Breaking the Surface – 100 Word Flash Fiction

Dust scattered as if moved by a mighty exhalation. Shafts of hot light penetrated the gloom, revealing a whole new world that long vanished eyes would never see. It had faced annihilation, the end of life, yet it had persevered. And now, after enduring the bone crushing weight of time for so long, the great beast had finally surfaced.

Dr Bob Jackson knelt before the scant remains. To think, he’d almost walked right by them. As he lightly swept away the baking earth the maxilla appeared, immense teeth still routed in the jaws. Jackson smiled. “You made it, big fella.”

*     *     *

OK, so I tweaked the prompt a little. Call it a compromise!

To be honest, I couldn’t not use this prompt. The second I saw it, I thought, “Dinosaur!” I have been a prehistory nerd since before I can remember, and I retain that fascination with these awe-inspiring animals and the vanished ecosystems they inhabited to this day. In my geologically insignificant time on this planet I have seen our understanding of them and their world, and of the worlds that came before and since, change many times over as intrepid palaeontologists pushed the boundaries of what we can know, what we can learn. I have seen things that just a few years ago I would’ve thought impossible become reality. This story is dedicated to the efforts of the men and women who venture out into the world to discover its past. If I’d had their drive I could’ve been out there with them. I share their fascination though, and I thank them for their work. To coin a phrase, you guys rock!

As always, thanks to Madison Woods for giving me and others an excuse to write/kick up the backside. Go to her blog to learn more about the Friday Fictioneers, and please feel free to comment and leave links to your entries there and here. And if you haven’t yet then please join in. It’s fun!

One last bit of business. This is shameless begging, so I apologise in advance. This an appeal to readers who have visited my other site, The Master Of His Domain. I’ve recently posted a review of the 2011-early 2012 season and I’m looking for feedback. I’ve been running it since late 2009, and while its audience has grown steadily I want more. I’m really trying to make the site a success so any suggestions/criticisms/squeeing would be very much appreciated.

Jake 

Creative Commons Licence
Breaking the Surface by Jake Kale is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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55 thoughts on “Breaking the Surface – 100 Word Flash Fiction

  1. Hi Jake: Wonderful read. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I am also in awe of the dedicated people who dig all over and find long, lost worlds, buildings, etc. Like KIng Tut’s tomb & treasures, etc. One day, I believe they may even find the Holy Grail. Construction workers here in NYC, digging below the surface, constantly find old artifacts, which teach us about our ancestors. My only correction (if I may) is to change “Too think…” to read “To think…” Here is mine:

    http://www.triplemoonstar.blogspot.com

    • Thanks for the catch, can’t believe I missed that. Actually that’s a lie, I can believe I missed it. But what’s the spellchecker’s excuse?

      I wouldn’t call it expertise, just fervent enthusiasm! As I understand it, the Nazi’s actually found the Grail, then lost it somewhere in Turkey. Or perhaps I’m mixing up reality with film, I do that sometimes. Now if you’ll excuse me, those ghosts aren’t gonna bust themselves! But they can wait for a bit while I swing by your place.

  2. Well written. Evocative, too! I didn’t see anything I can offer in the way of crit, but I enjoyed the expedition 🙂 When the Friday madness subsides I’ll try to get back and go to your other site.

    • Thanks very much! And I’m glad you enjoyed the detour. I’d debated taking the cheap plug down as I’m not sure this is the place for it. But I think I’ll wait for now unless someone tells me to get knotted!

      • LOL. I post things on Thursdays because I am still getting lots of visitors to the blog because of the photo prompt on Wed. Nothing wrong with taking advantage of captive audiences – to an extent 😉

        • Very true. I really should’ve done more to publicize the comic from the beginning. Oh well, at least I have more confidence in my own abilities and a largish back catalogue to show off now.

          PS: Apropos of nothing, I’m seriously considering buying Cthulhurotica. As a confirmed Lovecraft geek it looks intriguing!

          • lol, it is a *very* interesting collection of tales. Mine is less Lovecraftian but does involve tentacles…

    • It’s quite literally true, as well. Fossils have spent millions of years buried under tonnes of rock, so they very rarely emerge in pristine condition. They may be crushed, broken, some bones may be missing. Case in point, T. rex‘s infamous arms were not discovered until 1989, 84 years after it was first described. Palaeontologists had a good idea what they looked like based on the arms of other tyrannosaurs, but it wasn’t until they were found that anyone knew for sure. Sadly, it is the small bones that tend not to make it through fossilization, which is why our knowledge of Mesozoic mammals is largely limited to scattered teeth.

      God, I’m a nerd.

      EDIT: I’m also a sloppy typist judging by all the typos in this post!

      • Since you seem to be interested in fossils, I’ll tell you about these bones. They are in a cave near my house and a lot of those are human. Some are deer. And no telling what the others are. It looks like the roof of the cave collapsed and crushed the inhabitants. These likely belonged to bluff dwellers which were already off the scene before the first trappers/explorers came through. It fascinates me and I wish the property owners would allow archaeological researchers in there. I was happy they let *me* in there to take pictures though 🙂

        • You’re very lucky having something like that right on your doorstep – the most ancient relic anywhere near me is my neighbour’s aging Vauxhall Corsa! The whole business of land owner’s controlling access to fossil sites can be a thorny issue. The legal nightmare over ownership of Sue the T. rex vividly illustrated that. Still, like you say, at least you got to take pictures, that’s better than nothing at all. Any chance you might post the rest of the pictures?

  3. You have the soul of an archeologist. Love that first descriptive paragraph – bone crushing weight of time – and the rresponse of Dr. Jackson welcoming him back into the world. Well done. I also like what you did with the photo.

    • There’s a very famous book written by Bob Bakker called The Dinosaur Heresies. I have a copy of it somewhere. In it Bakker, who is a bit of a celebrity in palaeontology circles (and who inspired the guy who is more afraid of a snake than a T. rex in Jurassic Park 2) describes the process of fossilization in a surprisingly evocative manner. I was trying to channel him here. Considering I had a word limit, I think I did quite well!

    • You know, you’re right – I should’ve tweaked it more! If I’d had time I could’ve made the “bones” lighter so they’re more noticeable. It wouldn’t be strictly accurate, but since when did accuracy matter in fiction (I’m looking at you, frilly-necked Dilophosaurus)?

    • Thank you! Truthfully, I didn’t do much to the photo, just cartoonified (is that a word? It is now!) it a bit. And it’s good to know that despite not having the drive to pursue a career in palaeontology a childhood spent obsessively collecting dinosaur books, many of which were hopelessly inaccurate, has payed off!

    • Thank you. I am but an apprentice before the master (Dr. Bakker, mentioned a couple of comments back), but I’m quite happy with it. I’ll give yours a look in a little while.

    • One of the coolest things about the confirmation of the bird-dinosaur link is I can now legitimately claim as a child to have owned pet dinosaurs, namely two ducks (Donald and Gideon) and a chicken, who’s name escapes me. Well, technically they were my brother’s, but I looked after them, too! I remember Gideon in particular really lived up to his forebears’ reputation – he used to chase my sister around the garden.

    • Thank you very much, I’ll be interested to see just what did pop into your head! Though to be technical (or possible very anal) it’s actually palaeontology. Archaeology is the study of ancient civilizations, while palaeontology is the study of ancient life. Sorry, I can’t help myself, I’m a born nit-picker! I even corrected a little kid in the cinema during Jurassic Park 2 who thought the little dinosaurs at the beginning were baby Velociraptors (they were in fact fully-grown Compsognathuses).

    • Thank you, that’s exactly what I was going for. I wanted to drive home the reverence and respect for the long-dead animals they try to bring back to life. Regarding criticism, you can always learn and adapt from it whether its reasoned and helpful or full-on malicious, or anywhere in between.

      Which isn’t to say that you can’t still tell the critic to go f*** themselves.

  4. Hi Jake,

    This was the perfect prompt for you. I can tell because your story jumped off the page and pulled me in, hook line and sinker. Very well done. Sorry to be getting to it so late.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • Well, that explains where one of your comments went – the spam folder! I can’t see why, there’s nothing particularly contentious there.

      I think you have the right attitude to the prompts. And to be fair, I was far closer to it than I have been previous weeks! Not sure if I want to expand this, but I have had a few ideas that would allow me to exploit my palaeonerdism. That’s something for a later date, though.

  5. Shoot… I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve had to take two tries on commenting twice now. I hope this goes through, but I was just saying things that basically agree with Doug and Siobhan. I think you really hit a stride with this and that the purpose of the prompt isn’t for anything strictly related to happen, but for us to be inspired in whatever weird way our minds are!

    In any case, lovely work.

    Mine’s here: http://thecolorlime.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/to-starve-98/

    • Sorry you had trouble commenting, I’m not sure why that would be. Luckily, third time was indeed the charm. It’s strange how inspiration works (for me, anyway). To just look at a pile of jumbled bones which according to Madison are likely the remains of primitive humans and are in any case small, yet instantly think “Dinosaur!” It’s like the complete opposite of Scrotum humanum, and a revealing look into my thought processes. Still, I suppose it would’ve been worse if I’d looked at them and thought, “That reminds, must cover over the floor in the cellar.”

    • That’s true, you sure ain’t gonna get rich by digging a ditch, not if you’re only finding bones. That said, from what I’ve been told the archaeologically-themed orgies are unbelievable.

      Hope you enjoy your trip to the Domain, though to get any understanding of what’s going on I recommend having a quick look through the first ten comics. If you enjoy silly, occasionally tasteless humour you should find yourself right at home!

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