Wednesday, December 11, 2019

WEP & Tremors

Thanks to the WEP judges for the Encouragement award for Tremors!!



Calla eased over the edge of the canyon once the ground tremor passed. Maybe today she would find some evidence of animal life on this planet.

So far, nothing. Not a beat of wings nor a roar from a throat. Not a scratch on a tree to mark territory, not a bone or a carcass. Not even a footprint or a piece of scat.

In her years as Pathfinder’s senior biologist, she’d never seen a planet like it.

Vegetation flourished on the sides of this canyon that looked like it had been carved in ancient times.

The whole planet was nothing but giant hole after giant hole. Some of these holes were full of vegetation and the botanists couldn’t contain their glee every time they found a new species. Some canyons were dry as Terran deserts while still others had barely any vegetation and looked like they’d been created the day before.

She was going to be stuck on this planet with absolutely nothing to do at this rate. They were scheduled for a yearlong stretch if they found anything interesting. And they had.

For the botanists.

Calla used the trunk of one of the tougher-looking plants to steady herself when the rocks beneath her feet tumbled away during another tremor. She moved along the ridge until she spotted an easier way down.

All this vegetation needed water and she was hoping to find a pond at the bottom. That might be her Terran brain in action again. Not all life required water. And she might have a year to catch up reading all about the other types of life if she didn’t find anything else to study.

The vegetation thinned to her right, so she moved that way and managed an easy trek to the canyon floor. If there was a pond or stream, it would likely be in the lowest portion. 

Maybe she’d find evidence of animal life there. Even fossilized remains would be a thrill.

A few hours later, she’d found nothing but frustration.

The only thing different from the last few days was that the tremors were increasing in intensity and duration. The seismologists would be just as thrilled as the botanists.

After finding no sign of animal life near the only water source she’d spotted, Calla started back up the canyon. The first sun was setting and soon it would be too dark to find anything. 

The tremors continued to increase and she found herself following the rhythmic pattern as she ascended.

Rocks and smaller pieces of vegetation slipped under her feet when she moved, and she had to slow her pace so she didn’t tumble to the bottom. When she scrambled over the edge, she threw herself to the ground and decided she needed to get in better shape.

A wild screech snatched the breath from her lungs and nearly deafened her. She searched the area for the cause.

The sky darkened and Calla looked up to find that it wasn’t clouds or vegetation blocking the setting suns.

The source of the screech was all the proof she needed that this planet had animal life after all.

Long lizard-like legs galloped toward her at an incredible pace. Upper arms flailed. Giant jaws opened and closed as shriek after shriek split the air and froze Calla in place.

At this distance, the size of the beast was impossible to gauge, but larger than anything on any planet humans had visited. Larger than Pathfinder. Maybe larger than five Pathfinders.

The rhythmic tremors continued as each foot crashed to earth, sending vegetation and dirt flying in all directions as it flattened whatever was in its path.

The creature raced closer, making dents in the earth and Calla looked back at the canyon she’d been surveying in horror.

It wasn’t a canyon after all. None of them were canyons.

They were footprints.



***

This story is part of the WEP/IWSG December Challenge. Check out the link and enjoy the other stories. It's always fun to see the variety of stories that spring from one prompt. And the talent is stellar!!

WEP CHALLENGE FOR DECEMBER 2019 - FOOTPRINTS. CHOSEN BY THE IWSG.

How about you? Any important footprints in your life?

I probably won't post until the New Year, so I hope those of you who celebrate enjoy a wonderful holiday season with your families.
Spread some love and kindness and joy!!!


71 comments:

  1. Footprints as large as canyons! Time to make friends or run, right?

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  2. Dig the science fiction angle. And those must be some really big animals. Wonder if they were the predator or the prey?
    Well done!

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    1. Thanks Alex - if these guys are the prey, Calla is in for a really big job!

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  3. Hi,
    Wow, the tension in this is excellent. You built it up very well and I enjoyed reading it.
    Have a Merry Christmas and a happy crossover into 2020.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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    1. Thanks Pat, glad you enjoyed!
      Wishing you a wonderful 2020 as well!

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  4. I suspect that frighteningly large beast is a vegetarian (just because of the absence of other animal life) but a myriad of insects would/could also thrive in that environment. More please. Pretty please.
    Calla may well have found her life's work.

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    1. Exactly - as long as she stays out of the path! :)

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  5. Its a wonderful story, too bad it ended too soon. LOL Great world building. I want to know more about this planet! And I just love large creatures especially when they mix with small humans. :)
    Enjoy your holiday break!

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    1. Thanks Renee! :) It's so much fun to mix the two together and see what shakes up!

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  6. Oh, this is chilly. I hope Calla survives her first encounter with this terrifying creature. Maybe it wouldn't notice her, as she is so small compared to it.

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  7. Oh! This was so good! I'd love to read more about this alien world. I enjoyed how the tremors seemed like seismic activity until the reveal at the end. I suppose she got her wish, but she might be regretting that now.

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    1. She might indeed - you never quite know how those wishes turn out!

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  8. Is that an excerpt from your book? I want to read more.

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    1. Thank you! No, it was just a piece for this prompt - but you never know!

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  9. Wonderful story, keep me on the edge of my seat. Wondering what comes next. Wishing you and your family a wonderful, safe and Happy Holidays.

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    1. Thanks Mason!
      I hope you and yours enjoy a fabulous Christmas season as well! :)

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  10. Enjoyed the story. Wishing you a Merry Christmas in advance.

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    1. Thanks so much Rachna - same to you and yours!

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  11. Yikes! Giant footprints everywhere, so big that minuscule humans didn't recognize them. Great surprise. Well done.

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  12. Loved it Jemi. The descriptions were so vivid I could feel the ground shaking. Oh! It’s not the ground. Sounds terrifying.

    Would make a much longer short story or novel. Great work.

    Thanks so much for your contributions to WEP this year. It’s been wonderful to have you on board.

    Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! See you in 2020.

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    1. Thank so much, Denise! I've thoroughly enjoyed getting into Flash Fiction - and I have you to thank for that! It's such fun!
      Have a fabulous Christmas and all the best for 2020!

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    2. Thanks for your kind words, Jemi. FF really sharpens our writing muscles. Glad you've enjoyed it or should I say, are enjoying it.

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  13. That was great! I didn't see it coming at all (so to speak). I do wonder about how the planet could sustain something big enough to make a canyon at every step... seems like it would soon have crumbled the whole thing. Maybe it's an occasional visitor from elsewhere...

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    1. LOL - I was wondering the same thing :) The joy of Flash Fiction!

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  14. Wow! That end was superb. Footprints as huge as canyons. I couldn't have thought of it. You had me hooked.
    https://soniadogra.com

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  15. Oh, my word! I guess if I survived the encounter I'd be pretty pleased by my discovery. As a lifelong lover of dinosaurs, I was picturing the giant creature as being something on the order of a mega T-rex.This was a fun read!

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    1. Thanks Cie - it was fun to write - and we had a similar vision for our friend :)

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  16. Wow! I loved the slow build of tension and excitent in this story and the terror at the end! Awesome writing!

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  17. Brilliant use of the prompt! Great tension in this piece. Loved the world building as well - the details about the first and multiple suns very arresting. Kudos!

    Wish you happy holidays and a wonderful creative New Year 2020.

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    1. Thanks! I love sci fi but I don't write it often. Need a clone! :)
      Wishing you and yours all the very best as well!

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  18. Chilling Jemi. Fortunately the dinosaur ages are over on earth, but we are facing far greater threats. Nice take on footprints, canyons ... didn’t see that one coming. Congratulations on a yarn well spun.
    Merry Christmas writing see you in 2020 on IWSG and WEP.

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    1. Thanks Susan! All the best of the season and the new year to you and yours!

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  19. A jarring ending! Love those! Even though all seems lost...I hope she makes it. Happy Holidays and Happy New Writing Year!

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    1. Thanks! It's always fun to leave the ending open like that! :)
      Wishing you and yours all the best as well!

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  20. This is fabulous. I just loved the slow reveal. What a terrifying place you left us at. Can't wait to hear what happens next.
    Happy holidays to you too and thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.

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    1. You're very welcome - your writing is always terrific!
      Thanks - the slow reveals are always fun!

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  21. Great ending! Didn't see it coming at all! I love when that happens...

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  22. Love the ending! I felt as surprised as Calla!

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
    ~Jess

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    1. Yay - glad you enjoyed!
      Wish you and yours all the best, Jess!

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  23. Fascinating world-building, Jemi - intriguing too. So, I have to read on...water was my first thought. Oh so clever twist. Brilliant use of Footprints. I should have wondered more about the tremors when they began. Too late.

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    1. I'm so glad it worked - it's always fun to write about new worlds! :)

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    2. And congratulations on the encouragement award.

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  24. Am I only the one who thought the creatures described were the alien version of dragons? A brilliant twist though. Well done, and Happy Holidays Jemi.

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    1. LOL - nope, you're not alone - I was there with you :)
      Hope you have a great holiday as well, Christopher!

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  25. This was so calm most of the way through that I was really caught off guard by the lizard's arrival! Canyons as footprints - what a great conceit. Well done.

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    1. Thank you - I'm glad the set up worked for you! :)

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  26. Liked this! I read tremors in the title and thought of the movie, then realized it wasn't, then quickly became engrossed. Good stuff :)

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    1. LOL - I didn't even think of the movie!! Definitely not that :P

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  27. The tremors add that frisson of excitement, I was half-expecting her to fall into something and then you bring the lizards!

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  28. Hi Jemi - that was great ... a fun read - and then the denouement - amazing ... just fun to think about - food for thought definitely ... congratulations - cheers Hilary

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  29. So, this is weird. I totaly dreamed your story two days ago wishing I'd submitted something like it to the challenge.
    I love what you've written here. Hope you turn it into something more.
    Great entry and fantastic use of the prompt.

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    1. That is very cool! Our minds are linking somewhere in the universe! It could be fun to expand it :)

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  30. It never ceases to amaze me how much "story" can be established in under 1000 words! You had me hooked in a few sentences, and I was riveted, not even able to stop reading and eat my breakfast, until the end.... which wasn't really an end! My mind will be chewing on this throughout the day!
    Happy New Year! Write on!

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    1. Thank you!! I'm so glad Calla and her friend managed to entertain you this morning! :)
      Enjoy your breakfast and wishing you all the best for 2020!

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  31. I am glad to be the first of many to congratulate you on your WEP award.

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    1. Thanks Sue! I'm thrilled - there were so many amazing entries (again!) this month! :)

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  32. Hi Jemi - congratulations on the Encouragement Award ... excellent - cheers Hilary

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  33. Congrats on the award--I really enjoyed your story, with it's fun twist!

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! It was a fun one to write! :)

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