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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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Construction site
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Dr Kim's New Job

Trilobites.

Dr June Kim could hardly believe her luck. Trilobites! An entire museum dedicated to trilobites and her, June Kim the chief educational officer! but no – it was not just a museum. It was a zoo. An aquarium full of real, live trilobites! Her whole life had been leading to this job. She smiled internally, all the while maintaining a businesslike expression.

"This is where your office will be," Thag said, as he pointed to a semi-completed room, not very dissimilar to the dozens of other semi-complete rooms in the construction site. "Adjacent to it is the main education room. This is where you will interact with school groups, et cetera."

Thag was a short, burly, dark-skinned man with a thick beard, a heavy brow and a perpetually annoyed look. June had met him once before, when she had been studying at the University of Sydney. This had been shortly after Thag had been thawed from a glacier and was still being shown off at paleontology departments around the world. Thag had stuck in her memory as the only Neanderthal she had ever met, but he hadn't remembered her at all. Granted, he must have met hundreds of science undergrads before he'd tired of being a valuable specimen and left to study Human Resources management at the University of the Gold Coast. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 1: Things Start Out Suboptimally"

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Fossilised Trilobites
photo by Petr Kratochvil. Released under Creative Commons 0.

Two Months Ago

What exactly the Great Pyramid of South Hertling was, no one knew. No one could say where the cyclopean structure had came from, or why it had flattened the South Bannerman Mega Centre on Wellington Road. All the good people of South Hertling knew was that it was there, glowering down upon them with the eye in its capstone, and their best option was generally to pretend that it wasn't.

The only person deliberately looking up at the Pyramid that afternoon was Valerie Cenwicz. She had stood in its shadow before, but could never shake the feeling of soul-chilling dread she felt when she did. Valerie was an up-and-coming young agent of a local real estate concern. It was easy, she was finding, to be an up-and-comer in South Hertling -- mostly because many senior agents went looking for work outside the suburb just as soon as they became senior. Staring at a property which was basically buried beneath an unfathomable anomaly, she was beginning to understand why that was. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park – Prelude: Agent Valerie’s Lambo"

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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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The water came rushing through the corridors of the Pyramid, like a river somehow running uphill. The flinty-eyed Ma Dusty was so shocked, she lowered her six-shooter. Delia took the opportunity to elbow the horrible woman in the ribs, before both of them were swept along by the raging torrent.

Darkness fell as Delia and Ma were swept away from the huge robot that was the source of the light. And then even Ma was gone, and Delia was alone, buffeted down a stone corridor by a raging stream. Perhaps she heard the shouts of human voices behind her. Perhaps she did not. Most of her mind was concentrated on keeping afloat while also protecting her face from impacts with the unseen walls. For the walls were of rough stone which scratched and abraded bare skin. Delia's silvery space costume protected most of her body, but keeping her face and hands clear was not easy.

Delia hit a wall as the stream turned a corner. A struggling body hit her as she adjusted. Whose body? Friend or foe? Human or… ...continue reading "Clocks and Boxes — Part 53: Cosmos"

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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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“I just wish you’d told me how unhappy you were with the Anthropocene age,” Fanaka said. “You know, before you tried to kill all humans.”

“And if I had told you, vat difference vould it have made?” Nalda said.

“I suppose that is a fair point,” Fanaka grimaced.

They say on a bench outside of the music shop. Or rather, they sat on half of the bench, since the other half was blocked by a bicycle that some thoughtless soul had chained there, instead of in the bike rack just ten metres away.

“It’s a fair point if we’re talking about outcomes,” Fanaka added. “But I’m not. I’m talking about communication. I’m talking about honesty.”

A breeze blew over them, warm and smelling of smoke from the burning spaceship wreckage. Nalda set her shoulders and looked at the ground – or at least her sunglasses were directed downwards. ...continue reading "Clocks and Boxes — Part 50: Now"

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