Posted in journal, stories

Unearth, my first attempt at a larger scale short story

Hey guys,
Steve here.

This semester, I joined a creative writing class. My first assignment was to write a story about anything of my choosing, as long as it was at least 1000 words and had 3 or more characters. The following is my result. It’s just over 3600 words. I apologize for coming back after all this time with such a long post. Anyway, enjoy; and feel free to leave feedback.


Early on the morning of reentry, the service droid assigned to maintenance of the habitation decks on board the Curious Beast stood in the sleeping quarters of the meager scouting party assigned to the ship. The droid stood no more than 4 feet tall, but despite his short stature, his features were made with intricate design – from the slight dimple on the right side of his face, to the slightly pointed nose, currently scrunched in exasperation, to the wrinkle of frustration in the middle of his forehead, above his immaculately groomed eyebrows. The ball-shaped lenses that served for his eyes rested in their unnaturally rounded sockets above his high cheek bones. His ears were abnormally large, jutting out from the sides of his head like mini radar dishes; a testament to the fact that even robot design artists were still just human. The droid wore a white button up, lacking any trace of a wrinkle, the collar creased to perfection, tucked into stiffly ironed blue slacks.

“Wake up! For Heaven’s sake wake! Up! Your breakfast is getting cold!” The droid yelled in frustration, shaking the shoulder of Kevin L. Morris, the elf assigned to the planetary scouting operation. Kevin was small, shorter even than the droid, at just around 3 feet. He had a pudgy face with a nose that stuck out discernibly, with little green eyes sunk deep into their flabby sockets; and despite his small body he was noticeably fat, his belly jutting out as he slept, curled in a ball, wearing pajamas with a mysterious one-eyed cartoon character resembling a cat printed on them.
“Huh?! Yes mom, I’ll be right there.” Kevin shouted, jerking upright in bed and knocking his head on the bottom of the top bunk with a loud thump.
“Sir! I insist you quit mistaking me for your mother! We look absolutely nothing, alike-“ the droid began, cut off by an angry look from the now fully awakened Kevin, who sat on the edge of his bed rubbing his head where it had made its excessively forceful connection with the bed above him.
“Yeah Fred, whatever… I was half wonky.” Kevin replied, looking down at the floor, shameful redness slowly overspreading his cheeks as he realized his mistake. “What did you cook this morning?”
“It’s your favorite, sir. Spaghetti and meatballs with chili cheese nachos on the side.”, the Droid, whose name was Fred, replied.
Kevin smiled, wiping a bit of drool from the corner of his mouth. He stood, looking around the sleeping quarters, noticing for the first time that the beds of his fellow crew mates were empty. “Where are the others?” He asked, reaching for a plain military uniform hung on a wall mounted clothes wrack beside his bed.
“Undoubtedly just finishing a round of Poker. They finished eating nearly an hour ago, sir. If waking you didn’t require the auditory and physical equivalent of an atomic explosion, perhaps you could’ve joined them.”
“Hey!” Kevin argued incredulously, “I was tired is all! Why bother getting up early when all I have to look forward to today is just more sitting around waiting? I already told you I’m not doing any chores… and I’m not joining Billy’s stupid fitness class! The dude doesn’t know what he’s doing!”
“I’m afraid you won’t have the luxury of lying around wasting your life away like a useless, filthy drain on society today, sir,” Fred replied. “The storm’s subsided. Aaron from command radioed in earlier this morning to let us know that conditions would be favorable for landing by 09:00. He wants us at the landing site as soon as possible. It’s already a quarter past 8!”
“Useless drain on society?!” Kevin asked incredulously. “What would they do without people like me? First of all I look absolutely amazing, and let’s not even begin to –“
“Sir! Did you not hear anything I just said? We have less than an hour until takeoff, and you’re still in pajamas!” Fred exclaimed, exasperation clearly evident in his voice as he turned away, walking briskly into the corridor. “Just hurry and get dressed so you have time to eat,” he said, briefly sticking his head back through the door. “I refuse to put up with your wining today because you’re too hungry.”
“Wining! Useless drain on society! Just more swift judgement passed down by the resident walking talking vacuum cleaner”, Kevin muttered as he changed into his uniform, angrily tossing his pajamas on top of a disorganized pile of dirty clothes against the wall under the clothes wracks.

The Curious Beast was relatively small in comparison to many of the other Order-owned long range transportation ships, labeled by many employees of the Order as “the budget vessel” for its cramped, plain design and associated cheapness. It was just large enough to hold a maximum of 115 people, crew included, and enough supplies to sustain them for two weeks, though at max capacity everyone was forced to live and work in close quarters. Despite being the most important members of the mission, the scouting crew’s living quarters was less than luxurious. The room was roughly 20 by 20 feet, with two sets of bunk beds, each with wall mounted clothes racks and shelves next to them. There was a wide mirror over one wall, above a row of wash basins cluttered in various toiletries. Plain gray walls, as well as matching white ceiling and floor tiles made the place a bore to look at; aside from the various pinups displaying an odd assortment of alien figures and celebrities hung by members of the crew there was no decor.

After his breakfast consisting of spaghetti and meatballs drowned in meat sauce with chili cheese nachos on the side, Kevin joined the rest of the scouting crew in the ship’s hanger bay. The room was large with a high ceiling which was actually an airlock, stainless steel panels covering the floor and walls. Its size, combined with the intensely echoing acoustics, made it reminiscent of a cathedral. It was one of the few areas of the ship that wasn’t cramped, and for good reason. Spread throughout the room, in their own designated mini-runways, were 10 surface transport vessels ranging in size anywhere from a minivan to a charter bus.
The crew, which consisted of four total including Fred and Kevin, stood near the entrance ramp of one of the smaller of these – a yellow, boxy vehicle about the size of a minivan with the Order logo and the label “CBT8” on the side. As the others stood around, fidgeting in boredom, Fred stood wearing a bulky backpack, a sleek tablet in his hands, giving the rundown of the mission.
“… And remember, we have no idea what’s down there. We are instructed to – ”
“Yeah… we get it, be safe… and stuff,” Interrupted Billy, a massive humanoid creature who stood nearly 3 times as tall as Fred, and probably 4 times as wide.
“With all due respect, marsh mellow gut, this is highly important information!” Fred replied, not even slightly intimidated by the other man’s size. “Besides,”, he continued, jabbing his finger up towards a scar running down the big guy’s cheek, “you’re not exactly good at being safe.”
“That was ages ago”, Billy replied. “Plus, I already told you: all I wanted was a meal… how was I supposed to know a two-ton bear was going to fight me for it? I could’ve sworn she was sleeping!”
“Because that was her baby you tried to snatch! Do you have any idea-”
“Gentlemen… as much as I’d love to stand here listening to you argue all day like a severely disproportionate married couple, we have more important things to do,” said Ty, the only human member of the crew. Ty was the most normal looking of them all; average height with short blond hair and blue eyes. Unlike the others, his most distinguishing feature was as ordinary as a slightly abnormally large forehead.
The others murmured in agreement. Fred, a look of resignation on his face, released the tablet with a flick of his wrist, causing it to float up and behind him before dropping into an open pouch in his pack just large enough for it that zipped itself shut as the tablet slid in. He shifted his weight forward. As he did so, wheels popped out of the bottom of his shoes and began rolling him up the ramp. The others followed suit – except for Billy. When he tried, a robotic voice could be heard emanating from his shoes. It stated, “Excessive cargo. Maximum weight limit 500 pounds”. Groaning, Billy instead walked up the ramp after the rest of his crew mates, causing the entire ship to quake with each of his thunderous steps.
The four of them sat in the ship. Fred sat in the driver’s seat, hunched over a complicated panel of controls and displays. Ty sat next to him, while Kevin, with surprising agility for someone of his body makeup, jumped back and forth across the backs of the ship’s 10 seats. Billy, too large to fit anywhere else, simply laid curled up in a ball in the small cargo space behind them.
“Is everyone ready?” Asked Fred, hands resting upon a pair of joysticks as the huge ceiling pulled back above the surface transport vessel.
Aside from Billy, who grumbled in a thundering voice about how the jerks in the Curious Beast’s Deployment Management Department had “purposefully selected this stupid cramped piece of junk” because they knew he would be uncomfortable in it, the other two crew members voiced their agreement. And with that, the little pod rose from the hanger, out into the long forgotten Solar System.
“I heard they’re coming out with a new model of self-walking shoes”, Kevin said, plopping in the seat behind Ty and removing his shoes, resting his feet upon Ty’s shoulders. “They’re calling these the Holy Rollers, man. Apparently they’ve got speech recognition in them, so you can tell them where to go, to slow down or speed up, etc. And I heard they’re really comfortable, not like these pieces of crap.” He shook a pudgy finger at the pare of shoes on the floorboard below him, which looked ragged and torn with age. Suddenly, both shoes made a popping sound, as their wheels popped out simultaneously. Propelled upwards by the force, one smacked him in the stomach with its heal, the other hitting the bridge of his nose as he doubled over. The shoes then plopped to the ground, motionless. Shocked, Kevin said nothing.
“Uh… yes,” Fred replied timidly, carefully avoiding saying anything that would cause his shoes to attempt similar antics. “All you said was correct, though they’re apparently named for their souls – pure, absolutely heavenly souls. It’s supposed to feel like you’re walking on air, not to mention the suspension on those things is absolutely brilliant. Mind you, though,” He quickly amended, “I’m sure the real reason they’re called holy is the fact that they are riddled with holes that make them impossible to walk in comfortably.”
It was just shortly after 09:20 as CBT8 entered Earth’s atmosphere and began its descent towards the surface. Ten minutes later, it touched the ground at the landing site, located in a clearing surrounded by short, yellow trees in the distance, whose branches sagged with berries that looked more like partially flattened bowling balls. “And this, gentlemen,” Fred said, shutting down the vehicle as it glided smoothly to a stop, “is Earth. And as the fantastic dude who got you here, I think it’s only right that I be the first living creature to set foot on the Earth, – in 2 and a half million years!”
A motorized whirring signified the lowering of the ship’s cargo ramp, and then the airlock released with a hiss, the doors opening to reveal the forgotten planet. As a fresh cool breeze rushed in, the four of them fought their way out – Kevin, to Fred’s disappointment, bounding over the small droid’s head and landing with bent knees at the bottom of the cargo ramp. Leaning forward, he accelerated off the ramp and into a mysterious, spongy blue growth covering the floor of the clearing, becoming the first living thing to walk upon the surface of the Earth in two and a half million years, the rest of his crew mates following with looks of defeat on their faces.
“It’s… beautiful!”, Ty exclaimed between deep inhalations of the cool fresh air, which carried a slight metal tang mixed with the smell of unspoiled Earth. And indeed it was. As a cool springtime breeze gently swayed and bobbed the branches of the distant trees, causing them to undulate in a coordinated dance of natural perfection, the mid morning Sun shined brightly down upon the scene, filling the new arrivals with its welcoming warmth. It was as though it was joyfully smiling down at them, glad once again to be not only needed; but wanted, respected, and observed with wonderment.
Meanwhile, Billy shifted from foot to foot, imprinting the Earth’s surface with his massive footprints, looking around in awe at the strange trees around them. “Duuuuuuude! Take a look at those trees, man. They’re like nothing I’ve ever seen! And have you seen that fruit? Finally! Something big enough to fill me up!” He began walking away from the others.
Fred called after him. “But sir! You don’t know if they’re toxic! For goodness sake this planet has been home to nuclear waste for the past 10 thousand centuries!”
“Come on Fred. Enough with your -” Billy began, interrupted by a new voice from the edge of the tree line directly in front of him.
“Heyyyy look! It’s Jesus yall, it’s Jesus! I done swer it’s him!”
The other three crew members shared equal looks of bafflement as a pack of five or six enormous dogs emerged from the forest, each covered in long, flowing, shiny white fur that glistened in the brilliant sunshine. The largest of them stepped in front of his fellows, sidling right up to Billy and sniffing him. Billy, too petrified to do anything, could only stand and watch as a dog, who stood as tall as Fred on all fours and was no less wide than Billy the grumpy giant himself, examined him, expelling fruit and Earth scented breaths with enough force to cause Billy to rock back and forth.
“Uh… h-h-hi?” Fred timidly ventured, standing far away from the beasts. “We’re – ”
“I know who you are!” The dog roared in a voice loud enough to create a shock wave that blew Billy back a few steps, nearly causing the big guy to lose his footing. “You’re my friends!” The dog continued, his voice much softer than that.
And with that, he jumped at Billy, actually toppling the giant onto his back. “And this dude’s Jesus! Hi Jesus,” he said, jumping up and down on Billy’s chest, evidently not realizing that he was nearly cracking Billy’s ribs in the process, not to mention blowing intense waves of hot air and slobber into Billy’s face with every word. “I’m Meldo. I love you, man! You’re so cool! The way you healed that blind dude, fed all those hungry people, came – ”
“A-a-a-alright! That’s E-e-e-enough!” Billy said, rolling out from underneath the overly excited dog. “First of all I’m not Jesus, and second of all you’re hurting me!”
“Oh, sorry about that”, Meldo said, bowing down shamefully. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, king.”
“Allow me to explain”, Fred said, cautiously approaching the pack of dogs who, it seemed, didn’t plan on causing harm. “We’re here from another world,”
“Yeah, Heaven!” One of the smaller dogs in the pack barked enthusiastically, whipping his tale and sending one of his companions into the air.
“So it is Jesus! With all of his angels!” another piped up.
As they all began a fierce argument about whether or not the visibly perplexed aliens standing before them were actually the messiah and his angels, the four members of the scouting crew slowly backed towards their ship. “This will make for one heck of an interesting report”, Fred remarked.
“I’m just curious as to how this could’ve escaped the Order’s preliminary observations”, Ty said. “Massive, talking dogs – and they missed that on the life scan? There’s no telling what else is out there!”
“That technology is still preliminary. It doesn’t tell us what life is inhabiting the planet; just that it exists. Combined with satellite pictures taken of the landing site, all we were able to deduce was that there was plant life.”
Ty sighed. “Well… we leave for two and a half million years, unintentionally leaving the dogs out of the kennel, and what do they do? They evolve, mutate, and form religions.”
“Yeah”, Billy thundered softly. “And apparently I’m God!” He stomped his foot, causing clouds of the mysterious growth to fly through the air.
“God? Right. The creator of the universe is a massive, clumsy baboon with all the intelligence, wit, and physical stability of a drunken circus clown”, Ty scoffed.
“My intelligence is superior! You’re just a mere human, whose brain is too small to understood it!” Billy replied, outraged.
“Understand. Too small to understand!” Ty corrected.
“Whatever,” Billy stated, turning back towards the pack of dogs who, having ceased arguing, were now lying on their stomachs, staring at him. “At least these guys recognize my authority; my commanding presence; just look at them! All I did was walk into their world and they’re lying there, prepared to do exactly as I tell them!”
He leaned forward, trying to get the wheels to pop out of the bottoms of his shoes and roll him forward. “Repeating: too much cargo. Maximum weight limit 500 pounds”, they intoned in equally annoying robotic voices.
“Roll me anyway! I command you!” Billy bellowed.
“Computation error: demands based on egotistical pretense are incompatible with this unit’s speech parser,” they replied flatly.
“Look at him,” Ty sneered. “God?! Not even his shoes are convinced. They’re shoes”
“They’re rebelling is all,” Billy said. He shook his fingers at his shoes, proceeding to yell at them. “You have humiliated your God! May you burn in hell forever!”
The warming mechanism in Billy’s shoes cranked on full blast then, sending streams of very hot air over his feet. Howling in pain, “God” fell down upon his rump, and yanked them off. “My feet! My feeeeeeeeeeeet! Help me!” He rubbed them frantically, as the shoes, now empty, powered down; drifts of smoke rising from their insides.
Ty looked towards the dogs, gesturing at the clearly distressed giant on the ground. “This… is God, gentlemen?” He asked. “Not even a blister, and he’s down on the ground rubbing his feet because his shoes decided to heat up a little?”
Meldo stood, the others following suit. He looked towards Billy, who was just standing to his feet, without his shoes which, perhaps due to the breeze, quivered slightly where they sat, almost as though they were laughing. “Nah man. You’re not God. You’re still cool though. I don’t understand why you don’t just throw the little old sour dude into the side of your chariot for talking about you like that.”
“Hmm. That’s actually a great idea, my servant,” Billy replied, stalking towards Ty. Meldo’s sides quaked with silent laughter as he looked on.
Fred stepped forward, a serious look on his face. Having changed his mind, Billy stopped advancing towards Ty, who was backing up, scowling through a hole between his hands which he’d arranged into a makeshift protective barrier over his face. “We come not from Heaven, though we aren’t from Earth either”, Fred began, relieved that the dogs didn’t try to cut him off this time. “We are simply a group sent to scout this planet to see if it’s livable… clearly it is.”
“Livable? Our race has been here for the longest time! Millions upon bajillions of years! Of course it’s livable. Why wouldn’t it be?”
“There is much you don’t know about your planet,” Fred replied, turning towards CBT8’s open airlock. “For now though, we must go.”
Ty was deeply bothered by Fred saying that Earth was their planet. Like the rest of his crew mates, he had never set foot on Earth, though it meant much more to him than it did them; he was no alien, this was the place of genesis for his race. It had once belonged to humans; every creature bowing down to their superiority – but not anymore, not since his distant ancestors screwed it up for them. It didn’t matter that there were countless other life sustaining planets, and that Earth was hardly a speck of dust in an infinite cosmos; for it was the true planet of the humans. And now… now it belonged to some crazy mutated dogs? Dogs who, having seen a clumsy alien giant fall out of the sky in an ill designed metallic heap of junk, busted out of their forest of shelter proclaiming said giant was God?
“Go?” Meldo replied. “Go where?”
“Back to where we came from”, Fred replied. “Don’t worry, more of us will come later, to enlighten you.”
Followed by the rest of the crew, Fred once again boarded the tiny ship, casting fleeting glances out the airlock at the dogs, who shouted questions and protests at the departing aliens. And once all were boarded, Billy once again scrunched into the cargo space, Fred and Ty sitting silently in the front seat, Kevin just behind them; the ship took off, leaving the mysterious planet with its foreign occupants behind.

Thanks for reading, if you did,
type you later,


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