The specimens loomed above them like mythological figures, impeccably detailed. And amazingly life-like. Their monolithic shadows engulfed the tour group as it wound its way past the desert wildlife exhibit and into the extinct species section. The tour guide stopped, making sure she had everyone’s attention before continuing her spiel.
“Here,” she pointed to the towering Lucite case, tranquilly glowing under the atmospheric blue light stationed above it, “we have what was once known as a Mitronic Slavender. This species of reptile-based life lived approximately 30,000 years ago, during the High-Cridilon Era. Notice the scaly skin, which reflects the light in a nice display of glimmering colors. We believe it was this display that not only attracted their mates, but was also used as a defense to lull the enemy into a false sense of complacency while another member of the group could attack their predator, which would most likely have been Trilodite Bats and Brokenstards. You can see the sharpened fangs, the way they hang down from the upper mandible, curving beneath the jawline, almost reaching to the throat. Quite an effective weapon, able to maim the skin of a predator very easily. The claws, although fierce-looking, were mostly just for show, since they had such limited mobility. If you can see the eyes, I know they’re quite small and close-set, you’ll notice that they’re arranged in a hexagonal pattern, giving the creature a better peripheral view of its surroundings.
“We do not know exactly why this species died out. Scientists rationalize the theory that it was a dramatic climate shift, which affected the food supply and basically starved them to death. Okay, moving on to the next exhibit, we see the Slavender’s predecessor, Homo Sapien, also referred to as human beings.” The group shifted toward the next display, pausing in front of the case.
“This species lived a long time ago, almost 500,000 years to be precise. They actually caused their own demise, with their nonsensical wars of inter-racial fighting, and the nuclear fallout that resulted from their ingenious minds, speaking in contemporary terms, of course. We are now much smarter than they could ever believe. We lived among them, just as we did the Slavenders, deemed to be nothing more than “pests.” You’ll notice the primitive hands, with four fingers and an opposable thumb, and the two eyes set above the breathing apparatus of a nose. The bone structure is rigid, but completely useless in terms of long-term survival.
“We actually came across this specimen frozen in the tundra of what they referred to as “Antarctica”. There’s some patrons in the museum who believe that he is still alive, his brain still functional after all these years. It’s a silly rumor, but don’t be surprised if his eyes follow you as we continue our journey into the past.” The tour guide laughed, and heralded her group to the next display, flawlessly keeping up her dialogue of trivial information.
He watched them go by. Screaming was a pleasure that had long since become unavailable. The man whose name wasn’t important even when he was alive thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago still had an irresistible impulse to squash the bugs, to hear their chitin bodies crackle underneath the weight of his foot. Their beady eyes and probing feelers swathed the glass in an attempt to get a better view of him. He would have been surprised at how well they had learned to speak English, if he could hear anything at all in the maddening silence of his tomb, his final “resting” place. The ice was better. At least there, he didn’t have to deal with Them.
One part of his mind waited eagerly for the next cataclysmic event, a changing of the guard to render him free of this prison, to put him out of his misery. Another part knew that it didn’t matter, he was the Emperor of Space and Time, yes, all Space and Time. The whole universe, in fact, belonged to him, and only him. And still another part, a small, dwindling part that was nearly as extinct as he was, believed this to all be some sort of nightmare, that all he would have to do to end it is just wake up. Wake up...wake up...wake...