Future Chronicles has been running a competition about the discovery of the Slick Black Orb. We asked for 500 word Flash Fiction submissions about this discovery.
Now the deadline for entries has passed. The entries read and the runners-up and winner chosen.
Congratulations to our winner Matt Goodwin!
His winning Flash Fiction will be revealed in the first issue of Future Chronicles. Until then please read the four runners-up below.
By Simon Broad
It dropped from the sky into the jungles that covered most of the north of Europe. It was picked up by a Pro-tec satellite as it tore past Saturn. By the time we’d tagged it, there was only a mile above the trees. All we could do was pinpoint the impact crater and send in a recovery squad.
I was leading that squad, my first op in 4 months.
From the look of it the crater was 20 feet deep but it spread almost half a mile in diameter. Our Sky-dog set us down on the edge of the fallen trees left in its tumbling wake. I called the point and began to pick my path through the broken branches. When I came within sight of the object I called to the rest of the team.
“Circle up. Twenty feet.”
It was an orb, approximately 2 feet across, like an oversize basketball. It was a deep glossy black that made you think you could fall right into it if you got too close. As I gazed at it, I had an overwhelming desire to reach out and pick it up. The feeling had gripped me the moment I laid eyes on it but I had forced it to the back of my mind, focusing on securing the area. Now I felt the pull of the object again. Looking at it, filled my head with a scream and whisper both at the same time. I had to touch it. A radio crackle jolted me out of the trance and I heard my second in com.
“Sir, step back Sir. You’re too close Sir.”
“Its ok, I’m ok. I just think we may need to move it”
“Negative sir. We are only auth’d to secure the area and await the drones to clear the object back to base”
I knew he was right. That was the protocol. That was the path I’d had followed a hundred times before.
I resigned myself to follow protocol “Ok, guys. Let’s sweep the area and wait for the drones.”
They turned away for a second, just long enough. I reached out and put my hand on it. It felt smooth, solid and beautiful. But as soon as I’d touched it I wanted to pull away. I wanted to run as far as I could from it. But I couldn’t, my fingers were welded to it like I was magnet.
Trigger 1. Organic life detected.
I screamed” Help me. Please help me.”
“Sir, what have you done Sir? Base this is Advance team Alpha. We have a situation. The Top has made physical contact with the object, please advise. We will quarantine him until drone and de-con team arrival.”
Trigger 2. Complex language system. Advanced communication detected. Begin next phase.
They begun falling within the hour. Hundreds of them from the blackness of space. Bringing that blackness to our sky’s across every continent.
They came. And death followed them as sure as night follows day.
By James A Coote
He stomped barefoot through the meadow. In his wake, chunky crickets and other buzzing insects hopped and darted for cover amongst the long grass.
“Look!” his sister pointed at the glossy black sphere hovering above a patch of scrubby dandelions.
“What is it?”
She was unable to decide between icky and intriguing as her brother ambled right up close to it. He gave it a short, hard stare before proceeding to apply an exploratory prod. It momentarily deformed under the intrusion, squished like a rubber ball, before bouncing back into shape with a fluid ripple and shimmer of iridescent rainbow colour.
“It looks oily?”
“Oil can’t fly silly!”
“I know that!”
He gave it another poke. This time it slid horizontally through the air in the opposite direction, slowly coming to a halt some feet away.
He ran around behind it and pushed it towards his sister.
“Hey!” she protested, dodging out of the way, and not to be outdone, chased after it. She caught up just as her brother had scampered over. Both pressed into it at the same time, and it pinged up above their heads. They jumped up and down as high as they could, but it was just beyond their grasp.
“Why did you do that? You’re such an idiot!”
“Not fair! It’s your fault!”
“You started it!” she retorted, foraging around in some bushes while he helplessly clutched and flailed at it. Swoosh! She missed with her first attempt, but a second swipe of the stick connected squarely, sending the blob hurtling through the air. They thrashed their way through the field in pursuit, but it ricocheted off the chain-link fence bounding the meadow and out of reach forever.
Faces pressed against the fence, they gazed through at a multitude more black orbs. The mystery spheres hung lazily in the air, huddled around the ankles of the trusses that supported the fat, industrial pipeline from which they had evidently seeped. Occasionally, enough of the black stuff would accumulate on the rusty steel frame for a new orb to coalesce and gently drift down, colliding into the others and setting off a mini chain reaction as spheres pinballed against each other.
Underneath where they floated, the grass and foliage was all bent over and flattened. Trails leading off into the thick vegetation betrayed the path of escaped blobs, like the one they had found.
After some time, a warm breeze flowed across the scene, picking the orbs with it, and lifting them up out of sight, high into the sky.
By Dominique Goodall
She approached slowly; caution in her every step and the nervous flickering of her eyes. Her hair covered her cheeks and she inhaled slowly before pausing. She didn’t know what had fallen from the expanse above her head. It had fallen from the sky, as though the moon had suddenly departed its’ spot within the heavens. She swiftly glanced upwards and sighed in wary relief. The moon still held its place, the stars blinking as far as she could see. Kneeling on the scorched grass, she extended her hand.
She checked first for heat by hovering her fingers over the black ball that had plummeted so forcefully that it was now nestled in a crater. Her head tilted to the side before she realised that no heat hit her. She lowered her palm and recoiled. The surface was an utter contradiction to what she had expected. Instead of a smooth surface, metal or some type of material, it was sticky. She wrinkled her nose as she stared at the slick, black ball, head tilting to the other side before she reached out with both hands.
She lacked caution now, as nothing had moved or hurt her when she’d touched that sphere. Cradling it up in her arms, she found herself recoiling from the clinging surface against her bare skin. She shrugged internally, lifting it closer to herself and ending up with it leaning against her chest. Her heart began to pound, fear causing her body to suddenly drench with sweat. She heard a curious crack – like that of an egg against a bowl and paused.
Warmth, and a viscous fluid soaked her lap and she flinched, dropping the ball in reaction and backing away as swiftly as she could without standing up. The sphere crunched and split apart. She froze for a moment, natural curiosity at war with the instinctive terror of the unknown. Both won out at once. She reached for a twig, using that to open the apparently hollow ball. She kept her distance until she spotted the furred, shivering form. Coiled in the remains of the egg, her heartstrings were tugged by the apparent vulnerability of the freshly ‘hatched’ creature. She edged closer on her knees, spotting the things that made this something not from this world.
An extra set of limbs to the normal four were nestled in close against a surprisingly broad chest and lavender fur was spotted about a dark grey body. Large ears unfolded before her eyes as the air seemed to rapidly warm around the creature and dry it. She saw the long muzzle, almost elegant if not for the broadness. Startling eyes of the softest blue blinked at her before a green tongue swept from its maw, forked and reptilian. She pondered backing away until the creature grinned at her, an intelligence that didn’t suit the youthful appearance on its face and eyes. She gathered it in her arms, wondering what she could do to keep it alive… and at her side.
The discovery of a slick, black orb.
By Caroline C Kimberley
On the soiled toilet mat, a slick, black orb of an unknown composition, rocked as if to roll, but remained static in its momentum. How did it get there? Clare was only in there half-hour ago. She needed the toilet again, badly!
The enigmatic nature of the object concerned her. She scooped the edges of a bin liner around the ball, and lifted until it dropped lightly but noticeably into the inverted black sack. At arms length, she navigated the threadbare staircase and out the front door, into the neighbours’ garden, over the litter-strewn lawn, to dispose of this globule into their wheelie.
Emergency vehicles wailed outside, stirring Clare.
“Wake up! Something’s happened to Robo next door, there’s police and ambulances everywhere” informed her brother. “I got in ‘round the back. The whole town is out there. I think the news too.”
“What?” Clare sleepily replied.
“They think he killed himself and murdered his wife… thing is, they can’t find his wife though. Was found in a pool of her blood, his blood and some kind of tar…? How do they know he killed her?” Carl shakily whispered.
“-her blood, his blood and some kind of tar” some kind of tar – The black thing? No … can’t be anything to do with it? The black thing – It wasn’t tar! It was a ball! Something happened outside! – The bin men will be here tomorrow … it’ll be fine.
Mr Robinson, next-door, is dead! They can’t find Mrs Robinson. – Splice is on tomorrow; I need it. I should sort them, in genre? The horror ones would look good together. Huh, Mr Robinson is dead … something about a black orb – black – some kind of tar. Ah, the black thing – the bathroom. ‘Heroes’ was a good! Another would have been good. Black tar! Remember! Black magic, black satin, nights in white satin. I bet I can name ten songs with black in them … okay …
Like liquid, something moved across the bedroom floor ascending the foot of Clare’s bed and slipped between the sheets. She sighed, half consciously, “- about a black” she mumbled. The viscous slug thing moved up, it traced the contours of her arm and chest, and froze over her sternum. Peacefully, she breathed through slack-jaws. The thing, like osmosis, absorbed fast into her flesh. Her body shot parallel to the bed. Her eyes swiftly opened, pupils fixed and dilated.
Blank-faced, slightly swaying, Clare plunged something into her arm; her blood oozed over Carls sheets. A black substance followed, then stopped without a drip.She took the knife and slashed Carl’s wrists, her right arm held him down with inhuman strength at the neck, almost crushing his thorax. Motionless, in the blood bath, an arm slumped down limp. The knife hit the floor. Clare advanced along the hall, down the stairs and out the door, walking off into the silence of the night …
Photography manipulation by John Burrell. Thank you to Aaron & James for the competition 3D visual below. If you would like to contact these talented 3D animation students please email them: firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com