tales [ short-story seus ]


“I used to be a scientist,” Artyom told the children as they huddled closer to listen, “but I’m not anymore. The world no longer has no use for my kind of scientists.”

“Before the disaster, a group of us had continuum tethers, large floating crystals that connected us to another scientist the future. It was experimental, but the plan was to use the devices and help design projects that would keep the earth hospitable, should any disaster strike. Some good that did.”

“Who was your buddy,” a girl to his side asked.

“Oh, we never knew who was on the other side of the crystals. We could communicate one-way, but only got irregular vibrations and not-quite-human sounds in return. I called mine Staryy Brekhun, Ol’ Yeller in your language, because of how loud he was. Starry actually warned me of the incoming disaster, The Kaiju.”

Even though the children had heard this story dozens of times, the man always seemed to captivate them.

“It was morning, I was walking to work when Starry started to give out a deep hum. I had never seen that before, so I held him tight and tried to ask what the problem was. He rose into the air, another new ability, and pulled me up with it. As my feet lifted from the ground I saw the alien ships breach the atmosphere and plunge into the earth, creating craters across the globe and burrowing into the planet. I held onto Starry, hands sweating and slipping, for longer than I thought I could before he lowered me back to the ground. He started to pull himself in my hands, still humming. He moved like there was an internal force pulling him forward. I held him in my hands and let him lead. I didn’t know where we would end up, but with the world ending around me I could have worse guides than a rock connected to the future.”

“That night the earthquakes started, must’ve shaken the planet to its core. Water, power, transportation—nearly every service society relied on, destroyed before sunrise. After crippling humanity, the Kaiju beasts burst through the earth’s crust and wreaked havoc on the survivors.”

“What’s a Kaiju?” a boy asked.

“It’s a giant monster, bigger than any mountain you’ve ever seen,” Artyom said as he lifted his open hands over his head. “The alien ships seemed to be a new type of lifeform, biological machines-“

“What’s biological?” the same boy asked.

“The Kaiju left gunk as they went, which suggested the machines themselves were alive and that the aliens controlled them from within, like parasites.” Artyom looked at the boy, who appeared satisfied as he settled back onto the floor. “The Kaiju stomped across the surface of the planet, leaving a wake of destruction.”

“Starry guided me through the shattered mountains. It looked like giant cattle had stampeded across their peaks, the cliffs smashed and unstable. Starry and I came across the flattened remnants of the military as we climbed the final range. The Kaiju had trampled through the area and left live munitions littered throughout. We almost met an explosive grave more than once on that adventure.”

“We crested the mountain and looked out at what should have been the Pacific Ocean, what used to be the Pacific Ocean. The Kaiju had damaged the planet enough for the ocean to sink deeper into the earth.”

“Starry led me through a splintered forest and past the stomped rubble of civilization. We reached the dry coast he ceased humming and laid its weight into my hands. I don’t know what happened,” Artyom said as he tilted his head downward. “I think his goal was to get me to the coast, I hope that someday I’ll be able to figure out why.”

Artyom picked his face back up, his eyes lively again. “I wandered the coast until I saw a pillar of smoke in the distance, out in the dried reefs. I followed the smoke and made my way here, to the caves we call home.”

“You always end it that way,” one of the children objected.

“What can I say,” Artyom replied, “that’s all there is. But I’ll make sure to come back and tell you if I ever add more. For now it’s time for you to go home,” he said as he stood and stretched his legs, “and me to get some shuteye.”

Artyom returned to his shelter as the children dispersed with quiet opposition. He entered and went to the corner, opening a fur pack and revealing the dimly lit crystal. It made no noise.

“I’m back, friend,” Artyom said as he put his hand on the tether. “You still here?”

It vibrated back ever so slightly.

Originally posted on /r/WritingPrompts SEUS thread