Friday, 22 July 2011

Dust (Part 1)

Doctor Simpson leaned back into the cushions of his garden chair and breathed out a long happy sigh of contentment, he picked up the iced lemonade from the table beside him and took a long, slow drink.

Buying the semi-rural house with its sprawling garden and views of the surrounding countryside had been an expensive venture, but moments like these made it all worthwhile. The small, but well- equipped laboratory he'd had built in the basement allowed him to do much of his work from home now, instead of facing the daily city rat-race. Work that recently had become more and more of the lucrative freelance type.

He placed his glass back on the table and savoured the sweet scent of the flowers, he glanced around appreciatively at the lush foliage, the vibrant colours. Birds chirruped and chirped from the trees, an occasional insect winged past, a few dust motes drifted lazily in the bright shafts of sunlight that streamed through the tree branches.

Doctor Simpson settled deeper into the chair and closed his eyes, smiling to himself, all was well with his world.

His eyes suddenly sprang open, and he sat bolt upright.

A feeling of deep unease flooded through him., as if some subconscious alarm bell had been triggered, as if something was not quite as it should be. The scientist in him tried to shrug off the feeling, he was a man of logic not superstition or irrational fear, but the feeling persisted, the feeling that something was not quite right.

Then it came to him, the dust motes, they swirled and moved in a way that dust motes shouldn't, they were moving against the breeze. He stood and went closer to them and watched the tiny specks for a few moments, they definitely seemed to be moving with purpose and uniformity.

He smiled at his silly fear, there was of course a rational explanation for this, thermal currents or such-like, but his curiosity was aroused, he went to the basement and returned a few minutes later carrying a sample flask and seal.

Capturing one of the motes proved difficult, it was illogical but the damn thing seemed to be trying to avoid the open flask top, eventually persistence paid off and he managed to get the flask around the speck, and place the seal. The tiny bit of dust remained unmoving, stationary in the centre of its transparent prison.

As he walked back to the house he noticed a strange low-lying cloud casting a dark shadow over the nearby hills, this too was drifting against the breeze, and heading directly towards the city.

He returned to the basement, and placed the flask beneath the powerful microscope lens and proceeded to zoom and focus on the dust mote.

A dozen clicks with the computer keyboard and the blurred image appeared on the two-metre wall screen, a few slight adjustments, the image solidified into crystal clarity.

Doctor Simpson stared at the screen, his logical brain refusing to accept the impossible insanity of what his eyes were telling it.

On the screen the minute craft and its uniformed crew of four were almost life-size. The intricate propulsion cones beneath the machine, and the bristling weaponry it carried were futuristic and alien in their detail.

One of the creatures stared through the window of the ship, and directly into the lens. The face that looked back at Doctor Simpson from the wall had a look of malevolently intelligent awareness in its eyes, and an expression of pure hatred.

And it was grinning.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Continued in :- Dust (Part 2)

©2011 Stephen. J. Green.


  1. Oh, logical brain. How many instances of your disbelief have caused your operators to get eaten?

  2. Great reveal. You surprised me by making it something that seems it should be larger, instead of a disease or some such ordinary thing.

  3. Oh Steve, this is fantastically creepy! Now I'm going to be looking at the dust in an entirely different light - and maybe I'll clean my house....Not! I'll just have to try to get on their good side. :)

  4. That last line just made an awesome story even better. :)

  5. @John - Very true John, logic is not always our friend, is it? :-)

    @Jen - Thanks Jen, I find tiny things can be every bit as scary as big things. all size is relative, for all we know, humans may be bacteria-sized compared to some other beings.

    @Deanna - Haha, it's okay to do the dusting, anyway, I don't think these creatures HAVE a good side. :-)

    @Chuck - Thanks, a grin can say much more than just words, can't it?

  6. Right, I'm getting out the DustBuster. Does this mean we'll have a massive war in which our best line of defence will be Kim and Aggie?

  7. Oooo microscopic aliens, the sort that can really get under your skin!

    I'm with icy where's the Dust Buster!

    The ending really surprised me, I was reading away thinking what was wrong with the dust? LOL

  8. I'm guessing that antihistamines are not going to help me fend off the effects of these dust motes.

  9. Hi Stephen,

    I loved this. Had a golden age sci-fi ring to it. I think Doctor Simpson is rather regretting his move to the country side now!

    You going to do a follow up to the story?

  10. @Icy – Haha, yeah, I can see vacuum cleaner company shares going through the roof soon. :-)

    @Helen – Haha, everyone will be dusting for their lives won't they? To steal a phrase from 'Full Metal Jacket' “This is my Dyson, there are many like it, but this one is mine.” :-D

    @Tim – Probably not Tim, and I think these little fellows would get right up your nose. :-)

    @Craig – Thanks Craig, the countryside is probably in danger, but the big cloud is heading straight for the city.

    I'm thinking I may try to write a follow-on for next week's #fridayflash, but I'm not sure yet which direction I want to take it in.

  11. Oh man, all those little particles floating in any sunbeam! We're in trouble! Very cool Steve!

  12. Thanks Harry, it would seem those harmless-looking specks of dust hold what may be a very dangerous enemy.

  13. If Doc Simpson hadn't registered the dust motes moving against the breeze, hadn't taken them to his microscope, might his mind have remained at peace? Is ignorance bliss, or would missing the strange path of the motes only led to greater troubles later? I like the questions this story raises.

  14. Thanks Liminal, his mind may have been at peace, for a little while longer....

  15. There must be something in the air. I wrote a similarly themed drabble for Lily Child's Prediction this week. You have a fun take on it and I've got to wonder whether he makes it safely since he chose to live outside the city. Of course, he's going to have to survive the encounter with these wee ones first.

  16. Thanks Aidan, relative size intrigues me, and we really don't know what is out there in all that space.

    I'm hoping to write a part 2 for next Friday, but I still can't decide what perspective to write it from.

  17. It's always the little things that can turn our world upside-down, isn't it? Like Harry, I believe we're all in trouble. Well done, Steve. It certainly gives us something to think about.

  18. Thanks Stephen, It's true, the little things can wreak havok on our world, just look at the problems germs and bacteria have caused throughout the centuries.

  19. @Steve, We do have such an egocentric outlook on the universe.

    I'll be keeping an eye out for Pt II. ;)

  20. As I was reading the start of your story I thought about commenting how well you described those motes, how you'd given them an organic personality by drifting lazily......and then your story unfolded. You heralded this twist particularly well without giving anything away. Great story and written really rather brilliantly.

  21. "May I be the first to welcome our new dust-based overlords. I have been preparing a flat of great dustiness in preparation of your mote-like arrival. Note, for instance, the skirting board apartment complex I have been gathering for years."

    Neat story, Steve. A sort of sci-fi Gulliver's Travels.


  22. A great story.
    Loved every minute of it and that last, short line, was brilliant.

  23. @Aidan – This is true Aidan, also I think a good number of people tend to think the universe actually revolves around themselves. :-)

    @Justin – Thank you very much for the very kind words, comments like these are such a confidence boost.

    @Stephen – Hahaha, I've got one or two skirting board estates myself, but you may not be so welcoming to the dust-based overlords after you've read part two. :-D

    @Mike – Thank you so much, a confident grin in something so small would be truly unnerving.

  24. Enjoyed the set up and that his logical thinking proved to work against him.

  25. Thanks Lara, I think it may be true that our brand of logic probably doesn't cover every possible eventuality.