by Robert Sells Genre: Science Fiction
Aster Worthington spearheads the First Contact Team to unravel a message from an alien race. “The Lambdons” promise free energy if humanity builds a few special robots and downloads their message into a super computer to direct construction of the fusion reactor. An excited world agrees and builds a massive structure called the Dome to house the alien enterprise.
Seven years later, there’s no “free energy” and strange things happen in and around the Dome. Aster and her colleagues mount an expedition under the protection of Army Rangers to investigate the interior. Instead of friendly aliens, they discover hordes of deadly intelligent humanoids with insect-like characteristics.
When the military team is brutally murdered by the Lambdons, the scientists scatter. It’s soon apparent that the Lambdons intend to take over the planet using biological warfare. The only hope for humanity lies with a two-thousand year old scroll hidden by the church. The question is, can Aster and her team unravel the scroll's mystery in time to save the planet?
While Aster’s body was near collapse, her mind continued its ruminations like a mouse on a treadmill. Fear takes away energy. Interesting. She grunted. Interesting that you still think analytically, you idiot. Her eyes snapped back to the floor. No centipedes. Okay, rest a bit. Don’t exhaust yourself, girl. Aster slid down on the floor again and covered her face with her hands. We never should have entered this damned place. Stupid, stupid, stupid.The Dome had sent them one subtle warning after another and, like so many other clues, they ignored them. Humans, she reflected, were particularly adept at twenty-twenty hindsight. Her eyes snapped open and wide-eyed, searched the area close to her. She scooted back up. Any of those damn centipedes around? None. She was safe. At least from those creepy, crawly things.
Then a clacking sound. Those horrible feet, ending with hooves, not feet, the tapping sound on cement. She let out a gurgle of hysterical laughter. Here come the bad guys again! She pinched herself hard to try to get control and took a shaky breath. Don’t lose it now. You’ve made it this far. She got up and moved lightly along the wall and, at the junction, steered away from the clacks. Don’t know where in hell I am. She hummed lightly under her breath, repeating it several times, then giggled. No, but I do know that I’m in Hell, don’t I? How about that, Daddy? You were right all along. Your scientist daughter is rotting in Hell, just like you said I would.
She walked for about an hour, winding her way through the corridors, hugging a wall and trying not to be seen, carefully stepping over the gray cauliflower-fungi peppering the ground. Always steering away from those clacking sounds. Looking for centipedes and either killing them or walking away from the larger ones. They didn’t seem to have eyes, but somehow the centipedes could detect her. Smell? Sound?
Finally, bowing to her fatigue, Aster Worthington, famed astronomer, sagged down and sat with her knees pulled up to her chest. She just couldn’t go any farther. Exhausted, all she could do was keep watching left and right.
If they came down the corridor, she probably couldn’t outrun them but maybe she might get lucky with a shot. She knew she had to hit the head. Of course, it would help if she knew how to work the damn gun. She fiddled with a latch around the trigger. Was this the safety? Off. On. Off? On? Off? She didn’t know how long she had been playing with the gun when she was jerked out of her reverie by a sound.
Instantly, standing up, her head snapped around toward the corner of the alley, and she tightly gripped her gun. Alert. A new sound. Padding sounds. What the hell was that?
I attended college at Ohio Wesleyan where I struggled with physics. Having made so many mistakes in college with physics, there weren’t too many left to make and I did quite well at graduate school at Purdue.
I worked for nearly twenty years at Choate Rosemary Hall, an exclusive boarding school in the heart of Connecticut. More often than not, students arrived in limousines. There was a wooded area by the upper athletic fields where I would take my children for a walk. There, under a large oak tree, stories about the elves would be weaved into the surrounding forest.
Returning to my home town to help with a father struggling with Alzheimer’s, the only job open was at a prison. There I taught an entirely different clientele whose only interaction with limousines was stealing them. A year later Alfred State College hired me to teach physics. I happily taught there for over ten years. A rural, low income high school needed a physics teacher and the superintendent, a friend, begged me to help out. So, I am finishing my teaching career in a most fulfilling way… helping kids who would otherwise not have access to a qualified physics (and math) teacher.
My wife pestered me about putting to “pen” some of the stories which I had created for the children and other relatives. I started thinking about a young boy and a white deer, connected, yet apart. Ideas were shuffled together, characters created and the result was the Return of the White Deer. This book was published by the Martin Sisters.
Years ago I gave a lecture on evolution. What, I wondered, would be the next step? Right away I realized that silicon ‘life’ had considerable advantages over mortal man. Later this idea emerged as the exciting and disturbing story called Reap the Whirlwind, my most recent novel.
I have many other stories inside my mind, fermenting, patiently waiting for the pen to give them breath. Perhaps someday I will even write about those elves which still inhabit the woods in the heart of Connecticut.