Barry stood behind Captain Pete's desk, a mixture or annoyed, bored and terrified. Annoyed because Captain Pete was dragging his feet on the paperwork, bored because watching the Captain slowly fill in paperwork was frankly dull, and terrified because a primordial trilobite spirit was scuttling ever closer to taking control of his body.
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 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.
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!"
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."
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.
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."