The thing in the Rock: Part 1

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A geologist finds something unexpected while exploring the badlands.

Submitted: April 29, 2017

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Submitted: April 29, 2017

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I blinked repeatedly; partly because wind and sand we're plentiful in these parts of the Badlands, but mostly because I had little belief in the truth that my eyes had presented before me. My hands that held my shaving brush and rock hammer shook as I stepped back to take a broader look at my inadvertent discovery. It was as if some small part of me had hoped that my initial instinct was merely a hastily arrived assumption. No, that ancient metamorphic rock that had been exposed by the surrounding uplift indeed appeared to be from that fateful age: 65 million years ago.

It must have originally been a soft clay layer deposited at the bottom of an even older drained swamp before the entire section was crushed into existence by the sheer weight of the aeons that piled on in it's wake. Despite warping from the oblique stresses that bore down from the entrapping mountain above, the markings on that twisted slab were unmistakable: too irregular yet too organized to not be deliberate, and far too familiar to be anything other than what my mind could sense but could not read:

Writing.

Only this was no ordinary writing: Having dabbled in linguistics along with geology, I could sense that the patterned lines, aside from their anachronistic existence, conveyed an inhuman consciousness that stretched out from that inscribed sarcophagus in hopes of reaching the unknown stranger I had unwittingly become.

Bonded we were, without even a single character or word yet deciphered; linked by the sheer knowledge and hopes of minds and times outside of our own. For 65 million years did this message-in-a-bottle weather the harsh surface of the earth’s constant clawing that made way for the fresh skin that banishes history into nonexistence. Yet, it was this very ripping at her own flesh that even gave these forgotten memories a chance at rebirth, lest they be eternally imprisoned in that boiling chamber of stone which scrubs clean the markings of time with furtive regularity.

Today, in a desolate corner in a desolate land, the Gods found it prudent to gamble on the improbable: the victory of such a cosmic lottery heralded only by the ephemeral fanfare distributed across the organic amphitheatre by howling winds.

Accompanied only by my dwindling rucksack and complacent introversion typical to rockhounds, I reflected on the magnitude of the mantle which had found begrudging roost atop my shoulders.

Surely this revelation was intended for some exalted academic or well-funded philanthropist who could much more fluidly impart such a discovery to the world and not some lackidaisical naer-do-well who used rock collection as a tenuous excuse to deter socialization and feign employment, such as I.

But here I was, along with the contorted slab, left to devise our now inseparable fates for the entertainment of a celestial audience that offered no inclination of indifference or allegiance.

Long did we speak in that familiar tongue of silence, as if we were both expectant of the other to rupture the stillness between us with ripples of speculation and supposition.

Long did time escape into that vacuous expanse between us before my mind reconnected with the flesh to call my hammer down in ginger and metered strokes so as to preserve the esoteric markings and the secrets they contained within.

It was not for months afterward, when I had exhausted every resource and skill I had accumulated over the years at my disposal, did I finally seek help from a far less egregious individual than myself: an acquaintance who had made it her calling deciphering dead languages. But far more important than her academic abilities, was her penchance for discretion.

Tomorrow will be when I set that recovered stone wrapped in burlap upon her department desk. Tomorrow will be when I set upon my distant associate this burden I have hefted alone for but an instant.


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