26 August 2009

The Venusian Adaptation (part one)

In order to help avoid this whole thing becoming a 'tech blog' (given all my rants about frustrations with technology), I'm presenting the first part of a story I wrote a few years ago. It's as close to 'fan-fiction' as I've ever allowed myself to write. It's set about 50 years after the events in my favorite (after Mountains of Madness and Colour Out of Space) H.P. Lovecraft story "In The Walls of Eryx" but only retains the setting. Not one of Lovecraft's better-known or particularly well-liked stories, it's one of his few and arguably only voyages into the realm of pure science fiction. Set on Venus, presented as a jungle planet like in the works of Kline and Burroughs, a power company from earth scours the planet searching for crystals that can be harvested for power while fighting a poisonous atmosphere, killer plants, and an assortment of savage fauna. Put simply, it's too rich of a universe to ignore despite its wild factual inaccuracies (Venus has a quicker rotation, it's a jungle planet, a crystal the size of an egg can be held in the hand yet be able to power Chicago for a year, and so on). I wrote the story many years ago, and while it exists complete in my head, only about half of it is actually written out, about seven chapters worth. It makes me cringe slightly when I read it as it is very amateurish, but I don't really want to re-write it either, and it's gotten me a lot of compliments from the few I've shown it to. 

I'm also including it because "In The Walls of Eryx" is where I get the name for my weblog. 

VII, 13, Early Morning

 I really hate Venus but I do not exactly miss Earth. Getting a job on Earth in this day and age is nearly impossible while there are always openings on Venus. My job is crystal hunting; it is actually about the only real job here. There are always openings usually for fear of the lizards. They do not exactly appreciate our being here let alone hunting what they claim to be their crystals. It is unfortunate that they do not understand the potential of the crystals. When the lizards find a crystal, all they simply do is put it on an altar and blindly worship it. Meanwhile, on Earth, the crystals are a precious commodity, especially after we learned that we could tap them for power. Crystal power has revolutionized technology.
 I had set out about an hour before sunrise to begin my daily routine. I had calibrated my crystal detector and replaced the filter cube in my electrolyser mask. I had also leased a rover to explore the land across the ravine. A rover is small, inexpensive, solar-powered, and actually quite adept at navigating the venusian terrain. I was able to cross the ravine without incident. Almost immediately after I entered the deeper jungle, my detector began clicking incessantly. I knew there had to be a large crystal deposit within at least ten meters of my current position. I parked the rover by a tree and, with the detector in one hand, and my machete in the other, I began weaving my way through the creeper-stricken jungle. The jungles here on venus are like no other landscapes anywhere else; the incredible diversity of shades of green and various earthtones make for an all too dizzying array of wilderness. It was exactly ten meters distance from where I had parked the rover that I came upon a clearing possessing a small stone column adorned with a crystal. I knew this was bad; where there was an altar, lizards were sure to follow. I decided to remain in the cover of the underbrush until I was sure my attempting to seize the crystal would not be hindered. 
 My instinct served me well as within minutes, the all too familiar sound of hissing lizards came to my ears. From the other side of the clearing, two lizards emerged followed by another riding an animal resembling an Iguana. The two walking lizards each held a large crystal cradled in his arms. They went to the altar and gently set the crystals atop it. They then backed away and bowed their heads while their tentacles moved in rhythmic patterns. As they continued this ritual, the mounted lizard steered the beast toward my end of the clearing. It was when he turned to the right that I saw the net draped over the back of the beast. I soon found out that the net held a young woman. I saw her face through the net and not only saw that she was albino, but also that she did not have an electrolyser mask of any sort. It became clear to me that if the lizards did not kill her first, the venusian atmosphere surely would. I knew I had to do something. So, I clipped my crystal detector to my belt and drew my flame pistol. The mounted lizard soon climbed off the beast giving it a rather consensual pat on the head as he walked around to where the net was fastened. Now that all three lizards had their backs to me, I knew I had the advantage. 
 Setting my sights on the one by the net, I leapt from my hiding place and drove my machete into its back. I dared not use my flame pistol on this lizard for fear of hurting the woman. The shrill cry of the lizard alerted the others to my presence and they ceased their praying I leapt over the dead lizard and the net toward the advancing lizards. Now that the woman was behind me, I could use my flame pistol safely without endangering her. A quick burst of flame sent them into disarray and they scurried back into the jungle. I was sure they would come back, so I quickly cut away the net and took the woman up in my arms. It was here that I noted her uniform. It was of a brown, reptilian-looking hide with indecipherible markings on it. My assumption was that this lizard-skin suit was the reason for her capture as the lizards may have been offended by it. I began to turn back to the rover when I remembered the crystal. I went to the altar and dropped it into my satchel; I am not paid for saving lives.
 When we got back to the rover, I set the mysterious woman down in it, reached under the seat for the spare mask, and carefully put it on her. Her once erratic breathing had quieted now. I was glad for this as I would now have a chance to find out more about this person. The fact that she was albino alone was intriguing enough to me, but the hide uniform and its strange markings made for an even deeper, more peculiar enigma. I started the rover and made my way back to the base.
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