Welcome, everyone, to the first day of Fall Fanon Con 2018! I'm your host for the Normal Writing Contest, the theme of which is 'Creation'. We have one contestant; Aaron, which means he is automatically the winner! Click on the 'Expand' button below to read his entry.
Paleontologist 1: “This is it. This is the ‘new species’.”
She gestures towards the humanoid statue, taller than anyone present.
Paleontologist 2: “You’re joking, right? This thing is fake isn’t it? It can’t be real.”
Paleontologist 1: “Whether I think it’s real or not is beside the point, this things dates back over 540 million years. By all accounts it’s the oldest thing here.”
Paleontologist 2: “But it’s huge!”
The third, a man, speaks in a familiar voice. His sickly skin appears normal under the artificial light.
Paleontologist 3: “We can see that, professor.”
Paleontologist 2: “But nothing that large could’ve evolved in the Cambrian period! It’s impossible! And its entire body has fossilised so perfectly, we’d have found fragments at least. Surely it has to be some freak rock formation?”
Paleontologist 3: “Every fossil is a freak rock formation. They just so happen to have been alive at some point as well.”
Paleontologist 2: “I refuse to believe that thing was ever alive!”
Paleontologist 1: “Professor are you alright?”
Paleontologist 2: “I-I’m fine. I just… I’m not okay with this discovery.”
Paleontologist 3: “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get used to it...”
The Tennyson trio sit inside a large, open-floored white tent at a folded-out table. They were among a large group of children and parents, all sitting facing the front of the room where a projector was set up and a woman in safari gear addresses the gathering. At the start, Ben was enthralled by the slideshow and tales of epic beasts of epochs long since passed. After two minutes, his excitement passed as the slides devolved into pictures of weird hair combs and woodlice. Five minutes later and Gwen is studying a rock with a remarkably well preserved imprint of one of the aforementioned hair comb creatures.
Ben: “I cannot believe you brought me to another stupid fossil excavation, Gwen.”
Gwen: “I thought you enjoyed last time? Before Vilgax and Animo showed up, anyway.”
Ben: “Yeah cos I thought we were gonna find a T-rex. Not some stupid bony fish.”
Ben points at a badge of a Trilobite that Gwen is wearing on her shirt.
Gwen: “Actually Trilobites predate fish by several million year--”
Max: “Now Ben, I’m sure there’s something here for you to enjoy. Oh, uh, Miss Dover!”
Max beckons a woman in exploration garb over.
Max: “Could you show Ben that Anomalous Car-fish thing you showed me earlier?”
Miss Dover: “Of course!”
She goes over to another table surrounded by children, picks up a large statue, and kneels down next to Ben with it. Ben ignores her.
Miss Dover: “Behold! The Earth’s first super predator!”
His attention thoroughly piqued, he glances over at the 3 foot long statue the teacher was holding before double taking.
Ben: “What the heck is that?”
The statue presented a creature alien beyond any measure that Ben’s exposure to the Omnitrix could have prepared him for. It was a hideous monster cast in mucky bronze, the only animal even close to it would be a shrimp but the model was long and flat with segmented and overlapping scales running along its length to swim with. It’s smooth head had two thick stalks upon which sat multi-lensed eyes. Two powerful scaled feelers hang from where any modern Earth creature would place its mouth. It’s circular, serrated mouth sits on the underside.
Miss Dover: “Anomalocaris. This isn’t to scale, either. These could grow to be longer than you are tall!”
Ben: “Woah cool! Did they use those grabby things to eat the little bug-looking ones?”
Miss Dover: “Haha well we used to think they did but...”
Gwen: “Nope. Their mouths aren’t strong enough to break their shells.”
Ben: “Bored again. You ruined it.”
The teacher stands back up, now saddened and disappointed at Ben’s shattered enjoyment of her favourite area of her favourite science. Ben gets up and walks outside. Dover’s gaze follows him as he leaves.
Max: “Ah don’t worry about him, Miss Dover. He’s more one for video games than science. But me and Gwen here love your work.”
Miss Dover: “Thank you, Mister...?”
Miss Dover: “...Mr Tennyson. I appreciate that you’re enjoying yourselves.”
She smiles, and sits down next to Gwen.
Outside, Ben began exploring. A large quarry area was fenced off near where the tent was set up. Fences, naturally, meant nothing to Ben when he was bored. A quick scroll through the Omnitrix and a green flash later, and he immediately realised that Stinkfly would have been a better choice. Four Arms too. Overflow or Heatblast could probably have propelled themselves over the fence as well. Regardless, he was now stuck with XLR8.
He darted off, tracing the perimeter of the chainlink fence until he finally came across a gate left slightly ajar. Pulling the door open as quietly as he could he went inside. He couldn’t yet see anything more than he could from outside the fence, the blocked off area was just a bunch of dirt hills which were created when the quarry was made. He climbs the soft hills carefully, the balls his feet held sank gently with each step.
Looking over the hidden scene he found the quarry proper, a huge wide open space spiralling down to the bottom of the pit. Taking the route of most fun, he zoomed like a lightning bolt around the rim of the spiral to reach the bottom.
At the pit floor lays a white van outside a deep dark cave entrance. They were guarded, to put it eccentrically, by two men in orange jumpsuits. One studied a rock carefully under a microscope, the other stood watching with a cup of coffee in hand. The man with the coffee spoke first.
Scientist 1: “Careful, you nearly missed a spot.”
Scientist 2: “Bog off, Jerry. There’s some interesting stuff in this rock.”
Scientist 1: “Hardly. It’s just clay.”
Scientist 2: “Clay with a lot of bacteria samples in.”
Scientist 1: “Wowzers.”
The man at the microscope stands up in disgust.
Scientist 2: “If Cambrian and Precambrian biology doesn’t interest you, why are you here?”
Scientist 1: “University work placement. I want to study gemstones not the common cold for trilobites.”
Scientists 2: “What more could there possibly be to learn from— What in God’s name is that?”
The coffee man turns to see what the other had pointed out. They both stare intently at their van as a strange, thin humanoid rummages through the back. It stops, as it realised the two had stopped talking. It slowly turns around. XLR8 is wearing a dirty white lab coat and a headlamp, both stolen from the van. The lab coat fits poorly over the fins on his back.
XLR8: “H-Hi guys. Mind if I look at rocks with you?”
The alien glances to the right, seeing the cave entrance.
XLR8: “On second thoughts, I’d rather go exploring. See ya!”
He rushes into the dark, his path illuminated only by his headlamp and a brief red glow once he’s out of view. The pair remain speechless. Far ahead of him the three paleontologists continue their discussion on the topic of the impossible fossil.
Paleontologist 2: “So what should we name this thing? Until we can disprove it anyway.”
Paleontologist 3: “How typical, to refuse the possibility of a new discovery as it stands before you.”
Paleontologist 2: “I intend to prove that this discovery is false as soon as I am able. I do not refuse this without good reason. That rock could never have been alive.”
Paleontologist 3: “Then you and I have two very different angles, professor. I intend to prove this creature very much was alive at one point.”
The man slides off his backpack, and pulls out a gun-shaped device. He points it at his two hostages.
Paleontologist 1: “Oh my God!”
Paleontologist 2: “I strongly suggest you reconsider what you’re about to do, Doctor...”
Paleontologist 3: “Doctor Animo! And I wouldn’t be too worried about me, Professor Ainsley, this gun is harmless. Now if you could stand aside, I’ll...”
He stops, at the distant sound a child struggling through the harsh stone path. Then he sees the headlight approaching down the pitch black hallway, accompanied by a pattern of red glowing on the child’s wrist. He knew instantly who he was looking at, and kept his gun aimed at the paleontologists.
Dr. Animo: “Ben Tennyson. Even at the bottom of the world you still see fit to thwart my plans.”
Ben: “Hey I only came down here cos I was bored. You’re just easy to bump into.”
Dr. Animo: “Nevertheless, with your watch on red I don’t think I have to worry about you yet.”
Paleontologist 1: “If that gun is harmless why are you still pointing it at us?”
Dr. Animo: “Because you’re in my way.”
The two scientists sidestep apart, giving Animo a clear view of the petrified humanoid figure. He pulls the trigger and the circular cap of his gun fires off, connecting two long thin wires to the fossil.
Prof. Ainsley: “What are you doing?”
Dr. Animo: “Oh how I’ve been laughed at. Mocked. But this is truly my greatest invention yet. A regenerative serum is now flowing through that fossil, rebuilding and regenerating any organic material that may once have been part of its being. And to think, I’d only planned on restoring an Anomalocaris or two down here!”
Ben enters the lit area, his Omnitrix now chiming green.
Ben: “What is that thing?”
Dr. Animo: “I have no idea!”
Metal flakes begin to peel off of the statue, revealing a murky and dark yellow layer beneath. Animo smiles wildly, moving the goggles from his forehead over his eyes. The creature begins to glow bright white, forcing Ben and the two paleontologists to cover their eyes. When the glow fades enough for them to look again, the iron-metal exoskeleton had entirely fallen away. The murky yellow skin had turned a sickly golden yellow carapace. Its face is well armoured within the chitin exoskeleton, with two piercing blue eyes peering through above a three-lipped mouth.
The creature takes a clumsy step forwards and collapses. Animo steps backwards, giving it room to fall. Ben and the female scientist immediately rush to its aid. Ainsley watches in silent horror.
Ben: “You okay?”
Paleontologist 1: “What are you?”
It gasps for air.
Creature: “Where’d the water go? There was water here...”
It inhales deeply and coughs.
Dr. Animo: “Welcome back!”
Creature: “Back where? Who ...what are you four? Where did you come from?”
It struggles with its words. The two humans by its side help it back to its feet despite its considerable weight.
Dr. Animo: “Why, back from the dead of course! We are the human race, we evolved in your absence! Elizabeth, how long did you say our friend had been dead for?”
Elizabeth: “You’ve been dead for 540 million years.”
The creature stumbles in place, its legs almost giving out from under it.
Creature: “D-dead?! We only came to the surface for a few minutes... My crew! Where are my crew?!”
Elizabeth: “Who are you?”
Creature: “My name is Lomonus, of the Bysaltine. I came here with a crew, my comrades and I were explorers. They came to the surface with me. I don’t remember what happened. It all happened so quickly, I’m sorry I don’t know what happened.”
Dr. Animo: “That’s quite alright, death can be a traumatic experience.”
The silent professor looks around. The alien coughs into their hand. They look into their palm to see a viscous black fluid, and immediately hides it away.
Prof. Ainsley: “A mudslide perhaps?”
Lomonus: “Mud? Mud. Mud! Dark! I remember! It was so dark!”
The insectoid begins to crouch and cower in the dark caves. Elizabeth stays by their side, but Ben steps away.
Elizabeth: “He needs light!”
Ben: “On it!”
Ben slams down the dial of the Omnitrix, transforming instantly into fire. Heatblast’s body generated enough light to easily illuminate the small rocky tomb they were in.
Lomonus: “Y-yes. Yes. Thank you. It’s so tight down here. Can we leave? Is there still a surface to this world?”
Elizabeth: “There is, yes.”
Dr. Animo: “Oh, very well. Follow me!”
Animo makes sure to be the first on the journey back to the surface.
Prof. Ainsley: “Ainsley.”
Heatblast: “Professor Ainsley, can you help Lomonus out? I don’t want to burn him.”
Prof. Ainsley: “Yes, sure. But how did you…?”
Heatblast: “No time.”
Ainsley puts his arm over Lomonus and helps Elizabeth hold him up right.
Lomonus: “Thank you.”
Animo is the first to exit the cave. One of the two ‘guards’ turns to him.
Scientist 2: “Who the blazes are you?”
Animo raises his small firearm and points it at the pair.
Dr. Animo: “Your services are not required. Go on, get in your van and go!”
The second man turns to see Animo. The first immediately breaks for the van, climbing in the front seat and revving up. The other scientist rushes into the passenger seat and the large white vehicle speeds off, turning up the long ramp out of the quarry. The mad doctor smirks, and turns to the darkness of the cave.
Dr. Animo: “Come on! I haven’t got all day!”
Heatblast approaches the mouth of the cave, evidenced by the orange glow that precedes him. As he reaches daylight the Omnitrix times out.
Ben: “You could’ve helped us!”
Dr. Animo: “I’ve already helped plenty. Without me they’d be trying to figure out where an aliens fits into our tree of life!”
Ben: “That’s not what I meant.”
Dr. Animo: “I know. How are you three doing back there?”
Elizabeth: “Woah, hey!”
Lomonus sprints into the sunlight and soaks it all in. They close their eyes, drowning out the alien planet and just letting the warm starlight wash over them.
Lomonus: “This sun is good, but where has the water gone?”
Prof. Ainsley: “This place hasn’t been underwater for a very long time. The planet looked very different back then.”
Lomonus: “And yet…?”
They feels for their throat before coughing up more black mucus, this time spitting it onto the ground as they fail to catch it. Ben flinches in disgust.
Ben: “Eww! Blood!”
Dr. Animo: “That isn’t blood, Tennyson. It’s rot.”
Lomonus: “They couldn’t get away… The mud would’ve been too fast for them, too.”
Elizabeth: “Your crew? I’m sorry. Unless your kind can live forever they’re gone.”
Dr. Animo: “540 million years, you’d be lucky if they aren’t extinct.”
Prof. Ainsley: “But if the mud got them, they could still be down there. Dead, sure, but what boundary is that now that Animo can bring them back?”
Lomonus turns to Animo with wide eyes and their mouth ajar- the Bysaltine expression of joyful hope.
Dr. Animo: “Absolutely not.”
Ben: “Why not? You brought one back, why stop now?”
Dr. Animo: “I brought that thing back as an experiment, to see if I could. I’d have settled with an Ammonite, but he captured my interest.”
Lomonus: “But you can’t just leave me alone like this! You brought me back to a universe I don’t recognise just for fun, that’s not just unethical it’s immoral!”
Dr. Animo: “I’ve made up my mind, to hell with ethics. Now if you don’t mind me I’m going to go resurrect a Tyrannosaurus Rex!”
Lomonus approaches Animo.
Dr. Animo: “What do you—“
The alien strikes him.
Lomonus: “You have the power to help me and you refuse. You brought me back with no concern for my well being, and now leave me to suffer. You are an evil creature, Doctor Animo, and evil must be punished.”
Animo steps back and brings his gun to bear.
Dr. Animo: “How dare you!”
He fires a volley of green energy pellets at Lomonus, who freezes in place. The pellets hit and fade into their target’s armour. The squishy flesh beneath the alien’s exoskeleton glows green for a brief second before he jolts back into motion.
Prof. Ainsley: “You said that gun was harmless!”
Dr. Animo: “I lied.”
Lomonus begins to grow slightly beneath his exoskeleton and approaches Animo again, before a bright cyan fist sucker-punches him by surprise. The insectoid stumbles away and regains balance. He spits a mouthful of black ooze onto the bare ground, a trickle of the stuff runs down his face from his eye.
Lomonus: “I thought you would’ve been on my side, changeling.”
Shock Rock: “I can’t let you kill Animo.”
Lomonus: “Why not?”
Shock Rock: “Because it’s wrong!”
Lomonus: “Is he not evil?”
Shock Rock: “It doesn’t matter if he is, murder isn’t right!”
Lomonus: “If you would defend an evil creature then you are no better.”
Shock Rock: “He gave you life! You can’t compare that to murder!”
Lomonus: “He has the power to save us from death and he chooses not to! I don’t ask for him to resurrect everyone, I just don’t want to be alone!”
Shock Rock: “And how will killing him help?”
Lomonus: “Evil must be cleansed!”
Lomonus goes to strike Ben, but Ben dodges. Shock Rock responds with swift strikes to the alien’s gut, but they freeze solid once more. The Fulmini struggles slightly to remove his hands each time they connect, and blue energy glows through the Bystaline’s fleshy interior. The cyan fades and Lomonus grows again, now matching Shock Rock in height.
Lomonus: “You don’t need to be a part of this!”
Shock Rock: “Neither do you! We could be friends, you could travel with me, my cousin, and Grandpa. You don’t have to be alone!”
Lomonus: “You really are just a child. Get out of my way--”
Lomonus attempts to get around Shock Rock to attack Animo, only to see that Animo has begun running up the shallow, spiral ramp out of the quarry. Enraged, Lomonus charges towards the stone wall beneath Animo- proving themselves a much faster runner than Shock Rock. He begins to climb the sheer wall. Shock Rock chases them, before jumping up to Lomonus and grabbing onto their back. The sudden weight causes Lomonus to lose their grip and they fall back to the hard dusty ground at the bottom of the pit.
Shock Rock climbs back to his feet carelessly and stumbles away as he regains his balance. Lomonus slowly struggles their way upright before vomiting yet more black bile. Severely weakened, they wander over to Shock Rock and attempt to throw a punch but miss and fall instead. Shock Rock catches them. They begin to shrink back to their natural size. Ben attempts to stand them up, but Lomonus is unable to do so without support. Elizabeth and Ainsley jog over to them.
Elizabeth: “He’s sick.”
Lomonus begins to passively cough up the hideous fluid, allowing it to flow slowly out of their mouth no longer able to put in the effort to spit it out. They turn their head to drain it.
Lomonus: “What… What rituals do you follow for the dead in your culture?”
Prof. Ainsley: “We bury them.”
Lomonus: “Then… Please. Please bury me, respectfully.”
He coughs out more rot.
They drop out of Shock Rock’s grip, even as he rushes to catch them again. Lomonus hits the floor and the two paleontologists rush to their side. They realise what has happened almost instantly. Ainsley looks around and finds three shovels left behind by the miners who had dug out the pit in the first place. He hands a shovel to Elizabeth and offers one to Shock Rock, who declines and instead morphs his hands into large spades.
Several minutes later and the three humans find themselves wandering back to the tent. They reach the gate keeping them inside the quarry, and on the other side Max and Gwen run over to them.
Max: “Ben! There you are!”
Gwen: “We saw Animo running, what happened?”
Ben looks at them with a sadness in his eyes. Elizabeth puts her hand on his shoulder as he prepares to tell them about Lomonus. But how little he knows. When the dead of night hangs over the Earth just hours later, with not a single soul in sight, the ground in the quarry begins to move again.
I really enjoyed reading this story. It stuck to the theme, yet Aaron did it in a clever way and I admire that. Lomonus was a compelling character and I liked the internal struggle of him finding himself in a new world (as well as the dialogue that came with it) and his death scene was quite touching. In addition, Aaron's writing was detailed and that certainly helped to make his entry better. Yeah, I really don't have much else to say here, except this story would probably have won first place if other people signed up.
That concludes today's blog! Congratulations, Aaron for winning, and I hope you guys enjoy the rest of Fanon Con!