. And then they sighed and settled in to look at more tanks of bugs, and realised that they kind of had to keep looking.
Phones were consulted. Watches were checked.
Valerie pushed her way through the crowd, looking for Thag. She found him by the cafeteria, chewing on a vanilla slice like it was a piece of rubber, manly tears in his heavy-lidded eyes. After Valerie greeted him, with obvious relief he threw the slice at the nearest bin. It bounced off at a weird angle, hitting him in the elbow and causing him to bite his lip. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park –Chapter 8: Continuing Difficulties"
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"
The afternoon before Trilobite Park opened, Blake gathered the Paleontology Club met after school to meet with their supervisor. Her name was Mrs Vallerez, and she was a forty-year veteran of the public-school system. She had a no-nonsense attitude, shopped exclusively at 'Cardigan World' and though she had never been seen to smoke, she always stank of cigarettes – but boy, did she know her science.
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.
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!"