Short Fiction 2014: Something Something

The stale humid air held the scent of long departed sunlight. Quint took that as a good sign. There was nothing like the smell of something rotting to kill the mood for exploration. That or a skeleton propped up in the corner of the room clutching at the handle of a broken weapon, that was usually a bad sign too. Quint adjusted his headlight, and scanned the room just to make sure there wasn’t such a surprise waiting for him. His light dropped to the floor, so far the only tracks in the dust were his. He then looked up to the ceiling to make sure nothing nasty was waiting there.

He waved a hand to his companions as he moved through the entrance.

His first companion, a lithe, green skinned Nortian whispered in its throating approximation of English. “Why are we here?”

Nortians were one of the first species to make contact with humans. Their physiology was compatible with the atmosphere of Earth Prime, and they looked like bipedal lizards. Contrary to first impressions, they were quite civilized and were happy to help their ape-kin to reach the stars. Once humans were no longer bound to Earth Prime, or the Milky Way, they began a long string of colonization on habitable planets. Along they way humans met a few other species; some friendly, and others not so much. The Nortians stood by their friends through it all, but that was another story for another day.

Quint smiled at his scaly friend. “This is a piece of history, Six.”

The Nortian looked around the dusty room, it flicked its tongue out to test the air.

Quint waver his friend on. “Before starships, cyborgs, and interspecies politics there was this.” He spread his hands wide out in front of him. “It’s called a mall.”

“All of what?” That was his other companion. Dregger was human, mostly.

“Not ‘all’.” Quint used air quotes. “A mall. It was a collection of shops connected under a common roof.”

Six flicked its tongue again. “That is an interesting piece of human history. I’m glad we came all the way back to EP to take a look.”

“No, no.” Quint waved his hands at the vast expanse in front of him. “See, this was a great gathering place for social growth, romance, and commerce. Lives were changed in this place.”

“I don’t get it.” Dregger shrugged.

“Come on.” Quint marched forward into the artificial cave. “History awaits.”

“Why do we follow it again?” Six looked at the cyborg.

“Him, Six. Humans are touchy about that kind of thing.”

Nortians were intersex, they changed to fit the situation, and didn’t care to be labeled as a he or she. “Why do we always follow him?”

Dregger smiled. “It beats cleaning filters at the port.”

 

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