Drop #105: Start of a Sci-Fi Novella

The Wider Argot Path

When the spotted longcrows and gray roundrats became too much of a nuisance, we moved camp to the foot of the pellucid sleekstone ridge. Camion, my partner on the expedition was leaking shale oil through his retornator, and we decided it was better not to push on before we had it fixed as second night was quickly falling. We were out to prospect the fertile Gorgalor Valley for Metamorphosite, or Giddy Gold as it was known in the newly fledged, but fast growing mining community. Ramshackle outposts, built overnight using schizoid hologram packs bought from nomad black market runners, had sprung up like carnivorous finger fungi all over the region.

We were looking for adventure, and had found plenty of it, but perhaps, over the last few demi-days, we’d strayed out of our depth. Our rations of sid sour were running low and I was a bear without my hopemead injections, which were down to a single dose. Our guide, Ummelar, a half Brigdoo, half Kalu giant, with a typical broad ocular bridge and concave skull of the first, and shallow under chin of the second, who had grown up in these mountains, was no longer communicative, sitting beside the lumen ball he had found in the deep pool near the crest of Ootau Peak, where all the bone conifers had died – their hollow husks staining the rugged landscape in perfect symmetry, like the skeletons of giant Abersinth molluscs, all collapsed into death after a mass migration to their wood-winter breeding grounds on the steppes of Old Olund Bane.

So, the situation was less than ideal, with a cubic monsoon predicted on the calmness of the wind. I started fixing the retornator, plastering the holes with the thin of my rubber gouger, which I melted in a nearby atonal wormhole. It did the job but wouldn’t last, and I feared the thing would collapse entirely within days, leaving Camion to breath in the worst of the region’s microscopic but infamous carcinogen slate. We had already endured many of the ills the Wider Argot Path had to offer, but in this place, it could always get worse.

Ummelar remained no more than an enormous oblong back beside the pastel ball’s fading glow, so Camion and I went about making dinner ourselves. We water seared a large bearded aphid and dust treated some pool poppy tubers till they were good and crispy. Camion also produced a hatch of baby glue slugs, which we mashed into a paste and spread on the last three coal scones in the once full basset bag I’d lugged around for weeks. (My back was brown and reticulated with the effort.) The food was good and warmed the innards, but we would be hungry again within hours once annelid digestion had run its course. This weather pushed all assistance mechanisms to the max.

In the morning, before peak quasar shine, we packed up and headed towards the Stills of Armen, where countless crollodytes, neandafoids and hominids alike had met their death from the frigid cold down low, infernal heat up top, or in the clutches of the many spindly arachnopods and glutinous wrath worms that called the harsh terrain home. Ummelar was beyond communication, showing the classic nasal tubulescence of lumen overdose. So we left him for the scavenging broadbats and took off alone, taking turns with the heavy protobag, which still weighed close to 45 kilos, even after maximum proportional scaling of 312%. It was heavy going, my boots catching often in the sliding shale that would lead us through Zlarting Pass, to the hills of Wisdom. Soon, we would know if we’d made a terrible mistake, or rather, just how terrible the mistake had been.

By E.M. Vireo


Note: This was the result of putting down the first line that came to mind and rolling with it for a few paragraphs. I wrote it just for fun, and to try out the genre, with no real plot in mind or intent to carry on, so the above is all that exists of this particular story. 


About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

4 Responses to Drop #105: Start of a Sci-Fi Novella

  1. You could pull off this genre if you wanted. Can’t say that for most.

  2. Pure Fiction says:

    This is cool. You should at least develop this into a short story. Do you have a basis for when you use first person? I am never sure why I use one POV over another.

    • EM Vireo says:

      thanks. maybe i will one day. as per POV, this one just came out this way off the bat, without thought, but i do play around with narration and POV on bigger projects- there is also limited and omniscient to mess with which have a bigger effect than I or he, in my opinion, and can really change the mood and flow of a piece, and totally alter the info shared.

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