The Making of a Short Sci-Fi Story. “Sporelings” – Part I – 1st draft

I am currently taking a short story fundamentals class online. I decided to write about this experience in a series of blog entries that will document my journey as I develop a short science fiction story as part of my class experience.

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I am currently taking a short story fundamentals class online. I decided to write about this experience in a series of blog entries that will document my journey as I develop a short science fiction story as part of my class experience.

I plan to the blog everything from the first drafts, to the revisions, and edits to the eventual final draft as I work through the process and learn the art of writing short stories. This particular short story will be approximately 5000 words.

This story itself will be written and revised over the course of the next few weeks! I decided to tackle this story in three parts and model it off of an anthology idea that I was once a part of but never got to finish because the anthology group fell apart and everyone went their separate ways.

This short story is a work of science fiction. It will be written in three parts. Part I will introduce a grim Future. Some cataclysmic event will change the world. This will be a world-building setup and quick character introduction. Part II will cover what happens in the last 5 minutes in this word that has a grim future. In other words, what happens as a result of this drastic change. Part III is what comes next. How does this world continue after a cataclysmic event? What does the future now have in store?

I haven’t decided on a title yet. The working title is “Sporelings.” As the story develops and as I go through short story fundamentals class, we’ll see if there is a need pick a more descriptive and appropriate title.

All right then, let’s get right into it!

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“Sporelings” – Part I – 1st draft

For thousands of years, mankind has been driven by insatiable curiosity to study the great pyramids of Egypt. What secrets hide inside these ancient wonders? Could they hold the key to mankind’s future, or perhaps missing links to the past? The quest continues…

#

 Present day—El Giza, Egypt— The Great Pyramid

After eleven previous investigations over the past decade, Archaeologist Nathan Gray and his team once again entered the queen’s chamber of the Great Pyramid. This time they were equipped with the excavation robot, SARTI (Standard Archaeological Robotic Technology Inc.). A small remote-controlled robot, SARTI was able to scale narrow shafts and scan targets with infrared and ultrasonic waves.

“Alec,” Nathan said. “The target is above the queen’s chamber. That two-meter slab is where I need the bloody robot.”

Alec Cooper, the team’s chief engineer, tapped on the computer interface. “We’re ready, Nathan.”

SARTI began the ascent.

As the monitors came to life, the team eagerly watched the robot climb to the top of the shaft. A few minutes later, SARTI rotated and began a heat scan.

Twenty minutes passed, and a frustrated Nathan glared at Alec. “Oh, for crying out loud, that godforsaken thing is bloody useless. There’s nothing but rock.”

“Hold on,” Alec said. “Give it another few minutes. Let SARTI run the full program.”

The screen went dark. A scan using low-frequency waves began, followed by one with ultrasonic waves.

Nathan watched the screen for a few minutes more, then scowled, impatient with the lack of progress. “Still nothing? How much did the bag of bolts cost us anyway?”

“Bloody hell, Nathan, give it a few minutes, man!”

The computer signaled a target, displaying the ultrasonic image of a dark oblong shape in the center. Alec pointed to the monitor. “Look, there, SARTI found something.”

“Brilliant!” Nathan couldn’t turn away from the screen. “Well, get a move on,” he said. “Go! Go! Tell that idiotic robot to bring it here!”

#

Several hours later

Once SARTI had brought the artifact from the queen’s chamber, Alec put on protective gloves and reached inside the specimen tray. Carefully, he picked up the object. “Outstanding,” he said. “It’s a golden scarab. You suppose it’s some type of jewelry?”

Rubbing his chin with his fingers, Nathan stared at the scarab in Alec’s hand for a few moments. Puzzled, he reached for the shiny golden bug. “Jewelry?” he repeated Alec’s question, pausing for a moment, contemplating on an answer. “Hidden between the queen and king’s chamber. I wouldn’t think so.” He gently picked up the scarab and rolled it over in his hand. Look here, there’s something more!” He pressed his finger down lightly on the scarab’s head.

It snapped open.

Nathan’s eyes widened with awe. Darkness rested in his palm, an empty void, as though he peered straight into a black hole from the deepest space.

“What is it?” Alec asked. “What do make of that?”

Nathan didn’t answer. He couldn’t take his eyes away from the darkness inside the scarab. What have we found? he thought, full of wonder. A dark, bottomless, pit … inside a golden scarab? “It can’t be,” he whispered.

The scarab began to grow hot in his hand. “Damn!” He dropped it, the palm of his hand blistered.

“What the hell?” Alec said, slowly backing away. His gaze remained locked on the dusting of dark, odorless material rising from the scarab. “You think it could be a type of fungus maybe, or spores?”

“Yes,” Nathan whispered. “They… they look like tiny… sporeling” The name just came to mind. As he watched, the dark mass pulled into a tight circle, then pulsed. Nathan jumped when the circle loosened and doubled in size above his head. Seconds later it repeated the process. It’s breathing, he thought. But getting bigger on every exhale. The first twinges of unease tickled at his mind.

The sporeling were multiplying at an alarming rate!

“Let’s get out of here!” Alec yelled. “Nathan, we don’t know what it is!” He turned to run from the room, not waiting to see if Nathan followed.

But Nathan hadn’t heard him, too mesmerized by the growing void of darkness above him … so much like the one he’d viewed inside the scarab. A black hole being birthed into a gateway in the ceiling.

Terror struck Nathan at the thought; it tore through his guts, a cramping, almost crippling pain. What if the black swirl above him pulsed again and sucked him in?

He didn’t wait around to find out.

Nathan ran.

#

In less than a week, the sporelings Nathan accidentally released from the scarab had spread across the planet. It didn’t take long because every time they pulsed, the dark cloud doubled in size, releasing more of their progeny into the air. At the end of the tenth day, the swirling mass floated down and settled into the soil. It attached to all plant life and began to manipulate their basic structure on a cellular level. Fragile flora, green stems, leaves, and flowers were transformed, turned black and indestructible. Botanists learned the shiny obsidian material affected every variety: cacti in the hottest desert, worldwide forests and jungles, and algae and seaweed in the deepest oceans.

Nothing was spared.

#

It took only ten days to send the world into chaos. As the plants continued their metamorphosis, they began to pulse, releasing more toxins into the environment. Desperate scientists searched for ways to combat them but were defeated at every turn. Volcanoes erupted, earthquakes rumbled, tornados and hurricanes wreaked havoc. The land waged war against man, destroying everything in its path.

Cities crumbled.

People died.

Then Botanist learned the new species of obsidian plants absorbed the sun’s energy at fifty times the level of their native species. The added warmth quickly raised surface temperatures. Polar caps melted, but the newly released water evaporated almost immediately—along with the water in every river, lake, and ocean. It soon created a canopy of water in the stratosphere causing a greenhouse effect below. The increased atmospheric pressure made the oxygen and carbon dioxide richer.

But would anyone be left to reap the potential rewards?

#

On the twelfth hour of the twelfth day after Nathan released the sporeling, the alien plants reached maturity. Almost as one, the shiny obsidian leaves turned upward toward the heavens and began a rhythmic pulse. The few people still left watched, worried it might be a signal of some kind, a beacon.

But a signal to whom?

Or what? 

End of Part I

Ok! Now, as I submit my work in the class and as I get feedback, I’ll post revision, edits and of course when it’s time, Part II or what happens int he last 5 minutes in this grim future!