Thursday, July 14, 2011

Friday Fiction for July 15, 2011

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Karlene on her blog, Dancin’ In the Rain… splashin’ in His Love. Take a break from the summer weather (or the winter, if you’re on the other side of the Equator), and enjoy splashin’ in some refreshing reading.

I’ve been in kind of a Twilight Zone mode the last couple of weeks. This week’s story is along the lines of the short zinger fiction stories I’ve enjoyed in such anthologies as Asimov’s “Earth Is Room Enough,” and others. While I don’t claim to approach the skill of such a master of Science Fiction, I hope you enjoy this little tale in that kind of vein. Rod Serling not included…

The Fossil Dig

By Rick Higginson

The horrified screams echoed across the dig site. Such screams were not that unusual in the remote location. From time to time, a student up from the University would happen upon the object of their phobia, be it one of the large spiders that prowled the area, or perhaps any of the numerous species of snake indigenous to the region, and their panicked cries would offer a welcome break to the quiet monotony of the paleontology dig.

Such events were doubly looked forward to, as once the phobia was discovered, the other students would take great delight in trying to set off another reaction, or at the very least, teasing the sufferer of the phobia relentlessly until the novelty finally wore off.

What set this particular screaming event apart from any other in the memory of all the scientists on site, was that it was Dr. Guttormson who was issuing the outcry. The normally stoic doctor was known to barely take notice of a tarantula crawling across his hand, and to be cooler than the snakes he would fling out of the way with the end of his cane.

Everyone, therefore, ran without delay to the edge of the pit where Dr. Guttormson had been painstakingly picking away the sedimentary rock from one of the largest Allosaurus skeletons ever found.

The old Paleontologist was crouching in the corner of the pit, now whimpering and covering his head with his arms. Nothing else moved in the excavation, and the muttered question passed between onlookers as to what could possibly have such an effect on a man that – for all appearances – was afraid of nothing.

Several of the senior scientists and a few students made their way down the ladder into the pit, and approached the cowering man. “Myron,” one of his long-time associates said, touching him gently on the shoulder. “What is wrong?”

He continued to whimper, now visibly trembling.

One of the students knelt in front of him. “Dr. Guttormson, it’s okay. We’re here. What is it?”

He pulled his hands away and raised his face to hers. “Sk-sk-sk-skull,” he stammered.

“The allosaurus skull? What about it?” she asked.

“No, no, no,” he said. Gesturing towards the exposed ribs, he repeated, “Skull.”

As a group, they gathered around the fossilized cage and peered where the tools had been dropped. Mouths gaped to see the newly exposed fossil within the fossil. Scrapes were evident in the cracked bones, corresponding well to the teeth of the extinct predator, but the shape of the bone was not reptilian.

“That can’t be what I think it is,” Guttormson’s associate said.

“What else could it be?” one of the students replied. “It’s definitely human.”

The scientist leaned in for a closer look, moving aside a dropped brush, and suddenly, he, too, began to scream. Backpedaling away from the skeleton, he pointed and gestured.

All eyes turned to look. All eyes, that is, except the remarkably preserved glass eye that stared back from the fossil skull.

1 comment:

Laury said...

Ooooo, and you leave us at that? Need I say that was rude? :) Short and sweet and leave us hanging. ergh. ok. Next Friday...I'll be here. You best be, too!