Music Be The Food flash fiction continues on with the eighth round. This time the song is “I Am Dust”, by Gary Numan. Listen to the song and then read the first piece of fiction, by Jay Wilburn.
Waiting on God in the Growing Dust of the World
If there were anyone to see it, the depression in the sand would only be visible once right upon it. Sand spilled over the lip of the open stasis chamber. Dust clung to the raised hatch and gathered around its sides. The lid to the chamber disguised itself as part of the barren landscape.
A dull, weak light pulsed red with the last juice of its power supply. With a device designed to last for millennia, approaching the moment of final darkness proved to be a big moment for a land devoid of life and slow to change. The nearly dark timer screen below the sluggish, red pulses indicated the chamber had lasted closer to a million years than thousands. Quite a testament to the designers were they or their descendants still alive. Unless their chambers were still operational and buried below the sand too, then there was no one left to testify to.
There was no one to ponder if the world created the designers or if the designers created the world as it was around this single chamber – open and unoccupied.
The hinges bound on gritty sand and would be immobile from now on. The hatch would open no farther and wouldn’t close again unless the sand piled up heavy enough to crush it. The force which must have been applied to lift it in the first place through the accumulated sand from the inside must have been impressive.
Wind sheered over the rise with the stasis chamber depression. More sand gathered around the lid. A bit spilled over into the piles around the electronics and gathered in the ribs of the chamber’s bed. Still more sand blew off the hill where the dune collapsed on one side.
If the chamber had been located on the other side of the dune, there would have been no opening it as it buried deeper instead of being uncovered. The inhabitants likely expected to wake up in a lab or bunker which was long since destroyed. The terror of waking up in darkness and buried alive would be too much for any mind.
If anything remained of the original building which stored the chambers, nothing showed above the surface.
In the distance, a smooth piece of metal poked through the sand. Its original purpose and shape were lost in the polish of the land and wind. Other smooth rocks showed through the sand in an erratic path beyond the bit of metal. Maybe these were bits of building or street worn into smooth, featureless rocks.
The stone and the sand showed no sign of footprints from whoever occupied the chamber. If others were opened too in the area before or after the one from the depression, no sign of them remained.
A spire of blasted sand rose into the air in a twirling pillar. The high winds caught the ejecta and spread it to the east. Then the source of the expulsion stopped and the landscape in that direction returned to its previous stasis.
To the eye it might have looked to be just over the next rise, but the ejection was several miles away. The rock path gave out well before.
Some of the sand gave way to hard ground. A slash through that ground curved in a deep arc toward the location. It could have been a dried river bed, but the cut in the Earth would be the only evidence of water then. It deepened into a proper canyon before stopping abruptly into a rock face. Deep cracks in the floor of the canyon indicated it was not done growing. The ground rumbled with a quake and a few small rocks tumbled down the wall at the end of the canyon.
The spot of the flying sand from earlier ejected dust again, but was still miles farther along.
The hardpan beyond the canyon showed an endless abstract of dark cracks with irregular shapes between. Then, the ground sloped into a crater inexplicably smooth as glass. The decent was gradual at first and then grew more intense. The center of the crater dropped into darkness along smooth walls diving deep into the Earth.
Something rumbled and growled down there. It bored deeper still toward the greater heat closer to the base of the crust. If it continued any farther, it might be responsible for the creation of a new super volcano. It was unclear whether that would be enough to end something capable of doing this. More sand created from the bedrock itself blasted skyward in a dry eruption.
This might be the sort of thing a person waking from stasis to find a barren, empty world would travel to check out. Any dynamic movement in a place like this would be a curiosity even to the lifeforms responsible for the creation of the land as it was. Expecting to wake in a better future only to find a dead world, would make a soul desperate for any sign of life. And life capable of this sort of excavation would be impressive and worthy of pursuing indeed.
What would happen at the precipice though? What sort of courage or insanity would be required to travel over the edge? What wisdom or foolishness could be enough to send the survivor from an earlier time to step away to travel the empty world with something like this ruling below the surface? And where else would there be to go?
Another rumble traveled up from the depths and shook the ground. Sand filled in the lone stasis chamber miles away and if anything had sat or stood on the smooth surface of the crater, it would surely have lost its footing and slid right down.
After a pause, another rumble shook the ground for miles. The smooth metal uncovered a little more and the canyon floor cracked and deepened. Sand spilled off the high dunes. A few more stasis chambers drew closer to the surface, but not enough to yet waken the slumbering creators. Their timers still waited.
The thing below burrowed and blasted another spout of sand which could be seen for miles were there anyone awake to see it. The thing waited for something alive in the empty world to draw close. It waited before it shook the ground again. Nothing fell into the crater, but more sand slid off the dunes with the chambers underneath.
And the process repeated.
Read more from Jay at jaywilburn.com.