Thursday, December 22, 2011


I wrote this really quick last night & touched it up a little bit today. Curious to get your thoughts. It's a self-contained short story inspired by the recent discovery by the Kepler observatory. It had found some planets which, at one point in their history, may have supported life, but are now too close to their sun to be habitable. Enjoy, typos & all! I'll touch it up some more when I have time & am not rushed.


By:  Ryan A. Goodwin

Gobrah, Chief Star Finder to the God-King, Azreul, looked through his sky-lens again.  His neck scales rose up and down in consternation, his sinuous neck swaying slightly back and forth.  This was not good.  Above him against the black void of space, the bright stars spangled the sky in dense, varying patterns.
The sky-lens was focused, however, not on a star, but a grayish smudge just peaking over the horizon.  The comet Epefrayla was not where it should be.  The heavens were consistent, constant.  This was not right.  The comet was several degrees away from where his tedious calculations said it should be.
 The calculations were correct.
 He removed his vertically slitted eye from the sky-lens, focusing over the long barrel of the sky-lens to look at the comet.  This was not the first omen.  No, not omen.  Mathematical certainty was not a ridiculous superstition.  And the math was clear:  their world was moving closer to their sun.  The Star Finders had been watching, silently, as the heavens were shifting ever slightly.  This star a few tenths of a degree off, this planet, a few more.  He raised his star finding device, checking elevation and angle, then rotating his sky-lens to another star.  He bent his neck again, placing his left eye-ridge scale against the eye-piece.
 Skyphene was not where it should be.
 He rotated his sky-lens by a single degree left.  No star.  He rotated it another whole degree and there it was, filling the view through his sky-lens.
 Just last year at this time, Skyphene was only a fraction of a degree out of place.  Now it was two!  His large arm feathers shivered and extended.  Extremely disturbing.  There was no hiding this.  Even the most amateur Star Finder would see the placement of the stars was becoming increasingly inaccurate.  It seemed that the rate was increasing, too.
 He must take this to the God-King.
 Gobrah stepped away from his sky-lens, the curved talons on his feet scraping and scratching the rough stone surface of his viewing ledge.  They gripped the edge, he spread his arms, the long white and black speckled flight feathers extending, and leapt into the night air.  Several deep thrusts with his arm-wings and he was gliding above the deep jungle foliage below.
 Insects buzzed and flew about him.  Normally he might pluck one from the air with a quick extension of his neck, but not tonight.  His eyes narrowed, the thick eye-brow scales furrowing.  The end of his world was coming, and his people had no way to prevent it.
 Minutes passed as he flew above the jungle, towards the towering tree fortress of the God-King.  It was the largest tree, by far, in the jungle, stretching four again the height of the next tallest trees.  Stone platforms had been mortared around it, creating ledges and rooms.  Torches burned in tempered glass housings, casting flickering yellow light across the broad violet leaves and dark gray bark.
 He arched back, flapping deeply with his arms, stretching his legs forward, landing on a stone ledge.  This ledge led directly to the God-King’s quarters.  The two guards bobbed their heads at him, in acknowledgement.  He ignored them, striding forward, his neck slightly bobbing forward as he walked, his long, thin, tail flicking back and forth.
 Voices echoed down the corridor to him.  Screeches of laughter, guttural roars of astonishment, and the gravelly tones of normal talk.  The God-King was entertaining this evening, it seemed.  That would be sure to end.
 Gobrah strode into the room, seeing tens of his fellows perched or stretched across curved wooden benches.  Tables were arranged in front of each, covered in pickled dart-fliers, roasted tree-swingers, plump blood-fruit, and numerous other things he didn’t pay so much attention to.
 The God-King’s neck stretched up, his red-painted neck scales flaring out as he watched Gobrah enter the room.  His bright purple arm feathers stretched suddenly and the room fell to silence.  All were staring at him.
 “Gobrah, while not invited, you may certainly join us.  You seem to be determined to do so.”  The room laughed around him, high screeches filling the humid night air.
 “My God-King, I bring dire news.  Otherwise I would not interrupt.”
 The room returned to silence.
 “Then speak, Star Finder.  What portents or omens have you discovered that require interrupting this feast?”  The God-King’s neck scales slowly raised and lowered, threateningly.
 “Our world, Andul, it is falling into our sun.  The math is clear.  The stars do not lie.  The seasons, it has been becoming increasingly warm.  I do not know of another conclusion to draw.”
 Arm feathers unfurled around him, the people hissing, their necks swaying back and forth.  Jaws clacked and neck scales flapped.  The God-Kings eye-brow scales lifted, then narrowed.  His feathers did not unfurl.  His neck did not sway.
 He already knew.
 Gobrah’s eyes widened, his neck leaning back.
 “Indeed, Gobrah?  You bring this to me here, now, in front of this group?  All of you - LEAVE!”  The God-King’s guttural words vibrated the walls, and even a wisp of flame escaped his open maw, narrow, pointed teeth flashing in the torch light.
 Claws scrabbled and scratched as they fled from the room, leaving Gobrah standing alone with the God-King.  The God-King stood, walking around the table in front of his seat.  Gobrah instinctively walked side-ways, opposite of the God-King.
 They circled like wary predators.
 “My dear Gobrah.  The signs have been clear for sometime.  I can see it in your eyes, you know that I knew of this already.  Likely you wonder why haven’t I done anything.  That is a fair question.”  Gobrah simply stalked sideways, wary and terrified at the same time.  He knew!  And why does he circle me like prey?  I have brought warning!  Why hasn’t he done anything?
 “The truth is, Gobrah, we have been working, but in secret.  If the people were to find out, the world would be in chaos.  There is no way to suddenly focus everyone, all at once.  And here, you, in your desire to draw attention to yourself, have unleashed the poison.
 “Word is surely already spreading and now I must not only marshal the people to meet the threat of the end of our world, but chaos.
 “This is on your head, Gobrah.”
 Gobrah rattled his neck scales.  “How would you face the end of our world?  What hope would we have?” 
 “The new sciences are our answer.  The metallurgy, physics, biology sciences.  We are a people moving beyond ancient omens and portents.  We shall fly through the stars as we fly through our jungles.” 
 Gobrah stopped walking in his astonishment.  Fly among the stars?  How was that possible?  Would these new sciences really take his people away from this doomed world?
 “How long, Gobrah, till the end?” 
 Gobrah shook his head, thinking back to his calculations.
 “Five thousands years till our planet’s demise, much less for us, I think.  It shall become unbearably warm in only five hundred, maybe one-thousand years.”
 “That, my dear Gobrah, is a great deal of time for us to focus and develop ourselves.  But now you may have disrupted that work.  Now we may not be able to focus.  Unless I can stop the chaos.”  The God-King stepped closer.
 Gobrah bent his neck down, shame filling him.  His feathers fell, drooping.
 “My God-King, I... I am sorry.” 
 “I know, Gobrah, I know.  I am sorry, too.”
 Gobrah’s eyes widened, his voice screeched into the night.  The God-King’s mouth, with those terribly narrow, sharp teeth, had clamped down on his neck.  He could feel his life blood leeching out, hear splattering onto the stone floor.  He kicked his legs up, trying to find purchase on the God-King, but his legs, they were already weak.
 He was only trying to help his people.  He was only trying to do his duty.
 The room was darkening and it was getting cold.  Then he felt himself lowered to the floor, gently, the God-King cradling him. 
 “I know, Gobrah, you were only doing your duty.  And in doing so you may have doomed us all.  You will either be remembered as a villian, or as a hero, the first to warn us of our impending doom.”  The God-King’s voice was moving further away, as if he were in a tunnel.
 “I will try to make you the martyr, Gobrah.  I shall try.”
 The world went silent.
 The world went dark.

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