This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. I don't do these every week, but if a story comes to me, I try to join in! This is from Miranda's post:
This week's photo prompt was taken by Russian photographer Daniel Kordan - he has some incredible pictures, definitely worth checking out his site.
Have you sussed what this is yet? It's not some strange photoshopped image, it's actually a photo of an ice cave being illuminated by a flare - an ice cave in Kamchatka in the Far East of Russia. He explored under the glacier near the Mutnovsky volcano. You can read about it here.
Here's a link to the prompt photo.
Yet another sci-fi tale this week.
Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 462 words for those who are counting (not including the title and byline).
There is a link to a downloadable PDF version of the story at the bottom of the page.
Crack the Sky
K. R. Smith
"An ominous sign, to be sure," Glornacht said. His eyes scanned the sharp lines cutting through the hazy red hues glowing above.
"Hasn't anyone climbed up the cliffs to understand what's going on?"
"You're not from this place, David, and you must learn our ways. It would be considered presumptuous for a mortal to ascend the mountains. That is the domain of the Everlasting Ones. We have been provided for here, and here we will stay."
"How can a sky crack, Glornacht?" David adjusted the universal translator hoping the meaning of his words might come through somehow. "How?"
"It happens from time to time. I've read of such events in our chronicles. We go deep into the underworld until it is safe again."
"How long will that be?"
"It is difficult to say. A hundred cycles, or a thousand." Glornacht shrugged. "Perhaps more. When it pleases the Everlasting Ones, we will return."
David hung his head. "Let me explain again. I've been above what you call the sky. It's not the sky at all. It's a huge sheet of ice on a world we call Mars. The only reason you can live here is because the rocks shield you from radiation, the ice sheet locks in an atmosphere, and enough ice melts to provide you with water. And now, for whatever reason, that ice sheet is cracking. When it comes tumbling down, many of your people will be injured or killed."
Glornacht looked at the visitor and smiled. "Though I don't understand all your words, what would you have us do? Leave? Even if we were allowed to do so, the place you describe beyond the sky would not support our bodies."
"So, you'll remain here to die, all because of some ancient superstition?"
"Superstition? Perhaps. But we will not die. From what you tell us, we have survived, even thrived here, longer than species has existed. And why did your people leave their home to come to this place? Because your world is failing. At your own hand, I might add."
David had no reply.
"I know you're trying to help, and we are grateful, but it might be best if you helped yourself first." Glornacht put his three-fingered hand on David's shoulder. "And, of course, you — and those with you — are welcome to join us. The Everlasting Ones do not mind, I can assure you."
David looked into Glornacht's eyes. Only six months since landing and the colony was already in trouble. Farming, energy generation, even waste disposal was more difficult than they had ever imagined. Water was critically low. They had investigated the ice sheets as an easy way to obtain a suitable supply. How could he explain that, this time, he was the reason their sky was cracking?
While you're here...