Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
Eddy and Rico performed the mundane task of sifting through tailings. It was standard procedure. All the valuable ore had been extracted from the captured asteroids, but the leftover rubble might still contain significant matter; so it was all to be gone through carefully.
It was easy enough to get the tons of debris and dust back down from the stations. Earth’s sixteen space elevators required endless counterweight to continuously lift people and goods into orbit. Yet it was strictly mandated that any captured matter from beyond our atmosphere must be immediately run through one of the planet’s hundreds of privately owned decontamination centers situated around the elevators.
They were both roused by an alarm buzzing on the console. “What’s that?” asked Rico. He was still pretty new.
Eddy replied nonchalantly, “We used to get lots of these false alarms in the old days. It got so irritating that we detuned the sensor arrays.” He hit a plunger, stopping the entire conveyer belt. They both looked at the screen on the console. The image there showed several pebbles amongst the debris highlighted by the computer. “Hmm, this is interesting. It says they’re all identical.”
An hour later the two had managed to sift through and procure from the rubble, thirty-seven seemingly identical oblong pebbles. The tiny items sat there on the lab counter, looking ominous, as the two discoverers passed a smoking joint back and forth.
Eddy piped up, “I think they’re seeds.”
Rico laughed, “Yeah right, we just discovered an alien life form in asteroid tailings.”
“Oh yeah?” replied Eddy. “I’ll prove it.”
Suddenly the young newbie looked concerned. “I don’t think we should…”
But it was too late. Eddy had scooped up the pebbles into his shirt and had made for the rear exit.
Rico shouted after him, “Hey, I don’t think that’s a good idea!”
But the exit door clanged shut as the other exited, so Rico jumped up, squashing the joint, and followed suit. “What are you doing you crazy bastard?” He burst through the exit door.
Eddy was crouched down there giggling as he churned the soil in the flower planter with his hands. “Come on buddy, you think we’re gonna grow some alien ganja? Live a little!” He ran off and grabbed the caretaker’s garden hose, which had been coiled up on a reel nearby; and began watering the planter.
Rico shook his head, staring at the dark soil that was now getting wetter and wetter. “Eddy, you’re nuts. We should really report those things.”
Eddy grinned and squinted at him, “For what? These guys don’t give a shit. It’s all a big….”
Suddenly there was a rumble and they both felt the ground tremble beneath their feet. Eddy froze and stared up at Rico. He released the handle of the hose nozzle and the water dribbled to a halt. Then the ground shook again, so hard that they both nearly fell over. The rich soil was suddenly seething and roiling like a thing with a life of its own. Eddy turned back to see Rico running fast for the parking lot.
Just then something massive and horrible shot forth from the planter. Eddy now knew that he had made a horrible mistake and surmised right there and then that mankind was likely to pay for his idiocy. He shut his eyes tight and prayed for the first time in years, as he was sucked up into the maw of something terrible and unknown. Mercifully, he would never realize the true mayhem he had caused.
Rico managed to live for almost another two minutes.