Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beckoning Quakes

The fourth response in the One Lovely Blog Award Series is to T.S. Bazelli's "Author Aerobics: Pacing Challenge" posted in her blog, Ink Stained.

Red chased the frisbee in its long glide dropping closer to the edge of the cliff above the San Andreas Lake. His tail stretched out, retreating, as his muscle modded haunches bunched in a desperate leap leaving his padded hands outstretched to grab the frisbee before rolling to a stop at the edge of the granite. Behind him, Sweeney chased him not waiting for a return toss. Sweeney's breath rasped in his throat. Occasionally, Red regretted his enhanced hearing.

"When will the quake get here?" asked Sweeney.

"It won't be long," said Red. "I'll sense it early enough so we won't miss the ripples." Ginger fur covered Red's torso with a sheen of short hairs lengthening into a mane around his shoulders and head. His face modded to eliminate facial hair. "Go out for another throw."

"No, I'm beat. The wind catches the frisbee and carries it away, either that or you can't manage a good throw. Besides, I don't want to miss the seiche wave."

"We won't, it's a perfect lake for it," said Red. "You should let me mod you." Red tossed the frisbee to the side where it scattered across the bare rock into a patch of grass fronds flapping in the wind. Red flopped onto the granite shelf causing pebbles to skitter over the edge of the cliff. The tip of his tail bobbed across the rock until it wrapped around a dried chunk of mud that the tail tossed at Sweeney.

"Will you cut it out, my answer isn't going to change." Sweeney dusted off his shoulder.

"I can always hope." Of course, if Sweeney didn't decide soon, Red wouldn't have time to fit him into the schedule. Red breathed in a deep breath to savor the grassy loam notes on the wind. Everyone wanted his mods these days, Red shuddered at the thought of his backlog. The shudder morphed into an electrical twitch. "The quake comes."

Sweeney leaned forward. "There should be four nodes around the standing waves."

"I know," said Red. "I trust your calculations."

The ground rolled beneath Sweeney and Red oscillating the surface of San Andreas Lake like a giant trampoline with the center third of the lake dropping by a half dozen feet and the edges sloshing against the shore.

"I'm right," said Sweeney.

Red groaned as his temples contracted with pain and he felt a flame race across his fur. "I think --"

The ground shook, bouncing Sweeney into the air, he landed and slipped off the edge of the rock screaming as he fell down the cliff. Sweeney hit a rock, ricocheted off a tree, and ripped a tear in his cheek. Red leaped off of the cliff headfirst. He grabbed a tree trunk with a padded hand. His tail lashed against a rock ledge. He bounded in chase, dropping below Sweeney. He stopped, dirt spraying his face and sticking in his fur. His right hand gripped the granite shelf. Sweeney hit him full in the chest, and Red wrapped his left arm around his friend. Controlling his descent with his right arm, legs, and tail, he slipped down the cliff face.

Red stopped at the bottom, the seiche waves of the lake lapping on the rocks. "You okay?"

"Yeah," answered Sweeney. Dust rose from a crack in the Earth's surface. The crevice led deep into the earth. "Look at that, I wonder where it goes."

"Stop," yelled Red.


"Poisonous gas lies down there," said Red. "Can't you smell it?"

"I want to go down there," said Sweeney.

Red smiled. "How badly?"

"Look at it, it's like a cavern out of Jules Vern. Think about what we could find down there."

"That gas won't make us famous, unless..."

"Unless, what?" asked Sweeney.

"I could mod you to create a resistance to the gas."

Sweeney sighed. "Okay, you win." Sometimes curiosity turns you into a cat.


  1. This was a very playful take on genetic modification. My first impression was that Red was a bionic dog, since they were playing catch with a Frisbee and he had a tail, but that got cleared up later on. The ending made me giggle!

    Do you mind if I post a link up to this on my blog along with the other 'Red' stories?

  2. Hi Tessa, I don't mind. I was going to comment on your blog post, but when I looked there weren't any other posts, and I hadn't wanted to go first. The author aerobics, look like fun challenges to work on craft.

  3. Uh, what exactly is this about? :-s You did a good job describing but I didn't get what was going on.

  4. Hi JP. I will need to work on this, since I want it to be apparent in the story without telling. Red & Sweeney are two bored 20-year-olds from a near future where people can genetically modify themselves. Sweeney is a technology laggard who has refused to be modded. His friend Red, is one of the up-and-coming gene artists and has been trying to convince Sweeney to let him modify his genes.

  5. Okay, that makes sense, I thought they were animals, lol :-)

  6. Nice addition to Bazelli's Author's Aerobics! Welcome!

    I, too, though it was some kind of super-dog, at first, but it became clear soon that he was a genetically modified human (obviously mixed with dog). It was the chasing a frisbee at the same time he was being all dog-like that made it hard to tell at first...