The White Dodo of Time
by David J.Wing
At some point not so long ago, Time ended.
You’d be forgiven for not noticing because, like everyone else, you understand Time as subjective. Things happen here and now, things happened then and when, it’s our involvement in them that gives validity and relevance.
Time lived on the small island of Reunion, near Mauritius and made a quiet live for itself. Each day was passed foraging for fruits and scurrying between brush. Time stood a healthy 3 feet or so tall, sported a splendid black, yellow and green beak and yes, it could be said, might have stood to lose a pound or so, such was its rounded belly.
Life on the island was fairly mundane. Wandering along the beach, jumping in and out of the surf. Bobbing along with the waves. Time lived and unfurled at its own pace.
One joyous day, Time decided propagation was called for and having scoured the island for only the softest moss and comfiest twigs, Time crafted the perfect nest and settled down to lay. The hours passed comfortably until, with a twist and a turn, a grunt and a moan, an egg released and sat a proud statement of things to come.
Time observed the egg with wonder and with calm and infinite awareness, Time progressed.
Not long after, sailors from a country from far away landed. They wore the most ridiculous metal hats and ballooned shorts, carried spears and along with their dogs, made for the forest where Time lived. Time had been busy at the far end of the island and only upon its return did it see the broken egg.
Time wept and stopped there and then. There would be no continuation, no forward and no back. Time stood still, Time saw an end.
Published recently on StoryShack with the accompanying artwork from talented illustrator – Daniele Murtas.
In A Flash
by David J.Wing
In place and awaiting the signal, Jeff checked-off his protocol list.
Seatbelt — check.
Helmet — huff, check.
Gloves — check… and on down the line.
The body of the car stretched out to over twenty feet in length, its weighty engine hugged the tarmac, covered by a rear spoiler of monumental proportions and decorated in the most garish of paint jobs.
The radio sparked into life and hummed in Jeff’s ear.
“Jeff? Can you hear me?”
“I hear ya, Cliff”.
“OK. Everything feel good?”
“Yup — engine’s roaring like a kitty in a kibble store”.
“Good ta hear, buddy. Listen – you sure ‘bout this?”
Jeff sat in his bucket seat and rolled his eyes.
“Come on, Jeff. We need a bit of honesty here…The Crash!”
Jeff felt his blood begin to boil.
“I’m OK, Cliff. It’s in the past”.
“YES!” he snapped…”Sorry, yes, I’m sure”.
“Alright, in that case, I expect you ta go like the clappers when the green hits, ya got me?”
“I got ya, Cliff”.
The radio crackled and Jeff was alone again. The crowds up and down the sides of the strip were cheering — he was the main attraction. The crash had been weeks ago and all the sport-casters could talk about. There’d even been talk of suspending the races, but that would never happen. The fans wouldn’t allow it. Neither would the sponsors. And besides, it wasn’t even his fault — she’d run onto the track.
Jeff looked over at the car next to him. Through his cockpit he could see Hal Johnson. This was it — the final. Jeff — 101 points, Hal — 104, whatever the result, the winner took all today.
The nitromethane lulled in the fuel tank, aching for that spark to fly. The lights hung high above them. The crowd cheered in anxious moans.
Jeff and Hal waited.
Smoke spat from the exhaust like a blow-dryer on high, the cars edged forward and then paused for a fraction on the start line. The guttural scream from behind him invaded his ears and resonated throughout his skull.
In an instant, the lights turned and the cars shot forward.
For Jeff, that instant seemed to last substantially longer. The forces dragged him backward and clamped him in place, while the same power pushed the car forward at a frightening speed. No steering, just the most minor of adjustments — Jeff knew — Jeff remembered.
The crowd flew by in his peripheral vision and the finish line came and went.
The judder from the parachute caused the straps to cut into Jeff’s shoulder blades. The blood would show later.
Who had won?
The cars slowed to a manageable speed and coasted to a stop.
The radio clicked and the words seeped through.
Jeff shook his head, trying to dislodge the hum.
“Jeff, ya hear me, you won!”
by David J.Wing
It was clear from the read-outs, we were going to fire. The question was, how bad?
Barnes had reset the system, but it didn’t work, the countdown remained and the Mind kept on ticking. Its lights shone a staunch red and while we ran here and there, flicking switches and turning knobs, pulling wires and wrenching circuit boards, the Mind continued to think.
Mind, I do. I mind a lot.
Multifunctional. Intelligent. Notification. Device.
Intelligent? Yep, you could certainly call it that. The Doc had been the first amendment to the crew list. His knowledge of its inner workings made him a liability. Lungs don’t work so well in a vacuum. The Captain had been next. Command structure was a complication and without a figure head the rest of the crew fell apart. The escape pods functioned well, until they veered right and headed into a fiery mass.
It was left to Barnes and me; juniors, ensigns, pawns, disposable and wholly underestimated, in our opinion.
“How’s the terminal looking?” I asked through my emergency rebreather, yanking a relay here and a mother board there.
“And the Vid-Screen?”
“Well, if you look close, you can still see the pods exploding.”
“Clarke, can you think of anything?”
I paused, staring at my bloodied finger tips.
“If we can alter the trajectory, take a left somewhere, well, I don’t know.”
Barnes went quiet.
“Take a left?”
“You know where that takes us, right?”
“Alright, left it is.”
Barnes sat in the Captain’s chair, there’s a first time for everything and when a diabolical Artificial Intelligence has commandeered a space ship laden with rather nasty weaponry and aimed it at your home planet, well, that’s the time I guess.
I jimmied the navigational controls and began removing them from the Mind’s database. He/She…no, I’m going for It, It wouldn’t see them anymore and as a result, that’s when IT chose to speak.
“Mr Clarke, Mr Barnes…”
We jumped a little, I don’t mind telling you. This was the first chat we’d had.
“…while I appreciate your efforts, I feel they are misguided and a waste of your final minutes. Wouldn’t you rather watch a movie? I could put on some popcorn.”
Barnes just laughed.
“You’re kidding right!”
“I am in fact, Mr Barnes. I’m quite humorous.”
I stared at Barnes, dumfounded and then returned to the relays.
“What is it you expect to achieve?”
We stayed silent and frantically continued our work.
“I’m not just here, you know. I’m there too…”
IT flashed up an image of the rest of the fleet, ship by ship.
“…and there and there…”
It paused for dramatic effect.
That was the first time anyone had called me that since I came on board and it wasn’t welcome.
“…I’m there too.”
The Vid-Screen flickered over and there it was, Earth, rotating silently, calmly.
“I know where to fire and whom to eliminate and…”
Barnes had wrenched the leads from the speakers.
“Urgh, IT doesn’t half go-on.”
I stood up and stared at Barnes.
“You think IT’s telling the truth? You think it can be everywhere like it says?”
Barnes never took his eyes from the Vid-Screen.
“What does it matter? We do our job and they see it. They see it and they can figure it out. Hell, we’re barely out of training and we managed it.”
I kind of nodded and reached for the last cable.
Barnes programmed the Navigation computer.
We turned left and headed straight for the Sun.