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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.

***

It stared through the strange eyes of the one known as 'Bar-Ry.' The air-breather was… well, not resisting it as such. More ignoring it. It couldn't help feeling a little bit put out. But that wasn't the point. It had more important work to do… ...continue reading "Trilobite Park – Chapter 9: Barry’s Hassle"

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Cigarettes
Photo by Basil MK. Free for personal and commercial use

Valerie and Thag at Cafeteria

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"

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Ship
Picture by Alex Bobrov. Free for personal or commercial use.

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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Barrels

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.

"We all here?" she said. "Daisy, Blake, Juraj? If there's only three of you little f—fellows, how come I'm taking an excursion of twelve students into Trilobite park tomorrow?" ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 6: Barrels of Doom"

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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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Construction site
Photo by pixabay,com. Released under Creative Commons 0.

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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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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