The Iron Writer Challenge #118
2015 Summer Solstice Preliminary Round
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
Eric Carle Bracket
A time clock
Told from POV of an alien on the planet Nibiru, as the Nibiru enters our solar system.
Nibiru technology is no greater or worse than Earth’s.
The planet Nibiru began to self-destruct a couple hours after I had clocked out from work on the time-clock. It started with the Sun. Usually on Nibiru, the Sun is so far away we can’t see it. We have become accustomed to the below freezing temperatures and the layers of ice that settles on the cone shaped houses and the sparse patches of nature we seldom see. But today, the Sun slowly grew closer, so close even; it began to burn away the ice and the cold. At first we rejoiced, having never seen the sun up close, we stood there to feel the warmth on our gray skin.
Then, it happened.
Our skin began to crack and the Sun began to spread its heat to the houses and the sparse patches of nature until everything began to burn. Ku’oosh, the leader of the planet, led a throng of us to a small shuttle. We followed although we had no idea where we were going. Shielded in tents of protective garments and frantically gathering our offspring, we were led to a small opening where the shuttle sat, engines roared as the sky became a deep ember that looked as if it was on fire itself.
The heat made my head spin and my throat dry. I was by myself, with no family to tend to and no one to take with me to a destination that was unclear.
“I heard there is ice-cream where we are going!” One Nibiru inhabitant said behind me. He seemed excited. That was the last thing I remember before we reached Earth. A place I had only heard about in secret. It was a place we were never supposed to never talk about.
It is the last planet left.
I am not sure how much time passed between arriving here and now. I found myself alone in the middle of a patch of what looks like what we had on Nibiru, but more of it; green and itchy and smelling of a dish we would eat on Nibiru. There were no others with me, just a parachute beside me and a sky I had never seen before all around me.
It’s strange here. The inhabitants look odd and they have five fingers and toes instead of four. I don’t think they are friendly here. The inhabitants seem hostile and I have no idea where the rest of my own went.
I am alone under what I heard was called “a bridge” with noisy metal things above me going back and forth.
But I did see a smaller inhabitant with ice cream. Not what I thought it was at all. It was soft and creamy and unlike the hard ice treats we have on Nibiru.
I think I will stay here until I see it again.
Her ashen knuckles turned whiter as Exis clutched the steering column of her craft with sweaty hands. With her home world, Nibiru, falling into the distance behind her, she had limited time to warn the people of Earth. The rogue planet had entered the solar system and a cataclysmic collision was imminent. She pressed down on the booster pedals and leaned her body into the control panel, her ship bucking in acceleration. Just ahead of her was the large, iridescent blue marble.
Exis retrieved a small jar from her supply pack. She scooped out a handful of soft white gel and quickly lathered her face and arms. Nibiru was a cold world and exposure to Earth’s sun would certainly roast her delicate pale skin.
Taking a deep breath and tightening her grip, Exis braced herself for touchdown. The vessel rocked in protest as it careened through Earth’s atmosphere. A brilliant display of light emblazoned around her and the craft accelerated towards the surface in free fall.
Exis restrained an anxious breath as her fingers wrapped around the lever at her side. The green terrain rushed up at her, and shutting her eyes she pulled up on the lever. She exhaled in relief at the snap of the parachute deploying behind her. The ship jerked and she reaffirmed her grip on the armrests.
The ship landed hard and the impact sent it somersaulting across the soft turf. Exis struggled to remain conscious during the cartwheels. In the flurry of stones, sod, and steel the craft’s hatch detached and Exis felt herself sail through the air and tumble across the grassy field. As she skid to a spinning stop she closed her eyes and waited for her brain and stomach to follow suit. In the distance she heard the craft plunge into the lake.
She lay there and felt the warm caressing sun embrace her. Voices surrounded her and through hazy vision a man and woman came into view. She had to warn them!
And so she told them everything, about Nibiru, and the collision, and the end of the world. They listened to her as she recanted her journey. Standing over her in silence, their jaws were agape and eyes wide. She exhaled and asked them if they had any questions. The couple exchanged concerned looks, and the woman leaned in.
“Does Mr. Brown know you took his wheelchair again?”
Exis sat upright and looked at the gardens around her. The man and woman were both adorned in white robes, and behind them others were pulling the wheelchair out of the pool, a row of sheets tied to the handles.
“Patient 4A,” said the man, “and is that ice cream all over her face?”
They helped her wobble to her feet.
“Brad, you can go ahead and clock out,” the woman instructed, “I’ll get Alexis back to her room.”
Brad nodded and watched the doctor lead Alexis away, muttering something about gravity sickness. He sighed, punched his timecard on the clock and walked off shaking his head.
“Aliens and ice cream, where do they come up with this stuff?”
Danielle Lee Zwissler
Arias watched the giant screen in front of her section with rapt attention. Nibiru, her home planet, was about to enter the solar system once more, and it was the first time that any of their generation would be able to come above the rocky surface. Planning had started nearly sixty years before as the scrolls from the Nibiru, nearly 500,000 years ago, had predicted the timeframe. Arias and a few others were planning an escape.
Arias climbed through the tunnel, and made her way around to the larger observation deck. She was part of Nibiru’s Squadron Team 762. She was in charge of interplanetary weathering. What that entailed was punching a time clock each morning and taking samples of the different rock surfaces of Nibiru and to test them for signs of hydrothermal activity.
“How fast is it heating?” Firot asked as he walked into the deck.
Arias, looked at her microscope once again and down at the last of the samples.
“We should be okay to go up soon. The sun isn’t close enough to us though, so we’ll need to use the heat suits.”
Firot leaned in toward Arias and whispered into her ear. “Will the parachutes work with those suits?”
Arias took a deep breath and nodded. “They should. I’ve tested them with some flame retardant chemicals. There’s still a chance though.”
“We have to take it. I don’t want to be stuck down here any longer. It isn’t safe under the new rule.” Firot looked over his left shoulder. “I fear we don’t have enough time.”
“I know,” Arias spoke. “We mustn’t let anyone know any of this, only you, Fhian and myself.” Arias looked nervous as she picked up her last sample and handed it to Firot. “You have to take this back to Fhian. It was under observation, and I switched it with my last one.”
Firot nodded. “I’ll leave as soon as that guard on quadrant one goes to the ambassador.”
“What about you? Have you heard any new messages?” Firot worked in the communication sector. His Squadron, 792, built Satellite detectors and homing beacons. Arias tested different chemicals on them so they could survive the weather above the surface.
“The last I heard from the earthlings was some sort of music about 31 flavors.”
“Of what?” Arias asked, intrigued.
“Something called Ice Cream.”
“Sounds dangerous,” Arias commented. “I wonder what it means.” Arias tilted her head. “It is important that we know everything that we can about them; I’m worried that we don’t have enough information. Like this Ice Cream. Do you think it could help us in any way?”
“I don’t see how it could hurt us. I mean, look at the surface. We’ve been above a few times, and we have a lot of ice.”
“Anything from Fhian?” Arias asked.
“He’s different since hearing the latest audio. If we make it to earth, he wants to be known as Kimber, and that he won’t put up with any interference.”
“He listened to Girl in the Gears on the audio wave?” Arias asked, and Firot nodded. “Ah, good book. Lovely historical document.”
“Lateral stabilizers, left and right. Check.
Rotational vector, auto correct. Check.
Axis torque, thirty minus ten.”
“Navigator, tweak the magnetic field around the southern pole 2 degrees to red phase, and pull back on all integrated flux ribbons over the equator to 500!”
With Captain Garble at the helm, the rogue Nibiru planet spun through the galaxy with astounding speed. An expert at steering the planet, Garble had not just graduated flight school with honors; he possessed 30 years’ experience guiding Nibiru through deep space. “Thirty years!” He thought to himself, “Maybe today I’ll finally see my replacement.”
The captain checked the prevailing wind patterns over continents A, B and C. Satisfied everything was in order, he leaned back in his chair, awaiting his trainee’s arrival.
Private Luggie was scheduled to meet Captain Garble at four ticks before lunch.
So proud their son was selected for the prestigious training, his parents threw a massive “send off” block party, inviting everyone in the modules to come. They served ice cream in edible cups, a rare treat for everyone living in the huge housing complex.
Luggie burst through the door of the flight deck a full 15 tocks late for his first hands-on flight lesson. He was still eating his ice cream from the party as he hurriedly punched the time clock and scrambled to attention before his instructor.
“Private Luggie reporting for training, Sir.”
“You’re LATE, private!” snapped Garble. “This ain’t no picnic, Private. Ditch the ice cream!”
“Sir, yes Sir!” snapped Luggie, and he set the ice cream cone on a shelf next to the captain’s chair.
“Be professional, man! This is a tremendous responsibility which requires a mature, level head and nerves of steel.”
The captain reached under his chair, pulled out a yellow inflatable Personal Space Survival Suit (P.S.S.S.) and put it on.
Luggie inquired, “Captain, why are you donning your parachute?”
“Regulations, private; regulations.”
The private noticed a thread hanging from the lapel of the captain’s P.S.S.S. and picked it off. But as he pulled it, the suit suddenly inflated…
In an instant the captain was transformed into a round ball three measures in diameter, causing the ice cream to fall off the shelf and plop onto the flight console.
Gasps of horror seeped into the still air as all eyes in the room locked onto the ice cream. There was a spark, some sizzling, and smoke swirled up; then the entire console shut down.
“Oops!” the private exclaimed.
Inside the inflated PSSS suit, a muffled inquiry, barely audible, was heard “What? What!”
A sudden, violent shift in the planet’s rotational spin threw everyone to the floor. The massive planet veered off course, heading straight into an adjacent solar system.
Everyone in the room scrambled to don their PSSS’s.
“Phoop!” “Phoop!” “Phoop!” “Phoop!”…
Private Luggie turned back to the viewer.
A large blue planet filled the entire screen.